Project File: Overcoming obstacles

Organizers of Middletown Odessa Townsend (MOT) Charter School in Middletown, Del., found themselves in a Catch-22. Although they passed the application process for a charter, school organizers lacked financing and were running out of time to meet the charter's mandatory milestones in site selection and construction.

In most cases, a school's final charter is conditional on having a building. Without a credit history, banks often are reluctant to grant a construction loan. Without funds, a new charter school has difficulty putting a site under contract and building a facility.

In the middle of working through details for obtaining the site, a better site was presented. The location change and the difficulty finding financing led MOT to notify the state that it could not finish a building in time. Permission was denied to operate out of modular classrooms for the first year.

Organizers used the additional time to apply for and obtain a rural-development loan from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

The various delays meant that the time available to finish the building was reduced to about 4.5 months.

Construction began in February 2002, and by September, the school's 525 students moved into the new facility.

High Construction (Lancaster, Pa.) is the construction-management firm. The architect for the project is Greenfield Architects (Lancaster).

For more information on these projects and others, visit www.schooldesigns.com.

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