Penn Charter’s Overseers, for 329 years the governing body of this school, reached consensus in October on a plan to propel Penn Charter forward with a campus transformation that will shape the school for decades.
Rather than build a new Athletics and Wellness Center in two phases, Overseers decided to save money and minimize disruption by building both phases of the facility at once, beginning construction in the summer of 2019. That decision advances the date when construction can begin on a new lower school, and it means Penn Charter will benefit from all of the features of the state-of-the-art athletics center sooner, rather than later.
The Overseers’ Finance Committee recommended the bold move based on several factors:
The $75 million How Far? capital campaign has raised $68.1 million, and school leaders have confidence we will exceed the goal. Overseers themselves have donated or pledged $16 million to the How Far? campaign.
Penn Charter’s endowment was worth $87 million in June 2018, and growing; this provides financial security as well as investment income and leverage for borrowing.
Penn Charter’s extraordinarily loyal and generous OPCs have pledged multi-million dollar commitments to the school that will become available over time.
Head of School Darryl J. Ford and the Development Office continue to solicit gifts for the other pillars of the campaign — ongoing program innovation, faculty professional development and salary increases, and financial aid — but new gifts from alumni and parents who support athletics and wellness are now a priority.
The significance of the Overseers’ decision in October is that they are confident Penn Charter has the resources, the momentum and the leadership to realize each aspect of our Strategic Vision and the campus transformation that will support it.
As the board began its discussion on Oct. 1, Overseer Richard Balderston OPC ’69 expressed this moment in PC history simply: “It’s an exciting time. It’s Penn Charter’s time. We will do this.”
Visit campaign.penncharter.com to follow our progress and to hear from people supporting PC and the How Far? capital campaign
PUTTING SHOVELS IN THE GROUND
Penn Charter’s campus transformation will make it possible for the school to provide
a complete educational experience in East Falls for the next 50 years and beyond.
Examples of Penn Charter’s Strategic Vision success abound in our academic buildings and have for each of the last four years as the curriculum changes to provide students with knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.
The much-anticipated physical evidence of new construction that will transform Penn Charter’s campus and facilities to support the goals of that Strategic Vision appeared this August and, in a carefully plotted sequence of work, construction is expected to continue over five years.
“There is such excitement on campus when construction begins,” Head of School Darryl J. Ford said. “I experienced this when we built the Richard B. Fisher Middle School, the Kline & Specter Squash Center, and the David L. Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts. Now, we are about to experience that same sense of excitement and growth. It is all about to happen!”At their fall retreat, Overseers reached consensus on the funding and timeline for building projects —a comprehensive Master Plan—that will position Penn Charter to flourish on this 47-acre campus for decades to come. Those projects and their sequencing are as follows:
Construction of a new baseball field began in August and completion is anticipated in spring 2019.
A new Athletics and Wellness Center, situated mostly on the site of the old baseball field, is scheduled to begin in summer 2019, following Commencement. Architects estimate construction will require 18 to 24 months, which takes the plan to winter or spring of 2021.
- Groundbreaking for the new lower school in 2021, again following Commencement.
- A ribbon-cutting for the new, state-of-the- art building could happen as soon as spring of 2023.
“I am so excited about the spaces and the energy that will be created in these buildings,” Amy Gadsden, a parent and member of Overseers, recently told an audience of supporters to Penn Charter’s How Far? capital campaign. “Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings and, thereafter, they shape us.’ ... with this campus transformation, Penn Charter will go from good to great and from great to excellent.”
Architects and planners advised the school that the site of the current Dooney Field House was the best location for a new lower school. Locating the building there would create a vibrant “academic village,” strengthening relationships and collaboration, sparking ideas as students and faculty crisscross paths. The current Dooney site also offers enough space to build a new lower school with learning spaces inside and outdoors.
THE ATHLETICS AND WELLNESS CENTER WILL INCLUDE:
State-of-the-art training room, fitness center, wrestling room, locker rooms and meeting spaces.
Basketball courts not only for competition but team practice and physical education classes.
Safe, direct access to the track and Maguire Field, plus the front fields and Strawbridge Campus.
The new Athletics and Wellness Center will be a gathering space, a community hub and a place for all-school events.
A domino effect cleared the way for a new Athletics and Wellness Center that is so much more than the field house:
1) Old baseball field replaced by new facility across the street on Strawbridge Campus.
2) Athletics and Wellness Center on the site of the old baseball field.
3) New lower school on the Dooney site.
The new center will fortify Penn Charter athletics and attract talent by providing athletes with state-of-the- art training and competition facilities. And, Gadsden said, “It will focus not just on athletes but on the whole student and all students.”
During the school day, before sports begin, the facility will get a full workout from physical education and health/wellness programs, both of which will have a home there. The expansion of facilities means that teams won’t lose practice time due to rain and it makes possible concurrent rather than consecutive practices— which means students can finish their day earlier and return home in time for family dinner.
The timing for each construction project depends on the speed of the city’s zoning process and a less predictable variable: the weather. However, the school is ready.
This winter, as work concludes on the baseball field construction, architects are digging deeper into the plans for a new lower school. And the plans for the Athletics and Wellness Center that appear on these pages will be revised and tweaked between now and that fine summer day when Penn Charter puts another shovel in the ground to transform this campus.