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Vision to expand Delta campus with district's help

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Two modular buildings no longer in use at the old elementary school in Cedaredge will be moved to address a "serious need" for additional classroom space at the Delta campus of Vision Charter Academy.

At an estimated cost of just over $300,000, the move doesn't come cheap, but it's less than new construction of energy-efficient classrooms. After remodeling, VCA will gain a "practically new building" at about $90 per square foot, VCA executive director Teri Kincaide explained at a recent school board work session.

As a charter school, VCA operates independently but under the chartering authority of Delta County Joint School District #50. VCA does not have enough money to cover the cost of the project, so Kincaide and the VCA board of stewards were seeking a $100,000 loan from the school district to be supplemented by grant funds and proceeds from the sale of property in Paonia. School board members agreed to payments of $20,000 per year, and to pay for roofing that will help tie the two modular units together.

If the property is vacated prior to loan payoff, the school district would forgive the remainder of the debt, because the land and buildings are owned by the school district and it would benefit from the increased value. That point of the loan agreement generated the most discussion between VCA and the school district, superintendent Caryn Gibson noted.

The Delta campus was built when Vision served a large population of homeschool students. Now the program is more structured and requires classroom space for about 250 learners in grades K-12. The modular buildings would provide four additional classrooms, new restrooms and about 3,400 square feet of "breathing room." There would also be space for large gatherings, which have been held nearby at the First Baptist Church of Delta.

An outside contractor will be hired so the project can be completed by Aug. 1.

The board of stewards is assessing long-term needs for classroom space not only in Delta, but also in Cedaredge and Paonia. VCA is renting space in the former Hunsicker Elementary School that is meeting the students' needs well. In both Cedaredge and Delta, classes are offered Monday through Thursday.

Because of declining enrollment in the North Fork Valley, classes were discontinued in Paonia but a learning lab is held two mornings a week at the Paonia campus of Delta-Montrose Technical College. North Fork learners may attend classes at either of the other two campuses. Kincaide said high school students are being encouraged to look at Opportunity School options.

Vision Charter Academy continues to distinguish itself by working with each child to develop an individual learning plan and offering enrichment opportunities including short courses, field trips and events.

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