Saying that having Calaveras School and the Accelerated Achievement Academy (AAA) share space limits the growth of either school, the Hollister School District Board of Trustees this week discussed moving the academy to Marguerite Maze Middle School for the next academic year.
Trustees received a report from district Facilities Director John Teliha on the district’s Facilities Committee findings. He said the proposed move would allow for the growth indicated by strong community interest in the academy.
The Facilities Committee met in June when four options to the overcrowding were considered. In September, it was decided that the best option would be moving to another school site. They also discussed possible reconfiguration of the attendance boundaries.
It was determined that moving the academy to Maze seemed to be the best option and that it could accomplished in the next school year.
Some of the issues to be considered are include separation of the grades (Calaveras is a K-8 school and Maze serves grades 6-8), increased traffic congestion at Maze, and the possibility of future growth.
A parent survey showed strong support for the academy’s move, though some parents were unsure of the move. In board discussion, it was emphasized that communication with the community was important to help clarify the district’s plan for the academy and all affected schools.
The Facilities Committee looked at possible alignments of the school.
The classroom location of those classrooms allows separation between the schools with accessible play and lunch area as well as allowing for expansion of the program. Existing gates would allow separation of the schools. There is an existing courtyard which is not utilized which could help to separate the schools.
Joe Rivas, principal of the Accelerated Achievement Academy, noted that there are still issues to be smoothed out regarding potential growth. He noted the need to keep the familial feeling of the school and the seamlessness of the teachers and support staff. “In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to move to grow,” he said.
Rivas said he hoped a decision on whether to move the academy would be made by March 1 so that specifics of relocation can be worked out with enough time to respond to any problems.
Calaveras School Principal Christine White said that both schools need to be able to grow and noted that “During this process, the community came together to solve the problem.”
One of the potential benefits of the relocation would be that academy students could have access to the science and music labs along with physical education programs and participation in after-school sports programs. There was an additional possibility of working with Gabilan Hills Hollister Dual Language Academy for P.E. activities.
The Facilities Committee said they expected that the academy would share the Maze support staff as they do currently at Calaveras School.
Questions remain about combined administration and staffs at the schools, along with uniforms, school identities, access, security, and proximity to classrooms.
The vice principal of Maze felt the parents there were aware of the relocation of the Academy to their site and felt no need for a community meeting.
Board Trustee, Patricia Moore, commended the staffs at the academy and Maze for their willingness to work together for the children of their schools. Trustee Peter Hernandez expressed his concern about the fourth- and fifth-grade parents who were uncertain about the move.
The district will hold community meetings to give information and answer questions at 6 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Gabilan Hills and 6 p.m. on Dec.1 at Calaveras School.