School leaders, staff, developers and community members gathered at the site of the new Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (CltBP) location in NoDa on Tuesday for a “demo day” ceremony. With sledgehammers in hand, the group demolished the first wall of the building, officially marking the beginning of a renovation project that the school hopes to be finished in time for the 2024-25 school year.
“The dream begins now,” said Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt, president of the CltBP Board of Directors.
The expansion is a step toward the school’s goal to serve 1,500 preschoolers annually by 2039.
“I believe that there are no visions without provisions, and each one of you standing here today are the provisions that are going to help us make this real,” Govan-Hunt said. “This is just the beginning of what is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, so I thank you for being a part of it.”
Located at 1000 Anderson St., formerly home to Plaza Road Elementary School, the project is supported by Mecklenburg County using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), one of 75 local projects approved by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners back in January utilizing $99 million in ARPA funding.
Launched in 1999, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool prepares Spanish-speaking children for success in school and life by providing multicultural early-childhood education through a 5-star licensed dual-language preschool program. The school moved into the Hickory Grove Elementary School Annex in 2015 in response to growing demand, increasing enrollment by 50% and piloting its Creciendo Juntos program for children 0-3.
In 2018, the school expanded its preschool program capacity from 108 to 144 with the launch of its pilot Green Room integrated classroom model, which enrolls English-speaking students alongside Spanish-speaking students “to accelerate language acquisition and facilitate the flow of social capital,” according to the CltBP website.
The next year, CltBP began its partnership with MECK Pre-K to provide extended-day preschool programs, increasing early care accessibility for working families. CltBp also piloted the national home-visiting ParentChild+ program in partnership with GreenLight Fund Charlotte in 2019.
The Anderson Street property in NoDa marks the first time CltBP will have a full facility to call its own.
“Now we are moving into what is finally going to be our own place, and this is all about supporting the dreams of these precious children and their wonderful families and walking alongside them and their journey here in Charlotte”, said CltBP co-founder Claire Tate at Tuesday’s event.
Former CltBp CEO Banu Valladares was also in attendance on Tuesday. Valladares’ “visionary aspirations and tireless efforts pursued the initial funding that laid the foundations for this ambitious dream,” stated a release from the school on Wednesday.
The school is currently seeking a new CEO to replace Valladares with the help of Raleigh-based firm Armstrong McGuire.
Remodeling work began at the property on Nov. 20. Architect Richard Cuebas of Integra Design Group confirmed Tuesday that the project is on track to be completed in time for the 2024-2025 school year.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Cuebas said he has witnessed how Charlotte has grown in the past decade and attributes this development in large part to the Latino community, making the CltBP project all the more relevant to himself and Mecklenburg County.
Charlotte Bilingual Preschool principal Marta Duran emphasized on Tuesday that the capital campaign to support the renovations is still not over, and the school can still use the community’s support.
“We continue raising capital to fulfill the first phase of this project, which involves purchasing essential items such as furniture and technology for the classrooms and offices, among a long list of needs”, expressed school Principal, Marta Duran. “We are immensely grateful to our generous partners and the community whose continued support will enable us to open a new space for growth.”
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