Richland’s HomeLink expanding to former Salvation Army center

The Richland School District bought an old church campus to serve as the second campus for its Three Rivers HomeLink program, an alternative education program that supports home-based learning and other student services.

HomeLink will expand into the former Salvation Army worship center, 1219 Thayer Drive, as early as 2022.

The Richland School District paid $1.75 million for the 16,000-square-foot building in September. The central location, price and proximity to HomeLink’s main campus location, 1710 Van Giesen St., was a winning combination for the school district.

The building has classrooms, meeting space, a kitchen and a former chapel that serves as a large meeting space. It also has two outdoor basketball courts and parking and is adjacent to Rodney Block Park.

The district will update some aspects of the building, such as removing the Christian cross window and subdividing classrooms, which are larger than needed, said Ty Beaver, the district’s spokesman.

HomeLink Principal Tyler Reeser says the facility will greatly support the increased student enrollment the school has consistently seen since it moved into its main location seven years ago. HomeLink has had between 600 to 800 enrolled students in grade K-12 per school year in recent years.

“We want to continue to increase and improve our offerings to best meet the needs of families who choose to partner with us,” he said. “The second campus is just what we need to meet that goal.”

The school district’s capital projects fund paid for the building and will cover updates and renovations. The purchase and future updates are ineligible for matching funds from the state’s school construction assistance fund, which covers major new construction and renovations.

The “matching fund” program funds school projects with revenue from state trust lands, bonds, the general fund and Lottery proceeds.

The Salvation Army building was originally built in 1960 but has been renovated several times, including less than 10 years ago.

Beaver said it was thoroughly vetted to ensure it complied with requirements for schools, which includes meeting current codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The two-story building has an elevator.

District staff found the building to be well-maintained and in good condition. District leaders are confident it will be a valuable asset for years to come, Beaver said.

“We are always on the lookout for property in the community that we can use to support our schools and programs,” said Richard Krasner, the district’s executive director of operations. “This building is centrally located, suited for instructional and other school programs and was well maintained so it was a perfect opportunity for us.”

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