FALL RIVER — After 20 years in the making, Atlantis Charter School students, administrators, staff, family and assorted local leaders witnessed a major milestone on Monday in the construction of their new $35 million facility as the last beam was placed high atop the structure that will educate students K-12.
In the midst of a bustling construction site overlooking the banks of the South Watuppa Pond, Atlantis Charter School Executive Director Robert Beatty addressed the crowd at the topping-off ceremony.
“What’s behind me here is a $35 million investment to 1,400 students, a $35 million investment in our parents and our staff and a $35 million investment in 1,000 families in Fall River, in education, in a community building,” Beatty said. “We’re looking at this site not just to be used for the day-to-day educational needs of our kids, but to be used as a hub for this entire community.”
Beatty thanked the school’s financial partners, which include Washington Trust, BayCoast Bank and the Fall River Office of Economic Development.
“They joined the school because it wasn’t just a good business decision and investment, they joined us because they believed in our mission and what we do every day for kids,” Beatty said.
Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who has been an ardent supporter of Atlantis Charter, said he’s a strong supporter of education.
“And charter schools are an important component for education that we provide in Massachusetts,” Rodrigues said. “I believe strongly that in education, one size does not fit all.”
If a family has the money, they have the choice to send their children to private or religious schools, he said.
“But if you come from a community like Fall River, where you’re a good, hard working blue collar worker, you don’t have the money to afford those tuitions. That’s why we have charter schools, and nobody does it better than Atlantis Charter School by providing parents with the ability to choose when it comes to providing education of their children.”
Beatty thanked Mayor Jasiel Correia II for helping broker an agreement with nearby residents and the city when it looked like a controversial entryway to the 40-acre campus might delay the project.
Correia looked over his shoulder at the large framed structure as he spoke.
“I’m really impressed, this has really sprouted up quickly,” Correia said. “Great job. I’m so glad to see some of these kids that are going to be enjoying this wonderful facility.”
Beatty said he the project was on track and that the anticipated opening of the new campus is March 2018. Ground was broken in late November.
“What a fantastic feeling. It’s certainly been a long time coming, and the students are very excited,” Beatty said as he looked across the construction site.