More than 50 people - including students, parents, teachers, classified employees and administrators - heard presentations and exchanged ideas about “Middle School Changes for 2008-09,” the topic of the November meeting of the New Haven Community Forum, held at Cesar Chavez Middle School.
Following the closure of Barnard-White Middle School (BWMS) at the end of the current school, new boundaries will go into effect to determine whether students attend Cesar Chavez (CCMS) or Alvarado Middle School (AMS), Chief Business Officer Carol Gregorich said. The new boundaries were drawn in an effort to meet the Board of Education’s request to minimize disruption for students and families. Starting in 2008-09, most of the students who would have attended BWMS will go to CCMS, and some students who would have attended CCMS (primarily those coming from Pioneer Elementary) will go to AMS.
At the same time, the long-awaited modernization of CCMS will begin, Ms. Gregorich said. Under normal circumstances, with children on campus during the school year, such a project would take multiple years to complete. By moving CCMS to the former BWMS campus on Whipple Road, the District will be able to complete the project in one year, so CCMS students will be able to attend class in a modernized facililty back on the Hop Ranch Road campus in 2009-10. More important, students will not be attending class at a site where construction is taking place.
CCMS Principal Alberto Solorzano told the Forum how he is working with BWMS Principal Karen Saucedo to provide opportunities for students at both schools to meet together in advance of the transition, to get to know each other and their new campus. AMS Principal Yvonne Hull is planning similar activities for her students. Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Derek McNamara explained how he is working with the both the New Haven Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association to minimize disruption for teachers and classified employees, many of whom will have new assignments.
The Forum then broke into small groups that were asked to provide feedback in two specific areas: 1) identifying transition issues that still need to be planned for and/or addressed; 2) identifying possible ways to use the Whipple Road campus after CCMS returns to Hop Ranch Road campus in 2009.
Transition issues identified included:
- Meeting the needs of extra-curricular activities and clubs.
- Enhancing security and providing adequate supervision on campuses with larger enrollments.
- Providing enough lockers for physical education students.
- Orienting/guiding teachers as they change campuses.
- Addressing parking and student pick-up/drop-off issues.
- Providing for after-school programs.
- Getting leadership groups together.
- Meeting lunch needs on campuses with more students.
- Meeting the needs of special education students.
- Addressing the psychological effects of students during transition.
- Blending the cultures of BWMS and CCMS.
Also brought up was the need to increase efforts to close the achievement gap, the disparity in student achievement between Hispanic and African-American students and Asian and Caucasian.
The group also posed several questions for inclusion as the District prepares the same type of “Freqently Asked Questions” handouts that were made available to parents and staff when Cabello Elementary School closed last year. Those “FAQs” are being prepared, and plans are for distribution after the winter break.
Ideas for future uses of the BWMS campus:
- Fee-based summer enrichment programs
- Outreach programs
- Community Center/Recreation Center
- Magnet school for fine arts and/or science
- Regional Occupational Center
- Dual immersion school
Earlier in the meeting, Ms. Gregorich offered information about an idea that the Board of Education has asked her staff to further consider: that the undeveloped land at the back of the campus, off Tamarack Drive, be developed into housing that could be rented to teachers and classified employees at rates that would enable them to live closer to where they work.
The New Haven Community Forum, hosted by Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi, is one of the initiatives to come out of the District’s Strategic Plan. It is designed to give parents and the community access to information and an opportunity to contribute ideas. Summaries of past meetings are available on the District website: www.nhusd.k12.ca.us