GARY | The 21st Century Charter School began work Monday on its second building near downtown Gary.
The charter school, which houses students in kindergarten through 12th grade as well as providing an education to dropouts who want to earn a diploma through its Gary Middle College, is constructing a second building.
The first building, opened in 2005 at 556 Washington St., will house students in kindergarten through sixth grade this fall. The new building, between Seventh and Eighth avenues at Washington Street, will house students in grades seven through 12 in the fall. Students who are enrolled in the Gary Middle College, who are working to earn a high school diploma, will take classes in the new building at night after other students have gone home.
Kevin Teasley, president of the Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation, the management company for the 21st Century Charter School, said Alyce Butler, former vice president of NIPSCO and the board's founding chairwoman, attended the beginning of construction Monday.
The building is placed on land donated to the school from the city of Gary, Teasley said.
"We will eventually serve 400 middle and high school students in the day and 400 more at night," he said. "Last week, 21st Century celebrated its second 100 percent graduation rate in the past three years, and all students have been accepted to college."
The new $6.5 million building is 50,000 square feet. It is two blocks south of the current building, which houses nearly 500 students, which is why a second building was needed. There are 18 teachers and the school has hired an additional 10 learning coaches.
Teasley said the investment in the first building at 556 Washington St. was about $4 million. "It is not completely paid for, but the school did a bond issue, borrowing enough money to construct the new building. The total bond was $13.5 million," he said.
The school has three principals, Chris Evans, who oversees students in kindergarten through sixth grade; Angela West, who is in charge of the high school; and Tim Pivarnik, who oversees the middle school.