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It was confirmed last week California Montessori Project's Capitol Campus will move from the Marshall School to Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in the College Glen neighborhood.
Since August, CMP leased the Marshall School building from the Sacramento City Unified School District, which also oversees its charter. Next Thursday and Friday, the school will be closed for the move and will resume at the new campus on Nov. 16.
SCUSD superintendent Jonathan Raymond met with CMP board members, students and parents Tuesday night at the campus' new location. After stating reasons for the move, he answered questions from parents.
"The old Marshall School, although a very beautiful facility and by all appearances structurally sound, does not comply with two very important requirements," Raymond said. "No. 1, the Field Act, (which) simply relates to the ability of a building to withstand a seismic event; the other important component is this building does not meet state building codes - it is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act."
He stated that charter schools are required by Prop 39, which passed in 2005, to comply with either one of these codes, and the Marshall School does not. Raymond also took responsibility for the error, and said he looks forward to helping CMP move to the Jefferson campus, which is Field Act and ADA compliant.
"We're going to do it expeditiously, with (the) least disruption to the children and to the families of California Montessori Project, first and foremost," Raymond said to the crowd of nearly 200 gathered in the multi-purpose/lunch room.
This includes providing bus transportation to the new school site throughout the remainder of the school year. Details on the bus routes will be given in the next week, Raymond said.
Thomas Jefferson Elementary School closed at the end of the 2008-09 school year after suffering from low enrollment and loss of revenue. Although CMP Capitol Campus' enrollment is also low, in the low 200s, moving to this location is an opportunity for the school to expand and use the facility the way it should be used, Raymond said.
The school also has a new rooftop ventilation system with furnaces and thermostats added last year, said Mellissa Truitt, SCUSD Associate Superintendent of Capital Asset Management Services.
Some parents said they were still upset about leaving the downtown location so quickly in the middle of a school year. They were notified in late October about a possible move.
"The move is disappointing because we lived in the (Marshall) neighborhood," said Rachelle Barbour, parent of a first-grade student at CMP. "If it wasn't for the liability reasons [if a seismic event did occur, the district and the CMP board would be liable for any injury], it wouldn't have happened so fast."
However, Barbour said she felt "reassured" that the superintendent met with parents and will use the buses provided by the school district. She also noted that there are too few schools in the grid, and said she would like for another school to open in the downtown area.
Darrin Greer, another parent of a first-grade student, thought that the meeting was informative and answered questions.
"The superintendent was open and it helps (that) the district is committed to transportation," he said. "Moving is difficult to do in the middle of the year."
Greer said it would be interesting to see how many people will stay at CMP and how many will leave, but he expects most will stay for at least the rest of this year. He also wanted to know if any other schools in the SCUSD have ADA or Field Act compliance issues.
"This was the only one," Raymond said in an interview after the meeting. "We want to see it thrive. We want to provide whatever support we can to ensure that they do, it's important for the community."
He also said that creating downtown-area schools is a priority.
"We have people living and moving in there, and we need to provide school facilities for those children too and those families," Raymond said. "I've told the community and others in the neighborhood that's something I want to work toward."