Santa Rosa Academy Breaks Ground on New School Site

Santa Rosa Academy board members celebrate Monday as school principal and Executive Director Laura B...

Santa Rosa Academy board members celebrate Monday as school principal and Executive Director Laura Badillo turns over the first shovel of dirt at the site of the new school on Haun Road.

It started almost eight years ago, with registration taking place in a Starbucks and the first classes held in a garage.

Santa Rosa Academy has come a long way since then. On Monday, groundbreaking was held for a 25-acre facility that will include 67,000 square feet of buildings for elementary, middle school and high school students.

Bulldozers have already begun grading the ground at the site of the new school, located on the west side of Haun Road, across from Lowe's and the south end of Countryside Marketplace. Santa Rosa board members and other officials gathered there Monday to celebrate something that is the result of years of hard work.

"It's been a tough, long road, but looking at all this, it's wonderful," said Laura Badillo, principal and executive director of Santa Rosa Academy, as she looked out on the large construction site.

Menifee's charter school, which began as the dream of some concerned parents, has moved locations as its enrollment has grown over the years. Currently, high school and middle school students attend a facility on La Piedra Road, adjacent to Bell Mountain Middle School. Elementary school students attend the former Menifee Elementary School on Garbani Road. Many students also are home schooled, and the waiting list to get into the full-time program has grown to more than 1,100.

The new facility, which officials hope will be ready by the start of next school year, will accommodate about 1,500 students -- 350 more than the current facilities can handle.

According to Brad Burke of Competitive Edge Development, designer and builder of the project, the school will include classroom buildings, an administration building, a library and an athletic complex featuring full-size baseball and football/soccer fields and outdoor basketball courts. A second phase will include a gym and theater. Santa Rosa already competes in CIF sports and will continue to add teams once the new facilities are completed.

"We're not a part of the Menifee school district, but the district has to approve us," Badillo said. "A lot of charter schools operate out of three counties; we wanted this to have a home base for this community.

"Some of these parents have been with us from the very beginning. They wanted to put together an alternative to overcrowded schools and they stuck with us. Everyone is very excited."

The project is funded through a $24 million private bond. La Piedra Road, which currently is only a traffic signal at that point with an eastbound entrance to the marketplace, will be extended west, leading to the school and beyond until it connects with Sherman Road. Land also is being graded along Haun Road north of the school site to prepare for further development not yet announced by the city or the developer, Regent Properties.