Bilingual academy principal: ‘We need our own home’

The crowd waits for the start of the meeting.

Hollister parent Terry Eymann’s son attends the Hollister Dual Language Academy as a sixth grader this year but she’s wondering whether he can attend his current campus next year.
“I would like to see it go to a K-8 (school),” Eymann said. “That’s what the district promised at the beginning.”
Hollister School District trustees are considering whether to make the K-6 site—which doubled its number of kindergarten classes this year and runs seventh and eighth grade classes at Marguerite Maze Middle School—a single-site, K-8 campus. Concerns expressed about space follow growing enrollment at the academy and a statewide effort to make classroom sizes smaller with a target of 24 students for each teacher in a K-3 classroom by 2020-21.
The academy currently shares a campus with Gabilan Hills on Santa Ana Road, but enrollment at the bilingual school has grown while Gabilan’s enrollment has decreased.
The meeting Thursday followed a meeting Tuesday where Gabilan parents and other residents spoke during public comment.
“The logistics of sharing a school site with another active, vibrant school site like Gabilan Hills is very hard,” said Monique Ruiz, the academy’s principal, on Thursday. “We have grown to the point where we need our home. We need our own spot.”
Among the speakers was Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, whose son is a fourth grader at the academy.
“When we first talked about bringing our kids here, a lot of people said it would confuse him,” he said. “Watching our kids learn through this type of a program and letting it go forward to the higher grades is really important.”
Possible solutions laid out by district staff at the meeting included adding portables; reconfiguring attendance boundaries; keeping the academy as a K-8 program at two sites with K-5 at the current location and sixth, seventh and eight grade classes offered at Maze; and approving the academy as a K-8 site at its current site while limiting enrollment for Gabilan. Staff also mentioned possibly moving Gabilan or the academy to the proposed new school site near Fairview Road.
The district’s facilities committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the district office at 2690 Cienega Road to develop a plan to bring to trustees at the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

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