DALLAS — Teachers and staff at Dallas Community School were still setting up for school late into the night before students arrived for classes on Thursday.
The last-minute scramble was the result of something positive: The school now owns its building at 124 SW Walnut St. in Dallas, and had just finished renovations. During the summer, the building was painted, new carpet was installed, one classroom was expanded, and another was added.
“It was a push. It was a huge project of moving everything, sorting it and wiping off all the construction dust,” said DCS executive director Bill Conlon on Thursday. “We were here until 9 p.m. last night taking care of the little details so we could be ready for classes this morning.”
DCS is a home-school charter school, meaning that parents do most of the teaching under the guidance of a licensed teacher. Students enrolled in the program also can take elective enrichment classes taught by teachers at the school.
Conlon said that although enrollment grew by six students to 201, more students are attending classes, thus the need for expansion.
“According to our contract, we can increase by 25 percent a year, but as you can see, we don’t have a lot of room. We elected to not grow other than six students,” Conlon said. “Our numbers have increased that are participating in on-site classes, but I can’t tell how much yet.”
With the purchase of the building, the school also bought the house next door. The home has a renter now, but by next year, the school will be able to use it, too. Conlon said the house will be used for teacher offices. The space currently used by teachers, or guides as they are called at DCS, will be converted into a classroom.
The former owners, Jan and Steve Ahrendt, were at the school’s open house Thursday night. They were pleased to see what the school has become in the year since DCS moved into the facility.
“It’s a good cause. It’s a win-win situation. It truly is. It’s really allowing more children to be home-schooled,” Jan Ahrendt said. “Everybody is just so happy. Children learn more when they are happy.”
The open house packed the school with students and parents touring the remodeled classrooms, meeting teachers and staff, and gathering in groups to play with Legos or other toys.
Kimberly Schreiner, a new teacher at the school, was in the new library/classroom during the open house, introducing herself to students.
“I’m new to the area. I’m excited to be a part of the community here. These kids are really special,” she said.
She said she sent her children to private school for their kindergarten through eighth-grade years. Like Ahrendt, she wished something like DCS was an option then.
“What the school offers them is a place to have social interaction together. We offer some amazing enrichment classes. It’s a really wonderful team because everybody brings their own talents and passions,” Schreiner said. “It’s going to be a good school year. The kids are going to be inspired.”