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El Crystal Elementary Petitions to Start Magnet School

The magnet school, if approved by the school board, would be launched next year and focus on STEM education, taking advantage of the technology resources that the school already uses on a daily basis.

has petitioned the school district to change to a magnet program that will specialize in teaching technology in the classroom, San Bruno Patch has learned.

Several parents from the school submitted the proposal to the San Bruno Park School District office on Thursday, with the goal of bringing the idea to the school board this fall so that El Crystal could be turned into a magnet school for next year.

"By creating a district magnet school with a strong academic purpose and focus, the district gains a value-added resource that provides parents and students a reason to stay in our district, offers a challenging learning and teaching environment, and provides a model for other schools within and outside our district to emulate," the proposal stated.

The idea of turning El Crystal into a magnet has been two years in the making, said parent Vince Carini, the president of the school's PTA.

At first, parents were considering starting a charter school to take advantage of the technology resources that the school already has, Carini said. El Crystal is home to the and, because of the leadership of the school's principal, Skip Johnson, the school uses technology in much of its curriculum.

But that idea was dropped. Crestmoor Elementary previously asked to be made into a K-8 school, and that request stirred up some controversy.

Over the summer, building on the momentum that began after the , El Crystal parents began getting together to share other ideas. When they asked Johnson for more input, the idea for a technology magnet school came up and got support from within the school community.

If the proposal is approved by the school board, then El Crystal will focus on technology, especially science, technology, engineering and math—known as STEM—learning.

"I think the community is ready for something like this," Carini said.

The school would not separate from the district, its boundaries wouldn't change, and state and federal funds normally allocated to sustain public schools would be used.

With three open classrooms and room for 90 more students, the big change would be that any San Bruno student from outside the school's boundaries could attend El Crystal's magnet school. The student would be able to apply for an intradistrict transfer, just like students are already able to do so.

El Crystal parent Joe Capote, who is a board member for the school's PTA, said he is excited about the plan because it would not only benefit the students at the school but also San Bruno as a whole.

"We wanted this to be inclusive—a tool that the district could take advantage of," Capote said. "That was the goal and our intent."

Parents are now working to get the magnet school proposal on the agenda for the school board's October meeting.

John Hanson September 07, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Good work for those who have put in the time for a Great Idea. The children will be excited.
Salina Welsh September 07, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I think this is a great idea! Not only that we will save our school but we will make it better!
Karin Cunningham September 07, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Very cool! It's great when a school community can find and implement something valuable for their environment! Allen and Bell Aire both have a FREE after school program and help for their English learners which is totally appropriate for their situation. Each school has their own unique set up and it's so cool to hear about all the things they do!
John Hanson September 07, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Is the program open to all San Bruno schools?
Martin Ricard (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 06:10 PM
From my understanding, it would be open to all San Bruno students in the district. But El Crystal is the only school petitioning to become a magnet school at this time.
Ken Ibarra September 07, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Congratulations! This is great news and even greater forward-thinking and planning. Please stay on top of this and continue to "feed" the public this unique and innovative information. Please continue to educate the public on magnet schools and STEM learning. Please don't stop here...
Edwin S September 07, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I love the idea, but it is a few month ahead of its time. While I fully support each school taking the lead on its own development, for the next few month this school district needs all the schools and the community to put every bit of energy they have to get behind supporting raising money NOW. Without that there will be no chance of these ideas coming to fruition.
John Hanson September 07, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Would the after school care be for all k-8 San Bruno Schools , but be located at Allen & Bellair ? Ii think we also should have a program for after school at ,Parkside. Maybe students from Skyline could volunteer to teach, art, music, and other things that were taken away, This would also help in the growth of Skyline students.
Chris Kiely September 07, 2012 at 08:11 PM
What's good about this is that it is open to student anywhere in the District. No one is trying to seperate themselves. Question: Is the entire enrollment going to be open to students from the entire District? Or just the extra capacity? Do kids living in the boundaries have preference? With room for 90 more kids, that likely won't be an issue at the start. But if the program is successful, you could easily have more than 90 kids applying in a few years. It would be good clearly agree on the "rules-of-the-road" now, instead of later.
Chris Kiely September 07, 2012 at 08:17 PM
John- there is a reasonably priced after-school care progam at Parkside, but it is over enrolled. They need to expand it, but with school already started people have made other arrangements. Even if the program is expanded now, people who would have signed up a month ago may not be able to make the change right away.
Chris Kiely September 07, 2012 at 08:28 PM
This is an important consideration. We need to focus on things that will help the District as a whole. We don't want this to turn into individual schools fighting for enrollment. School closure considerations may be off the public radar, but not at the District Office or School Board. In that context, proposals like this need to be very thoughfully managed. If not, the educational benefits drop out of the discussion, and it starts sounding like "make my school too big/special/influential to close".
John Hanson September 07, 2012 at 08:36 PM
How about a donation from the City of San Bruno for the Magnet School.The San Francisco Giants gave the City $100,000, unless it was used to buy the lot for the new Hotel.
Chris Kiely September 07, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Maybe we should have a real GATE program for our top students too, like this one: http://www.janesville.k12.wi.us/Departments/PublicInformation/VideoGallery/VideoPlayer/TabId/1322/VideoId/56/Challenge-Program-UpdateRobinson.aspx
Edwin S September 07, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Yes, a real GATE program is far superior to a Magnet option. El Crystal already emphasizes science and technology as it is. The school board is going to be voting on issues like on hiring teachers with parent donations and magnet schools at a time when everyone has to focus on simply keeping the district in business! Then tackle these other excellent but untimely ideas.
MomX4 September 07, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I have a GATE student. It is fantastic for kids who are indentified as GATE, but what about those who aren't? Why shouldn't the whole school population bennefit instead of just the "top students"?
Chris Kiely September 07, 2012 at 11:43 PM
We do stuff for the whole school population all the time, every day. The entire course of study is aimed at them. We add extra help for kids who need it. If kids need a different learning style because their minds learn differntly, we do it. We have things we do for kids with disabilities, and things for kids who are learning english. We do zero for kids who qualify for GATE.
Chris Kiely September 07, 2012 at 11:46 PM
My experience has been that GATE parents really aren't very pushy or demanding. They know that most of the time, remedial education, and efforts to help kids who are struggling takes priority. But I think they are fed up with the idea that SBPSD can't do anything to help their kids.
Edwin S September 07, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I think the best answers are There will be exclusion of students from the magnet school, so the students that are not able to attend the magnate school then still presents the "population benefit" issue you have drawn attention to. Everyone will want to attend this "special" school, we all know that. A technology emphasis is already happening at El Crystal The GATE program promotes high achievement and is shown to motivate those not in it to excel so they can participate in the program GATE is not considered an exclusionary program.
Chris Kiely September 08, 2012 at 01:50 AM
By law, when evaluating kids for GATE, they are supposed to seek out English Language Learners and Special Education kids, who might not do well on standardized testing. So GATE should be inclusionary.
Chris Kiely September 08, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Nice that San Bruno issues are finally being discussed on Patch again.
Karin Cunningham September 08, 2012 at 05:33 AM
I think it's cool that Allen, Bell Aire, and Parkside all have awesome computer labs. I don't know if the others have them. It seems like Allen and Parkside, that I know pretty well, have all the kids working on the computers, even at the after school program.
Scott C. September 11, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I support El Crystal's bid to use their donations for becoming a Magnet school next year because I think that inspires our other schools with some friendly competition. However, I do hope that everyone in San Bruno will support our San Bruno Park School District's Educational Parcel Tax (measure G) this November. I see the opposition is already using Mrs. Blanco's "No" vote in their official argument against this measure, which is sad because I know she doesn't want to close any of San Bruno's schools, or cut up to 4 weeks off the end of the school year, nor does she (or anyone I know) want to increase the student/teacher ratio beyond today's 31/1; however, those are the grim options the district must consider if San Bruno fails to pass its educational parcel tax (measure G), and CA fails to pass Governor Brown's proposition 30, and the CA PTA proposition 38 fails. If all 3 fail, I'm sure we'll see many CA school districts head towards bankruptcy. Back to measure G... Currently, the only organized opposition against measure G comes from outside of San Bruno, which makes me optimistic that nobody in San Bruno (so far) wants to damage our public schools any further. I hope endorsing measure G is something that everyone in San Bruno will do. Attend the school board meeting 7pm, this Wednesday, @ Crestmoor Elementary to learn more. ~Scott -- PS: Hey Dennis C., if we aren't already talking, reach out to me about the many different options you have to support Crestmoor :-)
Annie Goldstein September 19, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I am happy that the El Crystal community is banding together and fighting for what they believe in; better education for their children!!! Go El Crystal!!

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