Click photo to enlarge
Synergy Charter School students, Kourtney Bayne, 11, left, Jorge Cuevas, 13, center, and Arturo Samperio, 12, look over their class project that shows how energy was made from many years ago to the present using wind mills during the school's open house in Pittsburg, Calif., on Thursday Jan. 31, 2013. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff)

PITTSBURG -- Synergy, the first charter school to operate in Pittsburg, will have a lot more students attending when the school year resumes next month.

Planning commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the use permit Synergy Charter School had sought to expand the campus to accommodate up to 300 middle-school students, up from the 100-maximum limit allowed when the school first opened a year ago.

"The need in the community has been established and we are getting larger," said Cheryl Townsend, co-founder of the school, which offers a project- and technology-based curriculum to help students learn.

Synergy opened its doors for the 2012-13 school year in a former Social Security office in Centurian Plaza on East Leland Road.

Under the use permit approved Tuesday, the school will redesign the space it now occupies while expanding into adjacent vacant office space to accommodate 11 classrooms, a multipurpose room and office space. An existing outdoor grass area that is used for physical education and elective course work would also be expanded.

Synergy expects to open Aug. 21, but that date may have to be adjusted slightly to accommodate the construction work that is going on to ready the school for more students, according to Townsend.

Synergy has about 250 pre-enrolled new and returning students at all grade levels, she said. About 80 percent of the first group of about 100 students who attended Synergy during the 2012-13 school year will be returning for the 2013-14 school year, she said. About 50 of the returning students will attend ninth-grade classes and represent the school's first group of high-school students.


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Synergy expects to open a separate high school campus at a different location in the fall of 2014, along with a fully enrolled middle-school population of 300 students at the East Leland Road location by the fall of 2015, said a staff report that recommended approval of the use permit. The location for Synergy's separate high school campus has not been determined.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.