Though its still several steps away, Wissahickon Charter School could expand to a second campus near the Washington Lane train station as early as 2014.
In a presentation made to the East Mt. Airy Neighbors board of directors on
Tuesday, Mt. Airy USA executive director Anuj Gupta outlined how a land deal between the charter school and the Mt. Airy group could help the school expand into East Mt. Airy.
"Wissahickon Charter School has had a very successful model," he said. "They have a 96 percent attendance rate, almost no teacher turnover, steadily increasing scores on their PSSAs. The consequence of that is that the have a 600 student wait list and they have maxed out their potential at their current site.
Gupta said that MASUA purchased two plots of land in a vacant space at Chew and Washington in 2008, planning to build a mixed-use, residential and commercial property before the ecumenic climate made that idea 'infeasible."
According to Gupta, the school began looking to expand in the Northwest and "concluded that our land was optimal" given its proximity to the Awbury Arboritum and the school's focus on environmental issues and sustainability.
"For the better part of the last two years, we have been figuring out how to finance the construction of a facility like this," he said. "Over the last four months, we have finally realized a plausible finance path forward. The school was award an expansion approval from the SRC for a second campus, 25 percent of which the school must make good faith efforts from nearby schools."
Gupta said that the project was dependent on a number of factors, including appearing before the city's zoning board for an exception to build in the area, but he hopes that construction will begin in the early Spring of 2013.
"The financing is in place, we've raised over $3 million dollars," Gupta said. "They want to move in fall 2014, so we need to start contraction in April."
According to the site plan, the new campus will sit on four acres of land and, at 47,000 square feet, "will likely be one of the biggest public school campus in the city," according to Gupta.
The EMAN board will decided on whether or not to support the proposed project at its December meeting.