The Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy is putting down roots in the Highland Park community. The academy has purchased the Bailey Avenue academic building the school had been leasing for the past year and a half.
"We hope really to become a hub for the community," said CGLA Director Elaine Swafford, envisioning summer programs and ways to get parents more involved.
The academy bought the building from Tennessee Temple University for about $800,000. The purchase was the first step in an expansion project that will double the academy's 16 classrooms.
"The building was initially divided into small classrooms for music practice," said Verina Baxter, chairwoman of the board for the Young Women's Leadership Academy Foundation. The renovation will cost about $1.7 million, money the foundation is raising through private donations and grants, according to Baxter.
"We had to realize these classrooms to expand enrollment," Swafford said. "When the charter opened, the projected enrollment was 350 students."
The school has 199 students, and Swafford expects that to increase to 265 to 280 by next year. The added space also will allow for a science lab, music and art rooms and an improved library and media center.
A goal is for parents to use the media center's computers and other resources.
"Parents can come and work with their daughters to apply for colleges and to help with homework," Baxter said.
The expansion is expected to be completed by fall.
"We are so excited that this is happening for our girls," Baxter said. "It's going to be just perfect for them."
Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.