The Jefferson City Council approved plans for a new boarding school for underprivileged children during Monday night's meeting.
Capital Region Medical Center requested the City Council amend the final Planned Unit Development plan for 1310 Edgewood Drive to allow a boarding school. Previously, the plan stated the facility could operate only as a children's day care.
St. Nicholas Academy will lease the building from CRMC and operate the boarding school for under-resourced and underprivileged children.
The school could serve up to 12 children, ranging from about pre-kindergarten to high school, along with two full-time house parents, relief parents, volunteer staff and a director.
Parents can apply to the school and would need to prove economic need. Students who are selected will live at the Edgewood Drive location for most of the year and attend St. Peter Interparish School, St. Nicholas Academy President Elizabeth Huber said.
Huber based the boarding school on Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and it will be faith-based and funded by private donors.
She is working with an architect to remodel the Edgewood Drive facility and hopes to open the boarding school in fall 2018.
She got the idea to start a boarding school in Jefferson City two years ago after talking with a friend who is a local teacher.
"She told me that at any time she might have one, two or three kids in her class whose focus is not on school but where they're going to get their next meal and whether they're going to sleep safely that night," she said.
"That's what we're trying to alleviate is that worry so they can focus on their education and their future success."
Huber said even though the school could have 12 children, she would like to start with just a few students the first year. From there, she hopes it will grow so it can help more local children.
"We might open another facility and partner with another school, and it doesn't have to stop there," she said.
"You can keep dreaming and if I dream huge, what I'll end up with is a model that could be used in multiple places — obviously not to make money, but to help children."
As part of the amendment, the council established a C-O Office Commercial underlying zone to accommodate the school's possible future uses.
The Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission approved the final PUD plan in 1989 and amended it in 1994 to allow 132 children at the day care. The commission approved amending the PUD plan last month.
After the commission meeting, CRMC Director of Facilities Martin Grabanski said the boarding school fits the hospital's goals to "improve the health and wellness of the community" and wanted to help the school by leasing the building to St. Nicholas Academy.