New Pacific School is the newest addition to RJUHSD

New Pacific School will be opening in the fall of 2022.

The RJUHSD findings report predicted that by the time New Pacific School was open to grades K-12, if all of the high school students attending would have otherwise attended an RJUHSD school, the district could lose up to $1.3 million. 

The RJUHSD findings report predicted that by the time New Pacific School was open to grades K-12, if all of the high school students attending would have otherwise attended an RJUHSD school, the district could lose up to $1.3 million. 

Students in elementary school, spanning from transitional kindergarten through fifth grade, will be able to attend a new Roseville Joint Union High School District (RJUHSD) school starting in the fall of 2022: New Pacific School.

New Pacific School, which will be a free public charter school in Roseville, is an initiative of Pacific Charter Institute (PCI), a non-profit 501(c) 3 public benefit corporation. On Feb. 10, 2022, the RJUHSD board members passed the motion to approve New Pacific School’s petition, which means it will be added to the lineup of RJUHSD schools. It is projected to start enrolling high school students in the 2024-2025 school year.

“This school has had a lot of thought and input from educators, community, people, parents, all what we call stakeholders, to offer a dream school that… we have always wanted,” Romyl Mabanta, one of the founding principals of New Pacific School, said. “And now that we get to piece that together and put that together.”

As a charter school, New Pacific School has the ability to “pursue specific educational objectives regarding curriculum, staff, and budget,” per their website.Project-based learning” and “social-emotional learning” are two aspects of their educational methods. 

“Our community is looking for a safe place to learn… As a teacher, I know that children need to feel safe and welcome first, before any learning can happen,” Joy Ball,  a parent and teacher from Roseville, said at the RJUHSD board meeting on Dec. 16, 2021. “With New Pacific focusing on social-emotional learning, I know that students who don’t fit the mold… of traditional public schools will find themselves flourishing at… New Pacific.”

Our community is looking for a safe place to learn… As a teacher, I know that children need to feel safe and welcome first, before any learning can happen. With New Pacific focusing on social-emotional learning, I know that students who don’t fit the mold… of traditional public schools will find themselves flourishing at… New Pacific.”

— Joy Ball

Dr. Paul Keefer, the charter’s lead petitioner and PCI’s executive director, explained that the school will have “learning spaces and moveable chairs” and will encourage students to be self-directed.

The students will be in a constant state of collaboration, exploration… What I know from experiences,” Keefer said, “the more the environment isn’t scripted for the single learning goal, the… less you’ll have behavior issues (and) situations where kids are bored.”

New Pacific School petition was originally submitted to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, which rejected the petition by one vote. 

The charter petition was submitted to districts that have high schools because “when you start talking about credits… and units and dual enrollment and all those things,” Keefer said, “elementary school districts won’t be equipped to support that type of discussion or that ability to do that oversight.”

Before approving the petition, RJUHSD composed a findings report listing a number of considerations for the RJUHSD board to review before they made a final decision about whether to reject or accept the petition.

Per Assembly Bill No. 1505, a school district cannot deny a charter school petition “unless it makes written factual findings in support of one or more specific findings” about numerous aspects of the proposed charter school.

The RJUHSD findings report predicted that by the time New Pacific School was open to grades K-12, if all of the high school students attending would have otherwise attended an RJUHSD school, the district could lose up to $1.3 million. 

“Every student we lose… threatens our programs over at Oakmont. It threatens our teaching staff, it threatens what we can offer… So, please think really hard,” Deanna Ponseti, teacher and Oakmont parent, said at the RJUHSD board meeting on Feb. 10, 2022, before the charter was approved. “I am all about school choice for students… but I just don’t feel this is right for (RJUHSD).”

The Eureka Union School District, which operates only elementary schools, included a recommendation in board meeting notes from Dec. 13, 2021, that EUSD staff “submit a formal letter to the RJUHSD opposing approval of the charter.” Board meeting notes state that if the charter petition were approved, their district would anticipate losing students. 

Our goal is to get those parents in a place where their child could actually go (to school where) they’ll feel so much better about themselves and be more successful,” Keefer said. “So I think we complement the districts much more than… compete with them, and we’re going to be very small: 90 students out of how many thousands of students are in Roseville our first year.”

The Eureka Union Teachers Association sponsored a petition on a website called Action Network to gain signatures opposing New Pacific School’s entrance into the RJUHSD. The Action Network petition cites various reasons for denying the petition, including the claim that “PCI has NO experience running brick and mortar schools.” 

New Pacific School will be Pacific Charter Institute’s first site-based school, although they have six resource centers for their independent study students to visit in-person. RJUSHD noted the petition “Does Not Identify A Single Facility” in which the school will take place. 

“We’re hiring a principal who has… experience in the traditional education system, both charter as well as the traditional system. And so, right there’s our experience,” Keefer said. 

Per the findings report, New Pacific School also has programs similar to those preexisting in the RJUHSD, but it does have a “small group, open space learning environment” that would be unique to the district. The school plans to have a low staff to student ratio, with a teacher and paraprofessional per classroom, with each class having a maximum of 30 mixed-grade students.  

“Things are coinciding to really offer a transformational and innovative experience for students and families,” Mabanta said. “And also just for my own selfishness, it’s a lot of great fun as an educator to see and to work with this.”