Uplift Education will serve 2,500 students

Eleven-year-old Uplift Education is experieucing a growth spurt, with three new locations.

The nonprofit charter school operator is opening Williams Preparatory at 1750 Viceroy Drive in Dallas, the Hampton Campus at 8915 Hampton Road in Dallas and Summit lntemational Preparatory at 1100 Roosevelt St. in Arlington for the 2007-2008 school year.

Uplift has operated the North Hills School at 606 E. Royal Lane in lrving since 1996 and Peak Preparatory at 4605 Live Oak in East Dallas since 2004.

About 2,500 students will attend Uplift schools this year, with about 1,200 at North Hills, 400 at Peak Preparatory, 400 at Summit International, 200 at Williams Preparatory and 200 at the Hampton Campus, said Rosemary PerImeter, Uplift’s executive director. Plans call for the schools to have 6,000 students by 2012.

“We’re seeing consumer demand for stronger education,” Perimeter said. “As the statistics get worse and worse for college grad nation rates, especially for students of color, everybody gets more and more focused on it.”

“Uplift looked at more than 100 properties before settling on the new locations,” said Eliza Solender, president of the real estate firm Solender/Hall Inc., which represented the nonprotit in its search.

The challenge was finding sites in “underserved” areas, or areas with limited edueational choices, Solender said.

“It was a very, very, wide net to look at all of Dallas County, targeting areas with higher numbers of lower-income kids,” she said.

Williams Preparatory has two buildings on 12.8 acres. One of the buildings is 60,797 square feet and the other is 11,424 square feet. The former office buildings were converted to schools this summer. It opens for the fall semester Aug. 27.

The Hampton Campus, which also opens Aug. 27, consists of a 78,000 square foot building on 7.6 acres. The site formerly was leased by the University of North Texas.

Summit International, which opened Ang. 16, is operating on an 18-acre campus formerly used by Country Day School of Arlington. The private school’s elementary and middle schools were converted to a public charter school this year after being acquired by Uplift.

Classes are being phased in, but each of the new schools will eventually offer kindergarden through 12th grade. Each will need to grow by 30% over about three years to accommodate K-12, PerImeter said.

Selling bonds

PerImeter and Solender declined to disclose the purchase prices for the new school sites. All required less than $1 million apiece in modifications to make them functional for this school year, PerImeter said.

Charter schools do not receive state money for building improvements, so Uplift Education will sell about $10 million in bonds to finance part of the cost of purchasing and building improvements at the three new schools, and a 40,000-square-foot expansion of Peak Preparatory, doubling that sehool’s size, Perimeter said.

A year ago, the Texas High School Project gave Uplift a $2.68 million grant to open two science, technology, engineering and math schools. Texas High School Project is a partnership that includes funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Micheal and Susan Dell Foundation.

Uplift, in May, received an additional $2.5 million from a foundation led by Dallas philanthropists Abby and Todd Williams to establish Williams Preparatory, which is one of the two scienee, technology, engineering and math schools. The site for the second such school has not been selected, Perimeter said.

Charter sehools are public schools that operate under a contract granted by a chartering entity such as the State Board of Education. The Texas Legislature authOlized the establishment of charter schools in 1995.

Chatter schools don’t charge tuition, but receive varying amounts of state funding based on their enrollment and the area they servce, Perimeter said. For Uplift schools, it amounts to about $5,000 per student, she said.

Uplift schools teach a rigorous, multi-disciplinary curriculum. Located in underserviced communities, the schools stress core skills, accountability, question-asking, college preparation and foreign langnages.

Uplift’s North Hills School was ranked 13th out of the top 100 public schools in the United States in 2007 by Newsweek magazine.

bhethcock@bizjournals.com I 214-706-7125

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