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June 12, 2021

Watsonville charter school moving downtown by October

WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to give temporary space to a new charter school as it prepares to move into its own space by October.

PVUSD Chief Business Officer Clint Rucker told the trustees that Watsonville Prep School, run by Navigator Schools, will move out of E.A. Hall Middle School earlier than expected, after construction at the Gottschalks building—the school’s new location at 407 Main St.—moved more quickly than expected.

Rucker called the announcement “very good news” for the district, which was planning to prepare the middle school for three new portables. Now, PVUSD will use the portables for new classrooms at Duncan Holbert School, Rucker said. 

Navigator will only need temporary office space at Ann Soldo Elementary School.

“This is a great opportunity for the district,” he said. “We will not have to do all the groundwork.”

Under a state law known as Proposition 39, school districts are legally obligated to provide facilities for charter schools located within their boundaries.

The district was already providing several portable rooms at E.A. Hall, along with a mobile restroom when Navigator asked for more space earlier this year.

PVUSD denied Navigator’s charter petition in 2018, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education did the same on appeal three months later. That changed in January 2019 when the State Board of Education approved the petition.

The work required to prepare E.A. Hall cost the district about $500,000.

Watsonville Prep started with 180 students in kindergarten through second grade, and plans to add one grade per year until it has an eighth grade. The school’s charter calls for a total of 420 students when fully operational in 2023.

Navigator Schools CEO Kevin Sved said he wanted to minimize the financial impact on PVUSD by informing the district of the impending move as soon a possible.

The new space, he said, will include an indoor play space, a cafeteria and a 4,500-square-foot multi-purpose room, in addition to having room for all of its students.


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