The Grade Blog

Thursday, Nov 14 2013 08:03 AM

Kern County could get its first private Muslim school

BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

Local Muslims are in the early planning stages for a K-8 private school that would be the first Muslim school in Kern County.

The Islamic Center of Bakersfield has requested a conditional use permit for a community center and a school on 9.6 acres of undeveloped land on the northeast corner of Stockdale Highway and Driver Road. That's in the west Rosedale area just outside the city limits.

If approved, the permit would allow a school on 2.5 acres, and a zoning variance for a 49-foot, 5-inch dome and a 52-foot, 4-inch minaret. The usual maximum permitted height in that area is 35 feet.

It wouldn't be the first time the Kern County Planning Commission has granted variances for religious institutions. Church steeples also sometimes exceed neighborhood height limits.

The school would accommodate up to 56 students in grades K through eight and up to 10 staff members using seven classrooms, according to a county staff report on the proposal.

Amad Meerza is with the nonprofit Islamic Shoura Council of Bakersfield, which is working with the Islamic Center to raise money for the center.

The development would be built in stages, and the school -- if it is opened --would be part of a later phase, he said.

"It's very early in the process," Meerza said. "We're still surveying parents to see how many people would even be interested. The school basically is in the conceptual stage."

Bakersfield has several parochial schools, including Garces Memorial and Bakersfield Christian high schools and Bakersfield Adventist Academy.

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