By Sora Park
The Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) Devonshire campus will open as a transitional kindergarten through eighth grade school starting in the fall semester of 2019.
Through opening a K-8 program, GHC hopes to continue developing the school’s current mission, which is to provide the diverse community of Granada Hills with high-quality education rooted in cultural sensitivity, research-based instruction, collaboration, and accountability. Furthermore, by establishing a K-8 school, each student will have the opportunity to have a seamless K-12 GHC experience.
“The K-8 is a sound model, supported by substantial research, that allows a school to address and assess the longer term progress of a student. When students leave one elementary school for a different middle school there can be disruption and disconnection. By designing a K-8 curriculum and experience we will avoid or minimize those challenges,” Executive Director Brian Bauer said.
The school year is set to start with up to 450 students comprised of of the transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and sixth grade cohorts. With the passing of each school year, the subsequent grades are expected to be added.
“Starting with sixth grade allows us to serve and prepare a population of students who will be at the high school sooner. In addition, it will allow us to apply for certain programs that we otherwise would not be eligible for if we did not begin with a middle grades program,” Bauer said.
Until the K-8 program pushes the Devonshire campus to its full capacity, the iGranada program will remain intact on that campus. When it reaches its maximum population, the iGranada program is expected to move back to the Zelzah campus. By then, the Zelzah campus is expected to have undergone upgrades.
As for the graduates of the new K-8 school, a new law in California allows for priority enrollment to those who want to continue their education at the Zelzah high school campus.
The development of the K-8 program will also bring the Zelzah campus many benefits.
“The high school will benefit with more students entering who have already been exposed to and experienced our school’s well established and highly regarded instructional, social-emotional, intervention and enrichment programs. We will be able to design K-8 programs that support our existing 9-12 programs and new programs in grades 9-12 will be developed as a result of K-8 programs,” Bauer said.
Excluding the start-up costs for the new school, in terms of budget, the K-8 program will remain self sufficient.
“We are fortunate that some of those costs may be offset by funds from one or more state or federal programs. If the new K-8 will be separate from the existing high school, since it is operated by the nonprofit public benefit corporation that operates GHCHS, we can follow certain steps to permit a loan to cover the start up costs of the new school. That loan will be repaid within a very short amount of time,” Bauer said.
The K-8 school will primarily have a similar curriculum as the Zelzah campus; however, the size of the K-8 program will make it impossible to replicate every academic program such as the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Global Human Initiative (GHI) and Humanitas programs.
Though the K-8 program is still in its developing stages, there is excitement from the community for this new change.
“I look forward to working with our staff, our families and with the community as we take a bold step toward broadening Granada Hills Charter ability to make our community a place where more students can learn and thrive,” Bauer said.