H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Jan 22, 2013 11:51 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

What to do about Bishop's Peak/Teach Elementary capacity issue

An elementary school campus in San Luis Obispo is running out of space, and traffic in the area has become a problem for some neighbors. The unique thing about this campus, is there are two schools on site, Bishop's Peak and Teach Elementaries. Bishop's Peak is a neighborhood school, while Teach is an alternative education program for accelerated students.

Both schools are now facing a capacity issue. It's the smallest campus in the San Luis Coastal Unified School district, yet it has the highest capacity, with over 500 students. Every year, enrollment increases for both schools. Teach Elementary has a lottery system for their enrollment, and they only take in 50 students a year. Since the schools are becoming more crowded each year, it is also causing a traffic problem in the neighborhood. And not to mention, eventually there will not be enough space for all of the students on campus.

The school board has a couple of options on the table to fix the problem. The first option is to convert art and science labs into classrooms, to free up space for the growing amount of students. The second and third options include capping enrollment at both schools, for example, only allowing 30 students per year at Teach, instead of 50 a year.

A fourth option is to move Teach Elementary into a currently closed site, making it it's own campus. Bishop's Peak/Teach Principal Dan Block said on Tuesday that this option was the most popular among parents he's talked with. But he said even this option would come with a price.

"We're in a budget crisis, and we anticipate at the school board meeting the other day, that we're going to have to be making some hard choices on budget, so when you're looking at moving a campus, there's cost associated with that, and that's some of the decisions that the school board's going to have to make," said Block.

The fifth option presented to the school board is to phase out the Teach program altogether. Bishop's Peak/Teach parent Claudia Gwinn said this is the worst case scenario. She has a student at both schools, and said Teach is a motivating factor to helping both daughters excel. Gwinn said it pushes her children academically.

Gwinn said, "I don't understand why they would want to close such a great program."

But not all parents agree with the idea of the Teach program. Sixth-grade parent Christy Hamari said she doesn't understand why any of the school district's money is spent on the small school. Teach currently has over 150 students. Hamari said she believes the extra-curricular courses taught at Teach should be distributed evenly among all the public schools in the district.

A sixth option would be to consolidate Bishop's Peak and Teach elementaries, to become one whole school.

The school district did not return KSBY's phone calls by air time, however it said in an executive summary document that each decision will require sacrifice and potentially loss.

The board is expected to meet on February 5 to further discuss the options and hear public comment, and they could make a decision by February 19.

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