Some Morgan Hill students could be learning in a different way in a new environment as early as the 2012-13 school year.
MHUSD’s school board will examine a magnet school option and K-8 configuration at one school in the district beginning for fall 2012. Not included in the staff’s recommendations is the already board-approved dual immersion language program that will take place in fall for kindergarten and first grades only at an already existing school site, most likely San Martin/Gwinn Elementary.
A magnet school is a school with a focal theme, such as science and technology, although no specific theme has been mentioned in the board’s agenda. A K-8 configuration would combine elementary through middle schools in one site.
Recommendations by staff come after a community-interest survey conducted in March reveled that the community wanted more school options. The board can vote Tuesday if they want to move forward with the staff recommendations.
Board vice president Don Moody said he likes the idea of having different options because not all students learn the same.
“I’m very interested in giving our families what they want as far as the best education for their children,” he said.
Moody said he was pleasantly surprised to see the positive interest in a dual-immersion program through the community interest meetings.
“That kind of opened my eyes to the fact that people are interested in alternative types of education in Morgan Hill,” said Moody.
Trustee Kathleen Sullivan said that when presented with new options for alternative schools, similar to the process to decide to vote for dual-immersion, the board asks pertinent questions regarding monetary issues, availability of qualified staff, time and effort required to set up such programs and if the programs fit board goals.
“I personally do not believe the district ever stops working to improve what they are currently offering. If the educators feel they can take on a new program and bring their usual level of excellence to it, children and the community will benefit from choices,” said Sullivan.
Trustee Claudia Rossi said listening to the community’s interest on such topics is essential to their role as board trustees.
“Professional development, collaboration and listening to the valuable input our dedicated teachers share should also be an essential part of our efforts,” she said.
The board must approve of the new options before the district can move forward. Although not required for approval, union labor groups such as the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers support these new alterative options, and the district “will continue to work collaboratively with them to maintain their support,” said Superintendent Wes Smith in an email.
Smith said magnet schools could be within a current school model, temporarily housed at an existing site, or converting a current site although these options will be considered by the board.
Funding for dual-immersion at least, will “not adversely affect the district’s general fund,” said Smith. It will use existing staff and new hires will be within staffing limits. The district will have budgeted openings due to natural attrition.
Smith said staff will share expected costs of the potential new magnet and/or K-8 configuration through the recommendation at the meeting. A timeline will also be presented to determine the process for implementation.
“While fall 2012 implementation is ambitious, staff believes that strong community interest and benefit to students warrant an accelerated timeline,” reads the board agenda item.
Tuesday’s meeting will be held at 6 p.m., at 15600 Concord Circle.