The school in East San Jose is moving to an early learning center

For some of the elementary students in East San Jose, next year will be a move to another nearby school.

The Board of Trustees of Alum Rock Union School District unanimously voted Thursday to turn Cesar Chavez Elementary School into an early learning center for preschool to kindergarten next year. First- and fifth-graders will have to choose a different school, while younger students will stay in the current location.

Board President Anders Quintro said that by changing the school to an early learning center, the county would save about $ 1 million in overhead and management costs. The Kidengo School Partner will bear some of the cost of operating the facility and will bring in additional funds.

“I do not want to alleviate the pain that is felt,” Quintro said, “but this is the medicine we need to take to survive.”

The loss of students due to burnout has contributed to the district’s economic problems. Alum Rock Union School District merged Clyde L. Middle Schools. Fisher and Lee Matheson with Renaissance Academy at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year due to a $ 3 million deficit.

The Santa Clara County Board of Education added to the county’s plight when it decided to approve 25 charter schools from one organization, he said, as did families who moved to Central Valley.

By redesigning the campus as a learning center for early education, the school district will have an opportunity to help give the community’s youngest population an early start in their development, said Trustee Min Pam.

“We have an opportunity to break through a path that has yet to be traversed and fill the need for early education in the Alum Rock community,” he said.

Alum Rock Union School District prioritizes convenient and universal access to high-quality early learning experiences, said Diana Balestros, director of early learning. According to her, early investment in childhood reduces the achievement gap and results in a better life.

“Ninety percent of a child’s brain development occurs by age five,” she said. “Kids need to be ready before they get to kindergarten.”

Petitions from the parents

A vocal and enthusiastic group of parents lined up on both sides of the debate to consider at a board meeting on Thursday evening.

Parent Theresa Gonzalez was concerned about the displacement of students and hoped for a hybrid solution.

“It’s coming at the expense of the students right now,” she said.

The Early Learning Center will provide nine hours a day of child care and infant education through kindergarten, something that is desperately needed for the families working in this community in East San Jose.

“It took a very long time to find a plan that met my needs as a working mother,” said parent Yatta Ilago, adding that she had moved from babysitter to babysitter. “If I had the opportunity to enroll my child as a toddler, I would feel at peace knowing that he is being cared for in a facility where he is learning and developing his social skills.”

Prior to the meeting, a number of students and parents were upset about the possibility of being forced to leave Cesar Chavez Elementary School and said they had not received enough notice. They were unaware that this was the intention until they attended a personal meeting on March 29 “to discuss important information about the site for the 2022-23 school year,” according to an email from principal Julio Willobus and Hillary Bauer County Superintendent of Parents.

Bauer stressed that she did everything she could to inform parents about the possibility starting in April 2021 when the issue was examined. She reiterated that this was not a school closure.

Cesar Chavez students will likely attend elementary school in San Antonio, which Bauer says will not be closed because it is the newest facility in the county. She said these are unprecedented times for the school district, but sees the school reorganization as a victory.

“It was not an easy decision,” Bauer said. “It’s done in a very calculated way … so we can increase the services that Alum Rock provides to the Mayfair community.”

Contact Lorraine Gabret at [email protected]

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