Roseville district lays big plans for intermediate school campus

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:01 am

Roseville City School District officials will hold back-to-back information sessions tonight and Wednesday as Warren T. Eich Intermediate School prepares for a metamorphosis.

The plan is for Eich to absorb part of the adjoining Sierra Gardens Elementary School campus and expand to include sixth-grade students.

That means students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade at Sierra Gardens Elementary School will be dispersed to other campuses.

The more ambitious agenda item is to adopt the rigorous International Baccalaureate academic program for the new sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade campus.

"The reaction so far has been excitement," said Marc Buljan, Eich's principal.

While district enrollment is growing overall, schools such as Eich in the older, established side of town have seen declining enrollment, officials said. Eich opened in 1964.

The hope is that the challenging academic program will cause more parents to keep their kids in the neighborhood school and even attract new interest.

The information sessions are scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the school gymnasium, 1509 Sierra Gardens Drive.

Tonight's session is aimed at parents of Crestmont and Stoneridge elementary school students, while Wednesday's session is open to all.

The decision to close Sierra Gardens was made in 2012 and was less controversial than recent deliberations by the Sacramento City Unified School District, officials said.

The baccalaureate program requires teachers to undergo additional training and involves a two- to three- year application process.

Adding sixth-grade students, effective with the new school year, will increase the enrollment to 725 next year, up from from 540.

The transition to the baccalaureate curriculum will start right away but will take time, Buljan said.

"Next year, all sixth-graders will be taking Spanish," he said.

The program also beefs up the school's arts offerings, another facet popular with parents, Buljan said.

The baccalaureate program is forcing administrators to find time for the additional offerings without sacrificing core curriculum, Buljan said. Next year, the normal school day will shift from six to seven class periods.

The key, he said, is to make better use of time.

Current research suggests kids of middle school years have a 15- to 18-minute window of attention before they start to tune out, he said.

Buljan said by capitalizing on that knowledge and cutting down on repetition, teachers can actually do more with less time.

The other major change will be creating lessons that integrate multiple disciplines such as math, science and physical education.

For instance a science class teaches about the heart, a math class teaches how to graph data, and then in P.E. students run the laps to create the data set.

"You are actually gonna go run those laps," Buljan said.

The overall goal of the baccalaureate program is to encourage students to be creative, whole-brained problem-solvers.

"We are not just focusing on left-brain thinking. We are also putting a big focus on the right-brain thinking," Buljan said. "That is what companies are looking for when they are hiring."

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