EL CERRITO -- A long period of planning, preparation and chasing official approvals is coming to an end for a charter school as it readies for its opening next month.
The Summit K2 charter will begin operations with its first seventh grade class on Aug. 18 in the historic building at 1800 Elm St. that opened in 1935 as the Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys and more recently housed the private Windrush School.
The Richmond-based Chamberlin Family Foundation is leasing the building to Summit Public Schools, which operates six other charter schools in the South Bay and the San Francisco Peninsula.
The foundation purchased the facility in December of 2012 after Windrush fell into bankruptcy.
The charter is starting with a group of 140 seventh graders and will add more seventh grade classes over the next five years to complete a middle school and high school.
The middle school will remain at 1800 Elm St. while Summit seeks a site for a high school campus that it plans to open in the fall of 2016, said Principal Kelly Garcia.
Many of the students are from Richmond, according to Garcia, who said that she recruited mostly at education open houses held at the Richmond Public Library, from regular appearances at the Richmond Farmers Market and from referrals to friends of students who had already enrolled.
Summit has received about 220 applications and has about 60 students on a waiting list.
The school has hired instructors to teach math, science, English and history, as well as an art/special education instructor and a director of operations, Garcia said.
It will be contracting out its physical education instruction, she said.
"We are encouraging as many students as possible to take public transportation to school to minimize traffic congestion at the site," Garcia said."We're anticipating having a lot of students taking BART from the Richmond station to the El Cerrito Del Norte station."
The campus is two blocks from El Cerrito Del Norte BART.
The Chamberlin Foundation is putting the finishing touches on the building, installing fiber-optic cable for Internet connections and upgrading the electrical system, Garcia said.
The charter has navigated a long and circuitous route to opening day.
The West Contra Costa school board rejected Summit's application in August of last year based on several criteria, including questions about its plans to recruit students in minority and low-income neighborhoods and concerns about difficulties these students might have in reaching the proposed school site east of San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito.
The Contra Costa County Board of Education approved its charter application in November after its staff determined that charters are not required to prepare transportation plans for students.
The El Cerrito Planning Commission in April granted Summit permission to operate under Windrush's use permit for the site after the charter agreed to follow the same rules about student drop-off times, hours of operation, noise, parking and other issues.