New private Dayton school expected to open this summer

The Greater Dayton School, a new private school specifically targeted to help kids in generational poverty in the community, will begin in August with 100 students.

The 100 students are between preschool and third grade and are in the application process to get into the new private school set to be in downtown Dayton at Deeds Point. They’re coming from around the city and vary in ethnicity, achievement levels and religions.

“We don’t pity the families or the kids that we’re serving,” said A.J. Stich, the principal of the school. “That’s wrong. That is disrespectful, and it doesn’t value the culture that they come from.”

Stich, a former public school principal, has been working to help create the school since 2019. The foundation behind the private school, Connor Group Kids and Community Partners, is backed by Larry Connor, founder of the Connor Group, a real estate company based in Miamisburg.

Ryan Ernst, director for the Connor Group Kids & Community Partners, said there aren’t enough options for the region’s most under-resourced students.

“You don’t really need a Ph.D. in education to realize that there aren’t enough great schools for kids to attend when they are from low income, under-resourced backgrounds,” he said.

As time goes on, the school plans to accept more students, moving up their current classes up until eighth grade. Once the students get there, Stich said counselors will help students and families figure out which local high school they want to attend. He said there are many high schools in the area that do a good job serving the kids they plan to serve, so it’s unnecessary to continue up until a senior in high school.

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The school considered going both the charter school route and working with Dayton Public Schools, but ultimately rejected those options because it didn’t give them enough flexibility for what they wanted to do, Stich said.

The school will have school day where extracurriculars such as sports and clubs are included, and students learn together in classrooms where teachers can help students individually. It also means meals made by a chef and teachers seated with students, an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. school day, and lessons in financial literacy and other life skills.

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A rendering of what The Greater Dayton School is anticipated to look like when it is finished at Deed's Point downtown. Courtesy of Connor Group Kids & Community Partners.

A rendering of what The Greater Dayton School is anticipated to look like when it is finished at Deed's Point downtown. Courtesy of Connor Group Kids & Community Partners.

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A rendering of what The Greater Dayton School is anticipated to look like when it is finished at Deed's Point downtown. Courtesy of Connor Group Kids & Community Partners.

The Greater Dayton School eventually will be located at Deeds Point, where there is currently a stand-in dog park and an empty parking lot. The group has started site work, but the building won’t be ready by the Aug. 1 start date. In the first year, students will be attending school in a building near Sinclair Community College. The school building will open next school year.

The dog park is moving to Triangle Park, with the Connor Group kicking in funding to move the park, according to the city of Dayton.

Stich said the school will be using state EdChoice dollars, which are scholarships the state gives students living in districts that have a D or F rating or to students whose parents are under a certain income, which generally qualifies them to be on benefits like Medicaid.

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But the school intends to spend about $30,000 a year for each student, Stich said. Only part of that is covered by EdChoice dollars, which are around $5,500 per student, and parents will pay about $375 for one student for the year, or $600 for two students for the year and so on.

The rest, about $24,000 per student, is donated by the Connor Group Kids & Community Partners.

Stich said urban and rural districts in the U.S. are underfunded compared to the suburban schools, because the U.S. generally bases their school budgets around property tax collection. In many suburban schools, the tax base is higher than in rural or urban schools.

“We’re trying to serve the community,” Stich said.

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