The Arts Based School, a public charter school, is opening a second campus in the old Diggs Elementary School on Mock Street.
Now in its 20th year, the charter school announced its expansion on Tuesday. It will lease about 14,000 square feet from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, which still owns the former Diggs Elementary.
Built in 1953 in the Happy Hill neighborhood, the school building closed in 2010 with students and faculty moving to what is now Diggs-Latham Elementary School on Hutton Street.
When Diggs closed, the school district moved some of its exceptional children services into the building, which is now called the Special Services Center. The Arts Based School is leasing a small portion of the building for grades K-1, but it hopes to eventually have enough space for grades K-8.
The local school board approved leasing the space to the charter school in June at a cost of nearly $11,300 a month with the option to renew after a year. The charter school is responsible for utilities and maintenance.
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The second campus will allow the Arts Based School to serve more students, Principal Robin Hollis said. It will open in August.
The school, which is at 1380 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, has about 520 students in grades K-8. Enrollment has been consistent over the last several years, Hollis said.
“It’s what we can fit,” she said.
The waiting list to get in is between 300 to 400 students, Hollis said.
Students are admitted into the school through a lottery that is weighted to give preference to students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, guidelines that are set by the federal government.
The charter school recently received a $500,000 grant from the state to use for operations at the Mock Street campus.
Hollis said the second campus fits the school’s desire to meet demand and serve more at-risk students.
“We started looking at find a second location even before the pandemic,” she said. “We had been putting feelers out.”
The school district will still have use of a large portion of the school but it will likely need to give up some of that space as The Arts Based School grows.
School officials have discussed moving some programs and offices into the old Hanes-Lowrance middle schools, which has been mostly empty since 2015.
Hollis said the charter school is excited about building partnerships with Winston-Salem State University and UNC School of the Arts, which are nearby.
“This meets our mission. We’re still downtown so families from all over can come. We’re putting ourselves in an area of town where students from other neighborhoods can join. That proximity is really important,” Hollis said.