Office of Education goes full steam ahead with charter

Pathways Charter School to replace Roseville location
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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If contract work and permit applications proceed on schedule, the Placer County Office of Education will open a new charter school in Rocklin this fall.

Having already purchased a building for $1.4 million in August, the county board of education signed site and facilities lease agreements with El Dorado Hills contractor Roebbelen Construction in a meeting Thursday to complete necessary improvements.

The Pathways Charter School, approved in March 2012, will facilitate a few of PCOE’s programs and some of its professional development space in a former data call center building at 66 Menlo Drive in Rocklin. Said programs include a K-8 home schooling initiative called iLearn Academy, and an iCare program for “at-risk” high school students who cannot legally attend traditional schools.

Superintendent Gayle Garbolino-Mojica said the contractor guaranteed a maximum price of $3 million for the work. The county owns the building but will lease it to Roebbelen at a capped price to make the necessary improvements, thus avoiding the potentially costly “bid-build” process of going through change orders if the price of the job gets out of control.

“We don’t have to go through DSA (Division of the State Architect), and we don’t have to go through the public bidding process where you’re obligated to take the lowest bid. Lease-lease back allows us to do a competitive RSP (Research & Sponsored Programs), which we did, for architects and contractors, and then based upon the proposals submitted, we can choose the one that has the best qualifications,” she said. “That includes furniture, technology, everything. So for that amount of money, that facility will be fully functional and up to date.”

The county will close Pathways iCare Charter in Roseville, the current home of the iCare program, on June 30 and transfer its students and staff to the new site in Rocklin by August. Garbolino-Mojica said the move is both a practical and cost-saving measure. The new 22,000-square-foot facility is significantly bigger than the current Roseville building and, because the county owns it, saves $85,000 to $100,000 a year in lease costs.

“We’ll be transferring individuals from the old location to the new location, so we don’t anticipate any new jobs,” she said. But by gaining two extra classrooms with the move, there will be room for growth.

Garbolino-Mojica said her office first started exploring what to do with $3 million in redevelopment money from the county’s facilities budget, which is restricted to constructing or improving buildings, in fall 2011.

“Since the cities and the counties were having their redevelopment monies swiped from the state government, we were a little bit concerned that we would lose our redevelopment money too, so we figured out we needed to spend this money, so we looked around,” she said. “We know our student base is growing in the south part of the county. We don’t own any facilities in the south part of the county. We needed to look at purchasing classroom space.”

Board President E. Ken Tokutomi said opening the new school in Rocklin will give PCOE a much-needed presence in south Placer County.

“The population base is down in the Roseville/Rocklin area, and it’s really close to public transportation,” he said. “It allows us to have three organizations in the same spot, so I think it’s a win-win.”

Garbolino-Mojica said Pathways Charter School was originally going to open last fall because the county was “overoptimistic” about how long it would take to close the sale of the property. Now the work is on track for completion this summer.

“The contractor is probably in the process of beginning to demolish the interior of the building, so they’ll be going through the permitting process with the city of Rocklin,” she said. “We hope to have all the permits in place within a month, so after the demolition, we’ll be starting construction.”