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Charter school in Oklahoma City acquires building to expand high school program

Jan. 9, 2017
Santa Fe South Schools will take over a 175,000-square-foot facility that once housed a Montgomery Ward department store.

A K-12 charter school in Oklahoma City has acquired a building where it plans to provide more space for its high school.

The Oklahoman reports that Santa Fe South Schools, which serves 2,400 students, could grow by as many as 500 students when the high school moves into a 157,000-square-foot building, once home to a Montgomery Ward department store, on the grounds of the former Crossroads Mall.

Superintendent Chris Brewster says the Charter Schools Development Corp., which provides capital financing for charter schools in low-income communities, acquired the building for $1.8 million. Renovating the structure to convert it to a school will cost $10 million; it should be ready in time for the 2017-18 school year, says Brewster.

Santa Fe South High School serves about 700 students at three locations, including the former Shields Heights Elementary School. That 36,000-square-foot facility was built in 1908.

Brewster says the additional space at the new location will make it possible to provide students with "simple, high-efficiency classrooms and science labs, a cafeteria and commons."

A second charter school is expected to occupy the top floor of the two-story building, but a deal had not been finalized.

Santa Fe South started in 2001 with 120 children in a church basement. It now serves students at nine Oklahoma City locations, including a former dance hall, hardware store, armory and YMCA.

"We do not have the same funding streams as traditional public schools have to build buildings, improve infrastructure, buy buses and upgrade technology," says Brewster. "...It is incredibly hard to get into facilities with no facilities dollars earmarked for charter schools."

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