The plan is to move D-B EXCEL, formerly part of Cora Cox Academy that was once known as New Horizons Alternative School, from an early 20th century building near Wellmont Holston Valley Medical Center downtown to the Press Building near Food City and the KCS administrative offices. The structure now housing D-B Excel at 520 Myrtle St. originally was Lee School.
EXCEL stands for Excellence in a Creative Environment for Learning.
Shanna Hensley, principal of D-B EXCEL, Carmen Bryant, KCS chief academic officer for secondary education, and Superintendent Lyle Ailshie updated the Board of Education Thursday night at its work session about the status of D-B EXCEL and its future, which could include a lease of about $14,000 a year or about $2.5 million over 15 years, an outright purchase of $1.7 million up-front or interim amounts over the 15 years if the school system wanted to make an outright purchase later.
Ailshie Monday said D-B EXCEL “is an optional program for a different pathway to high school graduation.” He said the alternative program, on the same campus in a portable building but completely separate, will remain at Cora Cox.
“Once we move D-B EXCEL the alternative program will stay and move into the main Cora Cox facility. We will then remove the portable building,” Ailshie said.
The vision of D-B EXCEL is to provide students with an innovative, student-focused, personalized learning environment, using a a mixture of virtual and blended learning.
The program has 227 students enrolled for the 2015-16 school year, as opposed to 136 last school year and 63 the year before that. Online courses completed for 2014-15 were 807, but through the fall of 2015-16, that number has risen to 886.
In order for the school to expand to a new location for the fall of 2016, approvals for location, plans, and contracts would have to be secured this spring. The chosen location, assuming the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and BOE approve, is the third floor of the Press Building on Clinchfield/Sullivan streets. The district is considering a 15-year lease that would include a purchase option.
The new location is estimated to provide space for about 300 to 350 students at any given time, although staggered attendance times would mean it could serve more students.
Payments according to a lease purchase option would be: in year one, $1,743,100, and the school system would own it; year two, $ 1,657,100 and a year’s worth of monthly lease payments; year five, $ 1,373,300 would be owed after the lease payments; year 10, $ 765,800 plus the lease payment; and year 15, nothing — paid off at $2,502,000.
The assumed appraised value is $2,234,000, with assumed appraisal value of added parking $260,000. A 15-year lease would be $13,900 a month, noncancellable with no prepayment option, and the total appraised value is $2,494,000 of leased assets.
An estimated start-up cost of $450,000 is not included in the lease-purchase figures. That is made up of $8,000 for a fire alarm, $145,000 for technology, $7,000 for a clinic, $200,000 for furniture and $90,000 for kitchen equipment. Kitchen equipment would be funded from the school nutrition fund balance, while the other equipment is to be funded from new Sullivan County property tax revenue.
The project would take about 135 days for completion. It would use approximately 15,636 square feet and the build-out of 960 square feet of additional space.