City council on Monday approved the annexation of a property that Newark Charter School plans to use for a future expansion.
The 7-acre property, which contains an old warehouse, is currently part of Interchange Business Park and backs up to NCS’ Patriot Way campus, which houses the primary and intermediate schools as well as athletic fields.
NCS bought the property from Delaware Freezers last year.
In the near-term, the school plans to use the property to build a dedicated bus entrance to the school. The school will build a new road that loops around an athletic field, goes past the old warehouse and connects to Elkton Road through the industrial park. Officials say that will reduce congestion in the school’s parking lot and allow buses to exit at a traffic light rather than at the unsignalized Patriot Way intersection.
The school’s board is also weighing a plan to renovate the warehouse and use it to house the middle school, which currently shares space with the high school a couple miles away on McIntire Road. That would allow NCS – which had 3,300 students apply for 190 openings this fall – to add students to each grade level.
NCS recently received $550,000 from the Delaware Department of Education, which is part of a $10.4 million federal grant awarded Delaware to strengthen the state’s charter school system.
Grant money was awarded to five schools in the state – including Las Americas ASPIRA near Newark, which is also planning an expansion – based on the schools’ goals to increase academic achievement for all students, collaborate with district and charter schools, engage the families of educationally disadvantaged children for school choice and partner with local agencies to enhance school services.
Newark Charter’s expansion, which would require the approval of the state board of education, is part of an ambitious strategic plan being developed by the board. Frank Newton, the former board chairman who took over as school director after Greg Meece retired earlier this summer, said the plan will be finalized and made public this fall.
“We’re excited, as you can imagine, to have the support of the Department of Education, and certainly the state and I think our local community as well,” Newton said. “If you really talk to any of the educators in Delaware, we’re all actively working to make sure that every kid in Delaware has great education. So that’s certainly our goal.”
Board meeting minutes indicate that long-range plans under consideration include a commons building between the primary and intermediate schools for centralization of shared functions, converting athletic fields to artificial turf, new auditoriums and a second gym at the high school.
City council voted unanimously to annex the property and rezone it from manufacturing office research to residential, which matches the zoning of the rest of NCS’ property. While the property will be tax exempt, the annexation does mean that it will be subject to the city’s stormwater fee.