Striving for excellence

Vance Charter looking for a permanent home
Jul. 15, 2014 @ 05:34 PM

After 15 years of planning and saving, Vance Charter School has taken the next step to secure a home.

Principal Sean Connolly said attorneys are performing due diligence for property located close to the school’s current location on Dabney Drive.

“It depends on what happens, but we don’t know yet,” he said. “We could back out if something was wrong.”

Connolly said legal negotiations will take place over the next six months to make sure financing is affordable before closing the deal. The property’s location will be revealed at that time.

“We think they have it, we hope they have it, and we will just see in the next six months as time progresses,” he said.

Currently, Vance Charter administration rents its facility, which Connolly said is more expensive and less permanent than he liked.

“When you rent, you are throwing money away,” he said. “When you write a check, you are only buying yourself about 30 days a year.”

He said Vance Charter has been saving up to move since he started working at the school in 2007. Discussions of finding a permanent place stretched back even further.

“We are just waiting for the right time, the right property and the right financing,” he said. “It’s just like every person in America. You want to own your own home. So do we.”

Connolly said the 2013-2014 school year ended with hope for academic expansion as well.

Standardized test scores showed a 56 percent passing rate — about 8 percentage points higher than last year.

In the Read to Achieve program, a federal mandate that students read at grade level before moving to fourth grade, 61 students passed or were exempt from the standard because of special circumstances.

“A lot of work went into that,” he said. “The teachers put in a lot of effort. This was a new expectation. A lot of people were worried about if anyone would be able to meet it.”

Teachers also implemented a new reading intervention strategy called FastForWord, a program dedicated to strengthening memory, attention, processing rates and sequencing to help reading.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “A lot of students and teachers got frustrated at times, but I think it did what it was supposed to do by the end of the year.”

He said the program strengthened teaching methods and increased students’ reading levels.

Next year, he plans to expand the program to all grades levels.

“It’s a very expensive program, but I think it’s worth it,” he said.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.