The Cambrian

Lions, Rollers help preserve Santa Lucia Middle School algebra

The Gene Cerise Central Coast Classic cycling event in late June raised more than $18,000.

Where does that money go?

Last year, some of the money raised through the event — along with other funds generated by the Cambria Lions Club and Slabtown Rollers — went toward restoring a key algebra class to the list of courses at Santa Lucia Middle School.

A change in California’s math curriculum requirements meant Coast Unified no longer offered Algebra 1 during the 2014-15 school year.

As a result of the new standards, “our math teacher for grades 7 and 8 at Santa Lucia was focused on planning, teaching and assessing the new Course 2 (seventh-grade math) and Course 3 (eighth-grade math) instructional materials with students,” said Victoria Schumacher, Coast Unified School District superintendent.

While Course 3 incorporates many algebra concepts, “offering Algebra 1 as a stand-alone course required some additional time, training and familiarity with the new standards and new curriculum,” she said.

Enter the Lions Club, which partners with the Slabtown Rollers — a Cambria-based cycling club — in staging the Central Coast Classic. (This year’s event featured 130 riders and 60 volunteers.)

With teachers focused on the new curriculum and the school unable to offer Algebra 1, some students were in a bind, said Andy Zinn, immediate past president of the Lions Club.

Algebra 1, he said, was a prerequisite for biology, which created a sort of domino effect for students seeking to meet qualifications to attend the University of California. Without it, “they wouldn’t be UC ready,” Zinn explained. “Our top students — there are 16 or 17 of them — would have been held back a year in terms of going to the best colleges.”

Zinn said Santa Lucia wasn’t the only school affected by the changes to the state’s curriculum standards: Templeton and Lewis Middle School in Paso Robles didn’t offer the algebra class, either, he said.

At Santa Lucia, the Lions Club responded by offering math teacher Cindy Klatt an opportunity to put in the extra time necessary to offer the class.

“She gave up her prep period,” Zinn said. “The kids had to give up their elective and sign up to take two math classes — they’re taking Course 3 and algebra. We paid for (Klatt) to give up her ‘pass’ period, so she teaches seven periods a day.”

Zinn said the Lions also paid for a similar extra class in environmental science to help students meet their college requirements. 

Schumacher confirmed that the donation was a major boost.

“Our seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher appreciated having an opportunity to begin instruction with the new Algebra 1 materials — made possible as a result of a donation by the Lions Club that helped fund teaching an additional course: Algebra 1,” she said.

For the coming school year, she said, Klatt is “well equipped to teach Course 2, Course 3 and Algebra 1 from the start of the school year.”

She added: “Students who will be enrolled in Algebra 1 will be familiar enough with the new California Mathematics Standards included in the new curriculum that they will not need to be enrolled in Course 3 at the same time.”

But that doesn’t mean the Lions are resting on their laurels. Zinn said the club will be funding an enrichment class in August that will focus on computer programming and repairs. The instructor will be giving up three weeks of summer break to teach the class, he said.

Zinn said part of the goal is to make Coast Unified an even more attractive place to attend school, noting that he hoped parents from Cayucos might gain another reason to send their students to school in Cambria, rather than Morro Bay.

“The goal,” he said, “is to bring our high school up and bring it to a higher level.”