University Charter School (Livingston, AL)

108 North Street, Livingston, AL 35470

University Charter School (“UCS”) is a non-profit charter school that first received charter authorization from the Alabama Public Charter School Commission on 10/26/17, serving PreK-8th grade.  UCS has a place-based and STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, the Arts and Math) curriculum with an emphasis on college and career readiness, community partnership, and technology integration to provide a balanced learning environment. 

The school currently operates out of a building on the University of West Alabama campus that it shares with the Department of Education.  UWA College of Education undergraduates routinely participate in the UCS K-12 in-class curriculum, providing UCS teachers with unparalleled professional development opportunities.  Furthermore, UCS 9-11th grade students earn Dual Enrollment (DE) credits by taking UWA courses, earning up to 40-48 college credits prior to their high school graduation.  UCS students pay half the UWA tuition for the DE classes, and so far, UCS has been able to offer scholarships for most of its students to cover these costs. 

As UCS’ enrollment has grown, however, the shared building space has become increasingly insufficient for the Charter’s needs.  Additionally, the University desperately needs UCS to expand to offer a full PreK-12 curriculum so it can attract and retain strong professorial candidates, who view strong, local K-12 schools as a necessity when considering relocation. 

In April of 2023, in partnership with Empowerment Reinvestment Fund, National Community Fund, United Bank, and PNC Bank Crescent closed on a $31.9M Federal NMTC financing to construct a new 70,000 SF school facility that will provide adequate space for the Charter to grow into a full PreK-12th grade enrollment.  The new facility will allow UCS to increase its enrollment from 578 to 700, and provide 20 general instruction classrooms, office/meeting space, a cafeteria with a Farm-to Table Educational Garden, and a gymnasium/auditorium. 

The building design includes multiple elective and lab spaces that can house fine arts, visual arts, computer and health sciences, foreign languages career training education, literacy STREAM and various support labs for core curriculum coursework.  A special needs classroom and related support spaces are also included in the design.  Finally, the newly-constructed school will also offer students a full-size gymnasium that can be converted into an auditorium, as well as locker and storage room areas, and weight room. 

UCS’ enrollment is 51.9% minority, and 52.8% eligible for free or reduced lunch, and the school will be the only PreK-12 school in the area.  Furthermore, the University of West Alabama relies heavily on UCS as a vital cog in its efforts to attract top-notch professorial candidates to Livingston. 

The new school facility is expected to increase total FTE’s by 20-40 over the 7-year compliance period.  This NMTC subsidy will provide UCS with the additional equity necessary to build up to 6 additional classrooms, which would allow the entire enrollment to fit in the new facility.  As currently designed, the new school building could hold grades 4-12 only.