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Credo High School moves to new site in Rohnert Park

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Credo High School, a Rohnert Park charter that was nearly forced to close four years ago in a dispute with district officials, has secured a new lease for a larger campus that will accommodate its growing student population.

The Waldorf-inspired charter school moved down the road this week to Sonoma Mountain Village, the 175-acre mixed-use redevelopment in southeast Rohnert Park. The new site will provide more room for the school to grow and implement greener practices, Credo director Chip Romer said.

“It was always our vision to be here,” Romer said Thursday as other administrators, teachers, and parent and student volunteers set up classrooms and offices in the 35,000-square-foot space.

It previously housed the SoCo Nexus business incubator.

In 2013, Credo almost lost its charter with the Cotati-Rohnert Park School Board in a dispute over the school’s operations and financial sustainability.

The new campus puts those struggles well in the past.

“We never lost sight of the big dream,” Romer said.

SOMO Village received LEED platinum certification and adopted the One Planet Living principles created by Bioregional, an international nonprofit environmental organization. They uphold protection of natural resources, reduction of waste and encouragement of active and healthy living. The school plans to adopt those values and become a One Planet campus, Romer said.

SOMO Village is home to 30 businesses, including Farmster, an agricultural startup, and the Sally Tomatoes cafe. Romer said the school will partner with both. Students will grow vegetables on the 5-acre farm leased by Farmster and have the cafe prepare them for student lunches.

“It’s exciting. This campus feels a lot more like Credo,” said junior Amelia Malpas, 17. She was encouraged “to be at a place that’s already part of the larger conscience.”

Malpas is part of the One Planet leadership class. The school hired last year Marika Ramsden, a Sebastopol environmental educator, as its One Planet Living director to teach students about the principles and help implement them into the campus culture and surrounding community.

“Sustainability and the Earth really matter to students here,” Malpas said.

She was helping her mother, Alysson Baker, a history teacher, set up her classroom on Thursday. Desks were already arranged, the chalkboards installed.

“The physical space suits the school better. We have more space — and cleaner space,” she said.

The cubicles previously used at the business incubator were gone. Office walls were taken down to make way for 16 classrooms as part of the first phase of construction. School officials waited to move in this week because students already were scheduled to be off for teacher professional development. Classes will resume on the new classes on Monday.

More renovations will be made in the summer, including adding additional classrooms, Romer said.

The school raised more than half of the $2.5 million needed for the renovation. Romer said $1 million came from the landlord.

Since it opened in 2011, the charter school has posted among the highest state test scores of any high school in Sonoma County. More than 250 students are currently enrolled in the campus. Romer expects the number will grow to about 350 students in the fall.

Credo previously occupied the former site of El Camino Continuation School on Southwest Boulevard. The facility will be converted into the year-round Richard Crane Elementary School, said Robert Haley, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District superintendent. The district is currently modernizing the site and adding a kindergarten building, he said in an email.

“It is exciting that Credo High School is fulfilling the plan called for in its charter to move to SOMO Village,” Haley said.

Romer said the school signed a 10-year lease with an option to renew it for another decade.

“We plan to be here indefinitely. Forever, I hope,” said Romer.

You can reach Staff Writer Eloísa Ruano González at 707-521-5458 or eloisa.gonzalez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @eloisanews.

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