Comstock and Cook middle schools, as well as Lewis School on Lomitas Avenue, emerged Wednesday night as strong contenders to house the Spanish-language dual-immersion program planned by Santa Rosa City Schools.
District officials approved the charter school last month and plan to open it in August with one transitional kindergarten and three traditional kindergarten classes.
"We don't need a campus for 500 kids right now for the Spanish immersion. We need a campus for 80, and we need to find four classrooms," Board President Bill Carle said.
But Carle reiterated that the board would come up with a long-term housing plan for the new program even if it includes a temporary home during the first year.
"We are going to get this done," he said.
After nearly two hours of public comment, the majority of which was from supporters of Ridgway High School and Santa Rosa Charter School, asking that their programs not be displaced, board members expressed little desire to pursue either option.
Instead, using four immediately available rooms at Comstock and expanding the program there while leaving Santa Rosa Charter on the same campus drew support.
Board members also directed staff to gather more information about whether Cook Middle School could house both the language program and planned community campus facilities, including a preschool and health center.
Comstock and Cook are currently well below capacity, while all three other district middle schools are full.
Upgrading Lewis School also remained a possibility for some trustees. It has space available but has not housed elementary school students for decades.
Questions remain about the cost of upgrading Lewis School, which currently houses the Lewis Opportunity Program as well as Nueva Vista, a program for school-age parents.
Addressing the packed house at the Santa Rosa City Council chambers, board member Donna Jeye acknowledged the anxiety the campus search has sparked.
"I know this process is very painful for everybody, but you know, we are in trouble if we do and we are in trouble if we don't," she said. "This is exactly what needs to happen."
The immersion program will be taught 90 percent in Spanish and 10 percent in English in kindergarten and first grades, and 70 percent Spanish and 30 percent English in grades two and three. In grades four through eight, instruction will be evenly split between English and Spanish.
Board member Laura Gonzalez was absent.