Skill-oriented Samoa Beach Academy could open in fall 2023

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

SAMOA – A group of educators and community members is proposing a new charter school that would focus on training high school students in building trades, medical jobs and business management.

The Samoa Beach Academy, if approved by the Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board of Trustees, would be located in a new building that would be constructed in the town of Samoa, located out on the peninsula.

Proponents of the academy say they would like to open the school in the fall of 2023, and would limit enrollment to 300 students.

The high school would focus on what  it calls “Career Technical Education Sectors and Pathways.” These include:

• Building and construction, residential and commercial.

• Health science and medical technologies, patient care.

• Business and finance, business management.

Fortuna resident Catherine Scott, an adjunct professor at National University, gave a presentation to the NHUHSD board at its Aug. 10 meeting. 

The school, she said, would have small class sizes and would give students the skills they need to get a job when they graduate.

The petitioners for the charter school include Scott;  Patti Campbell, owner of Mad River Lumber; David Lonn, former executive director of NHUHSD and former Mack High principal; Julianne Eagle, vice president of marketing for The Danco Group; Troy R. Nicolini, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Eureka; and Charles Petrusha, president and CEO of Advanced Security Systems.

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The Danco Group, the owner of Samoa, would build an 18,800-square foot school in Samoa and lease it to Samoa Beach Academy. Lease payments would be $300,000 a year for the first year, then climb each year, reaching $649,459 in the fifth year.

The charter school’s budget would be $1.7 million in the first year and climb to more than $3.5 million in the fifth year. Most of the funding would come from the state.

Samoa Beach Academy submitted a charter proposal earlier this year, but withdrew it after district staff raised a number of concerns about the school’s proposed finances and curriculum. There were also concerns about the school’s ability to serve students with disabilities.

NHUHSD district staff, with assistance from the Humboldt County Office of Education, is analyzing the new proposal and will have a recommendation for the NHUHSD board before its Sept. 14 meeting, during which the board may decided whether to approve the proposal.


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