Charter school leaves Parramore & UCF Downtown footprint, seeks expansion aid

Parramore's only public school since 1972 will be demolished in the coming weeks to make way for the footprint of UCF's new downtown campus, and contractors are needed to help the school consolidate with a sister site. 

Demolition of the Nap Ford Community School, which opened in Parramore in 2001 as one of Orange County's first charter schools, will free up more than 5.5 acres of city-owned land on the southwest corner of W. Livingston Street and N. Terry Avenue for the Creative Village campus development. Demo permit requests were filed with the city last week. 

Named after former educator and City Council member Nap Ford, the school will be consolidated into sister charter school Legends Academy about 3 miles to the southwest, located at 3032 Monte Carlo Trail on the intersection with S. John Young Parkway. 

Legends Academy occupies seven portable class buildings on land leased from the Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, adjacent to a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

"We are moving forward at a very rapid pace to be out of our current location by the end of this week," executive director Jennifer Porter-Smith told GrowthSpotter. "Moving a school is no small effort, but we're excited about consolidating our school with another we have in the Washington Shores community (Legends Academy)." 

The consolidation of both schools into the modular buildings on Monte Carlo Trail will boost Legends' enrollment near its capacity of up to 392 students for pre-K through 8th grade. By this time next year the charter school will have outgrown its current buildings, Porter-Smith said. 

"So what we want to do, knowing we'll outgrow the space next year, is to start the construction of an 8th grade facility," she said. "It would be the first phase of construction of a completely new permanent facility at our Washington Shores site." 

Legends Academy has a long-term land lease with the Baptist church, which is aware of the expansion and new construction goals, Porter-Smith said. 

"$1.2 million is the estimated investment to get us started," she said. "We're going to kick off that (fundraising) campaign in the fall." 

Porter-Smith will be hiring contractors in the coming weeks to help update the Legends Academy portable buildings before the new school year. That work will include new fencing and awnings for the property, painting, and multiple bathroom renovations. 

Charter schools are privately run schools that are publicly funded, and operate under the authority of the local school board but have more freedom than public schools for teaching methods and curriculum. 

As many as 500 children from Parramore have been regularly bused to public schools in other parts of the city, which will end when a new public Parramore K-8 school opens directly west of Creative Village in August of this year. 

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