A local private school has hit its fundraising goal and will soon get to work on some long-awaited renovations to its 114-year-old building.
St. Andrew’s School in Oregon Hill recently completed its capital campaign, surpassing its $1.2 million goal by nearly $300,000 within five months, allowing it to update its historic building at 227 S. Cherry St.
St. Andrew’s teaches students from low-income local families and offers an alternative to their assigned public school. All students are given full scholarships, and the school provides free breakfast, lunch and a snack each school day. Full capacity is about 96 students
The school’s Building Improvement Initiative fundraising campaign began in September. Head of School Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter said the renovations are the first step of multiple phases that will allow St. Andrew’s to better serve its students.
“We have this vision for the future of our school, and this is really the first step to get all these pieces pulled together, and to then be ready for the future success of our school, our building and our students’ educations,” she said.
Renovations will include a new HVAC system, repainting, reglazing windows and exterior work such as roof repairs. The air conditioning system will allow the administration to explore the option to teach students year-round.
It will also consider increasing its total number of students and offering additional services to its student body. Right now St. Andrew’s can serve half of its students in after-school programs, but hopefully that will increase, Weldon-Lassiter said.
The Monument Cos. is providing the contracting work pro bono and will also be managing the tax credit process for the school.
“It’s really exciting what’s going on,” said Tom Dickey, a principal with Monument Cos. “The school does really good, important work.”
The renovations will start in a few months when the school lets out for the summer and finish up before the next school year resumes in September.
The newly raised $1.49 million came from a combination of sources; individual donors gave a majority of the funds. A Mary Morton Parsons Foundation challenge grant provided $200,000 to get started.
Other donors included Mary Wickham, a former St. Andrew’s head of school, Nancy and Bruce Gottwald, Comtel Communications, the Shelton Hardaway Short, Jr. Charitable Trust, and Friends of St. Andrew’s, the school’s young professionals volunteer group.
David Shuford, chair of the school’s board of directors, said the fundraiser was daunting at first – it went far beyond the school’s annual efforts of raising $1.2 million for its yearly budget.
“The board was a little apprehensive as to whether we could get there, because each year we have to raise upwards of a million dollars, and to layer on top of that operation a capital campaign was both new to the school and a little intimidating,” he said. “I truly think it was a testament to how many people in the community support the vision and mission of our school.”
St. Andrew’s was founded in 1894 by Grace Arents, heir to the fortune of her uncle, Richmond businessman and fellow philanthropist Lewis Ginter. The school has 34 staff members, including six classroom teachers.