Osceola County's only STEM-focused charter school is planning a major expansion to include building its own K-12 campus on John Young Parkway in Kissimmee.
Osceola Science Charter School now serves grades K-4 and leases classroom space from Avant Garde Academy on 2880 N. Orange Blossom Trail. The school, which opened in 2016, is affliliated with the Orlando Science School.
"They're expanding and building their own campus," Schoolfield Properties Vice President Cheryl Schoolfield told GrowthSpotter. She said the school developer has a purchase contract on 12.5 acres her family has owned in the LOOP/Tupperware submarket for more than 20 years.
"We're scheduled to close in August," Schoolfield said. "It's basically a pad-ready site. It already has the utilities stubbed out, and the use is permitted."
The site has an existing Planned Unit Development (PUD). Building Hope, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit charter school developer, filed a preliminary site plan with Kissimmee's Development Review Committee.
Building Hope also developed the school's Orlando campus. Vice President Richard Moreno said Kissimmee school would have a similar 20-year lease with two renewals, as well as a purchase option.
The new Osceola Science Campus is projected to open in August 2019 -- a year after closing on the land. It would be built in two phases, beginning with an 1,200-student K-8 school. A high school serving up to 800 students would open in 2022 based on demand, according to plans filed with the School District of Osceola County.
Moreno said the total investment would be in the $16-17 million range. Building Hope uses its own in-house design and construction management team but will hire trades locally. Hanson Walter & Associates is the project engineer.
Moreno said he's confident the school will be ready in time for the 2018-19 school year. "Our record is 109 days," he said. "As long as we have a shovel in the ground by December, we're OK."
Osceola County has 21 charter schools operating in the current school year. Five new charter schools are also slated to open in August, including two high schools that will offer specialized instruction to prepare students for careers in aviation and sports-related industries.
The school district is also addressing increased demand for science instruction with the opening this fall of Tohopekaliga High School, a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) high school on Boggy Creek Road, and NeoCity Academy, a magnet high school on the NeoCity campus in partnership with BRIDG and UCF.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from Building Hope Vice President Richard Moreno.