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Upstart Bronx charter school finds a home at new $14 million building

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The South Bronx Early College Academy Charter School is also looking for space to launch a high school

By Daniel Geiger


A new charter school that opened in the South Bronx last year has reached a deal to take over a 38,000-square-foot new development that will be completed in 2017.

The South Bronx Early College Academy Charter School launched in late August in temporaryspace at 423 W. 138th St. in Mott Haven. Next year, it hopes to more than triple its existing space when it moves to 766 Westchester Ave. in the neighboring Woodstock section of the Bronx.

The new school will have enough room for 300-plus students, spanning from sixth to eighth grades, and is being developed by Mastermind Ltd., which owns the site at 766 Westchester Ave. Currently the school has 115 sixth grade students.

“It’s a risk for the developer and I have to give credit to Mastermind that they saw in us a workable option,” said Ric Campbell, the executive director and co-founder of the charter school. “I think it wasn’t just a business calculation on their part but also a decision to do the principled thing.”

The deal was tricky to arrange, according to Michael Miller a broker with the Shopping Center Group, who represented the school in the lease. Charter schools must receive approvals from the city every five years to continue to operate, meaning the South Bronx Early College Academy Charter School can only lease the space at 766 Westchester Ave. in shorter intervals than the developer would have preferred it to commit to in the new development project.

“Mastermind is a relatively big developer in the Bronx and they didn’t have to do this deal,” Miller said. “In fact, it cost about twice as much to construct a school building than a property with office and retail space, which Mastermind had also been considering.”

Miller estimated the new building will cost about $14 million to develop. The South Bronx Early College Academy Charter School is paying about $30 per square foot in annual rent for the space, a roughly $1.1 million yearly cost for the school.

The school receives $13,877 per child from the city to operate and will receive about $2,775 per student from the city’s Department of Education to offset its rent at its new space—a total of about $5.5 million in public funding a year—Campbell said. Much of the funds has to be used for school supplies and other costs like staff.

The school offers a wider curriculum than is typical for middle school students, Campbell said, including English, history, science, math, music and art classes. The roof of the building will serve as a space for outdoor activities such as physical education and gardens for science classes.

The charter school is also in search of space to open a high school nearby, according to Campbell.

“Our students will be ready for high school starting in 2018 and we’re looking for spaces right now,” Campbell said. He said the school is considering both new construction and also existing spaces that could be repurposed as education facilities for the high school.

Original article appeared here.

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