New, private school offers free education to Durham children
Posted May 14, 2009 7:49 a.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2009 9:32 a.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — Children in one of the Triangle’s poorest neighborhoods will get the chance to attend a new, private school in Durham thanks in large part to donations from a local church.
Union Independent School – a state-of-the-art, 49,000-square-foot facility at 116 Corporation St. – is scheduled to open on July 15.
The school plans to open with 75 students in kindergarten through second grade and operate on a year-round calendar. The school will add a new kindergarten class each year until it becomes a K-8 school.
Children who live in the 172-block area known as “Northeast-Central Durham” applied and were chosen by lottery to attend the school for free. May 1 was the lottery deadline, according to the school’s Web site. Acceptance letters were mailed on Monday.
“When kids walk through the door of this school, their life is going to change,” said project director Charles Stanback.
The idea to build the school sprang from the Durham Scholars program, a 14-year-old partnership between Union Baptist Church and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“The church has contributed in excess of $2 million already in terms of preps, plus the church is assuming the debt service on the building. So all told, the church will have about a $10 million investment,” said Pastor Kenneth Hammond, who says the church has more than 4,000 members.
Neither Hammond nor school officials would reveal how much money they still hope to raise.
The school plans to generate income through fees from companies that want access to its target population to do testing in fields like nutrition, physical activity and entrepreneurial education.
“In this neighborhood, we’ve got, as you can imagine, a gang problem and kids the age that will be here in school are prime candidates for gang culture. Except, when they’re in here, it’s hard to recruit them,” Stanback said.
Union Independent School
904 North Roxboro St.
Durham, N.C. 27701
116 Corporation St.
Durham, N.C. 27701
Web site: www.unionis.org
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.