A new education model is in the works not just to provide a convenient, consistent learning setting for interested students but also to revitalize Harrisburg’s Midtown.
The Midtown Educational Continuum — dubbed “Education Row”, a takeoff on the city’s Restaurant Row — will bring together different levels of the education system within a block of each other that can take students from prekindergarten levels through a four-year college degree.
In the process, the project will inject new education-based businesses into Midtown, according to Doug Neidich, CEO of Harrisburg’s GreenWorks Development LLC, the principal developer on the project.
The group hopes to have the model up and running by fall 2015, according to Maurice “Reese” Flurie, CEO at Commonwealth Connections Academy, the cyber charter school at 1426 N. Third St., which is participating in the continuum.
“It’s not a secret that young professional families who love Harrisburg leave the city for better education solutions on the West Shore or other places,” he said. “We can be that solution. As we grow it, maybe more families want to move into the city to be part of this.”
U-Gro Learning Centres Inc. would handle prekindergarten and day care education, Commonwealth Connections would be the education system for kindergarten through 12th grade, and Harrisburg Area Community College would provide four years of college education at its two Midtown locations.
All will be within a block of each other, except for the HACC location at Fourth and Harris streets, about three blocks away.
“Without education, there can’t be any redevelopment,” said Neidich, who has been involved with Midtown redevelopment since the mid-2000s. “You can’t substantively revitalize a city without incorporating education. I have nothing against the Harrisburg School District whatsoever, but there needs to be alternatives and options in education in the city.”
Since Commonwealth Connections is chartered as a cyber school, it does not house students in its brick-and-mortar location. However, the Midtown location is a drop-in center for students in grades seven to 12. With Education Row, it would expand to be a drop-in center for all enrolled students looking for extra help.
But Flurie said if another entity would seek a charter to be part of the continuum, there is enough room in the 60,000-square-foot Commonwealth Connections building for it to be housed.
U-Gro plans to move into a building next to Commonwealth Connections and open in June. The three-floor, 100-year-old building will be renovated for a capacity of 106 children ages 1 to 5, according to President and CEO Gregory Holsinger.