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Shining Rock finds long-term location

fr srcaThe entire staff was called into the Shining Rock Classical Academy’s board meeting Monday afternoon to hear the news — the charter school has finally secured a location for the next five years.

After finishing this school year at the Wilson Children’s Complex at Lake Junaluska, Board Chairwoman Tara Keilberg announced that Shining Rock would be relocating across the road to 1023 Dellwood Road. It’s the now empty lot between Bojangle’s and the Lake Junaluska Campground that used to be the Lakeview Motel before it burned down in a fire. 

“The location where we are in the Wilson building has been ideal — there’s so much access to green space and the lake is already geared toward children and families, but having our own space will be nice,” Keilberg said. “The site across the street is beautiful.”

The Lake Junaluska Assembly owns the Dellwood Road property and is leasing it to Shining Rock for $45,000 a year for five years — that’s $3,750 a month. 

Keilberg said the school also has an option to renew for another five years after the initial lease. The property encompasses 2.8 acres along Dellwood and an addition 20 acres up the hill that include cabins, playground and a knoll at the top that would be perfect for the school’s experiential learning classes. 

Until recently, Keilberg said the Assembly was unwilling to extend the school’s lease past December, but she is happy they changed their minds. 

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“They were slow to talk about any longer term agreement, but Jack Ewing (executive director of the Assembly) said he was charged with turning under-utilized assets into revenue generating assets and we could see where this would be beneficial for both of us,” she said.  

Teachers and staff members were happy that they will no longer be cramped into the children’s complex or have to share classroom space with other teachers. Teachers have become accustomed to using the hallways as workspace. 

School director Ben Butler said the plan was to place three modular units on the property for 23 classrooms and office space. However, the lease prohibits the building of any permanent structures so Keilberg said the board would continue to seek a permanent home. 

With permission from the assembly, the board also voted to approve extending its lease at the Wilson Children’s Complex until May 2016, which will allow students to finish out the year without being uprooted and will give the board time to place modular units at the new site. 

The hotel site lease begins Jan. 1. In the meantime, the SRCA board will begin the necessary traffic and environmental studies on the property and will release a site plan as soon as possible.

The charter school board has been desperately searching for a piece of property to purchase in Haywood County during the last year, but nothing has worked out for one reason or another. 

Most recently, SRCA had a contract to purchase a piece of farmland at Collins Orchard on the corner of Raccoon Road and U.S. 276, but efforts stalled because a farmer growing corn has a lease on the property until May. The farmer and his attorney refused to allow SRCA to perform environmental testing on the site after an engineering truck hired by the school damaged a portion of his crop. 

The school also needed a special-use permit from the town of Waynesville to have a school in that area, but the planning board denied the permit request. While the Dellwood Road property is still in Waynesville’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, a special-use permit is not needed. 

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