Principals request additional flex days; WSCA requests facility site

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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In an effort to provide the best for their students, Rocklin principals are requesting more time to collaborate. Additional articulation or “flex” days for the 2009-10 school year are requested as some principals say consistent collaboration with staff is key. The current school year allows 12 flex days set aside for numerous discussions with teachers and staff including sharing best practices, student assessment results, articulation with other schools, use of technology in the classroom and school year goals. Principals are requesting four additional flex days added to the next school year. Mike Melton, Granite Oaks Elementary principal, said the additional days would be a “big help to us.” “Twelve just don’t stretch that far along,” he said. Melton said more time would allow for added workshops on technology that teachers aren’t aware of and additional collaboration with elementary schools. “It really brings the teachers together in terms of laying out curriculum,” he said. “It’s enhancing what’s going on in the classroom, so it’s time well spent. I believe these days would truly be a benefit.” Whitney High School Principal Debra Hawkins agreed on the benefit and need to teach teachers to use more technology in the classroom. “The kids are smarter than they (teachers) are in this (the use of technology),” Hawkins said. She also added that additional flex days are needed to have consistent conversations about student work. One of the concerns school board member Wendy Lang brought up was the need to schedule and implement agendas for strong use of time during the flex days. Hawkins said that typically in May, staff prepare for the upcoming year’s flex days with scheduled topics and agendas. “For the reduction in classroom time, it seems like an overwhelming benefit,” Board President Todd Lowell said. No action was taken at last Wednesday’s board meeting, but a finalized calendar containing the 16 flex days will be up for approval at the next school board meeting on Feb. 4. Also at the board meeting, Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, a proposed seventh- through 12th-grade charter school, requested approval for students to be housed at Rocklin High School for the 2009-10 school year. Despite failed approvals of WSCA at the local and county level, WSCA representatives continue to push forward with the process. The proposed WSCA asks for 132 students to be housed at one site. But with limited space and student capacity, Rocklin Unified School District board members denied the proposal. The Rocklin High School campus has the capacity for 1,800 students, said Larry Stark, assistant superintendent of facilities and operations for the district. With the added charter school students, Rocklin High would be home to approximately 140 more students than the school could accommodate, he said. The issue of safety was a high concern for board members. With WSCA proposing to be a seventh- through 12th-grade school, no other school in the district matches the grade levels of WSCA. Rocklin high schools are ninth through 12th grades and middle schools are seventh and eighth grades. The board agreed upon a recommendation of housing ninth- through 12th-grade WSCA students at Rocklin High School and WSCA seventh- and eighth-graders at Spring View Middle School. David Patterson, executive director of Rocklin Academy and spokesperson for WSCA, told board members he thought it was unfair for the party involved (WSCA) not to be notified of the action item and said he was concerned about the inability to offer WSCA’s side of the proposal. He also expressed WSCA’s plans for adopting a facility site outside of Rocklin schools. Patterson said one site they are in the process of considering is a former Albertsons store in Rocklin. The WSCA proposal was previously denied by RUSD and Placer County Office of Education. The next step for the school is a preliminary meeting in February to be considered for a presentation to the California State Board of Education in March. Contact Lauren Weber at