Construction delays thwart Gary charter opening
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/302-0949 September 3, 2013 5:50PM
Geometry teacher Marcus Ford, left, takes roll Monday during the first day of school at the 21st Century Charter School in Gary. The students met in a portable classroom at their old school at 556 Washington St. because their new building at 724 Washington St. isn't quite finished yet. | Carole Carlson/Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:22AM
GARY — A construction delay prompted officials at 21st Century Charter School to call a last-minute audible, telling parents their children should start school Tuesday at their old building at 556 Washington St.
Officials now say the new $6.5 million two-story building at 724 Washington St. should be ready to open on Sept. 9. That school will serve middle and high school students and students who attend night classes at Gary Middle College.
When the new building finally opens, the current one at 556 Washington St. will be used solely by elementary students.
High school Principal Angela West said Monday went well, despite the location change for students. “It really wasn’t that bad,” she said. “We had notified our parents during a connective phone call. We ran a regular schedule.”
Kevin Teasley, founder and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation, which operates 21st Century, said there’s plenty of space at the original school.
“It’s unfortunate we didn’t open on time,” he said. “They just didn’t make the deadline.”
The school’s original start date was Aug. 16. That got pushed back when there were difficulties with unknown debris, Teasley said. “We felt like we had enough time to get it done, but it’s been one delay after another.”
Construction crews worked through the Labor Day weekend, but the school’s main parking lot still hasn’t been paved.
Meanwhile, Teasley said some middle school students will be attending a field trip to the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, near Indianapolis, while some high school students will make college tours. “It’s definitely still educational,” he said.
Teasley said enrollment at 21st Century is about 700, while about 250 students are enrolled at the Gary Middle College, a dropout recovery school that allows high school students to finish high school and take free college courses through Ivy Tech.