Rowland Unified School District

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Rowland Unified to turn Rincon Intermediate into Math and Science Academy

Rowland Unified to turn Rincon Intermediate into math and science academy

By Maritza Velazquez, Staff Writer

ROWLAND HEIGHTS - Rowland Unified School District is moving forward with a recommendation to turn Rincon Intermediate School into a math and science-focused academy.

The unanimous vote Tuesday evening follows the school board's June decision to close La Seda and Farjardo elementary schools and redesign Rincon Intermediate School as a K-8 campus.

"I think it's important that we offer schools to our parents that have different disciplines," board member Heidi Gallegos said. "Each child is unique. I think it's a wonderful opportunity to give parents that choice based on the needs of that child."

The district currently has two K-8 schools - Oswalt and Ybarra academies - with curriculum focused on the arts and technology.

Like many districts statewide, Rowland Unified has experienced declining enrollment in the past decade.

According to district statistics, RUSD lost 16 percent of its students between 1999 and 2009.

Rincon Intermediate has 478, but the campus can accommodate up to 1,000 students, officials said.

Last month, the district gathered feedback during two meetings and parents indicated they would prefer a math and science academy over a school of the arts at the West Covina campus, officials said.

The official recommendation at Tuesday's meeting came from the district's Redesign Task Force, made up of district parents, staff and administrators.

The school will still follow state-mandatedstandards, but will also incorporate extended learning opportunities in the areas of math and science, said Debbie Dauch, task force member and kindergarten teacher at Hollingworth Elementary.

One goal is to partner with a local university, such as Cal Poly Pomona.

As an example, she mentioned a group of UC Irvine science majors who recently spoke with a group of first-graders.

"Science is often considered as just an extra class," Dauch said. "So when we try to bring these kinds of activities, it really brings science to life. They can experiment and see first-hand that science can be fun, meaningful and they themselves can picture themselves becoming a scientist later on."

Next year, students at feeder elementary schools Hollingworth and Rorimer will have first priority to attend Rincon, but the following year it will be an open enrollment school, spokeswoman Gina Ward said.

The district had already planned to modernize Rincon with a portion of $118 million bond Measure R, passed in 2006.

Construction is slated to begin in January. The school will remain open until the end of the school year and will reopen as a K-8 campus in the fall.

626-962-8811, ext. 2718

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