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Patrick Henry School Wins Major Grant

With $471K grant, charter school inches closer to fundraising goal.



The curriculum isn't the only thing that's green at Richmond's first planned charter school. The Patrick Henry School of Sciences and Art has been awarded a $471,800 federal grant that goes a long way toward greening the school's bank account.

Word of the grant, which came last week, means the school is nearing its critical first-year fundraising goal. The first installment of the three-year grant -- for $114,850 -- when added to the $30,000 in individual donations puts the school within about $30,000 of raising its target of $175,000.

“Obviously this grant takes us oh, so close,” says the school's board president, Deb Butterworth. “It won't take very much more to take us up over the top.”

The money, awarded through a federal grant specifically designed to aid charter school startup efforts, comes with specific earmarks, which include the first few months of salary needed to hire a principal for the school. Though staff salaries at the school, according to the school's contract with Richmond Public Schools, are paid primarily by the school system, a roughly three-month preparation period prior to the school's opening had until now remained unfunded, Butterworth says.

“It takes that worry off of our shoulders,” she says. “We know where the principal's salary is going to come from. This was created specifically for those kinds of startup costs.”

Butterworth says the school's board is on track to hire a principal early next year.

Additionally, the grant pays $21,000 toward necessary work to make the 87-year-old school building compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. That money covers the estimated $12,000 needed for a chair lift to provide access to upper floors, as well as various funds for signage, ramps and science lab fixtures.

Also included is money for teacher training, specifically to integrate the school's green curriculum into regular course materials.

In September, the school announced a separate $100,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Those funds don't apply to the overall school startup fundraising goal because they are earmarked specifically for green initiatives that compliment the school's curriculum.

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