Residents of Pacific Heights are steaming over a plan to lease the vacant Newcomer High School to a charter-school operation that will serve Marin County students.
The San Francisco school board agreed to rent the Newcomer campus located on Jackson Street to Envision Schools, which operates a handful of Bay Area charter schools, in 2007-08 for $250,000.
Envision plans to relocate its Metropolitan Arts and Technology High School in Bernal Heights to Newcomer, while also busing as many as 150 Marin County students to the site. The new school will serve about 330 high schoolers.
The plan has enraged residents, who say it will create traffic problems in an already congested area, steal seats from San Francisco students, and seems disingenuous — before leasing the Newcomer campus, Envision turned down an offer to rent Gloria R. Davis Middle School in the Bayview district for about $26,000.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier is also fighting the agreement, calling a public hearing on the matter and seeking an opinion from City Attorney Dennis Herrera about a state law dealing with school-district facilities and charter schools — which are not subject to state mandates. Alioto-Pier has also introduced legislation that would require conditional-use permits to rent district property.
Residents consider Newcomer High School — relocated last year after the board decided to lease the site for financial reasons — a highlight of the Pacific Heights neighborhood. They say a kindergarten through 12th-grade public school serving San Francisco children would better fit the area.
“People think we’re rich people in Pacific Heights, but our neighborhood has a lot of multiple [housing] units with families. There are so many [families with] new babies here, but they move,” said Lynne Newhouse Segal, a Pacific Heights Residents Association board member. “If they knew they could go to this school, they wouldn’t move.”
Envision Chief Operating Officer Chris Pelgrift said enrollment for next school year is open, and San Francisco students are welcome to apply.