The Winters Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees reviewed a plan to relocate the Wolfskill Career Readiness Academy (CRA) to the Winters High School site, as well as a shift in the curriculum model for CRA students at its March 2 meeting
Director of Technology Services and CRA lead administrator Raena Lavelle presented a plan drafted by Winters JUSD staff detailing the current CRA model, why staff feels it should change, and some concerns staff have tried to alleviate.
Currently, Wolfskill CRA is a one-classroom model with two teachers giving two 180-minute sessions — one in the morning at 8:30 a.m. and one in the afternoon at 12:30 p.m. every day of the week except Wednesday which has all students attend a 9 a.m. session. The two teachers provide four academic blocks for the curriculum, with their duties split between an hour and a half of direct instruction per teacher and an hour and a half of support while the other is instructing. Seniors in CRA also attend a college career readiness session.
The proposed transition model would split the class into two separate classrooms with one session of 250 minutes per day from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This increased time will facilitate a five-period day that allows the curriculum to be more flexible, including a once-a-week college career readiness period for all students. This model “allows both teachers to be teaching at the same time,” Lavelle explained “and students still have what would be considered an alternative school shorter day.”
Another change staff proposed is to relocate the CRA from the Early Childhood Education Center site, which hosts the Winters State Preschool Center and Head Start program, to a separate facility location of two classrooms on the WHS campus.
Lavelle provided a list of benefits school district staff see for this transition: the two classrooms will allow both teachers to teach the entire time, increasing the periods gives more educational value for students and schedules in intervention and college career readiness time. Regarding the relocation, Lavelle said this new setting will give CRA students proximity to WHS counselors, nurses, administrators, and WHS courses if they qualify.
In addition to this, Lavelle presented a number of concerns that parents and staff provided regarding this transition, such as a loss of autonomy, being overwhelmed with the course load, or having them feel “othered.”
In a separate statement to the Winters Express, Lavelle further explained the school district’s awareness of concerns, calling the existing “stigma” of CRA students “long-standing” with the separate sites making them more “othered” now than if they shared a site. But the statement affirmed that the CRA “will remain its own separate school, as it is now, but instead of sharing a campus with the preschool, it will share a campus with the high school” and that “ultimately, all Winters JUSD students are our students, including CRA students, and they deserve the access to services and programs needed for their success.”
Lavelle also noted in her presentation that the campus’s two campus monitors will hopefully be enough to keep the two groups of students from distracting each other as well as supervising CRA students to bathrooms, which along with the two groups not sharing passing periods, will hopefully keep the two groups sufficiently focused on themselves.
Lavelle’s statement to the Express added that the second monitor was just added this year and that both will hopefully “provide adequate supervision of our high school campus” as well as noting that “both campus monitors understand the many benefits for CRA students and look forward to building relationships with them.”
Lavelle clarified that this change will not affect CRA student exclusion from WHS or their graduation requirements.
When asked for her thoughts, Student Representative to the Board Lupita Tovar voiced her support for the move, but also noted that there already are problems on campus with students leaving school and that giving the campus monitor more to do may stretch them too thin if they aren’t supported.
Trustee Sterling Davis echoed the concern regarding campus monitors, saying “adding this to their list of duties, is that really a feasible thing?” Davis also asked if there is a possibility to add a third campus monitor with the interest of ensuring the transition happens “seamlessly.”
WHS Principal John Barsotti answered that, though campus monitors are “hustling all day” he felt that “if there was a concern about additional staffing for campus monitors, it wouldn’t be due to two or three extra dozen kids coming on campus. We have several hundred kids on campus already” and if there was concern it would be for the whole school.
“I know there’s always some trepidation with any change,” Barsotti concluded, “but this is the best thing for all students.”
Trustees are expected to vote on the relocation of the CRA school to the WHS site at the March 16 Winters JUSD Board of Trustee meeting.