The Key West Collegiate Academy, which started off just a few years ago with a handful of students in a couple of rooms at Florida Keys Community College, now has a large building in which to hang its collective hat.
After negotiating with the college since December, Corey Oliver, the charter high school's principal, recently modified the school's lease with FKCC to allow it to move into the now vacant Public Safety Building on FKCC's campus.
The deal was approved by the FKCC board of trustees at its most recent meeting.
As of Aug. 1, KWCA will begin paying $8,500 in monthly rent to the college. The school's previous rent had been $6,200 for a much smaller space which once housed the FKCC's Human Resources Department.
"We plan on staying here until we outgrow it," Oliver said. "And we do plan on outgrowing it. We have 85 students signed up for the fall so far, but we expect we'll have 95 by the time school starts."
The second-floor space the school is inheriting contains three offices and seven large classrooms, only five of which KWCA will be using. Each room has high ceilings and huge closet space for storage.
"Before we had this space, I used to have to store textbooks at my house," Oliver said. "It's nice to be able to spread out in here."
In anticipation of a deal to move the school into the building, Oliver and his students have been feverishly working to prepare the space for learning. The Coast Guard also lent a hand, the principal said.
Oliver said not being so spread out among several decent, but dispersed, learning areas will be a welcomed relief when the new year begins in August.
"It's hard to feel like you're a family when you're from a broken home," he noted wryly. Students will, however, use the FKCC Building D as a science lab.
This year, Oliver said his school will offer more advanced placement courses. Also, teachers and administrators will call their students "young scholars," which the principal prefers.
"The biggest problem is America today is that kids lack purpose," Oliver said. "We plan to give them that. Accordingly, we're also going to be naming our classrooms after colleges, like FIU and Nova."
The school even has a banner that will hang on the exterior of the building, above the entrance way. The Public Safety Building lettering will stay, though, as a tribute to its former function.
FKCC President Jonathan Gueverra said that he was pleased to be able to move the charter high school into its new home.
"The lease is just one part of the overall level of collaboration that continues to develop between the college and KWCA," Gueverra said. "In the year just ended, we saw students taking dual-enrollment courses. They also volunteered alongside our employees and FKCC honor students, providing tutoring for the high school. There is a liason from the college who attends the high school board meetings, and both of the institution's leaders meeet during the year to discuss and plan for stronger working relationships."
Now the only problem the principal has is deciding what to do with the large antique diving suit -- with helmet -- that stands in the hallway.
"Who knows what we're going to do with that," Oliver said.