Blaine City Council members recently approved a conditional use permit (CUP) request by public charter school Paladin Academy to expand at Northtown Mall.
Paladin serves ninth- through 12th-grade students and currently has about 150 students.
The school is planning for a 2012-2013 enrollment increase to 225 students.
Bryan Schafer, Blaine’s community development director, said the “fairly significant expansion” includes a private entrance and van unloading area.
Paladin Academy has been in Northtown Mall the 2003-2004 school year, Schafer said. However, the school was never issued a CUP by the city of Blaine.
A CUP is required for schools within a commercial zoning district, Schafer told council members Aug. 2. “We don’t have any issues with this,” he said.
The Blaine Planning Commission unanimously recommended CUP approval July 10. Executive Director Leisa Irwin spoke at that meeting’s public hearing.
Irwin said Paladin Academy currently has 24 teachers and staff, but will add four teachers and one paraprofessional next year.
The school accommodates at-risk students in the north metro, she said.
Approximately 50 percent of Paladin Academy’s students come to the charter school after participating in a chemical dependency treatment program,
About 35 percent of those enrolled are special education students and about 88 percent qualify for free lunch, Irwin said.
During discussion, Mayor Tom Ryan said he spoke at the school four years ago.
Paladin Academy staff were helping students overcome the difficult task of getting their lives back together, he said. Schafer said city staff wasn’t concerned the CUP would create a parking problem at Northtown.
“The mall has excess parking available for this use,” he said.
Tim Hennagir is at firstname.lastname@example.org