Liberty Classical Academy in White Bear Lake has purchased the empty Withrow Elementary School building in Hugo.
The building has been vacant since 2017, when the Stillwater School District closed the school. At a recent Stillwater School Board meeting, the board voted to sell the property to Liberty Classical Academy, a private school with a commitment to Christian faith.
“We purchased the building on 9 acres in Hugo thanks to a super-generous anonymous donor, and we were able to pay cash for the building. It’s truly astounding,” Headmaster Rebekah Hagstrom said. “In addition to that, we have exclusive rights for up to 65 acres adjacent to the property. Our vision is that this will be the future home of Liberty Classical Academy.”
The goal is to open a permanent campus in three to five years for preschool to 12th grade. The sale of 30-65 additional acres abutting the Hugo property to Liberty is contingent on the city of Hugo’s approval. Preliminary meetings are already underway and, according to Hagstrom, look favorable.
Hagstrom said Liberty Classical Academy has reached maximum capacity at its White Bear Lake campus and is currently unable to accommodate existing demand for a Liberty Classical Academy education. In order to continue to grow, they need an immediate short-term solution for space.
“The purchase of the school building provides a solution to both short- and long-term facility needs. Until the permanent campus is built, the existing building on the Hugo property will serve as a temporary campus that allows Liberty to continue enrollment growth without having to turn students away,” Hagstrom said.
Since last February, Hagstrom said they’ve been actively seeking both short- and long-term solutions to capitalize on the school’s current growth.
“We don’t want to limit this outstanding education just for the people who are here now, because people are desperate in our culture right now to receive this type of education for their children that Liberty provides,” she said.
According to Hagstrom, the need for a short-term solution was imminent this year because the upper school and middle school are compressed into a small part of the building. The school no longer has room to accommodate all of its current preschool families within its kindergarten program.
Moving the preschool through second grade programs to the Hugo campus gives middle and upper school programs the space they need to grow, and will reduce congestion at the White Bear Lake campus.
Hagstrom said that having access to the Hugo campus will provide much needed additional space. She noted that a split campus is not an ideal solution, but it’s only temporary.
Initially, Liberty Classical Academy will be moving its preschool through second grade programs into the existing Hugo school at the beginning of the 2022 school year, which will allow the school to add a third section of kindergarten, first and second grade.
According to Hagstrom, the plan is to have before and after school care available at both sites beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. “We plan to have a bus provide transportation from the White Bear Lake campus to the Hugo campus in the morning, with the bus returning from the Hugo campus to the White Bear Lake campus in the afternoon. In addition, we will help facilitate carpool options for interested families,” she said.
“Growth is vital. We can’t lose momentum,” Hagstrom said. “In order to maintain and support a permanent location, we have to grow Liberty to a level that can sustain a permanent location for the long haul and long-term health of the school.”
The Hugo campus is located at 10158 122nd Street N. in Hugo. Families who have questions about the Hugo campus can email them to HugoCampus@libertyclassicalacademy.org.
For updates on the Hugo campus and more information on Liberty Classical Academy, visit https://libertyclassicalacademy.org/.
Noelle Olson is a staff writer for Press Publications. She can be reached at email@example.com or 651-407-1229.