Planning for More Classrooms

The fruit of 5 years of prayer and work, this September Sparhawk Academy began its great adventure of educating boys. Our original plan was to open with 25 boys in grades 4-7, and add a grade 3 and grade 8 in our second year. But many families have been attracted to the three pillars of our vision:

  • we exist to support parents as the primary educators of their children;
  • boys will thrive in a boy-friendly curriculum and physical environment;
  • boys hunger for role models who will challenge them academically, encourage their physical development, mentor their moral imagination, and guide their spiritual lives.

We have been able to recruit an outstanding faculty of 7 teachers and a chaplain who embody this vision. As a result, we have 37 boys enrolled in grades 3-8.

Classes take place in the farm house built in 1931. Since purchasing the property last December we have remodeled the first floor to carve out a reception area and five classrooms. A teacher’s lounge and administrative offices occupy the second floor. We were able to supplement this 2,128 square feet of living space with about 800 square feet of space in the basement, where we have a chapel for daily Mass, and a sixth classroom.

Our 300 square foot basement classroom can accommodate 16 students. Our other five classrooms are each less than 210 square feet, with capacities of between 3 and 14 students. Since we teach several subjects to paired grades, we cannot have more than 16 students in the combined grades 3 and 4, 5 and 6, or 7 and 8.

We anticipate demand for next year will be much greater, and that we could double our enrollment without compromising our standards. But our current facilities simply will not allow us to grow.

The Master Planning document we commissioned from GRLA offers ideas that would allow us to add the classroom space, chapel space, and septic capacity we need to serve more families. It is flexible enough to allow us to add as little as 1,500 square feet or as much as 6,600 square feet by next September, depending on how successfully we spread the word about our school and our vision.

We have identified five scenarios for classroom space in the upcoming academic year 2019-20:

Scenario A – Maintain the status quo
Potential enrollment: 41
Months to implement: 0
Estimated capital cost: $0

Our main limitation under this scenario is the capacity of the current Grade 8 classroom (3, possibly 4 boys) and the Grade 7 homeroom (4, possibly 5 boys). The capacity for our largest combined class is 16.

All of the following scenarios would require a new septic system. That will cost about $100,000, which is included as part of the estimated capital cost for each.

Scenario B – Convert the garage into two classrooms
Potential enrollment: 60-65
Months to implement: 8
Estimated capital cost: $240,000

By adding two larger classrooms, each with a capacity of up to 25, we could take the current Grade 7 and Grade 8 classrooms off line. It would likely involve moving the chapel to a bigger space in the garage, opening up what is now our chapel space for a larger classroom. Phase One of this approach entails moving the Music Hall, cafeteria, and locker room activities into the barn. This would require a new roof and some rudimentary insulation and heating. This would cost about $60,000. Converting the garage would involve bringing the foundation up to code, replacing the garage doors with a wall, insulation, and drywall. This would cost about $50,000. It’s likely we would need to add a bathroom as well, which would add about $30,000.

Scenario C – Lease modular space for two classrooms
Potential enrollment: 60-65
Months to implement: 8
Estimated capital cost: $221,000 plus $4,000 per month lease cost

By adding two larger classrooms with the capacity for combined classrooms of up to 25, we could take the current Grade 7 and Grade 8 homerooms off line.  It would likely involve using one of the modular classrooms as the chapel, opening up the existing chapel space for a larger classroom. Per our conversations with Vanguard Modular, leasing two 800 sf modular classrooms would cost up to $2,000 per classroom per month. Delivery and installation would cost $60 per sf. We would have to pour a slab and run utilities, estimated $25,000 for a 2,000 sf slab.

Scenario D – Assemble a 3,000 sf log cabin
Potential enrollment: 90-100
Months to implement: 10
Estimated capital cost: $437,000

A 3,000 sf log cabin could be configured to house four 600 sf classrooms, each with a capacity for up to 25 boys. One could be used as a temporary chapel. By adding three larger classrooms and using the existing chapel as classroom space, we could take the current Grade 6, 7 and 8 classrooms off line. Per Consetoga Log Cabins, a 3,000 log cabin kit would cost $212,000, exclusive of plumbing, HVAC, electrical, sprinkler, foundation, and site work. This could run an additional $125,000.

Scenario E – Build a 1,500 sf addition to the house
Potential enrollment: 60-65
Months to implement: 10
Estimated capital cost: $500,000

By adding two larger classrooms, each with a capacity of up to 25, we could take the current Grade 7 and Grade 8 homerooms off line. Per our architects, construction cost, excluding site work, would run about $250 per sf. We would have to pour a slab, estimated at $25,000.

We welcome your questions and ideas about how we can make the Sparhawk experience available to more families. We invite you to pray for the success of this expansion, support us with your charitable giving, and alert other potential families and donors about our wonderful school and vision for the education of boys.