September 29, 2008

Charter School Buying Temple

By Wesley G. Hughes

SAN BERNARDINO - As the Jewish High Holy Days loom, ASA Charter School is making plans to move to the city-block site of Temple Emanu El, the oldest Jewish congregation in Southern California.

Escrow on the $4 million deal at 3512 N. E St. is expected to close Dec. 12. The new price is $500,000 more than one OK'd earlier by Congregation Emanu El and approved 16-1 by the synagogue board July 17. That purchase met a negative wall from the nearby local community because it was intended to provide transitional housing for nonviolent women offenders.

The congregation backed out of that deal.

"The charter school is a much better fit for the community and the congregation wanted to do what was right," said Sheri Maltzman, congregation president.

ASA is not an acronym and is pronounced like the name Asa, said Nick Gonzalez, president of the charter school's board.

ASA, which is presently leasing an old church at Pacific and Sterling, offers kindergarten through 12th grade plus preschool and day care. It offers regular and independent studies, according to the state Department of Education Web site.

Gonzalez said the temple site is perfect for ASA. "It's a move- in, absolutely." No construction will be necessary to accommodate the nearly 400 students.

Gonzalez's day job is community liaison on the staff of San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris.

The congregation is continuing its search for a new home in the Inland region. In an earlier interview, Margie Orland, co-chairman of the steering committee and a past president of the congregation, said her group is looking for a site possibly in Redlands, Highland or Yucaipa.

Rabbi Douglas Kohn of Temple Emanu El said, "We've been deeply gratified by the work with the parties who sought to purchase our building, and who have purchased our building.

"The congregation is now looking both to its future and its past with a deep commitment to San Bernardino and the entire region," Kohn said.

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