Charter school moving to Shomrei Torah

Shomrei Torah Synagogue has found a new occupant for the space on its West Hills campus that once belonged to New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS). Ivy Academia Entrepreneurial Charter School is moving its eighth- to 12th-grade students and its business operations from Chatsworth to the synagogue’s campus.

“We were happy to be able to house New Community Jewish High School for nine years of partnership, and while we were sad to see them go, we are excited to be able to reach out to a new organization in need of space,” said Rabbi Richard Camras, of Shomrei Torah.

The synagogue announced June 20 that it has entered into a lease with the public charter school authorized by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The K-12 charter school has 1,150 students spread among two other campuses located in Woodland Hills and Winnetka.

The space became available when NCJHS, in search of a permanent location, purchased the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus — former home to the JCC at Milken, which closed June 30, 2012 — from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Renovations at the site are ongoing, and the school is preparing to move to the Vanowen Street location and begin classes there in August, according to Cheri Mayman, NCJHS’ director of marketing.

Jessica Green, executive director at Shomrei Torah, a Conservative congregation of more than 500 member families, said that the match with Ivy Academia has been perfect.

Although the charter school was founded in 2004, the high school branch was started five years ago when the students from the lower grades grew into it. They have since had three graduating classes.

Caroline Neuhaus Wesley, executive director of Ivy Academia, said that she is excited about the new facilities, because it has full science labs, nicer classrooms, access to better technology, and the area is only 10 minutes from the school’s Woodland Hills campus on De Soto Avenue.

According to the school’s Web site, its entrepreneurial program teaches students life skills that translate into business skills. Pupils are taught to organize and manage a business. 

The school’s operating charter was renewed by the LAUSD school board for another five years in April, the same month that its two founders were found guilty of illegally taking or misappropriating more than $200,000 in public funds following their arrests in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Wesley explained that many changes have been made.

“Basically, in working with LAUSD in our memoranda of understanding, the founders are no longer attached to Ivy Academia, we have brought in an entirely new board of directors [and] a new management team, and we have continued to excel despite the controversy.”

Wesley said that the relationship between the school and the temple will be a positive one.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience,” she said. “They’re excited to have us there, and we’re excited not only to have a nice facility but also to be working with Shomrei