TWO BIG EDUCATION STORIES FOR SP: A NEW MARINE MAGNET AND SP HIGH BECOMING A TARGET TO IMPROVE OR THE SCHOOL COULD WIND UP IN THE HANDS OF OTHER OPERATORS
A DOLPHIN KIND OF DAY AT POINT FERMIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; NEWLY FORMED MARINE MAGNET ATTRACTS A LOT OF BIG FISH IN THE SEA WH O LOVE “THE DOLPHINS”
“A school of dolphins is what we are. We can swim very far. In leaps and bounds we make our way, closer to our goal each day.” -- School Motto
By Diana L. Chapman
Point Fermin Elementary School was dolphin-leaping happy Friday when officials unveiled its new status as the first elementary campus to obtain marine magnet standing in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The school will now be called the Point Fermin Marine Science Magnet and may set the pace for forming magnets that link directly to local middle and high schools.
The celebration attracted a lot of big fish, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles schools superintendent, Ramon Cortines, School Board member Richard Vladovic and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal.
With students singing dolphin songs and the mayor saying; “I love dolphins!” students and parents alike beamed with pleasure at the new status – even though it’s been three-years in the making under the direction of Principal Bonnie Taft.
The mayor reveled in the sea marine theme saying it was logical to open the magnet in San Pedro since so “many here live by the sea.”
Regional School Superintendent, Linda Del Cueto, told the students: “I am so proud of you and every single person here today. If I could go back in time to elementary school, I’d want to be right here by the sea.”
Villaraigosa wasn’t the only one celebrating. Board Member Vladovic expressed extreme pleasure with this decision, because now three schools in San Pedro can connect as a marine magnet. San Pedro High School already has such a program in place and Dana Middle School officials, he said, are working on a plan to bring in such a magnet.
This aids the district, he explained, to unify and streamline schools, no matter the age level.
“I love what I call a focus and this brings a true focus to San Pedro,” he marveled. “Then if Dana develops this, it will stream line students all the way through. I like a thematic approach.”
State Assemblywoman, Bonnie Lowenthal, a former Long Beach Unified School Board member, applauded the move – saying when the Long Beach district produced similar schools, the results were outstanding.
“I anticipate there’s going to be a lot more energy,” she explained. “This is quite a parallel (to Long Beach) and it probably will become one of the best facilities in the area.”
No one, however, could be more delighted than the kids with the mayor tossing accolades at them, and Cortines perched on his knee so he could speak directly to the students who were sitting on the ground.
Students performed dolphin dances and sang ocean-related songs. Two students interviewed explained they loved the school and that their interest in learning increased dramatically once the school started under taking more marine related programs. The programs were fresh and exciting, they said, and kept them involved in the learning process.
“I like the ocean,” revealed Oz Ybarra, a 9-uear-old 4th grader. “We walk to many places and go to the aquarium and the Marine Mammal Care Center, a lot of places other schools don’t get to go to. There’s a whole bunch of new stuff…and we like to learn about saving the ocean.”
Student Payton Dooley, 9, said: “It’s pretty cool and we are getting computers!”
Even marine related museums officials were on hand to celebrate. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium director, Mike Schaadt, attended the meeting along with Marifrances Trivelli, director of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.
Thrilled with the change-over, Schaadt said it gives him a new crew of students to prepare for marine science that will put them far ahead of the game in saving oceans.
“There are so many ocean related issues that people must address to keep the ocean a healthy place for animals, plants and people who live in and around it,” he said. “Marvelous programs like the Point Fermin Elementary Marine Science Magnet will interweave ocean issues throughout the curriculum of these young students. These students will have a great head start in learning to be wise stewards of the ocean.”
Only one person seemed to have mixed feelings. Parent Teacher Organization President, Amy Williams, who helped steer the school toward becoming a magnet, said her emotions are mixed because the school has yet to receive additional funding it was promised.
“We have yet to see any money for it and we’re still waiting. But, I will say, I’ve learned more going on these field trips then in my entire 15 years of education.”
SAN PEDRO AND GARDENA HIGH SCHOOLS FRIDAY BOTH TARGETED AS ONE OF THIRTEEN TROUBLED LAUSD CAMPUSES THAT WILL HAVE TO UNDERGO TRANSFORMATION TO KEEP FROM BECOMING A CHARTER OR TURNED OVER TO A NON-PROFIT
By Diana L. Chapman
Los Angeles unified school officials identified twelve ill-performing campuses Friday – including Gardena and San Pedro High Schools – and 24 brand new campuses that can possibly be turned over to non-profit organizations or charters.
If Los Angeles school officials fail to present a plan that can compete with other interested organizations, it’s possible LAUSD staff could lose the campuses to other operators.
The move comes after the Los Angeles school board voted to approve “public school choice” that places its schools –either new or underperforming – in a competitive process with other interested organizations.
Linda Del Cueto, district superintendent for the region where Gardena and San Pedro fall, saw this as an excellent challenge to her staff: “Plan writing for Public School choice will be a complex, intense process. Local District 8 is up for this
challenge!” she emailed.
In essence, the actoin means all thirty-six schools can go out to bid to operators beside LAUSD. LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines will determine which plan best suits the campus and will take his suggestions to the school board.
The information, released late Friday afternoon, determined which schools continued to fail and had not met several standards. This included:
· a zero or negative increase in student Academic Index Performance (API),
· a less than 21 percent proficiency in students in English or math
· failure to improve status over three year period.
In addition, San Pedro and Gardena campuses were both included because they have a higher than 10 percent dropout rate, according to documents Cortines released Friday.
School Board Member Richard Vladovic, whose area includes both Gardena and San Pedro high schools, said he was disappointed that two campuses in his region made the “focus list.”
He added, however, that he has great faith in the new LAUSD San Pedro High principal, Jeanette Stevens, and that the “well-defined” community of San Pedro will be able to save its school as a regular, publicly operated Los Angeles campus.
“I don’t believe San Pedro will go charter,” Vladovic explained, contending that the community and faculty will have to pull itself together to keep such an action from happening.
“I’m hoping it will bring everyone together and I believe the community will step up.”
As far as Gardena High School, the struggle might be greater to continue as an LAUSD school, due to the fact that the student population comes from all over the region.
Four other high school campuses were on the list, including Gardena, Maywood, Lincoln and Jefferson. Carver, Burbank and San Fernando Middle Schools were tallied as poor performers, along with three elementary campuses: Hyde Park, Griffith Joyner and Hillcrest.
Parties interested in operating the campuses, either new or poor performing schools, must submit a finalized application by January 8th.
Schools within this list – new or underperforming – must include parents and students as part of their focus groups to come up with a plan.
“I do not support the concept of handing over schools to outside providers or hostile takeovers – our students need collaborative partnerships in order to be successful,” Cortines wrote the school board. “If an organization has an innovative strategy and a proven track record, it should bring the plan to the table for all of us to learn from it and then I can decide which organization has the capacity to implement it most effectively.
“We have many successes and challenges in our district, and there are plenty of opportunities for us to work together. The artificial walls between union and
management, district and charter, etc. need to be torn down.”
San Pedro High’s principal could not be reached for comment.
David Kooper, chief-of-staff for Richard Vladovic, who lives in San Pedro, explained San Pedro now will be forced to come up with a plan at the troubled-plagued campus, which has faced overcrowding, inconsistent leadership and more recently, a poor accreditation rating.
“It just means that they need to submit a plan they believe will be
successful and that plan or any others will be recommended by the Superintendent for the board to vote on it,” Kooper explained.“It is difficult to say what this means until I know who else, if anybody ,is competing against San Pedro High School and whether or not the Superintendent believes that the school is committed and able to reform the issues that is plaguing it.”