Fair Park's Commitment Issues Send Uplift's Newest Charter School to the West End

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Last we mentioned Uplift Education's planned "museum" school, the growing charter school network already had the name and start date all picked out, and was even inviting students to apply online. Only one big question mark left to sort out before Laureate Preparatory's Fall 2010 debut: where to put the school.

Back then, it looked like the Fair Park planetarium building could be the lucky winner -- right there with the school's partner, the Museum of Nature and Science, and in a neighborhood where most kids weren't headed for expensive private schools. No specifics were released though, and for a long time, "the Fair Park/downtown area" was as specific as things got.

Well, says here in the consent agenda for the City Plan Commission's meeting this afternoon that Uplift's got its new digs lined up -- squarely in downtown, not even kinda near Fair Park. Laureate's site says it's a K-2 school for 250 kids, but projections in the SUP request say it would max out at 23 classrooms for 600 students in grades K-8 (jump for more details.)

As Uplift's executive director Rosemary Perlmeter told us late yesterday, this is indeed a change from the original plan to put the school right on the Fair Park grounds. That fell through, Perlmeter says, because Uplift couldn't get a guarantee that the campus could stay put in Fair Park for the long run.

"We felt that the school would benefit from a longer term lease," Perlmeter says. "But we couldn't get any certainty about our future at Fair Park." Uplift had been working with the Museum of Nature and Science to line up the lease, but knew since "the turn of the year" that they couldn't count on Fair Park to give Laureate Prep a long-term home.

As for the new West End location at McKinney Avenue and Lamar Street, "this is next to the Dallas World Aquarium, lots of great things," Perlmeter says, which also include (yes, coming soon to Victory Park) the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Of course, the new location means Fair Park neighborhood kids will be walking to Laureate Prep -- but Perlmeter says this location leaves the school open to the "same demographic area." "This neighborhood is still going to draw a majority of students from south and southwest neighborhoods," she says. As in other Uplift schools around Dallas, Perlmeter says the point is to place their charters where most parents can't afford a private school.

"Uplift is in growth mode," she says. "We'll continue to be very conscious of seeking out neighborhoods where there aren't other options."Uplift Education - Laureate Prep SUP Request

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