Some Atascadero sixth-graders to attend junior high in September

Atascadero Junior High School.
Atascadero Junior High School.

About 120 sixth-graders will start attending Atascadero Junior High School in September.

On Tuesday, the Atascadero Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan to move two sixth-grade classes from Santa Rosa Academic Academy and two sixth-grade classes from Monterey Road Elementary School to Atascadero Junior High School in the 2013-14 school year.

Trustees George Dodge and Terri Switzer were absent due to illness.

According to trustee Corinne Kuhnle, the move is the first step in transitioning the junior high into a middle school, which the board approved in August. Eventually, all Atascadero Unified sixth graders will attend the Lewis Avenue campus, she said.

Kuhnle described the new sixth-grade program at Atascadero Junior High as “a school within a school.”

By working with younger students, the board hopes teachers there can emphasize core subjects such as mathematics and science — better preparing students for high school and beyond.

“These teachers really want to focus on the sixth-grade academics,” Kuhnle said, noting that Atascadero Junior High Principal Lori Thomas Hicks and her teachers met with parents at Monterey Road on Feb. 14. “It’s a good, good time to really zero in and focus on their curriculum.”

And there’s another benefit, Kuhnle added.

Moving some of Santa Rosa’s students to the junior high will give the school some swing space when modernization projects start in the summer of 2014.They'll be funded by a $117 million school improvement bond passed in 2010.