SANTA ROSA -- Next fall, growing Roseland School District in southwest Santa Rosa is set to have not one new campus but two, thanks to a deal announced Tuesday to use the former Ursuline High School campus for a new co-ed middle and high school.
In addition to a new elementary school set to open in fall 2012, the 2,300-student public school district plans to start its first classes at a new charter school on the north Santa Rosa Catholic girls school campus. Ursuline closed June 30 after 130 years of operation by the Ursuline Sisters.
The as-yet-unnamed charter school will begin with two 30-student classes of seventh graders. Amy Jones-Kerr, founding principal of district's Roseland University Preparatory high school, will be the principal of the new charter school.
"We couldn't be more pleased with this proposed partnership, as it will allow us to take many of the nearly 100 families whose children are on our waiting list and provide them access to a high-quality public school education beginning next year," said Gail Ahlas, district superintendent.
Shortly after the closure of Ursuline High was announced in November, Cardinal Newman High School moved to co-education to accept Ursuline students. The school now has 685 students and rents eight classrooms in one part of the the Ursuline campus, according to Mike Truesdell, president and chief executive officer. Plans for an expansion of the campus are being developed.
"The sisters provided the impetus when they said they would rent to us for only three years," Mr. Truesdell said.
The Ursuline Sisters in charge of the girls school approached the Roseland district about setting up a school on the campus, according to Sister Dianne Baumunk. The district has been enjoying success with Roseland University Prep, which is awaiting final funding for an expansion, and high school graduation rates.
Though the curriculum at the new charter school will be secular, it will continue the Ursuline mission of the gospel and making complete human beings.
"It's more important that a greater number of people are served," she said. "We never had just Catholics at the school. We tried to respect that."