Whether you’re a member of Cornville’s small, tight-knit community or a commuter making your way through the area, you can’t help but notice the building being constructed on the Desert Star Community School grounds.
Desert Star, a K-8 public Waldorf charter school at 1240 S. Recycler Road, began construction on its $2.2 million Community Hall in March. The 6,300square-foot multipurpose building will contain a performance stage, a commercial kitchen and flexible recreation, auditorium and dining space, as well as an additional classroom.
Construction is expected to conclude in December. According to Cheryl LeBlanc, the school’s administrator, it will also improve parking and enhance utility systems on the school’s 4.3acre campus.
Funding for the project comes via the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Program, which awarded loan financing to Desert Star after a lengthy and “fairly arduous” application process, Desert Star Community School Board of Directors officer Jennifer Young said.
Once approved, however, Young said the project developed rapidly. USDA’s Rural Development Community Facilities Program provides favorably-termed funding for the development of “essential community facilities in rural areas.”
Public entities or nonprofits that provide community services, such as education or health care, may be eligible for lowinterest financing for capital improvement projects that encourage economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas.
“It kind of catches us up to the scope of our needs for our students,” Young said, adding that she looks forward to the additional classroom space, which will help alleviate the space concerns in a currently temporary classroom. “There’s all kinds of excitement. It just changed the energy.”
Young also spoke of the permanent stage’s potential, saying that she hopes to see it used as a performance space for students, families, school staff and the wider community. LeBlanc echoed Young, saying that the community hall will provide opportunities for students but also create something the whole community can use and be proud of.
According to LeBlanc, local businesses in the Verde Valley, Prescott and Flagstaff are performing 68 percent of contracted work for the project. Construction partners include Architecture Works Green of Clarkdale and Kinney Construction Services of Flagstaff.
“This is actually the second phase of a multiphase process,” Young said, adding that the first phase of school expansion occurred in 2012, with the addition of two classrooms for middle school students. At that point and now, with the community hall’s construction, Desert Star continues to improve its infrastructure, including water and waste systems. “In the future, we want to replace our modular buildings.”
Desert Star, a member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, serves 200 students from the Verde Valley and Sedona. It has offered an “arts-infused” education to K-8 students since 2006.
For information about Desert Star, including enrollment for the 2017-18 school year, visit desert|starschool.org or call 282-0171.