Hollister trustees talk new school site, expansions

Second grader Giuliana Carrillo works on a project during class in May 2012 at the Dual Language Academy.

Hollister School District Superintendent Gary McIntire has asked trustees to consider expanding the Hollister Dual Language Academy to include seventh and eighth grade classes and to possibly replace Gabilan Hills as the area’s neighborhood school.
The Hollister Dual Language Academy shares a site with Gabilan Hills at 921 Santa Ana Road, where the academy serves K-6 and nearby Marguerite Maze Middle School offers dual immersion classes to seventh and eighth graders.
“HLDA is a wonderful program but it’s not for everyone,” said Michelle Bingman, a parent, during public comment of the Tuesday board meeting.
Bingman added that K-8 schools do not always give students in the seventh and eighth grades an authentic middle school experience.
This year, the Hollister Dual Language Academy doubled its kindergarten from two to four classes to decrease class sizes and address growing demands for local bilingual education. Now, administrators are questioning where those students will go as the school transitions to four classes at each grade level.
“Districtwide, we have a lot of issues,” said McIntire as he reviewed a list of projects that could be funded with the district’s recently passed Measure M general obligation facilities bond approved by voters Nov. 4. ”Space is a big issue.”
By 2020, enrollment projections suggest the district may need as many as 16 additional classrooms, 12 of which would be at Cerra Vista School.
“Just doing the math, that could easily be a new school,” McIntire said.
In September, the district approved an agreement with the Department of Toxic Substances Control for Environmental Testing for a proposed new school site near Sunnyslope and Fairview roads.
“We’re very optimistic and hopeful that this site works out,” said McIntire, who said the new location would provide relief to the nearby K- 5 Cerra Vista School and possibly the middle schools if designated as a K-8 site.
Other sites that trustees may need to review soon for space concerns include Calaveras School, the Accelerated Achievement Academy, R.O. Hardin School and the district’s new charter school, Hollister Prep.
“I’d like for us to present it in the same process at all the other sites so our parents don’t feel left out,” said Trustee Elizabeth Martinez.
Meetings to hear community input have been set for 6 p.m. Jan. 13 for the Gabilan Hills school community and 6 p.m. Jan. 15 for the Hollister Dual Language Academy. McIntire suggested staff officials could present plans for the site to the board based on input from community members at the regularly scheduled board meeting Jan. 27.
For more information, go to the Hollister School District’s website at: hesd.org.

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