In July, construction will begin on a brand new DaVinci Academy, taking the Blaine charter school from its current home at a repurposed hardware store to a 105,000-square-foot facility with the latest learning tools and specialized spaces.
DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science's new school in Ham Lake will be more than twice the size of its 40,000-square-foot predecessor and accommodate twice the students, said Debra Lach, executive director.
The new digs are necessary to accommodate growing enrollment. Kindergarten alone has a 100-student waiting list and applications overall have nearly doubled at the K-8 school, Lach said
"We have a lot of small group teaching going on. We're teaching in the hallways," Lach said. "Program-wise, we've outgrown the school."
Families are drawn to the school because of strong state test scores and word-of-mouth from other parents, Lach said.
The Ham Lake facility will house up to 1,000 students and have a separate auditorium, gym and cafeteria instead of one space used for multiple purposes, as in the existing school. Also planned are more classrooms, including gifted and talented and special education rooms and space for small groups.
Individualization, or customizing learning for each students' needs and abilities, is one of the school's pillars and the new space will let teachers do more of it, Lach said.
The eight-year-old charter school will move in August 2017. The project was funded by a bonding issue through the city of Ham Lake.
For five years the state has deemed DaVinci Academy a Reward School, a designation recognizing the top 25 percent of Title I schools in Minnesota. Title I schools have high percentages of children from low-income families.
A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 5 p.m. Monday at 532 Bunker Lake Boulevard in Ham Lake.