July 17, 2008

Eureka Union Chief Lays Out Plans for Magnet School District

By Lakiesha McGhee, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Jul. 16--The new superintendent of Granite Bay's Eureka Union School District announced Tuesday night his plans to create a "magnet district" that would attract parents seeking more innovative curriculum for their children.

Superintendent Tim McCarty -- a former administrator of the Dublin and San Juan unified school districts -- weighed in on a proposal to open a magnet school or a district-sponsored charter school in 2009.

McCarty knocked the charter option for taking longer to implement because of bureaucracy and for possibly draining resources from the entire K-8 district. The proposed magnet school would be confined to one site and may fail to meet district-wide goals, he said.

"The goal is to move forward with action on every campus and my concern with a magnet school is that fewer people are involved," McCarty told trustees during his first board meeting as superintendent.

The plan offered by McCarty involves starting with a core group of volunteer teachers to implement new curriculum this fall at each district school. The curriculum would be rigorous and based on an educational model developed by a community taskforce. Students would be encouraged to become "global learners" and they would be offered foreign language instruction and new opportunities to better their community and the world.

Partnerships with community organizations and businesses are planned. The latest technology would be used and creativity would be encouraged among staff and students.

"It's easier when you have the label of a charter or magnet school and it's harder to bring students back when you're discussing a whole new concept of teaching," board president Jerri Davis said.

Last year, the district began reviewing alternative education options to address a $600,000 loss in state funding due to declining enrollment the past four years. The district responded by closing two campuses and reconfiguring grade levels for all campuses.

"I'm very pleased that we are doing this and I think it's a great idea," trustee Dan Clift said about McCarty's recommendation.

The district is expected to vote on the educational options next month.


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