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Roseland Prep awarded $1 million grant for new school

A $1 million grant from a local foundation has put Roseland University Prep close to raising the estimated funding it needs to build a permanent school for its 450 students, Roseland School District Superintendent Amy Jones-Kerr said Friday.

Jones-Kerr said she was “thrilled” by the grant from the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation, which leaves the district only $600,000 short of the funds needed for the $15.6 million project. The foundation is named in honor of former Press Democrat owner and publisher Ernest L. Finley and his wife.

The 10-year-old college preparatory charter school currently operates in rented warehouse space at 100 Sebastopol Road. The majority of its students are from low-income households. All its 2014 graduates are attending either a two-year or four-year college.

Of the secured funding, $7 million comes from a state grant, which the district is matching by taking out a $7 million loan from the California School Finance Authority.

The new school will provide much-needed space for additional classrooms, Jones-Kerr said. Roseland University Prep has outgrown the space it currently occupies, forcing it to expand to an additional building space to provide enough classrooms. But last year, a fire marshal found numerous safety issues with the building they’d expanded into.

The school responded quickly to the safety concerns and this year has brought in portable classrooms.

Right now, students have neither a gym nor a single grassy field at Roseland University Prep, Jones-Kerr said. “We currently hold P.E. in our parking lot.”

The district hopes to break ground on the school in 2016 and open its doors in the fall of 2017, Jones-Kerr said. Plans call for the school to be built on a 1.83-acre parcel at 1777 West Ave., near Roseland Accelerated Middle School and Sheppard Accelerated Elementary School. That’s about a mile from the current campus.

High school students will share an existing athletic field and gym with elementary and junior high school students.

The school itself will be a two-story, 25,000-square-foot building with new science labs, a courtyard, a library and 17 classrooms, enough for each teacher to have his or her own space.

One thing will remain the same, however, Jones-Kerr said. The current warehouse space includes a large area students call “the big room,” where rallies, parent meetings and public gatherings are held. The community has requested a similar venue in the new building.

You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at 521-5205 or jamie.hansen@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jamiehansen.


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