|May 21, 2012 --
Rural School Expanded, Renewed with Rural Development Loan
Outline Of Need:
Five years ago the Soldier Hollow Charter School (SHCS) limited enrollment to 150 students. The waiting list grew as the school gained a reputation for its hands-on style and smaller classroom sizes. The school needed to expand its building but because it is on State Park land and utilizing a 2002 Olympic building, adding permanent classrooms to the existing building was not an option.
How Rural Development Helped:
With a Rural Development Community Facilities loan, the school was able to afford the purchase of three modular classroom buildings. The buildings add eight new classrooms to the school.
The SHCS Board came up with an idea and proposed to build three multi-use modular classroom buildings with large decks. The common view was the new buildings would give the school room to grow comfortably to about 250 students and expand their community influence.
Chris Willis, SHCS Board President stated, “With everyone on board, the big issue was financing. Unfortunately, global economic crisis hit with full force at that time making lending options scarce. Despite the school’s strong financial history, we had been turned down by at least 20 local and national banks, credit unions, and even several lenders that specialized in charter schools.”
USDA Rural Development qualified the school for a Community Facility Direct Loan. “Without USDA, this project could not have happened as we envisioned it,” said Willis. As soon as the financing was secure the buildings went into construction.
“The USDA Rural Development loan was a lifesaver for our project,” said Kimberly Gilboy, SHCS Board Member, and Project Manager. “We’ve been thrilled to see federal stimulus money filtering down to our community. This project put numerous people back to work. I think there were at least 100 construction professionals who worked on various aspects of our buildings.”
Upon completion, a ribbon cutting ceremony took place to dedicate the revitalized school. Dave Conine, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Utah, said, “I can’t think of any better way to invest our tax dollars than in our education system.”