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Temporary Charter School Site Is Urgently Sought

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Having finally secured a site after two failed attempts, the principal of a new charter middle school said Monday she needs to find a temporary location by Thursday or risk delaying the school’s opening for six months to a year.

“We are scrambling like crazy,” said Jackie Elliot, a former teacher and administrator who has spent more than two years developing plans for Community Charter Middle School, which the Los Angeles Board of Education approved last spring.

Elliot signed a lease last week for a former preschool with 6,000 square feet, ample outdoor space and a multipurpose room at 1441 Celis St. in San Fernando.

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Because of remodeling and delays in obtaining permits, Elliot said the property will not be ready until October or early November, which is too late to start school for students on a traditional calendar.

Elliot said she is meeting Thursday with parents of the 100 sixth-graders who have been accepted to the first charter middle school in the San Fernando Valley. By 2001, the school plans to have 300 sixth- through eighth-graders.

“I don’t feel comfortable telling parents that the school will open if we don’t have a temporary place,” Elliot said. If no site is found and the school doesn’t open, she said, those parents could be without options for sending children to other schools.

Elliot said she doesn’t need much space--a large conference room or two or an auditorium, for example--and is willing to use unconventional locations such as a theater or hotel.

She hopes to open the charter school in late August or early September.

Before settling on the Celis Street location, the school was originally planned for the Boys & Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley in Pacoima, but that was scrapped for more spacious quarters in a medical suite at 11500 Eldridge Ave.

Last month, Elliot had to drop plans for that site after learning that the school would be housed in the same building as an adult mental-health facility that treats criminal offenders.

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Anyone with information on temporary locations can call Elliot at (818) 884-7475.

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