Flint Cultural Center begins $35 million project to open new charter school

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FLINT (WJRT) (6/26/2018) - More than 600 students will get a unique education beginning in 2019 that involves many of Flint's major cultural attractions.

Renderings of the new Flint Cultural Center Academy

The Flint Cultural Center broke ground on Tuesday for a $35 million project to build and outfit a charter school that will focus on STEAM education -- science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The Flint Cultural Center Academy will offer daily activities in many of the institutions managed by the organization, including the Sloan Museum, Flint Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Music, Flint Public Library, Longway Planetarium and The Whiting auditorium.

Much of the $35 million cost to build and open the school for kindergarten through eighth grade has been provided by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The new school will be 78,000 square feet with 37 classrooms, a gymnasium, a kitchen and a cafeteria. An adjacent facility with three multipurpose classrooms will offer direct access to the Sloan Museum and Flint Institute of Music.

Planning for the new school started in 2015 as the next step in the evolution of the cultural campus in providing educational opportunities for the community, said Flint Cultural Center Corp. Chief Operating Officer Mark Sinila.

"Our goal for the Flint Cultural Center Academy is to engage students in science and the fine arts in ways they might not otherwise encounter," he said. "Those experiences will reflect and reinforce the learning taking place in the classroom and the result will be a cohesive, engaging and stimulating educational experience."

Grand Valley State University in Allendale will charter the school while EL Education, a national nonprofit specializing in K-12 education, will help develop the curriculum.

The school will open in the fall of 2019 with 300 spots for kindergarten through fifth grade. Sixth grade will be added in the fall of 2020, seven grade in the fall of 2021 and eighth grade in the fall of 2022.

Total enrollment will top out at 650 students when the school reaches full capacity from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Enrollment will be open to students in Flint, Genesee County and anywhere in Michigan, based on state laws governing charter schools. A lottery will be used to select students if enrollment for a particular grade exceeds the space available.

"We're focusing on success for kids and for Flint kids, for Genesee County kids, and in addition to that, this is just a building block of making sure that there's opportunities for everyone in Flint," said Ridgway White, C.S. Mott Foundation President and CEO.

Information about enrollment will be available in early 2019.

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