ALAMEDA -- After settling into a new home, the Alameda Community Learning Center is being asked to move again.
Supporters of the project based alternative program turned out in force Tuesday night to oppose a proposal to move the school to the Woodstock Elementary School site from Wood Middle School, where the learning center is now housed.
Though the plans might include moving other special programs, most of the discussion centered on ACLC. The center serves approximately 275 sixth- through 12th-grade students and uses 11 classrooms at Wood.
More than 100 parents, students and other supporters offered impassioned pleas to stop the proposal and gave the charter school's Leading Facilitator David Hoopes a standing ovation after he spoke to the board.
Last year, the school board voted to move ACLC from the Encinal High School campus where it had existed for 18 years.
The decision was made to make room for students enrolled in the Encinal Junior Jets program.
Now the charter school is being asked to move again to provide more room for expansion of Wood's restructuring program required to address low test scores at the school.
ACLC supporters said the school spent $100,000 and devoted countless volunteer hours remodeling the smaller space at Wood.
Moving again would place a hardship on the school and divert energy that should be devoted to the program into more relocation activities, the school's backers said.
ACLC student Camila Giuiza-Chavez said charter school parents pay the same taxes as parents whose students attend other schools but the center is not being held in the same regard as other campuses.
Attending the charter school has helped her learn to be a leader, Giuiza-Chavez said, and take an active role in her own educational experience.
"Lately, a lot of people have been asking me whether I intend to stay at ACLC," she said. "I don't know how to respond because my response has always been, 'Of course I am staying.' And that's the power of the school. I feel it's mine."
Under state Proposition 39, public school districts must provide classroom space for independent charter schools, which are governed by their own boards of directors and set their own curriculum policies.
By law, the Alameda board must make an offer of space to the charter school by the first week in February.
Despite the audience pleas, a board majority favored relocating the campus though some like trustee Margie Sherratt insisted that she would not vote for the proposal unless the charter school were offered a multi-year lease to prevent ACLC from having to move again.
School board member Mike McMahon suggested the district explore costs involved in locating five portable classrooms to Wood to accommodate expansion and allow the charter school to remain.
Trustee Barbara Kahn said she was surprised that charter school supporters would decline a campus of their own at Woodstock and backed the relocation proposal.
Speaking via a telephone hookup, school board member Patricia Herrera Spencer said the district should consider paying the charter school's moving expenses if they were to relocate again.
The board directed Superintendent Kirsten Vital to begin negotiations on a long-term lease with the charter school, which will replace the mandatory offer required by law.
If agreement is not reached by next month's deadline, the district will make the school another offer just to meet the legal requirements and continue negotiations toward a long term deal.