By Daniel Borsuk
Up to $45 million in tax-exempt California Municipal Finance Authority revenue bonds aimed at renovating three existing buildings and constructing five academic buildings for the nonprofit Making Waves Academy in Richmond sailed through the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
As a consent item, supervisors voted 3-0 to approve the issuance of non-public, tax-exempt bonds for the big charter school project.
Supervisors John Gioia of Richmond and Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill were absent.
The big charter school project will renovate and add up 204,500 square of space for the school that was founded in 1989 to enroll students in the West Contra Costa Unified School District into an accelerated academic program designed to boost students’ admission to four-year colleges.
“Ninety percent our graduates go onto college,” Making Waves Academy Chief Operating Officer Steven Roth told the Contra Costa Herald.
Some 400 Making Wave Academy graduates have gone on to college, he said. Graduates have gone on to the University of California, California State University, Stanford University, Ivy League schools and other prominent four-year institutions of higher education.
With 780 students now enrolled in grades eight through 12, Roth could not estimate how much enrollment will increase with the expanded campus.
Roth expects ground to be broken for the first phase of construction sometime next year. The project is planned to be completed by 2019 or 2020.
The Contra Costa County Office of Education that has served as the charter school authorizer since 2007 recently reauthorized the academy’s charter for an additional five years with the California Department of Education.
Before the charter school can proceed on the construction, the Contra Costa County Board of Education must also sign off on the project since the county office is the school’s charter school authorizer, said Terry Koehne, chief communications officer for the county office of education. The county board is expected to take up the Making Waves expansion in ensuing months.
“We issued a letter of support to the board of supervisors,” Koehne said. “Making Waves has met and exceeded its fiscal and academic requirements.”
“The board of supervisors’ action means that the county is off the hook,” said Anthony Stubbs, a CMFA advisor. Since the funds backing the bonds are from the private market, the supervisors’ action clarifies no public funds are at risk in connection with the Making Waves project.
“The county served as the official hearing body for the nonprofit school for its CMFA application,” said Kristen Lackey of the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department.
“Our function is pretty limited to holding public hearings on this project,” Lackey said. “No one showed up for the March 6 public hearing that we conducted.”
The charter school project involves the renovation of three existing school buildings at 4123 Lakeside Dr., the construction of a 47,000-square foot, two-story building, a 21,500-square foot one story gymnasium building and a new sports field adjacent to the Making Waves Academy at 4075 and 4123 Lakeside Dr.
The academy plans to erect two new two-story middle school buildings, one a 72,000 -square foot structure at 2925, 2930, and 2975 Technology Court and a 39,000-square foot building along with a one- story gymnasium building with 25,000 square feet at 4301 and 4175 to 4197 Lakeside Dr.
The charter school also plans to construct and equip a new sports complex at 2600 Hilltop Dr. The complex will consist of 13 acres with a swimming pool, sports fields and baseball fields.
Adult Literacy Grant Approved
Also at the meeting, the Supervisors flashed the green light for Contra Costa County Librarian Melinda Cervantes to apply for a California State Library Grant of up to $80,000 to fund the library’s adult literacy program, Project Second Chance, from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Since its launch in 1984, PSC has helped more than 5,600 county residents to learn to read.
Supervisors also approved a $73,173 contract with the city of Pleasant Hill for the county Health Services Department to provide homeless outreach services from March 1 2017 through June 30, 2018.