Lincoln Charter School began 15 years ago with a campus in Lincolnton and a desire to provide a great school for children to get a quality education.
Since then, the school has grown to include two campuses, one in Denver and the other in Lincolnton — the flagship campus nestled between Highway 27 and Highway 182. Residents will notice a significant amount of changes in the landscape of the school, as Phase One in the process of expanding the Lincolnton campus from K-8 to K-12 begins.
The 2013-2014 school year welcomed its first high school freshman class and, with the class moving to the 10th grade and a new crop of freshman coming in, the project is starting at just the right time.
With the help of design firm Boomerang Designs and R.J. Leeper, both out of Charlotte, Lincolnton Campus principal Rachel Greer and chief administrator Dave Machado began the expansion after the 2013-2014 school year ended, but plans for growth were in the works long before the first bulldozer rolled onto the grounds.
“We have a long-range planning committee, that is a sub-committee to our school board,” Machado said. “Expanding (to include a high school) has been in the plan for the last five or six years. Once we made the decision to expand grade-wise, we knew we were going to need the space, so then we also started discussing the building and obviously, making sure that we stick to our financial plan where we can afford the building also.”
The projected completion date for Phase One is August 2015. The new building will be 52,738 square feet with around 20 classrooms, and two multipurpose rooms that can serve as a gathering place for students during lunch. Students can still bring their lunches or order from local restaurants that deliver, as there will be no cafeteria. With the expansion of the campus comes the expansion of extra-curricular activities, as a middle school and high school band room will enable the administration to offer band — something the Lincolnton campus currently does not have space for and therefore cannot accommodate.
With an expansion price tag of over $6 million, funding concerns were taken into account long before the first piece of dirt was overturned.
“Our financial policy is that we have to set aside 15 percent of our revenue for facility,” Machado said. “Whatever we do not spend on leases or rents goes into our future facility fund and 2.5 percent goes into our contingency fund. At the end of the year, those funds are combined to go into our future facility account. We are constantly saving for Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three. It’s the same model we used for our Denver campus.”
As the school year fast approaches, with both campuses welcoming students back on Aug. 18, a growing concern among parents with children that attend the school is safety. Bulldozers and construction work will continue throughout the remainder of the school year. Where the playground once stood to the right of the circle driveway is a flat red-dirt patch that will soon be littered with construction materials. Greer is confident in the measures the administration is taking to ensure that the highest level of safety is given to staff and students.
“We have separate entrances for construction and staff, parents and students,” Greer said. “We discussed…where the fencing is going to go and it will be construction (on one side) and the school on the other. There will be fencing and training. We will talk to all of the students about where to go (and not go).”
Machado said that with expansion, the level of dedication and excellence will not waiver, but rather be enhanced by the changes that are being made.
“I believe that the new building will enhance our educational excellence,” Machado said. “We will have a state-of-the-art science lab, a state-of-the-art computer lab. The latest in technology.”
The new buildings will maintain the same level of security that Lincoln Charter School currently implements. External and internal safety measures will be implemented, as they are currently in place at both the Lincolnton and Denver campuses. Camera-monitored hallways and restricted access to education areas are just some of the safety measures that will be in the new buildings.
“The building is being designed with safety in mind,” Machado said.
A groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. Parents, students and local dignitaries will be on hand, as well as representatives from Boomerang Designs and R.J. Leeper.
“The theme is ‘Realizing the Dream,’” Greer said. “We’re just real excited to deliver on the promises that we’ve made to families over time.”
“We just celebrated our 15-year anniversary,” Machado said. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our next 15 years than with a new building at our (Lincolnton) campus, which was our original campus. We’re very excited to kick off this project.”