Board Approves Possible Middle School Expansion

Board Approves Amendment to Arroyo Vista Charter School
Posted on 04/24/2020
Siblings share a moment together at school.

The Board of Education approved an amendment to the existing charter of Arroyo Vista Charter School that could serve as a first step in expanding options for parents who want an alternative to sending their children to large traditional middle schools. Because Arroyo Vista teachers are members of Chula Vista Educators (CVE), this proposal could also potentially enhance CVE membership.

Currently, most CVESD sixth graders who promote from elementary go on to attend middle school in the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD), which serves grades 7-12.  

The Arroyo Vista Charter amendment was approved 3-2 at the CVESD Board’s first virtual meeting on April 22. Board President Armando Farias, and Board members Laurie K. Humphrey, and Francisco Tamayo voted in favor of the amendment. Board members Eduardo Reyes, Ed.D., and Leslie Ray Bunker voted against the amendment. 

Arroyo Vista  Chartr entrance gateThe amendment would allow further exploration of establishing a satellite program to serve grades 7 and 8 elsewhere within CVESD’s boundaries. A possible location could be in eastern/southeastern Chula Vista, where residents who pay Mello-Roos fees have long advocated for another middle school in the community. Despite periods of explosive growth in east Chula Vista, the last Sweetwater middle school to open was Eastlake Middle in 2003.

Supporters of Arroyo Vista's expansion noted that it is a CVESD dependent charter school with a track record of success in serving grades K-8. They argued that the amendment is a first step toward additional research that might or might not make the expansion to K-8 at another campus a reality.  

“If there is a specific site that we will consider, we will come back to the Board,” said Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “This is our first step of several to conduct the proper research and community engagement.”

Dr. Escobedo added that there are already more than 900 K-8 schools in California; CVESD has five existing dependent charter schools that serve K-8 students. Chula Vista Learning Community Charter, which opened in 1998, first started serving middle grades in 2009-10. CVLCC and Mueller charters also have high school campuses that educate students in grades 9-12.

Each of CVESD's charters, including Arroyo Vista, has more demand than availability. Together, they already serve over 900 middle school students, and remain popular options for South County parents. Arroyo Vista began educating seventh graders in 2011, and eighth graders in 2012. Parents acknowledge that the K-8 experience is unique compared to a traditional middle school.

Arroyo Vista Charter courtyardOpponents of charter expansion include representatives of the bargaining groups for teachers in both Sweetwater Union High School District and Chula Vista Elementary School District. Opponents expressed concerns that this is not the right time to move forward, given current events, i.e. the pandemic. They also argued that it could lead to further erosion of SUHSD’s enrollment, worsening its financial woes.

Arroyo Vista seeks to expand its programs in response to community interest, previously conducted surveys, and the continued success of its students. The Arroyo Vista Team Council has considered and approved the material revision to its charter.

The topic of increasing access to CVESD for more middle school students has been discussed at two prior Board meetings. Click here to view January report to the Board, and click here to view the February report to the Board.

Among additional research steps are to:

1) Ensure that expansion of middle school will maintain the quality of education that CVESD is known to deliver;

2) Strengthen ability to handle and deploy quality distance/remote learning;

3) Support how students’ social, emotional, and physical safety/well-being will be maintained across all grade levels; and

4) Survey and engage parents/guardians of current grade 6 students about their interest in continuing their children's education in CVESD for grades 7 and 8.

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