Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CARSON-AREA CAMPUS MAY ADD GRADES: New high school could serve sixth-through 12th-graders under district plan.

By Melissa Pamer Staff Writer | Daily Breeze

11/30/2010 - A new Los Angeles Unified campus planned for the Carson area may house a middle school in addition to a high school, according to a plan backed by district officials.

The campus - under construction in Long Beach, just over the border from Carson - had been slated to open in September as a comprehensive high school.

●●smf/4LAKids adds: The school will be physically located in the City of Long Beach and within he boundaries of Long Beach Unified School District, not LAUSD.  The previous property owner (a warehouse) paid Long Beach and Long Beach Unified taxes; had children lived there they would’ve gone to Long Beach schools. 

Schools do not pay property taxes; the land was obtained under the right (or threat) of eminent-domain from the owner and removed the from the tax base of the City of Long Beach and LBUSD. Presumably it will be served by Long Beach emergency services but will do so without paying taxes or extending any benefit to Long Beach.  Conversely, the residents of Carson and Los Angeles benefit from not having their tax bases reduced.  

LAUSD officials said they expanded the number of grades in their plan for the school because of declining enrollment, coupled with a long-standing desire by local parents to have a middle school nearby.

"When we heard the demographic numbers, we thought why not make the community really happy and move those kids closer to home," interim Principal Veronica Aragon said.

The campus is one of 10 new and three troubled existing schools that are subject to the second round of the district's Public School Choice process, which allows outside groups to bid for educational control.

Two charter organizations plan to submit applications - due Wednesday - for the Carson-area campus, along with a group guided by Aragon and a panel of teachers, parents and officials from Gardena-based Local District 8.

The district originally had planned to house about 1,800 students from Carson and Banning high schools at the new campus, but Aragon said a demographic analysis showed that there were several hundred fewer students in the school's tentative enrollment area, which stretches from Long Beach to the San Diego (405) Freeway.

Under the plan submitted by Aragon's group, the school would have four color-coded academies with separate entrances.

One would house middle-school students who had graduated from neighboring Dominguez Elementary and would normally attend Carnegie Middle School, several miles away in central Carson. The middle school would be a "global studies academy" focused on environmental issues, Aragon said.

A second academy would serve ninth-graders, with a drive to avoid dropouts and push students along to their sophomore year. The remaining two would include 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, based around themes: engineering, technology and design; and law, government and public service.

Michelle Heron-Archie, principal of Dominguez Elementary, said parents have had a mixed reaction to the possibility of mingling 11-year-old sixth-graders with 18-year-old seniors.

For several years, a group of parents at the primary school has been advocating making Dominguez Elementary a K-8. When it was clear there was not room for that, they pushed for K-6, Heron-Archie said.

Now they're faced with a very different prospect.

"Some parents did not like the idea; others said, `Let's explore it,"' Heron-Archie said. "Right now, they're warming up to it. They're asking how it could work."

Aragon said she's been reassuring parents. She's sought guidance from the principal of Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High, a longtime seventh-through-12th grade campus in LAUSD.

She emphasized that the middle and high school would have different lunch periods and be physically separate.

Under the Public School Choice process, community members may cast ballots in an advisory vote on which group should run each school. That election is expected to take place in February, followed by a final determination from the Board of Education in the same month.

Also in the running for the Carson-area school - known at South Region High School No. 4 - is Magnolia Public Schools. The charter management organization operates an intermediate campus based at Curtiss Middle School in Carson, along with 11 other Southern California charters.

"Our vision is for students to choose career paths in the math-science-technology area because we believe that's the way to go to college," said Magnolia Chief Executive Officer Suleyman Bahceci.

The nonprofit has just begun reaching out to parents in the Carson area, but Bahceci said the experience of several years running a local charter would benefit the group's Public School Choice application.

"We know the population; we know the demographics," Bahceci said.

Other options before parents may include: MATTIE Academy School of Change, put forth by a group that operated a short-lived charter in Long Beach; and a plan from a group led by instructor Dangil Jones of Santee Learning Complex.

Neither Jones nor Denice Price, executive director of MATTIE, could be reached for comment.

ICEF Public Schools, a charter organization that runs campuses in South Los Angeles and Inglewood and has been facing financial troubles, pulled out of the running, according to Chief Executive Officer Caprice Young.

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