Atascadero Fine Arts Academy will continue to accept fourth-graders

slinn@thetribunenews.comMarch 25, 2014 

Fourth-graders can continue to attend Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, following a decision by the Atascadero Unified School District to drop a proposal to eliminate the grade at the school.

At the district Board of Trustees meeting on March 18, Atascadero Unified Superintendent Deborah Bowers announced that district staff had withdrawn the request in response to concerns from parents and students.

“An awful lot of people took umbrage with it,” said Fine Arts Academy Principal Kirk Smith, who proposed closing his school to fourth-graders at the board’s March 4 meeting. He said earlier this month that making the Fine Arts Academy open only to students in fifth through eighth grades beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, would have freed up scheduling and allowed the school to offer a more intimate learning environment.

Smith said he was surprised by the level of opposition his recommendation received.

“To me it wasn’t something to have people get upset about,” said Smith, who also serves as principal of Monterey Road Elementary School in Atascadero. “I didn’t want them in a kerfuffle.”

As a result of the recommendation being dropped, the district has come up with a “Plan B” to meet the academic and artistic needs of Fine Arts Academy students, Smith said, although he said he’s not ready to discuss details.

“We are going to be able to find a way to provide the extra academic time that kids will need to meet Common Core standards but still provide daily arts exploration,” he said.

Smith will discuss that plan with parents and guardians at a new student orientation meeting at 6 p.m. April 3 at the school.

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