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East Spencer board OKs rezoning for charter school

EAST SPENCER — The East Spencer town board approved a request to rezone a former church to be used as the Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School.

The board held a brief hearing Monday to get feedback from the community about the request.

Charter school officials were interested in a piece of property behind the former Dunbar Center but have now decided to lease the property at 729 N. Long St. — the former Northside Community Development Center. The metal building is owned by the Church of God of Prophecy. The building most recently held a day care facility.

School officials were requesting a conditional use permit for the building.

Principal Jonathan Pullin spoke during the hearing to express his excitement about the opening of the school. He said the school will enroll as many as 150 students with plans to begin with kindergarten through fourth grade.

Pullin said the initial idea is to lease the building for at least two year and school officials would then re-evaluate whether they would stay on, add trailers, refurbish the building or build on another site.

He said it would really be based on the growth of the school.

Bishop James Lott, whose church owns the building, gave his full support to the charter school and the rezoning request.

“I’m excited about the charter school,” Lott said.

Students would attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pullin said meals would be prepared off-site, but a decision on who will do that is final.

Alderman Curtis Cowan made note that he had no information about the request before the meeting. However, the request was discussed at a previous meeting and the planning board held a courtesy hearing May 8 to formulate a recommendation to the board.

Cowan also mentioned the decision by the school’s board of directors to change from a previous requested location at the former Dunbar Center. The group never closed on the property behind the former Dunbar Center.

The board also had a public hearing Monday night about the 2018-19 budget, but no one spoke in favor or opposition.

The proposed $2.4 million budget will include a 3-cent tax increase to mostly cover the cost of a new firetruck. The tax hike will also help pay increased salaries for the Police Department and added fire equipment and change of staffing needs in the Fire Department.

The increase in police salaries is an attempt to remain competitive in the market. The budget does not include new vehicles or large pieces of equipment for the police Department.

The increase will raise the tax on a property with a $100,000 valuation by $30 annually. The owner of a property with a valuation of $75,000 will pay an added $22.50 each year.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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