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School Board Votes to Keep Accelerated School Open

Open signAfter much controversy, a decision has been made. Teach Elementary, an accelerated school in California, will remain open. This outcome was decided after more than one meeting was held where the general public voiced strong opinions. Some changes may occur, but the school will not be closed.

Teach Elementary is part of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District in San Luis Obispo, California. It is the only accelerated learning school in the entire district. Students who attend Teach are in the 4th through 6th grades. The school accepts all students, and is not exclusive to those who require gifted and talented education (GATE). A lottery system is used to determine enrollment. Volunteers, many of whom are parents of children who attend the school, teach special electives.

Recently, a controversy erupted after it became apparent that the school board was considering closing Teach Elementary. At first, it was said that the primary reason was due to overcrowding. The school shares a campus with another elementary school, and some have complained that the traffic that comes from parents dropping off, and picking up, their children every day for school creates a “nuisance” to the people who live near the schools.

Later, after a meeting was held that was open to the public, it became clear that there were some people who wanted to close the accelerated school primarily because they identified it as “elite”. (The word was being used in a negative way). At least one parent voiced the opinion that the very existence of the accelerated school could harm the self-esteem of the students who don’t attend it.

Another issue has to do with best practices. Teach Elementary was created by the California Department of Education. There are rules regarding the process involved with closing a school that was set up by the Department. Some felt that the school district was bypassing the guidelines because it appeared to have made the decision to close the school before it had community involvement on the topic.

Recently, the San Luis Obispo Unified School Board decided to vote on whether or not to close Teach Elementary. The vote was 7-0 to keep the school open. According to KSBY.com, Superintendent Eric Prater said that the 4th and 5th graders who are currently enrolled in the school will be advanced up a grade in the upcoming school year.

There will be a more restrictive admission process put in place for new students who hope to attend 4th grade at the school in the Fall. The restrictions may include a lottery system. There is potential that allowing the school to continue to accept 4th grade students will result in overcrowded classes. The school board also voted to put a moratorium on students who wished to transfer into the Bishop’s Peak elementary school, (which shares a campus with Teach).

Image by David Lofink on Flickr