Thursday, November 19, 2009


Written by Diana Martinez, Editor | San Fernando Valley Sun

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Ford Roosevelt from Project Grad submitted a letter of intent with San Fernando Middle School Principal Solorzano and other partners to submit a collaborative plan to reform the school.

The LAUSD website indicates that five letters of intent have been submitted by various groups interested in operating and reforming San Fernando Middle School.

Letters were received from the Synesi Foundation, the San Fernando Middle School Collaborative, Youth Policy Institute,ABC Learn, Inc. and the San Fernando Visual & Performing Arts Academy. They now have until Jan. 11 to submit their specific plan to the district under the school choice reform plan. After reviewing the plans, Superintendent Cortines will make his final recommendations to the school board that is expected to make the final decision to select one of the five plans as the model to run the school.

The Synesi Foundation [according to the Daily Breeze formed by Illinois-based education  consultancy Synesi Associates]  submitted letters of intent for every available school in the district not just for San Fernando Middle School.  [smf notes that UTLA submitted letters of intent for every school except SFMS]   A group of teachers currently working at the school submitted a letter as The San Fernando Visual & Performing Arts Academy and the school itself is partnering with Project Grad under the name San Fernando Middle School Collaborative.

District-wide LAUSD received 181 letters of intent to submit plans to run the 36 either new or underperforming "focus" schools under the district's new reform plan. Because of poor test scores, San Fernando Middle School has been put of the list of "focus schools" now available to be run by an external group.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines said meetings are planned near schools that are available for external operations, "LAUSD, in collaboration with Families in Schools and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, will facilitate meetings of parents and community members at 20 regional sites near or at each focus school and new school participating in the Public School Choice (PSC) Resolution process."

San Fernando Middle School Principal Solorzano said meetings to discuss what he called "the new vision for the school," are being held on Dec. 1 and Dec. 5.

Ford Roosevelt President of Project Grad said his organization has been working with the San Fernando Middle School Principal to develop a collaborative plan between Project Grad Los Angles Educational Partnership, CSUN, UCLA Graduate School of Education and San Fernando Middle school.

They submitted their letter of intent under the name, The San Fernando Middle School collaborative.

"With a collaborative partnership Principal Solórzano agreed that this would be the best approach for him," said Roosevelt.

He cites the success Project Grad has had working with a professor from CSUN who has achieved positive results working with math students at San Fernando High School and with middle school teachers and students at San Fernando Middle School during the summer.

The collaborative plan, Roosevelt describes as, "A kind of a way at creating change from within, I'm not interested in running a school, I'm interested in collaborating with the leadership of the school, the Principal, working with the district and the other community partners."

Roosevelt said through a collaborative model, the community could come together to create a community school as he said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan describes in an interview with Charlie Rose on Utube.

"If San Fernando Middle School was the hub of community activities from morning all the way into the evening with classes for parents and classes for kids with after school programs and ESL and other classes for parents," said Roosevelt.

"Imagine the school serving as a hub for the community with people really engaged there and that's how we envision the collaborative effort over time in San Fernando and Pacoima as serving students and their families in a real enriching way."

Newly-elected school board member, Nury Martinez said community meetings should be held during evening and weekend hours for working parents and she said in the end, whatever model is selected, change and accountability is needed at San Fernando Middle School.

Meetings at San Fernando Middle School will be held on Dec. 1 from 1:45 to 4 p.m. and Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to noon.

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