In an effort to accommodate more students, the King Center Charter School is moving to a new location.
The school’s board of trustees approved the purchase of the former School 71, 104 Lang Ave., near Schiller Park, earlier this week. The move will allow the school to grow from 312 to 432 students and add an eighth grade to its current structure of kindergarten through seventh grade. The school expects to reach 432 students by 2017.
The move also means the school will vacate the King Urban Life Center, where it has been located since it opened in 2000, Although it is a separate legal entity, the school pays the center $167,000 a year to use the space. School leaders say the money can now be put into its academic programs.
“The significant money we’ll save with this move will be invested right back into our students’ education,” Catherine T. Wettlaufer, president of the King Charter board, said Thursday.
Wettlaufer said she thought board members of the King Urban Life Center understood the need for more space and would be able to utilize the center in some other way to benefit the community. “I think this gives them a great opportunity to initiate new programs,” she added. “It’s like anything; you birth the child; they go off to college. Any change is difficult.”
King Urban Life Center officials could not be reached Thursday to comment.
In a news release, school leaders note that the space at 938 Genesee St., in the former St. Mary of Sorrows Church, is no longer adequate for its academic program. The site has just four open-air classrooms and does not have a gym or auditorium, they said. The school facilities are split between two buildings.
The board will pay $330,000 for the Lang Avenue building, which was owned by the city and has been vacant since School 71 closed in 2008. The school will also invest about $1 million into updates, including a kitchen, cafeteria and synthetic hockey rink.
“The move is a logical outgrowth of our school’s and students’ success,” Keith W. Frome, the school’s executive director, said in the release. “Our plans call for supporting our students through high school and into college, and to do so we need to retain those students for eighth grade to fully prepare them for and place them in the most appropriate Buffalo high schools.”
School leaders said the space at the former St. Mary of Sorrows could be used for a prekindergarten or a senior citizens center.
The King Urban Life Center opened in 1998 with a kindergarten-through-second-grade city school annex among its programs, after preservationists saved the site from demolition.
Citing huge renovation costs, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo had proposed the building’s demolition a decade earlier. Instead, the former church underwent a $4 million renovation under new owners and opened with the annex, which was converted into a charter school in 2000.