the north face bodywarmer Charter school planning new Fitchburg home
FITCHBURG North Central Charter Essential School will finally have its own permanent home as of next year, Executive Director Stephanie Davolos announced Wednesday.
The charter school moved from its decade long post on Oak Hill Road to open space at Notre Dame Preparatory School on South Street in November to put itself in a better financial position to assist with finding that permanent home. In the fall, Davolos said, a private developer who believes in the school’s mission stepped forward to build a new school building on behalf of NCCES at no cost to the school.
The three story, 60,000 square foot building is expected to be completed in time to be occupied in fall 2014, Davolos said, and will be able to hold 400 students. The school currently has about 350 students in grades seven through 12 and intends to expand enrollment, she said.
The building will be located at 558 Mechanic St., just off of the rotary where it connects to Rindge Road. The project has already passed the muster of the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission, and an auto body shop that used to be on the property has already been torn down. In the school’s previous locations, it has had only one science lab and art classes have had to wash their brushes in the bathrooms, Davolos said.
“It will have academic classrooms that are larger than we’ve had to date, and enough of them to truly run the personalized program that we’ve designed in the various places where we’ve lived,” she said.
Davolos said it was also important to have a centrally located library, “so that we can really promote research, crit thinking and get a book into as many kids’ hands as often as possible.”
Gary Shepherd of Townsend, who is serving as principal project leader, said he believes the creation of this school building will have lasting effects on the students NCCES serves and the region.
“It could help these kids, when they become adults, to have ideas, to be free thinkers, to create and contribute to society rather than to take from it. . It can all begin here,” he said.
Shepherd said the final price tag of the new school has not yet been determined due to the accelerated building process.
The generous donation is particularly helpful to NCCES after the decade of hard work the school has put into finding a permanent home, Davolos said.
NCCES had previously attempted to renovate the old Parks Cramer Building on Newport Street, but found that the project would not be feasible after bids came in nearly $2 million over the $18 million state bond the school had secured, even after it had already been scaled back by removing the gym, she said.
She said the creation of this school building will allow NCCES to remain a community institution “for the next 100 plus years.”
“It’s just such a powerful testament to the work our community has been doing for the last decade. To have this level of investment in our work and this recognition that we’re worthwhile, and that we’re here to stay, is just phenomenal,” Davolos said. “It’s such an incredible feeling for all of us to know that the work we’ve done has been recognized, and that this gift is going to result in our school’s longevity.”.