Written by The Business Journal Staff
While a few finishes — mainly classroom furniture — are still needed to complete the new and improved Kepler Neighborhood School taking over the old Parker Nash building at Broadway and Stanislaus Streets in Downtown Fresno, school officials and local business leaders gathered Thursday afternoon to celebrate the completion of construction with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The 37,000 square-foot, two-story, K-8 school campus features a library, multi-purpose room and spacious classrooms not currently available at the charter school’s existing 15,000 square-foot space just steps away next door to Cornerstone Church. A 1,500 square-foot fenced park across the street also provides a green outdoor space — a luxury for the students used to playing on a small blacktop.
Principal Christina Montanez said staff and students are excited to make the transition to the new facility. She credited developer Tutelian and Co. for restoring the historic downtown building and transforming it into the schoolhouse she and Kepler founders Sheila Skibbie and Valerie Blackburn envisioned.
“Cliff [Tutelian] could have done anything with this building. He could have done business or residential, but he decided to do it for the kids,” Montanez said. “We’re honored to bring with us the already established Kepler culture, the spirit of service learning, and our Kepler swagger over to the new facility.”
Tutelian said it has been a privilege to work for such a worthy cause.
“We’ve been developing in downtown for many years now and I couldn’t think of a better way and a better use for this old building, not only in the spirit of the preservation of history in terms of the building itself, but perpetuating its use in such a valuable way as educating small children,” Tutelian said.