The Press Enterprise
December 1, 2016
For the past four years, they’ve been nomads in search of the right home.
REACH Leadership STEAM Academy has taught classes in three places since it opened in 2012.
The Riverside charter school, which serves transitional kindergarten through sixth-grade students, has found a temporary solution to its rapid growth.
The school is expanding at one of its two locations so it can educate more students. It focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math. Charter schools use public money but are free of some rules that govern public schools.
Construction is set to start soon on 21 portable buildings on a vacant lot owned by Grace United Methodist Church. The school has five years left on its lease on the church’s Linden Street property near UC Riverside, founder and Executive Director Virgie Rentie said.
Currently, some classes are held there, while others are at Riverside Community Church on Jurupa Avenue in the city’s Grand neighborhood. The school, which opened with 77 students, spent its first two years at Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church in Riverside.
When construction is finished in mid-February, the school will leave its Jurupa Avenue location and run all classes from the Grace United site, Rentie said.
Enrollment, now at 450 students, can grow by about 100 with the additional classrooms, she said.
“It’s a big milestone for us,” Rentie said. “For the past couple of years, we have been constantly faced with what our location would be the following year.”
REACH, which stands for Reaching Excellence in Academics through Community and Home school partnerships, received nearly $1.2 million in federal grant funds for the construction.
New amenities will include a library, science lab, multipurpose room, administrative building, playground for upper grades and a baseball field.
The school eventually hopes to raise enough money to buy land and build its own campus in Riverside, Rentie said.
Haley Gillman, Parent Teacher Organization president, said families will feel united with all students in one place. It will be easier for teachers to plan lessons and attend trainings together, she added.
“I think there’s great potential for the school,” said Gillman, whose daughter is in first grade. “Every year that we’re growing, I see things getting better.”