Charter school sets up shop in Fresno Station

Downtown Fresno will be getting a new charter high school next year, but it won't be in the building that once housed the Fresno Metropolitan Museum, a possibility earlier this year.

Instead, the Academy for Civic and Entrepreneurial Leadership will move into the Fresno Station, one of the city's oldest buildings.

ACEL-Fresno, which is now at the Boys and Girls Club on Belmont Avenue, is a charter school authorized by he Fresno Unified School District.

Ninth- and 10th-grade students will attend the school next year, and there are plans to expand to all high school grades in 2012-13. ACEL-Fresno touts an academic program emphasizing cutting-edge technologies and instructional practices.

The school is in downtown for the long term, Principal Dave Childers said. It will "give students an opportunity to be heavily involved in their own community," he said.

Childers called the Fresno Station, on Tulare Street between G and H streets, a "fantastic building" because of its history.

It was once the depot for the Southern Pacific railroad lines.

In addition to the school, the building will house a parent resource center for both the high school and several Fresno Unified schools in the area.

Craig Scharton, director of the city's Downtown and Community Revitalization Department, said the Fresno Station stands on land that is the birthplace of the city.

He added that it will give downtown office workers the chance to have their children attend classes nearby.

Childers said the choice also was financially sound. The Fresno Station is owned by Robert Ellis Leasing & Investment and the Ellis Family Partnership, and Childers said the school was able to obtain a lease for between $

12,000 and $13,000 a month. When the Met was under consideration earlier this year, Childers estimated the cost as up to $15,000 a month.

As to what's next for the Met, the city is negotiating with Community Media Access Collaborative to lease a floor of the building in a deal that would net the city about $100,000 a year, city manager Mark Scott said.

The collaborative would manage public-access television channels from the building.