The fast-growing Roseland School District marked its extended reach Thursday, announcing that the charter school it is opening in the former Ursuline High School will be named Roseland Collegiate Prep.
The name echoes that of Roseland University Prep, or RUP, the district's charter high school on Sebastopol Road that opened in 2004 and has become a draw for students in and beyond the heavily Latino southwest Santa Rosa neighborhood known as Roseland.
"We felt really strongly that we've worked hard to make our schools what they are, and it was really important to us to keep Roseland in our name," said Amy Jones-Kerr, RUP's executive director. She will be the new school's principal.
The former Ursuline campus is north of Santa Rosa near Larkfield, about five miles from the Roseland district.
Collegiate Prep will start with 60 seventh-graders this fall, Jones-Kerr said, and add a grade each year until it includes 12th grade. Roseland district students will receive first priority in admissions.
For the first year, no school bus service will be offered between Roseland and the new school.
"We're going to kind of see how year one goes, and see how the transportation goes," Jones-Kerr said.
The all-girls, Catholic Ursuline High closed in May after 130 years amid controversy over its finances and after years of declining enrollment, which had fallen to 281 its final year.
In September, the Sisters of Ursuline Corp., which oversaw the school and owns the Mark West Road property, announced the deal to lease the site to the Roseland district.
Terms of the lease were being finalized Thursday, Jones-Kerr said, and she would not disclose the costs to the Roseland district, which is a public, tax-supported school.
The news further highlights a demographic shift that has seen Latino school-age children in Sonoma County hit 37 percent of the student population.
"Roseland Collegiate Prep is the answer to our community's request for another high-quality public education option in Sonoma County," Roseland district superintendent Gail Ahlas said Thursday in a written statement.
The new school's color will be green, and the mascot a rattlesnake. Work underway Thursday at the Ursuline site included painting walls green and installing green couches. One room is to be remodeled into a recreation space.
"What I'm doing is just brightening it up a little bit, kind of getting the Roseland style in here," said Jones-Kerr, who helped reinvent the old warehouse in which RUP is housed into a school of high ceilings and open communal spaces adorned with college banners.
The new school initially will be based in the old, two-story Ursuline administrative building, which has eight classrooms as well as offices and a three-room library.
"We'll be good here for a while and as we grow and add grade levels we'll be working with the sisters to expand into other buildings as needed," Jones-Kerr said.