Details Emerge About 1,000-Student Boarding School Coming to Pasadena

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for local students,” said a school official

Published : Friday, April 20, 2018 | 5:34 AM

Officials with EF Academy held an open house information session Thursday night at the site of their planned future international boarding school after the nearly 16-acre William Carey University in North Pasadena announced the sale of its campus.

Officials with EF Academy held an open house information session Thursday night at the site of their planned future international boarding school after the nearly 16-acre William Carey University in North Pasadena announced the sale of its campus.

The Vice President of an international boarding school that recently purchased a little-known university in Pasadena promised neighborhood residents that the company would bring hundreds of local hires to the project, create green space and open enrollment opportunities for Pasadena-area students.

Shawna Marino met with nearly 100 locals at the future school’s site Thursday evening.

Switzerland-based Education First (EF) will close on the sale of the 16-acre campus of William Carey University in Pasadena in 2020.

“We are going to hire 100 to 200 local workers to do construction on this project,” said Marino.

The final sale price has not been revealed. However, based on the size of the campus and its location in North Pasadena, the land most likely had a price tag of several million dollars.

The organization plans to renovate and redevelop the campus for its private international boarding school, EF Academy, which enrolls international high school students ages 14-19 from dozens of country. EF Academy currently has campuses in Thornwood, N.Y., and Oxford and Torbay, England.

EF started in the United States in Santa Barbara in 1983. The company’s founder, Swedish businessman Bertil Hult, came to the United States with his family in the early 1980s and chose the area as the place to put down his roots. The group still has an international language school in Santa Barbara. Hult founded EF Education First in Sweden in 1965.

The EF Academy Pasadena school will have some local students, but mostly will be international students.

“The EF Academy welcomes local students to apply for admission,” Marino said in an earlier interview. “At our New York campus, about 10% of the student body is local students. We are thrilled to have local students enroll in the school.”

“It’s a really exciting environment for a local Pasadena resident to be in because they’re basically walking into a mini United Nations,” she added. “We have 90 different nationalities typically in our student body.”

It is not known what impact EF Academy will have on the Pasadena Unified School District which has struggled with declining enrollment for decades.

“We won’t have 1,000 students on day one,” Marino said. “Eventually we plan to work up to 1,000.”

A school representative explained on Wednesday that EF Academy is a private International Baccalaureate World School whose students receive an international baccalaureate degree after their four years of high school study.

“We’ll be a fully accredited private school,” the representative said, “and we typically connect and collaborate with a school in every community where we are present, public and private, and that could be exchange programs and cross-opportunities to work together on project or initiatives.”

Marino also said the company insisted on a long closing on the sale so that low-income residents staying in 16 nearby homes included in the campus sale would have a chance to relocated.

At Thursday’s meeting, Marino said just about everything that a Pasadena resident would want to hear about a project. Besides promises of local hires, Marino also said the group would not just preserve the green space on the campus, but expand it.

Since the students at the boarding school are prevented from driving, a portion of the parking which can accommodate 300 cars will be converted to green space.

“I’m excited to welcome them into the Pasadena community,” said Councilwoman Margaret McAustin who represents the area where the property is located. “I think the EF Academy is a welcome addition to the city and to the neighborhood and I was to hear they’re committed to community outreach and becoming a part of the Pasadena community.”

William Carey International University and Education First are currently under agreement, and EF expects to close on the property in July 2019 after it undergoes a Master Plan/Conditional Use Permit entitlement process with the City of Pasadena.

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