SANTA ROSA -- Roseland University Prep has been approved to receive a grant of up to $7 million from the state Department of Education to build a new, permanent Roseland District high school.

The grant will pay for up to half the $14 million estimated cost to build it on West Avenue in the Roseland community of southwest Santa Rosa, according to Superintendent Gail Ahlas. The remainder of the project cost will be paid by $450,000 the district has raised in its charter facilities fund and a 30-year low-interest loan from the California School Finance Authority.

The new campus will replace the Sebastopol Road warehouse the district leased in 2004 for its initial class of 80 high school freshmen. The warehouse campus is now fully occupied by 380 students. The new school is designed to accommodate 450 students.

“We now have funds to build the campus,” Ms. Ahlas said. “But we will be looking for financial support to furnish our new classrooms and provide state-of-the-art equipment for science and computer labs and other academic programs.”

No construction date has been set. Release of funds is still unknown, and there may be a waiting period for this, Ms. Ahlas said. But planning will move forward.

"Best case scenario, we are looking at two years," she said.

Alex Persinger created concept drawings two years ago for a grant application. Ms. Alhas said they expect to continue to work with him on the project, along with staff and students.

The school is focused on giving students a small learning community with the promise to help support high school graduation and preparation for college.

News of the RUP funding comes just months after Roseland learned it had received funds for construction of a third elementary school in the district. Ground breaking is scheduled this spring on Roseland Creek Elementary School on Burbank Avenue which will serve the growing population on the western border of the district.

The district began seeking funding for a new high school campus two years ago, when it applied for a highly competitive state Department of Education charter school construction grant.

"We did not get the grant," Ms. Ahlas said. "We came very close, however. Then, we just  received news that one of the grant recipients pulled out of the program and that we have won the construction grant after all."

The district plans to build the new RUP campus on grounds on West Avenue where Sheppard Accelerated Elementary School, Roseland Accelerated Charter Middle School (RAMS) and the district administrative offices are located. The high school campus will be located on about two acres on the west side of the property.

Roseland University Prep and Roseland Accelerated Middle School students will share a gym already located on the property and a small athletic field.

"I think the students are going to be so proud," Ms. Ahlas said. It is going to be an amazing time for our Roseland families. We have all worked hard and they have an amazing opportunity to succeed not just through high school but on through college."