Charter school housing decision nears

Porter Building off table for Navigator Schools

WATSONVILLE — A charter school that was approved early this year to begin classes in August has stopped negotiating with the City of Watsonville to occupy the Porter Building, Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker confirmed Friday.

Navigator Schools, which plans to open Watsonville Prep school in time for fall classes, is currently considering an offer by Pajaro Valley Unified School District to use seven portable units at E.A. Hall Middle School, along with a mobile restroom. The school will use the school’s kitchen, but Pajaro Valley Unified School District will not provide food.

The units were previously slated for demolition. They will be furnished and equipped for the first day of school on Aug. 13, PVUSD Chief Business Officer Joe Dominguez said.

California law requires school districts to provide facilities to charter organizations located within their boundaries.

Navigator’s plans for a charter in PVUSD have been controversial since the organization presented its charter in April. The Board of Trustees rejected the charter in May, and navigator appealed to – and was rejected by – the Santa Cruz County Office of Education in August.

But the State Board of Education approved the charter on appeal in January.

Local education officials expressed concern that the charter would drain scarce space resources and funds.

PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez has said that, by the 2023-24 school year, Watsonville Prep will be drawing an estimated $4.2 million annually from the district’s general fund.

Navigator Director of Community Outreach Kirsten Carr said the organization was planning to discuss the offer on April 8.

“Being able to be on one of the district sites is definitely a top interest of ours,” she said. “We want to make sure we can move forward as soon as possible.”


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