The pilot will affect the seventh- and eighth-graders at Wicklund School — about 150 students — and about 125 students in seventh and eighth grades at Altamont School once it is completed in August, according to Lammersville Superintendent Kirk Nicholas. Bethany, Lammersville and Questa schools will not be included in the trial.
Nicholas said the idea behind the three-year pilot is to help students as they transition to the new community high school that is under construction in the southern portion of Mountain House. Students entering seventh and eighth grades at Wicklund and Altamont will go from having a multi-subject curriculum, with all subjects taught by the same teacher, to having separate single-subject lessons in math and science.
“The goal is we don’t want to divide between K-8 programs and high school programs,” he said. “What is the best model to prepare them for a high school (pathways) program? We just want to try the pilot to see if it works for our kids.”
The junior high plan was presented to the Lammersville Unified School District Governing Board during the regular meeting March 19.
Trustee Matthew Balzarini said he welcomed the change to a junior high school model to help students transition into high school, which he said was common in Bay Area schools.
Shane Nielson, another trustee, said the proposal would present a better format to teach subjects such as algebra.
Some teachers who attended the meeting were concerned because they and others lack the proper credentials.
Jennifer Fernandez, a fourth-grade teacher at Bethany School, stressed that many Lammersville teachers do not have single-subject credentials. She suggested that the board wait to start the pilot until it resolved the teachers’ questions.
Questa seventh-grade teacher Teresa Peare asked the board what the program would mean for veteran multi-subject educators and questioned why the change was deemed necessary. She contended that teachers and students would lose lesson time if the students were forced to go from classroom to classroom to learn different subjects.
Mountain House resident Jim Lamb, who is also a member of the community services district board, asked how the school board planned to make sure that the students at all five schools would be equally ready to enter high school without a districtwide pilot. He suggested a special orientation for Bethany, Questa and Lammersville students, and the board agreed it would be a good idea.
Sharon Lampel, a member of the board of trustees, supported the junior high proposal.
“Somewhere along the line, we’ll decide if it works or it doesn’t,” Lampel said.
Nicholas said district administrators had already begun to work with teachers who want to go from a multiple-subject credential to a single subject. He said he wanted to try the junior high program for two or three years to see if it would fit the district.
The pilot will start with the beginning of the 2014-15 school year in August.
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