Stony Point Academy finds itself back on the chopping block, months after district trustees backed off the possibility of shuttering the southwest Santa Rosa charter school.
Bellevue Union school board members have called for shutting down the expanding school located on the Meadow View Elementary campus. They directed the superintendent earlier this week to start closure proceedings, which they expect to officially vote on during a special board meeting Monday, said Lisa Reyes, one of two trustees who oppose the shutdown.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Taylor Mountain Elementary School on Bellevue Avenue.
“It makes me sick to know that is what the board wants to do,” Reyes said Thursday about the closure. “What are these children going to do?”
Joy Bruce, who previously voiced skepticism about the future of the charter, also opposed the move, while board president Stephanie Merrida-Grant and trustees Adele Walker and Victor Ayala supported it. If approved, the closure could happen as early as the end of this school year, Reyes said.
Julie Stolze, who teaches humanities at the academy, said school officials and teachers were blindsided at this week’s meeting, where the board was supposed to be weighing options on how best to deal with the growing school’s facility needs. The school, which serves about 150 students in grades seven through 11, has been adding a grade level each year since it opened in mid-2013.
Principal Daniel Chaja said the school started the school year with more than $394,000 in its fund balance and should remain in the black by the end of the year. He said it cost $1.8 million to run the school annually.
The district intended to move the school onto a property it purchased north of Meadow View for $300,000, but had to shelve the idea after discovering endangered California tiger salamanders on the site. In addressing the need for additional portable classrooms last summer, Ayala, who then was board president, suggested closing the school, complaining about encroachment and “inappropriate” language used by the students. When parents, students and school supporters packed a scheduled meeting the following day, he appeared to backpedal from his earlier comments and deny his involvement in calling for the closure.
Ayala declined to comment Thursday, referring questions to Merrida-Grant, who, along with Superintendent David Alexander, did not return repeated calls or emails.
Marlen Chavez, a 16-year-old junior who attended several school board meeting this past summer to support her school, said students weren’t giving up.
“The board needs to get serious about us,” she said. “We have this really good program. Why take it away now?”
Chavez and her classmates campuswide have launched social media campaigns to raise awareness about the school. They’ve created posters and flyers to pass out to the community.
“We want to fight back,” said Karla Vega, a 15-year-old sophomore who has been attending the school since the seventh grade.
Some students have reached out to the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” in hopes the television comic would save their school, Stolze said.
“We have kids that are going to be seniors next year. They should be applying to college, not worrying about this,” she said.