FHSD Acquiring St. Charles River Church

Posted on 04/18/2019
above view of the church

The Francis Howell School District Board of Education approved a sales contract for the purchase of the former St. Charles River Church building at 810 Westwood Industrial Park Drive. The District is now conducting its due diligence including a survey, environmental study, and an appraisal. The purchase is contingent on the results of inspections and is scheduled to close on June 4.

The new facility will be used to provide services for special education students in grades 6-12 with a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. With the new building, the District will be able to expand services to FHSD elementary students and serve additional students who can’t be served in the current building. The District’s Alternative Learning Program is currently housed at Heritage Landing, 1400 Gettysburg Landing.

“The new site will provide additional room, allowing us to offer more electives,” said Director of Alternative Learning Dr. Will Vanderpool. “Through this growth, we envision the school becoming more comprehensive and therapeutic. This will enable us to intervene with students at a younger age, create healthier outcomes, and help students transition back to their home schools in a shorter period of time.”

Schools locally and nationally are experiencing increased demand for services to assist a growing number of students who require social/emotional supports. The average cost of sending an FHSD student to an outside placement is more than $70,000 annually, and serving these students at the new facility is estimated to save the District more than $250,000 per year. These cost reductions will effectively pay for the purchase price of the building in less than 10 years.

The building, purchased for $2.262 million, is approximately 22,000 sq. ft. and includes eleven classrooms, office space, and more than 100 parking spaces. Built in 2003, the church has been the only owner and tenant of the property. The facility is expected to be ready for students when school starts in August.

Prior to the purchase of the church, the District considered expanding its current facility. After consulting with the District’s architectural firm, it was determined that expanding Heritage Landing was not a viable option. The Facilities Committee will work to determine the future of the Heritage Landing site. Options include repurposing for other District needs, as well as potentially renting or selling the building. 

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