One of the new classrooms under construction as part of a $1 million expansion at Cliff Park High School in Springfield. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Springfield charter school spending $1 million on new classrooms

A Springfield charter school that targets dropouts and students who weren’t successful in traditional classroom is expanding with a $1 million project.

Cliff Park High School, 821 N. Limestone St., will have new classrooms and will be able to offer opportunities to students who might not have had those chances before, Cliff Park Director Jeff Waechter said.

The new 7,000 square-foot space will include four new classrooms that will offer students career-tech classes. The hope will be that students can transition into meaningful careers, said Waechter.

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“We are very excited to roll out this new project,” he said. “We are going to offer a whole new series of career-tech opportunities for our students. They are not going to just graduate with diplomas, they will also graduate with meaningful credentials that will get them a career right out of high school.”

Cliff Park is a nationally accredited dropout recovery school in Springfield. The school demolished an abandoned home next door and began construction on an addition to the current building.

Oakmont Education manages Cliff Park High School and other charter schools across the state. Cliff Park is paying for the project without any extra tax dollars, Waechter said.

Cliff Park will focus on offering career training in construction and electrical fields and even a start into the nursing field.

“We looked at Department of Labor statistics that tell us in our local area what jobs are most needed,” he said. “We looked at what our students can do, and we matched them together. We don’t want to give someone training and there be nothing for them in Springfield.”

The school has partnered with Clark State for its State Tested Nurses Aid (STNA) program. In May, the school posted on its Facebook page asking the community and its students what they thought would be good programs to offer in the new wing of the school.

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Fields like construction, photography and nursing were mentioned.

The school currently serves 180 students right now, Waechter said.

“It’s a fair number, and there are always people in the community that we are trying to reach out to,” he said. “With this new building, we will be able to really reach out to more students and let them know that there are options for them. It may not have worked out at a traditional high school or a homeschool, but there are still options available for them.”

Springfield has a high need for a good dropout recovery school, he said. The school wants to be a positive force to advance students’ lives, Waechter said.

“Springfield has a very high drop-out rate,” he said. “We have a very meaningful purpose here at Cliff Park that we take very seriously as a staff here. We don’t want kids and students wandering the streets kind of hopeless. We want to help lift up the community, lift up the students and the people here.”

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