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Charter school set for site in NSB

By Mark Harper

mark.harper@news-jrnl.com

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — A new science and technology charter school for middle and high school students has a location and a targeted start date: August 2020.

Daytona State College trustees have agreed to a 51-year lease of 30 acres on its Edgewater-New Smyrna Beach campus to allow for construction of the Southeast Volusia School of Science and Technology.

Taylor Smith, president of Project Finance & Development LLC, Jacksonville, said he expects to have permitting completed by November or December, when he hopes to have a groundbreaking on the first phase, a classroom building with '600 student stations,' a cafeteria and a lab building that he said will be open in August 2020. A second classroom building would then be constructed and ready for students by August 2021.

The location off 10th Street adds another school to an education enclave, including the college, New Smyrna Beach High to the west and New Smyrna Middle to the east, all within a mile of one another.

'The reason the board chose the location is to have synergy See NSB, B7

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with Daytona State College with dual enrollment,' Smith said. He calls himself the 'choreographer' representing the charter school's board in getting the school out of the ground.

Dual enrollment allows high school students to take college-level courses and earn credit for both high school and college. It's available to all Volusia and Flagler County students through Daytona State College.

'We're going to be bringing in future Daytona State students here though dual enrollment,' college President Tom LoBasso said. 'To bring in such high-tech dual-enrollment opportunities ... I think will be a good plan. ... Sowe're very excited for this opportunity.'

The Southeast Volusia school's lease is for $50,000 annually, but Daytona State will waive those fees in lieu of a dual-enrollment partnership worth that much. The college board unanimously voted in favor of the lease at its meeting on the New Smyrna Beach-Edgewater campus on Thursday.

Sarah Dougherty, a DSC trustee, recused herself from voting on the lease agreement because she is also a member of the SEV Sci-Tech board. But she offered a hint of emotion following the vote.

“A lot of times I feel like I've got my finger in so many different pots that I just scratch the surface. And when I started on the (Daytona State) board ... I thought, 'I have all of these ideas, but is it gonna be like so many other things where you give $50 here and $50 there, and you don't really see accomplishment?” Dougherty said. “But I will walk out of here today, feeling like we really accomplished something for this community.”

Dougherty co-owns an Edgewater manufacturing business that employs about 150 and has three children, two of whom attend school at Burns Science and Technology Charter School in Oak Hill. The SEV Sci-Tech school will serve grades six through 12 and will be designed to prepare students for college or a career, Dougherty said.

'It's not a vocational school,' she said. 'It's going to prepare them for college, soft skills to go to college, soft skills to be a good employee and a good husband or wife.'

Smith, who graduated from Spruce Creek High School before heading to Princeton University and starting his development career, has been involved in the creation of other charter schools since 1998 but called the Southeast Volusia school 'the culmination of my career' because of its uniqueness.

To oversee construction of the school he's hired Haskell, the design-build firm that also built the Blue Origin rocket factory at Cape Canaveral. That's an example of the kind of employment destination school officials have in mind for their students.

“Our mascot and color scheme is oriented around getting a partnership with Jeff Bezos, who went to college with me at Princeton, so we're double- teaming Blue Origin to partner with us on the school,' Smith said.

The middle-high school's plan is to start in 2020 with grades 6 through 9, and maybe 10, Smith said. It will expand to the upper grades when the second building is complete.

The school is taking applications on its website.

The future Southeast Volusia Science and Technology Charter School will face 10th Street to the west of the Daytona State College buildings on its Edgewater-New Smyrna Beach campus. It's expected to be completed and open in August 2020. [RENDERING COURTESY OF HASKELL VIA DAYTONA STATE COLLEGE]

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