Trustees unanimously endorsed Superintendent Gary McIntire's plans for Calaveras School at this week's meeting.

The Hollister School District has posted the jobs of all 20 Calaveras School teachers – the first step as part of the superintendent’s effort to reorganize the historically poor academic performer.
The district took the extraordinary step of posting those openings at the K-8 school, which has two classes per grade. Shaking up the staff is part of Superintendent Gary McIntire and the school board’s efforts to spur academic improvement at Calaveras – in its seventh consecutive year of program improvement, a designation for schools continually failing to make adequate yearly progress in math and reading.
With the district this year receiving special funds designated for economically challenged communities, McIntire said officials must show an ability to “target our efforts” toward improving classroom performances.” The superintendent said the additional funds are intended to “close the achievement gap.” 
Along with the move to open those teaching jobs, the district for next fall is encouraging the use of non-traditional models in the classroom at Calaveras. McIntire in an interview with the Free Lance talked about reconfiguring the school day, using an “intervention” approach – a more individualized method – and providing intensive instruction to English language learners. He talked of making the school into a classroom “lab” and an “incubator.”
“Not a soul is getting fired. That’s the first order,” said McIntire, adding that current Calaveras teachers “potentially may not be in the same classroom next year.”
Calaveras is a prime candidate for such drastic reform, as it has the highest concentration of economically disadvantaged students in the district. It also is consistently the lowest performer in the district on standardized testing. The school scored a 672 on the latest Academic Performance Index and 655 in 2012  – the standard for all statewide schools is 800 – and is mired in year seven of a five-year program improvement plan.
Through the change in the funding formula, districts such as Hollister have come across a financial boon of sorts. At the same time, they are required to show academic improvement with use of the dollars.
“We’re looking for anybody in the district that wants to take on that challenge,” McIntire said.
McIntire addressed the principal position as well. Christine White has been principal since 2005. Calaveras has been in program improvement since 2007 and “open enrollment” – another unfavorable designation allowing families to choose other schools in the district – since 2010.
“I hold the principal accountable,” he said.
The superintendent said he has the option of reassigning White back to the classroom as a teacher.
“That can always happen with a principal,” he said. “I go through evaluations with all principals. They’re due in the latter half of spring.”
White did not immediately return phone calls on the matter.
Kristen Damm, the Hollister district teachers union president, had a positive reaction to the move.
“I think it’s an exciting new program that the district is looking to offer to the students at Calaveras. The focus will be Thinking Maps,” said Damm, referring to the specific model planned for the site. “I really think it’ll be good for the students there.”
Damm underscored the superintendent’s commitment to an increased workload for teachers at the school along with additional training.
“So the district wants to make sure all the teachers there are aware of the job load and everyone’s committed to being there, and the increased work load,” she said.
McIntire in explaining his vision for Calaveras drew comparisons to R.O. Hardin. The two schools have similar demographics. Both also share campuses with other schools. Hollister Prep, the first-year charter, neighbors R.O. Hardin. Calaveras shares space with the Academic Achievement Academy magnet school.
R.O. Hardin, with the most English learners among its peers, has been hovering above 700 on the API in recent years, with Calaveras doing the most to drag down the rest of the district’s overall performance.
At R.O. Hardin, meanwhile, classrooms have taken steps to mirror the charter school’s approaches, he said.
“We want to create a learning lab at Calaveras and expand that outward,” McIntire said. “We’re looking to develop an incubator for success.”
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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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