Online charter school pursues new building

Joshua Kellogg,
  • Charter school is looking to move from North Sullivan Avenue to North Butler Avenue.

FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Virtual Academy is looking to relocate its offices to another building due to an increase in expenses.

Student Monica Jackson talks with staff members while working on her English homework in August 2013 at the New Mexico Virtual Academy in Farmington.

Members of the school's governing council agreed to pursue a move for the online charter school from 845 N. Sullivan Ave. to 4001 N. Butler Ave., Suite 8101 during their meeting this afternoon.

The online charter school has operated in the North Sullivan Avenue location since it opened in fall 2012. The school has an enrollment of 500 students from sixth through 12th grade.

Larry Palmer, president of the governing council, said the current building is too big to serve the needs of the school and is a large expense for the school’s budget.

“The biggest reason is due to our budget and how much we spend for rent,” Head Administrator Brianna Jones said before the meeting.

The school’s budget for the 2016-2017 school year saw an increase of about $81,000 in expenses from the 2015-2016 school year, according to Todd Thorpe, vice president for student services for K12 Inc., the for-profit company the charter school contracts with for curriculum and educational services.

Increases in teachers’ salaries, benefits and insurance costs accounted for the additional expenses in the school’s budget, according to Thorpe.

Currently, the school pays a monthly lease of about $4,300 for the 4,200-square-feet building that is used as a local learning center for students and office space for administrators.

The new proposed building has a monthly lease of $1,400 and is about 1,400 square feet, according to governing council paperwork.

The New Mexico Virtual Academy, located at 845 N. Sullivan Ave. in Farmington, is working to renew its agreement with the Farmington Municipal School District.

Jones said during the meeting that additional office space is needed for new staff members recently hired for the school, including a second special education teacher and a new assistant school director.

The proposed new building has four office spaces and a conference room.

Students will be able to use one of the office spaces but the large area for students to interact with teachers and for testing won’t be replaced at the new location, Jones said.

Palmer said the space for students was not used as much as the school projected.

Approval by the council members allows the school staff to file a letter of intent with the building’s owner to lease the building and start working to terminate the lease for the current building.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.