2017-07-13 / Living

Charter school is growing in square footage, enrollment

BY RHONDA S. SANDERS
810-452-2665 • rsanders@mihomepaper.com

FLINT TWP. – The township Planning Commission has granted approval to the Genesee STEM Academy (GSTEMA), 5240 Calkins Road, to erect a temporary modular classroom building on the east side of the main building.

GSTEMA is a charter school established five years ago in Flint before relocating last summer to the former Congregation Beth Israel Jewish synagogue.

Last year, the school served students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We will be adding 9th grade for the 2017/18 school year,” said Superintendent Rita Cheek, adding that new programs also are being planned. The new 14,455 square-foot modular structure will house grades 4-9, she said.

Their goal is to have the new structure in place by the start of the school year on August 21, pending approval of a before Labor Day waiver, Cheek said.

Plans presented to the Planning Commission allow for seven classrooms to be connected to the existing building by a stick-built extension.

GSTEMA officials initially asked to place the modular building on the west side of the existing building but moved to the east side at the request of the Planning Commission. They also agreed to place hedges or other landscaping on the south side of the structure.

The building exterior will be split face block with hardy board to match, according to Pat Battaglia, of Triangle Construction in Grand Rapids, who presented the plans to the commission.

The Commission granted permission for the modular structure with the stipulation that it will be removed within five years.

GSTEMA is anticipating an enrollment of 400 students for the 2017-18 school year, Cheek said. They will be holding an Open Enrollment/Back to School Fair on Saturday, August 12 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

STEM is an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering and math instruction now being emphasized as a core curriculum. GSTEMA is authorized by Saginaw Valley State University, according to its website. Its long-term plan is to add one grade level each year to ultimately become a K-12 program, Cheek said.

The building is situated on a 13-acre campus with paved parking for about 270 cars. The former synagogue had existing classroom space, a commercial-sized kitchen, a 400-seat sanctuary and social hall, an office, library and conference rooms.

For additional information, call the school office at 810-600-6466.

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