DECA Prep, part of the Dayton Early College Academy charter school group, last week celebrated plans to expand the elementary school for next fall, thanks in part to a state grant.
DECA Prep was one of eight charter schools in Ohio — and the only one in the Dayton area — to receive funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. After a change in state law, this is the first time OFCC has offered facilities money to charter schools after years of funding district school projects.
“The whole concept behind setting aside the $25 million was to allow those charter schools that have proven effectiveness the ability to expand and replicate,” said state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. “I’m very pleased that we have one of the highest-performing charter schools in the state here, and that they were able to take advantage of this money.”
Judy Hennessey, DECA’s superintendent, said the $777,567 grant requires a 1-to-1 local match, which the school has in place thanks to local donors and foundations, plus other recent investments to the campus that will be counted.
Working with architect Paul Striebel and Bruns General Contracting, DECA will construct a two-story, 4,000-square-foot addition that will connect the 1913-era school building with the former rec center building to the west. That building will include a new, better-secured main entrance, a clinic, a parent center, and two classrooms on the second floor. Work is expected to be complete by the start of the 2017-18 school year.
Hennessey was most excited about the parent center, saying DECA is developing a prototype on that front. Parents meet monthly to work on issues that are barriers to their children eventually going to college. The school also is partnering with outside groups to bring in fatherhood classes, programs for parents of preschoolers and help for grandparents raising children.
“That parent center should be humming most days of the week,” Hennessey said, thanking many sectors of the community for supporting the school.
Hennessey said DECA Prep has about 450 students, and there’s a goal to increase enrollment to 525, in part with the addition of the two classrooms. That comes on the heels of opening the new DECA Middle School downtown, which has brought total enrollment K-12 to about 1,130.
DECA and DECA Prep were No. 1 and No. 3 among the 21 local charter schools in performance index on the most recent state report card.
“We work on our instruction all the time, and we wouldn’t want to give the impression that we have arrived,” Hennessey said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, and we are constantly focused on improving how well our kids learn.
“Over our 13 years at the high school, we have learned things about how to be successful and how to position our kids to do well.”
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