As Keyes to Learning Charter School marked its 25th anniversary this year, the institution’s junior high and high school students celebrated an additional milestone on the first day of school: a campus of their own.
Students, parents and their teachers were joined by community members and Keyes Union School District officials on Wednesday for a ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of the new Key Academy campus, which finally opened for students in grades 7-12 after two long years of planning and construction.
“Finally, we have a place we can call home,” Key Academy coordinator Vicki Harmon said.
As one of the first 100 charter schools in California, Keyes to Learning Charter School was established in 1995 as an independent study home school program for grades K-8. The Key Academy, which serves about 150 junior high and high school students, was created 14 years ago and has since held classes in a variety of locations, from classrooms behind the Keyes to Learning elementary campus to churches in both Ceres and Turlock.
Most recently, Key Academy students attended class at Turlock Covenant Church. With only eight percent of its students residing in the Keyes school district boundaries, the school has attracted students living mostly in Turlock, Hughson and Denair. A lawsuit filed against the state several years ago, however, resulted in a ruling that charter schools cannot operate campuses outside of district boundaries.
Keyes to Learning Charter School had two years to complete the project thanks to a memorandum of understanding with both KUSD and Turlock Unified School District, KUSD Superintendent Helio Brasil said.
“This was not something that we had much of a choice in,” he said. “We struggled...it’s very hard to get any project done within two years.
“A great deal of hard work has gone into completing this project.”
The $2.1 million endeavor was funded in part by KUSD and supplemented with $1.5 million funds, consisting of eight portable classrooms and a small office on three acres behind Spratling Middle School and the district office on Lucinda Avenue.
“The project was not a small task but it was a worthy and right project,” Brasil said. “It’s not a complete, complete project, but it sure is a diamond in the rough that can be made into quite the stone.”