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Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte plans more campaigns.

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four-year-old Trinity Episcopal School has nearly completed its initial capital campaign and is planning two more.

The school, formed with support from Christ Church on Providence Road and St. John’s Episcopal Church on Carmel Road, has added three grades and more than 250 students since opening in fall 2000 with just over 100 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Located on four acres on 9th Street near uptown, two of them leased from the city of Charlotte, the school has raised $6.2 million in its initial capital campaign to pay for its initial facilities, says the Rev. Dr. Smokey Oats, headmaster.

That total is expected to grow to $6.6 million when the campaign is completed at the end of this year, exceeding the initial goal by $1.6 million, Oats says.

The school, which had raised $250,000 in startup funds by the time it opened, plans to launch a new campaign to raise another $5 million to $6 million to complete its initial construction, and then several smaller campaigns to raise another $16 million for endowment, he says.

Initially based in borrowed space at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on 7th Street near uptown and then in trailers for three years once classes started, the school has counted largely on contributions from parents, most of whom work downtown, and juggled new construction with its temporary quarters.

“We’ve been sailing this ship as we’ve been building it,” Oats says.

Facilities now include a 71,000-square-foot educational administration building that includes classrooms, offices and a dining hall, and a 15,000-square-foot gym that includes an elevated track.

Still in the works is a three-story building that will include a library and media center on the first floor, chapel and performing arts center on the second floor, and chapel balcony on the third floor.

The campaign, chaired by Catherine Browning of First Charlotte Properties, has received a $1 million gift and two $500,000 gifts, and two $100,000 gifts for scholarship endowments.

The new campaign, to begin in two to three years, should last less than a year, and likely will be followed a year or two later with the first of several endowment drives of $2 million to $3 million each, Oats says.

Chaired by parent Bart Landess, senior vice president for development and planned giving at the Foundation for the Carolinas, a board of trustees subcommittee has developed policies for the endowment and is preparing materials to be used in soliciting planned gifts.

The school, which graduated its first eighth-grade class last spring and holds recruiting fairs every year for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and independent day schools, and every other year for boarding schools, aims to increase slightly the size of its middle school.

Those middle-school plans include adding a third section in grades six through eight, reducing the size of each class to 16 students from 20, and increasing the number of electives offered.

Raising more money will help the school make those changes while paying for new facilities and building an endowment, Oats says.

“Kids don’t wait,” he says. “They’re only children for a little while. We’ve got to get at this and get it done.”

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