FULTON – Everybody needs a little room to grow now and again, and Unity Christian Schools is no different – except that it needs nearly $6 million to grow.
Students' families and school staff are working to raise about $5.7 million for a new K-12 building in Clinton, Iowa, while maintaining a presence in Fulton.
Unity, which has 126 students, this year moved the elementary students into the high school at 711 10th St. The nondenominational school also has a preschool and child care facility at 502 12th St.
"We consolidated into the high school specifically with the thought of building," Principal Chris Pluister said. "We needed a new roof on the elementary, and we decided we didn't want to put six figures into a building we were walking away from."
The school has an option to buy 20 acres of land between 13th and 19th avenues North in Clinton that's valued at $450,000. The building already is designed, said Laura Readdy, an art teacher who's helping with fundraising efforts.
"It's an ongoing drive. The first drive is to pay for the land. We'll continue until the building is constructed," Readdy said.
Pluister declined to say how much has been raised so far.
The new building will cost about $5.25 million and will be built on 10 acres. The school could sell the other 10 acres, or keep it for future development. The site is about a 3-minute drive from the current school, and has city water and sewage.
"Everywhere we were looking in Fulton was a floodplain. They wanted to stay, but just couldn't find anywhere that fit," Readdy said.
School officials would like to be in the new building by August 2018.
"We would repurpose our current facility. We would maintain the Fulton presence and keep a building," Pluister said.
What it will be used for hasn't been decided, but it could become home to the preschool and after school care program, Pluister said. "They are at capacity in the building they are currently using, on 12th Street. They do utilize Bethel Reformed Church for a lot of activities."
About a quarter of Unity's students come from Clinton and surrounding communities, but membership is drawn from as far north as Mount Carroll and Savanna, south to Port Byron, and east to Sterling, he said.
"We have students from 39 different churches."
HISTORY OF UNITY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
According to a document from the district, Unity first started taking shape in February 1917, when a committee began work on a Christian school in Fulton.
Fulton Excelsior Christian School's first students met in fall 1921 in the basement of First Christian Reformed Church. A two-room schoolhouse was built in 1924 at the corner of 14th Avenue and Eighth Street.
In 1953, the school moved to a four-room brick building on 10th Street. The building grew during the next few decades, with high school students moving in on Aug. 24, 1981. The elementary building on 11th Avenue was bought in 1983.
The school system was named Unity Christian School in 1992.
In 2002, the school leased River City Day Care Center, and bought it in January 2005.
Checks may be made out to Unity Christian School, earmarked for Unity Building Project, and sent to Unity Christian School, 711 10th St., Fulton, IL 61252.
Donors also can call the school at 815-589-3912 and speak to Principal Chris Pluister.
Fundraising committee members also are willing to talk to people and give a small presentation, said Laura Readdy, who's organizing fundraising efforts.