Expansion plans for the Wissahickon Charter School are getting a boost from a just-announced William Penn Foundation grant. Mt. Airy USA was awarded $500,000 to put towards the cost of constructing the school’s new campus off Washington Lane, said Anuj Gupta of Mt. Airy USA and Mt. Airy Transit Village Inc.
While several charter schools in the Northwest have expansion plans to allow for more enrollment, the Wissahickon Charter plan is significant in that it is a second full campus rather than an upgrade or replacement of an existing one.
The existing campus will remain at 4700 Wissahickon Ave., near Fern Hill Park, where it has been located since its founding in 2002.
The second campus at 815 E. Washington Lane will house classes of kindergarten through 8, nearly doubling the charter’s enrollment to more than 900. Gupta said the school had been working with the William Penn Foundation for over a year to secure the grant, which will offset part of the estimated $11 million construction cost.
“We got the grant in full, which is a big milestone for this project,” Gupta said, calling it a critical piece of the overall financing on the $17 million project. MAUSA has also received about $3 million in grants toward its plans to bring pedestrian-friendly uses to the area near the Washington Lane SEPTA station.
MAUSA received zoning board approval earlier this month to put the school on the site, which is zoned industrial use, and saw strong support from neighborhood groups, who will benefit from the use of multipurpose community rooms within the school. The school will also work in partnership with Awbury Arboretum.
MAUSA originally bought the property in 2008, when it planned a residential-commercial development on the site.
NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Amy Z. Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: An earlier version of the article stated the grant was awarded directly to the school. It was granted to Mt. Airy USA, solely for the purpose of building the school.
Disclaimer: WHYY recieves funding from the Wiliam Penn Foundation.