The administration of the L. Hollingworth School for the Talented & Gifted plans to start the 2014-15 school year in a new location.
The charter school recently completed the purchase of a building at 653 Miami Street and several other parcels from the now defunct River East Economic Revitalization Corp. for $307,744, according to the Lucas County auditor records.a
Terrence Franklin, Hollingworth’s head of school, said Tuesday that renovation work on the vacant building – which had housed offices and facilities of JOBST - is proceeding on schedule.
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“Our first day of the school year is August 27 and construction will be done by that time,” he said.
The school has been in its current location at the former Sacred Heart School on Sixth Street for five years and has seen its enrollment grow from just under 100 students in grades K-6 to a projected 330 students for the coming school year up to the ninth grade.
“We were desperately looking to stay on the East Side,” Franklin said. “We have students from all over but we have a fair share from right here that come the East Side proper. We wanted to stay committed to the area but at the same time we were looking for ways to not only develop our program but also help and improve the community. We couldn’t think of a better way to help our needs as well as the needs of the community at same time. We are also very proud that our new building project will create new job opportunities.”’
If the projection for next year’s enrollment holds, it would be an increase of about 100 students from this year.
“When we started we didn’t have any desire to go higher than sixth grade. Then we added seventh grade and then eighth,” Franklin said. “Then the question was, what about high school? So we decided to open a ninth grade this upcoming year. And every year after we’ll add one high school grade level.”
He attributes the growth to the school’s strong ties to students’ families and the local community.
“I think we have created an environment where they feel empowered, they feel welcome. They feel that their children are growing and are receiving a great education. In everything we try to do we try to be inclusive and that everything is oriented towards family and community – those are our main pillars,” Franklin said.
To that end, the school officials have already met with staff of the nearby Locke branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library to discuss the development of joint programs and Franklin said the building is being renovated to include space for meeting rooms that can be utilized by community and neighborhood groups.
He estimates the building, once complete, will have a capacity for about 500 students in grades K-12.
The “talented and gifted” part of the school name is a bit misleading, Franklin said. It is open to students of all levels of ability.
The sponsor of the school is the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation.