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Mat-Su Borough Academy Charter Breaks Ground On New Addition

Mat-Su– Academy Charter school broke ground yesterday on its new addition which will add ten much needed classrooms. These latest improvements will allow the school to get rid of six run-down, poorly ventilated portables currently serving as classrooms. The Mat-Su Borough school district will take some of the portables back but several of the worst ones will be used for fire training.

Academy Charter is located in Palmer at 801 E. Arctic Avenue. It was started in 1996 with one Kindergarten class of 20 students but, with strong parental support, grew very rapidly from there. After some success, they moved to a temporary location at the Fire Training Center and were offered four portables to use as classrooms. 18 parents showed up to help place skirting, connect decks, boardwalks and ramps. In 2002, the Mat-Su Borough donated 3.77 acres, formerly a maintenance site. It included a garage and the old Parks and Recreation building. With the help of the school district, eight portables were moved into position and put in water, septic and electrical. Many businesses donated materials and supplies. In 2005, the Legislature made a direct appropriation of $2.5 million to design and build a gymnasium for school use and the community. It was completed in time for the 2006-2007 school year. And then in 2011, $1.5 million was appropriated for the new addition and will be started as early as next week when school is out. It’s scheduled to be completed and ready to move in by December 2012.

By making wise use of available space, the funds have stretched beyond what most people thought they could. Assembly Member Ron Arvin says he feels good about how much they were able to get with the $1.5 million appropriation from Rep. Stoltze. “By going with a hybrid design build, putting out to bid competitively and bringing many contractors into the process, we ended up with ten classrooms, not five. We were pretty focused in how to do that.”

Many praised the leadership of Principal Barbara Gerard along with the constant support the school received from both staff and parents. Assembly Member Steve Colligan had this to say, “Academy Charter is a shining example of great leadership and when parents get involved in their children’s education. I think this sets an example for how great a model this is. In the future, we’ll be looking at Charter schools to help grow our community and set the standard.”

Assembly Member Jim Colver, who’s been one of the biggest supporters of charter schools, commended the staff in his speech for “putting students and learning first" and added, “Academy Charter has pioneered the pathway for permanent facilities for all Charter schools.”

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