Put on hold in 2008 by a sputtering economy, Mount de Sales Academy’s plans to build a middle school are back on, with construction targeted to begin in June 2013.
School President David Held said officials decided to relaunch the fundraising campaign for a $3.6 million new school on College Street after an anonymous donor promised a $500,000 matching pledge. The private Catholic-based school already had raised $2.2 million toward the project, and plans were redrawn to reduce costs from the original estimate of $4.7 million.
“We think the economy is improving a little bit,” Held said, “but the big thing was we had that anonymous donor step forward.”
Enrollment in middle-school grades at Mount de Sales has grown the past three years, from 210 in 2010 to 226 in 2011 and 240 this year.
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“We expect that trend to continue. We really need some more space,” he said.
In 2007, the academy launched “The Campaign for Mount de Sales” to build a parking lot and middle school as part of a 30-year master plan for the campus. By scaling back construction plans, the large anonymous pledge, once matched, would leave the school just $300,000 short of its fundraising goal.
“That was really the thing that had us say, ‘Hey, ... let’s get out there and get it.”
In a letter sent to parents, Held said the additional space is needed to expand curriculum in the middle and upper grades “in order to remain the premier academic school in Middle Georgia.”
“Constructing a new middle school will allow us to expand our curriculum in both divisions, to provide middle school students with their own space to shine, and to create more of a true ‘high school’ experience for our upper school students,” Held said in the letter. “Both divisions will develop a greater sense of school community because they will not be as spread all over campus.”
Held also explained “three key challenges” that halted the original plan: an “overly ambitious” initial goal; the lack of a large matching grant; and the failure to generate “strong grass roots support.”
“These three obstacles, combined with one of the worst economic periods of our generation, made the task a bit overwhelming,” he wrote. “Because of their strong commitment to the project and confidence in its success, the (school’s) Board of Trustees recognized these challenges and made sure these obstacles were removed before giving the academy the go-ahead to relaunch the campaign this fall.”
The anonymous pledge comes with two “parental conditions” before the academy can receive the $500,000 matching gift: parents must give at a 75 percent rate, and the total pledged by parents for a three-year period must reach $500,000.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.