Once 21st Century Charter School officials received word in January that Ball State University had renewed its charter, they began finalizing plans to build a new middle and high school.

With bonding secured for the $6.5 million building, the school is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony at noon Wednesday at the downtown school site, 724 Washington St. It’s two blocks south of the original school at 556 Washington St.

The new school, expected to be ready in August, will house middle and high school students during the day and Gary Middle College students in the evening.

The current school will house elementary students.

It will be the second freshly constructed charter school opening in the city in August. The Charter School of Dunes expects to open its $13 million school in Miller on U.S. 20 and Old Hobart Road. That school suffered through a few scary weeks when Ball State announced it wouldn’t renew the school’s charter, along with another Gary charter, LEAD College Preparatory Academy.

In March, however, Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond offered to sponsor Charter School of the Dunes, providing it with a reprieve. LEAD Preparatory appealed Ball State’s decision. No decision has been announced yet on the appeal, a Ball State spokesman said Friday.

Kevin Teasley, CEO and founder of the Greater Education Opportunities Foundation that operates 21st Century Charter School and the Gary Middle College, said he held off construction until the renewal was announced.

Teasley said Powers & Son Construction is the lead contractor for the new school and Schmidt and Associates is the architect.

He said, like the existing school, much of the school’s components are prefabricated and assembled off-site.

Principal Angela West said the new two-story school will contain 13 classrooms. She expects an enrollment of about 320. The school held a lottery for spots in the new school last month.

Teasley said the new school should make way for increased enrollment at the Gary Middle College, which opened last year.

By Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune