Faith Academy launches capital campaign, sets sights on new facility

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 29, 2022

SALISBURY — Faith Academy is looking to raise $2 million to help pay off its current debt and is looking ahead to a $23 million school project as it expands its grade levels.

The campaign, with the goal to “continue the Faith foundation,” itemizes the expenses the school had to take on to begin its first year of classes, including purchasing the former Faith Elementary school, furnishing the building, purchasing land to build a new facility on, bringing in modular replacements, up-fitting the library and purchasing devices for students.

The school project isn’t all about expenses. Principal Sarah Hensley told the Post the school received 10,000 book donations to outfit the library. Academy Board Secretary and campaign chair Tim Williams credited the legion of volunteers who came to the school last summer to help paint and get the school ready for the year.

Williams said at that point the school needed supplies and labor, but this year it needs money and giving is a way for people who couldn’t participate last summer. Gift tiers range from $100 all the way up to $200,000.

Giving levels are split up into “teams.” Williams noted the School House Team is looking for 300 donors at $1,000 each, which would cover the entire cost of purchasing the current facility from Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

“We want to lower our current debt and increase our ability to borrow money,” Williams said.

The school sent a mailer about the campaign out on Tuesday, and Williams said his phone has been ringing off the hook since. The school has quietly taken in about $50,000 for the campaign during the past couple months.

This summer, the school plans to break ground on the first phase of the new facility that will eventually become its K-8 building. The first phase of the project, mostly classrooms, is slated to be ready for the 2023-2024 school year. All told, the school plans to build a facility with a 51,125 square-foot bottom floor and a 33,227 square-foot upper level that will include a gymnasium/auditorium, additional classrooms and a music space.

The timing is deliberate. This coming year the school will serve grades K-8, and in 2023-2024 it will add ninth grade. The school will add a grade each year until it can serve students K-12.

Wilhelm said when conversations about starting the school began more than two years ago the intention was to just serve elementary, the same as Faith Elementary School, but what would become the board decided to pursue K-12 so students who came the school would not be displaced.

The mix of students at the school is unique. Rather than all the students in one geographic district, the charter is able to pull students from all over the county and from outside. Wilhelm said the concern at the time was when students graduated from elementary school they would be scattered to public schools all over the county and lose contact with their classmates.

To view the plan, click here.

“We want our kids to have the very same type of curriculum and type of learning that began in elementary school to go on to middle school and high school,” Wilhelm said.

Williams said the school is an important part of keeping Faith viable and eventually the school population will surpass the town’s. This coming school year, the school will have about 600 students.

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About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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