Westfield Plaza Bonita could house unique charter school

Teens could shop, work, and learn under one roof

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. - The National City City Council on Tuesday evening is expected to approve a permit for a unique charter school inside their local mall.

The Altus Institute Network of Charter Schools filed for a permit to open a new charter school inside Westfield Plaza Bonita, a large indoor mall located near the Interstate 805 and state Route 54 interchange. The school would be located right outside the Macy’s anchor store on the first level.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison told 10News he loves the idea because it improves education in his South Bay city.

"We found a huge gap here in the South Bay area and we're just rising up to try to meet the needs and this looks like another great opportunity for that," said Morrison.

The Plaza Bonita location would be the seventh Westfield mall in San Diego County with an Altus charter school.

"Westfield is changing from just becoming, as I understand it, just purely shopping," said Morrison. "It's entertainment. It's activities all the way around."

Altus Institute program administrator Tim Tuter said, "Whether it be the movie theater, the retail, the restaurants… we're their educational component."

The school would have a maximum enrollment of 200 students in the 7th through 12th grades but would only have 20 students inside at a time.

Tuter told 10News the partnership with the mall allows students to go to school and have a job under one roof.

"So they can go to school and have a job at the same time if they like," he said. "And they love it. They're probably our most popular learning centers… the ones in the Westfield malls."

More than 30,000 students have gone through the Altus charter schools in the past 20 years.  It is a track record Altus hopes to continue at Plaza Bonita.

The charter school expects to be ready for students next month if its permit is approved.

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