July 31, 2008

New Eureka Schools Superintendent Wants to Create Magnet District

By Lakiesha McGhee, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Jul. 31--The new superintendent of Granite Bay's Eureka Union School District has announced his plans to create a magnet school district that would attract parents seeking a more innovative curriculum for their children.

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

McCarty criticized the charter option as taking longer to implement because of bureaucracy and as possibly draining resources from the entire K-8 district. The proposed magnet school would be confined to one site and might fail to meet districtwide 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 revised 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 already developed by a community task force. Students would be encouraged to become "global learners" and would be offered foreign language instruction and new opportunities to better their community and the world, according to McCarty.

Partnerships with community organizations and businesses are planned. The latest technology would be used, and creativity would be encouraged among staff members 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 related to declining enrollment over 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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