Academy’s possible move remains on the table

Sixth-graders work in groups during class at the Accelerated Achievement Academy in 2010.

A motion to approve the Accelerated Achievement Academy’s move to Marguerite Maze Middle School for the 2016-17 year failed at last week’s board meeting.
Trustees Mike Baldwin and Peter Hernandez voted against the move, while Elizabeth Martinez and Patricia Moore voted for it. Trustee Elsa Rodriguez, the swing vote, was absent from the meeting, according to draft minutes from Jesus Romero, the administrative assistant to the superintendent.
Rodriguez could not be reached immediately for comment. Trustees will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. today, where they will reconsider the issue.
Space for popular target schools, such as AAA and the Hollister Dual Language Academy, have long been an issue in the Hollister School District. Last school year, trustees approved the HDLA’s eventual expansion to a K-8 grade site at the campus it shares with Gabilan Hills on Santa Ana Road. The decision allowed the bilingual academy to expand to serve middle school students through seventh grade this year and eighth grade starting next year.
The AAA, which serves grades 4-8, currently operates at Calaveras School, which serves students in preschool through eighth grade. Trustees are considering moving the academy to Maze, a middle school for sixth, seventh and eighth graders, so that the AAA could expand and its older students would have access to science labs, music and a multipurpose room.
Other considered solutions included relocating AAA to another school site; making Calaveras a K-5 program; adding additional portable classrooms; limiting enrollment at Calaveras; relocating transitional kindergarten or preschool programs; and reconfiguring attendance boundaries, according to draft minutes from the most recent board meeting.
In October, trustees considered moving AAA to another site and examined Maze as a possible location. Concerns with moving the academy to the middle school included separating of lower grades from upper ones; coordinating meal times and play areas; traffic congestion and pedestrian safety; and the possible need for additional space with future growth in the area.
In late November and early December, district trustees held special meetings in the communities surrounding Maze and AAA to solicit input on the idea of moving the academy to the middle school.
At the Maze community meeting, held at the Gabilan Hills’ Gecko Hall on Nov. 30, Maze teachers expressed concern that fourth and fifth graders shouldn’t be at a middle school campus. They also highlighted that the gymnasium is already booked and AAA will need to be absorbed into existing PE classes; there is only one open science lab to share since the other is currently being used as a classroom; staff parking and student pick-up concerns; the need for separate schedules to reduce disruption to classes; concerns that there aren’t enough restrooms to accommodate students; and questions about where Maze teachers would relocate on the campus.
Parents, teacher and student comments mentioned at the meeting held Dec. 1 at Calaveras’ multipurpose room, questioned whether the academy principal would move with the school; whether AAA students would continue wearing uniforms; and how the Maze community felt about the proposed change. Community members also asked about transportation and supported the need to continue the academy’s academic excellence.
Members of both school communities noted that fourth and fifth grade AAA students moving to Maze would need a playground.
The district staff recommended that the academy occupy five classrooms at Maze, according to a PowerPoint shared with trustees at the recent board meeting. The AAA’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade students would be absorbed into existing PE classes and certain electives at Maze, according to the same plan. The two schools would also operate on separate schedules with coordinated use of classrooms, labs and other spaces, the presentation explained. AAA students would continue to wear their uniforms.
For more information about the academy, attend the special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday in district office located at 2690 Cienega Road in Hollister.
AAA parent survey results
1)    Do parents support move to Maze?
Yes: 46
No: 3
Maybe: 14
2)    Would parents keep child at AAA if it moved to Maze?
Yes: 51
No: 3
Maybe: 12
SOURCE: PowerPoint Presentation from the Jan. 26 board meeting
Grades at schools
Calaveras: preschool-8 grades
AAA: 4-8 grades
Maze: 6-8 grades

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