Cannon Beach Academy is a go

Volunteers helped sweep up leaves at a cleanup event in July for the new Cannon Beach Academy.

CANNON BEACH — Cannon Beach will have an elementary school again.

It’s a project that supporters of the charter school have been working toward for almost four years after the old elementary school was closed for tsunami safety reasons and a budget shortfall. But as of Tuesday, the academy, a tuition-free, public charter school offering kindergarten to second grade, has secured a temporary occupancy permit that will allow the school to open for classes on Sept. 5.

“I’m over-the-moon excited,” Amy Moore, the school’s executive director, said. “We are blessed to have all of the support from the community.”

Because the location for the school was secured only two months ago, volunteers, academy board members and Coaster Construction worked down to the wire to meet the Tuesday deadline set by Seaside School District. The last-minute need to find a new location came when the board received an estimate of $150,000 over the $90,000 they budgeted for construction costs at the original location on Sunset Boulevard. Costs were driven up because the space would need to be renovated extensively to meet state school fire codes.

The academy was able to find an alternative in the former Preschool and Children’s Center at 3781 S. Hemlock St. But by the time lease negotiations with the city finished and the proper permits were in hand, the academy was left with about a month to renovate the building up to code. Installing fire safety equipment, addressing Americans with Disabilities Act access concerns and other general maintenance projects were needed.

“It is thanks to Coaster Construction and all the volunteers that we were successful,” Moore said.

Almost every weekend over the past month, Moore said volunteers came out to help clear brush, paint the interior and exterior of the school and clean a building that sat vacant for more than a year.

Moore has also received a number of in-kind donations, such as school supplies, organizational items and a defibrillator from Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue.

“People have really come out of the woodwork for this,” Moore said.

There are still a few hurdles left for the academy before officially crossing the finish line. The charter school was awarded temporary occupancy with an agreement that a full fire safety system would be installed by November. This is one of the largest renovations needed and will take more time to complete, Moore said. The building was not equipped with any fire safety system when it was operating as a children’s center.

While the charter school has enough students enrolled to operate, the academy is still recruiting to fill more seats before fall, Moore said. Earlier this year, the academy had as many as 40 students. Moore said she has no concerns about meeting the goal, however, and attributes fluctuating numbers to the fact the status of the school has been up in the air because of the late location change.

“I think there are a lot of families who were waiting for this day to happen,” Moore said.

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