MARCO ISLAND — After leasing a space from a church for a year and a half, Marco Island Academy now has a home of its own.
Students returned Monday from spring break to a new campus at 2255 San Marco Road. The fact that Marco Island Academy now has a campus of its own is “amazing,” said Jane Watt, founder and chairwoman of the board for the science, technology, engineering and math-focused high charter school.
“Our vision was always to be able to have a campus where the educational facility would actually almost meld into the environment,” she said. “And this campus absolutely will facilitate that because we’re literally right in the middle of a beautiful, beautiful location where kids can walk out the door and be set in nature.”
Charter schools are public schools operated by private groups based on charters with the school board. They are tuition-free and funded by tax dollars, but have more flexibility with teacher salaries, work days, class-size reduction laws, and in accepting students.
Since Marco Island Academy opened in fall 2011, it has been housed in a church-owned building next to the Family Church on Winterberry Drive, on the island. In that location, it could only accommodate about 100 students. Watt said the school spent $1.2 million on the new campus, all of which was generated through donations.
Volunteers including parents, students and community members moved the campus during spring break.
The new site includes six classrooms connected by a rooftop, Watt said. It can accommodate 225 students and be expanded to serve up to 400. Next year, the charter school — which currently serves students in grades nine through eleven — plans to add 12th grade.
Enrollment is currently open for next year. Additional information is available on the school’s website, marcoislandacademy.com.