Oasis Academy looks toward the future
LVN Editor Emeritus
Oasis Academy is looking to the future as it begins to explore options for building a new campus within the next four to five years, said school officials.
The free public charter school first opened its doors in 2011 to elementary grades. Over the years it expanded to add a middle school and five years ago high-school grades. Since its inception, Oasis has been located in the former Walmart building, which is owned by Old Fallon LLC. During the past eight years, Oasis’ enrollment has steadily grown to more than 600 students in kindergarten through 12th grades.
“We’ve identified three properties,” said Principal Rochelle Tisdale, in discussing the school board’s choices.
Tisdale said Oasis Academy is interested in property at the end of Whitaker Lane, Allen Road at Birch and at the intersection of Harrigan and Wildes roads. Executive director Melissa Mackedon offered the pros and cons of eight possible building sites at an Oct. 8 workshop, and the Oasis school board then selected the top three.
“We’re hoping for a decision for the property by March,” Tisdale said.
At the workshop, Mackedon said the advantages to the Whitaker Lane property are as follows: The land is in town and close to utilities and available water rights; disadvantages: Road issues exist because other property owners do not want to widen existing roads for access.
The board also discussed the potential of busing at the location.
Mackedon said the Harrigan road location consists of two separate properties that could be purchased as one. The pros to the site are the property is currently for sale and also inexpensive. The cons include a ditch running through the middle of the property and no water rights; however, the property allows canal access.
The Birch land consist of either 20 or 38 acres.
The 20-acre property, Mackedon said, is advantageous because development costs will be low, utilities are on site and it’s the cheapest property to buy. She said the disadvantages are small space, no room to expand, no water rights on property and city water will be needed to maintain the grounds; furthermore, she said the land would need to be rezoned and go through to public process associated with rezoning.
Mackedon said the advantages of the 38-acre parcel allow more room grow, property is currently on the market and power on this property is cheaper by 30%. The disadvantages are a public hearing will be needed to rezone, and the new river drain runs throughout the property, which is mitigated by culverts.
The board discussed the new river drain could be an advantage to the property.
Because it’s a charter school, Mackedon said the school must raise its own funding for the new school, which could cost as upward to $6 million dollars. Mackedon said completion of a school could take as long as four to five years depending on the financing. At the rate the academy is going, Tisdale said Oasis will have to relocate.
“We have a slow growth model where we add a class a year,” she said. “Eventually, we’ll run out of rooms.”
Although nothing is definite, both Mackedon and Tisdale said the new facility should include a gym and athletic fields. Currently, the school’s volleyball and basketball teams play their games at the City County Gym on Venturacci Lane. The teams share practice and game times with other activities not associated with Oasis.