Cotati-Rohnert Park to consider reopening two schools

  • 11/14/2007: B1: La Fiesta

    11/13/2007: B1: La Fiesta in Rohnert Park, right, are two of the elementary schools that may be targeted for closure.

    PC: La Fiesta Elementary School in Rohnert Park Friday November 8, 2007. The Cotati-Rohnert Park district will be making recommendations, at a November 13 board meeting, to close some of it's schools, with La Fiesta among them. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2007

Sonoma County's third largest school district is poised to open two schools next year as officials try to expand campus options and put an end to years of declining enrollment.

The Cotati-Rohnert School Board tonight will consider re-opening a middle school on the Burton Avenue site that until 2010 housed Mountain Shadows Middle School. In a separate move, the board is expected to approve the opening of University Elementary at La Fiesta, a partnership with Sonoma State University that will give new life to La Fiesta, one of two elementary schools closed in 2008.

"I think there was great uproar over the losing of a neighborhood school, and I think some parents left the district as a result," said Board President Marc Orloff, citing the 2010 decision to shutter Mountain Shadows, one of the district's two middle schools.

"The district has been through budget cuts, that, I don't know that they had the best benefits for kids," he said.

After the closure of Mountain Shadows, all of the district's seventh- and eighth-graders, as well as some sixth-graders in the expeditionary learning program, were placed at Creekside Middle School, which was renamed Lawrence Jones Middle School and now has nearly 900 students.

Plans for the new middle school, tentatively called Technology Middle School, call for approximately 240 sixth- and seventh-graders to enroll in the fall. The following year, the campus will grow to include eighth-graders.

The focus will be technology and project-based learning. Amy Goodwin, who is currently principal at Waldo Rohnert School, has been tapped to be principal, said Superintendent Robert Haley.

If approved, the opening will also pave the way for the district to return to housing sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on the two middle school campuses and revert elementary schools to kindergarten through fifth-grade programs. Thomas Page School will remain a kindergarten through eighth-grade campus.

The one-time costs of opening Technology Middle School are estimated to be $135,000. Ongoing annual expenses are initially expected between $14,600 and $22,000.

For University Elementary at La Fiesta, one-time startup costs are expected to be $50,000. Annual costs are anticipated between $66,700 and $88,100.

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