Charter school unhappy with space given

July 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Remember the line from the movie "Field of Dreams"? "Build it, and they will come." Well, they're building a new school in East Palo Alto, but it looks like nobody will be coming.

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They're building a new school campus in East Palo Alto, but so far, it's turning into an orphan.

The Sequoia Union High School District has offered it to Everest, a new charter high school starting up in September. By law, it's obligated to offer suitable space.

But the organizers of Everest say the pre-fabricated buildings aren't comparable to classrooms in the district.

Instead, Everest asked the district for $2.3 million to help convert another building into a school. The assistant superintendent says it can't afford that.

"Our situation with Everest certainly has been more contentious certainly through their actions as opposed to ours, but we are hopeful, too, if they would reconsider and choose the Everest site, that we're anxious to work with them in the future," said Assistant Superintendent James Lianides, Ed.D.

The East Palo Alto site was planned to be a satellite adult school facility, but cutbacks in state education funding put those plans on hold. So the new campus may go unused.

An East Palo Alto resident is happy Everest isn't moving into the neighborhood.

"This is the wrong neighborhood. As you can tell, there are no sidewalks on this thing, and increasing the traffic on this street is going to be dangerous for everybody involved," said Green Street resident Karin Schlanger.

Ironically, the same group starting Everest already operates Summit Charter High School in Redwood City. Sequoia District leaders say they have a good working relationship with that school.

However, the CEO of Everest, Diane Tavenner, says a lawsuit will be filed next week, charging the district with violating regulations covering charter schools.

Even though the Everest Charter School says it's not interested in this site, the Sequoia Union High School District says they'll keep the property available just in case they change their mind.

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