After being scattered among multiple building locations, Forest Charter School has been consolidated into one campus, making accessing the school easier for parents, students and teachers.
“We were spread out among five different buildings we were using before,” said Forest Charter Principal Peter Sagebiel. “Things have been really smooth. We managed to start classes in the beginning of the year and moved offices over a month and a half later.”
The move to 470 Searls Ave. in Nevada City — formerly Gold Run Elementary School — has elicited positive responses from parents and teachers.
“We’ve been at quite a few different sites and this has been amazing,” said Ann Keeling, whose fifth grader attends Forest Charter. “It’s a gorgeous campus with all the classes together and there are trees and a big field that feels really open and offers a lot to kids in terms of space. There’s a big multipurpose room for classes and drama and singing. We didn’t have anything like that before, so I think we’re in heaven. My son loves it.”
According to business director Debbie Carter, the move has saved the school money due to no longer needing to rent spaces at multiple locations.
“Overall it was a savings to the school,” Carter said. “We were partnering with different people like Center for the Arts, and spaces from the Nevada City School District and we gave up those separate rentals and it’s efficient and cost-effective.”
The only downfall to the new location is the poor condition of the play structure, something school officials say they are raising money to address.
“The only piece that isn’t working is the play structure and it’s hard because I work with children and that’s a huge developmental piece, to use the monkey bars and grow with movement,” Keeling said. “We’re trying to do something in the winter after the holidays to raise money like a show or event and we’ve also talked to community businesses.”
Lillian Llacer has a second-grade student at Forest Charter and sent out letters to parents in the community.
“We’re just trying to repair it so it’s safe and we can let the kids back on it again; and we have been collecting donations and we’re almost there,” Llacer said. “I think we’ve got over $3,000 already and we need about ($5,000).”
The play structure is important for the development of children, according to education specialist Heather Johnson.
“I think it’s a fundamental need for children, especially in that age group when there is a need for that sensory integration,” Johnson said. “The release of energy, the muscle use, I think there’s a lot of research that shows the connection between kids being physical and success in the classroom.”
Johnson also said playing on a structure facilitates teamwork and imagination.
“When the playground was open, one child could teach another how to cross the monkey bars or do the firepole,” Johnson said. “There’s also a lot of imaginative play that goes on in a play structure, where children turn it into a pirate ship or a castle, so it provides them an opportunity to interact.”
The playground not only serves Forest Charter students, but is open to the community as well.
“It’s such a community resource,” Llacer said. “The play structure is open to the whole community and we don’t really have a park right there so it’s great that people are recognizing that and that it’s a great thing to donate to.”
Keeling said there is a lack of places to take children to play, as the only other option is Pioneer Park in Nevada City.
“It’s nice to have choices and the play structure at Forest (Charter) would be another choice and when it was together and working, it feels really safe,” Keeling said. “It’s a good playground structure with a lot of mobility. I’m a fan of that play yard and I’d like to see it get fixed and continue.”
According to Sagebiel, cuts to funding have required external donations for the playground.
“We are trying to do a fund drive and get donations from local businesses and families,” Sagebiel said. “I’m sure everybody knows there’s been a lot of cuts to education, but we’ve started raising money and hopefully will have some money to start that soon.”
To make a tax-deductible donation toward the Forest Charter Foundation for the play structure, the school can be contacted at (530) 265-4823.
“We have a special play structure fund so people can contribute directly to that fund to make sure that’s where the money goes,” Llacer said.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.