By Ingrid Burke
Special to Plumas News
With the closing of its USDA loan imminent, Plumas Charter School is one step closer to owning its own facility in Quincy, said PCS Executive Director Taletha Washburn. After the loan closes and the building design is finalized, plans will be submitted to the local building department to begin the approval process. Washburn said she expects this to happen in the next six to eight weeks.
PCS purchased property at 1425 E. Main St. in East Quincy from the Central Plumas Recreation and Park District (CPRPD) in December. The school is working on facility design with Modern Building Inc. based in Chico.
“I’m really, really excited about the potential to have a permanent home for our Quincy programs,” said Washburn. “The potential to provide facility stability like this means you can grow in your programs and what you’re offering.”
One avenue of expansion will be through partnership with CPRPD. Washburn said the two entities plan to work together on programs for both students and community members. For example, students may be able to use the recreation district’s playground and workout equipment, while the district uses the school building for indoor after-school activities.
“I feel really good about the professional relationship I have with James (Shipp, CPRPD general manager) and our ability to do great things,” said Washburn.
She also said there is an opportunity for partnering with the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds, which she will be exploring.
Once the facility plans are finalized and submitted to the building department, a series of approvals will need to be processed, which will take 60–90 days, said Washburn, meaning construction could start in May at the earliest.
Search for a permanent home
“For five years we’ve been working to stabilize our facilities in Quincy,” said Washburn. The search for a permanent home for PCS’s Quincy Learning Center began once it became clear that PCS would no longer be allowed to use Plumas Unified School District facilities. QLC had moved five times in 18 years.
The school initially hoped to purchase the building at 424 N. Mill Creek Rd. where its facilities had previously been located in rented space. However, this would have required rezoning of the property, and the request to rezone was denied. At this time, PCS began the 18-month process of applying for the USDA loan.
Next, the school was donated a parcel of land on Kelsey Lane and Quincy Junction Road, adjacent to Quincy Junior-Senior High School. PCS began investigating the possibility of building on this site. At this time the USDA loan was approved, meaning money for the facilities project was allocated, but the loan had yet to close, pending the fulfillment of a list of conditions.
A special use permit for the Kelsey Lane property was approved, and PCS began moving forward with the development of a building design. However, the final engineering survey indicated the necessity for earthwork that exceeded the project budget and plans for that site could no longer move forward.
Finally, PCS began negotiations with CPRPD regarding the purchase of the parcel on East Main between the Caltrans yard and Pioneer Park. At this time, PCS re-engaged with the USDA in order to transfer the loan to the new property and also request additional funds, which were approved. This provides more flexibility for the project. With modifications, the building design developed for the Kelsey Lane property will be transferred to the East Main property.
As part of the land purchase, PCS transferred the Kelsey Lane property to CPRPD. The district has plans to work with the community to develop a mountain bike pump track on the site, said Washburn.
PCS is a nonprofit public school that also operates learning centers in Taylorsville, Greenville, and Chester. To learn more, visit plumascharterschool.org.
Ingrid Burke is the public relations specialist for Plumas Charter School.