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Einstein elementary students to start school in temporary locations

Two sites identified

Posted: September 7, 2013 11:00 a.m.
Updated: September 7, 2013 11:30 a.m.

With the status of its permanent new home still uncertain, the long-awaited elementary school for the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences will use temporary facilities in Acton and Agua Dulce on its first day of classes Monday.

The school will open in two temporary locations, with students in kindergarten and first grade at Agua Dulce Elementary School and students in grades 2 through 6 in Acton, according to Agua Dulce Elementary School Principal Janet Simons.

Einstein students will remain at those two facilities until a permanent location for the school can open, according to officials.

“As AEA Elementary occupies the two temporary sites, please be assured that necessary steps are being taken to ensure that both campuses fulfill education, safety and building requirements and regulations,” reads a post on the school’s website.

Facility issues

Einstein was forced to seek out temporarily facilities after running into trouble with its chosen site, a building at 25300 Rye Canyon Road in Valencia.

The city of Santa Clarita issued a stop work order for the site on July 31 after discovering construction and demolition were taking place without required permits.

The stop work order came days after the city deemed Einstein’s application for a conditional use permit to be incomplete.

Einstein would need that permit to operate the school, according to officials.

Einstein’s application for a conditional use permit remained too incomplete to review Thursday, said city planner Mike Marshall.

Namely, Einstein has yet to provide a traffic study for the area, a necessary component for the application, Marshall said.

But even if the conditional use permit is approved, Einstein officials would still have to receive permits to resume work on the interior of the building.

Marshall said Einstein has filed an application for those permits but cannot receive authorization for work inside the building until receiving a conditional use permit.

As a courtesy, Santa Clarita spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said, the city is allowing the process for both the building permit and the conditional use permit to proceed simultaneously.

Similar situation

The Einstein Academy has run into a similar zoning issue for a planned school in Ventura County, the charter for which was approved in February.

That school was originally set to open in late August in a building in Thousand Oaks, but Einstein school officials did not obtain the proper zoning permits to open on time, according to Ventura County officials.

The opening of the school was delayed while Einstein officials petitioned the Ventura County Board of Education for a waiver that would allow them to open the school without obtaining the usual zoning permits.

But the Board of Education voted 4-1 on Aug. 26 to take no action on that request.

“What this means is we have to find a new location for our school,” reads a post on the website for the Albert Einstein Academy school in Ventura County. “Don’t lose faith! We will be working hard to find a solution and a home for our students, teachers and staff.”

Facility change

Einstein’s Acton-Agua district charter school was originally going to be located within the boundaries of the Saugus district, and Superintendent Joan Lucid was notified to that effect after the school was approved.

At some point Einstein changed its plans and decided to locate the school at the Rye Canyon Road property, which is within the boundaries of the Castaic Union School District.

Castaic district officials, including Superintendent Jim Gibson, say the school site shift could violate state law because the Castaic district was not properly notified of the change.

Einstein had four times unsuccessfully petitioned the Saugus district board to open an elementary charter school. It is currently operating a middle and high school chartered through the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Jeffrey Shapiro, the executive director of the Einstein Academy’s foundation and lead petitioner for the Acton-Agua Dulce charter, did not return calls or emails requesting comment over the past week.

Einstein elementary school Principal Scott Spector and Acton-Agua Dulce district Superintendent Brent Woodard also could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts this week.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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