Nevada County school to pursue new digs |

Nevada County school to pursue new digs

Matthew Renda
and Jennifer Terman
Staff Writers

The Yuba River Charter School is slated to appear before the Nevada County Planning Commission in hopes of gaining approval for a new 23,000-square-foot, $8.5 million school.

The proposal for a new school calls for the construction of six different buildings located on a 16-acre site near the intersection of Rough and Ready Highway and Adam Avenue in Grass Valley, according to staff documents attached to the Planning Commission agenda. Plans for the proposed school feature several K-8 classrooms, a library, a main lobby, about 800 square feet of administrative space, an art studio, an amphitheater, general parking and several play fields for different grade levels.

"The design of the proposed buildings' footprints have been carefully considered and are placed in a manner that minimizes on-site grading," the report states.

Caleb Buckley, director of Yuba River Charter, said the move would give the students and teachers a little more room.

"Right now we're confined to a city block with black top," said Buckley. "With the new location, we'll be able to have a playground, outdoor spaces, a lot more parking, solar power and all new buildings, so it will be much more efficient to run."

The site is comprised of three different parcels with varying zoning, all of which allow for schools as one of the uses.

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The northernmost 3-acre portion of the site was once part of the Kenny Ranch project and housed Grass Valley's burn dump in the mid-1950s and currently features contaminated soil with a high concentration of lead. Cleanup of the hazardous materials is included in the proposal for development of the site, said Tod Herman, Nevada County senior planner. Remediation activities are slated to include removal of contaminated soil, hauling it to an approved disposal site and capping the disturbed area, all of which will be monitored by the Department of Toxic Substances.

"The cleanup of the site is actually a boon to the community," said Buckley. "Only a public entity would be willing to clean it up, so it is good for everyone."

Yuba River Charter will use some of the bond money and continue to pursue grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to help fund the remediation effort, which is estimated to cost between $600,000 and $1 million.

Surrounding properties include the 300-acre Kenny Ranch project. Kenny Ranch is one of the principle properties involved in the Gold Country Lenders case, prosecuted by the California Attorney General against Phil Lester and his associates, who are accused of bilking investors by allegedly misleading them about various aspects of real estate. Part of the allegations surround the allegedly inappropriate donation of $550,000 of land to Hospice of the Foothills, which is also in proximity to the proposed project site.

Yuba River Charter currently occupies the former Nevada City Elementary building and has an annual lease agreement with the Nevada City School District. Yuba River expects to move into the new location June 2015 and plans to extend its three-year lease with the Nevada City School District, which is set to expire June 2014.

"We'll try to extend the lease and stay here until the new site is ready," Buckley said.

Roxanne Gilpatric, superintendent of the Nevada City School District, said the extension would need to be passed in a resolution, and the district has already found parties interested in occupying the current Yuba River Charter location when the school moves out.

Yuba River Charter had its inaugural school year in 1994, when it was called Twin Ridges Charter School. The school was renamed to its present moniker in 2007.

The school year for Yuba River begins in mid-August and ends in mid-December with a second semester spanning January to late May or early June. The school provides public education to about 300 students, using a 30-person staff, including 10 teachers, a principal, an administrative manager, librarian, custodian and other assorted support staff.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call 477-4239. To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 477-4230.

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