Sage Creek Q&A continued

Talia Cain, Editor-in-Chief

Jeff Spanier, CHS Teacher

Q.How will the new school be funded?  Where is the money coming from to pay the opening and operating costs?

A.The school is being built with bond money that the tax payers/ property owners of Carlsbad agreed to use for improving all our schools and building a new school. However, the operating costs come from the district’s budget.  It is estimated that Sage Creek High will cost the district between $1.4 million and $2 million dollars to operate.  This is money that would be used to keep class sizes down, restore lost school days and improve the operation of all our other schools in the district.

Q.What major problems will be created and solved with the establishment of Sage Creek?

A.I don’t think Sage Creek was built to solve a problem. I suppose on a superficial level, housing 3200 students in two places instead of one solves a traffic problem.  But since Sophomores and Freshmen don’t drive the traffic issue is not very valid.

The two biggest problems, in my opinion, that are created by opening Sage Creek have to do with class size and safety.   The School Board raised the class size average at high school to 38.5 students per teacher/ class last year. With 40 + kids in a class, some of us are still just trying to call on everyone once a week or learn names.  Forget about seeing dangerous patterns or negative changes in academics.

The plan as of the December 12, 2012 Board meeting is to cut CHS security from 5 full time campus supervisors to 3.  2 will go to Sage Creek.  The numbers are looking like there may be about 400 students at Sage Creek if it opens next Fall.  That means they would have 1 full time campus supervisor for 200 students.  That sounds about right to me.  However, CHS will have 2800 students with 3 campus supervisors. 1 security person for every 933 students?  Does that seem safe?  No.

Q.What will the effect be on class sizes at CHS and Sage Creek when the new school opens?

A.Be sure to understand that Sage Creek High in no way lowers class size.  I went to three parent meetings for CHS and Sage Creek where parents asked about this.  In the first meeting the answer was basically: Sage Creek was built to help with the over-crowding at CHS.  To most parents that sounds like smaller class sizes, right?  A parent asked the question 3 times before a district administrator said: no, it won’t change class sizes.  Sage Creek will have 38.5 students in each class just like CHS. The truth is class size has already gone up to help district afford Sage Creek and other budget problems and will continue to go up.

Q.Will Sage Creek be offering the same curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities that are currently being offered at CHS? What benefits do you see offering the STEM curriculum at SCHS? Why isn’t this curriculum being offered at CHS?

A.No, they can’t.  They can promise to but in reality a school needs 38.5 students to open a class.  So student interest will determine what classes are available.

The STEM curriculum could be taught right here—it’s a label and a way to focus the existing curriculum.  Remember, the teachers teaching the classes are the same teachers teaching classes here and will use the same textbooks and have to meet the same standards.The closer the two schools are matched in what they do and how they do it, the more confused I am about why we opened another school.

As Dr. Steitz said in one of the parent meetings, CHS has been producing doctors and scientists for decades. You don’t need the STEM label to have stellar math and science programs.  You need stellar teachers.  Appropriate labs, texts and class sizes help too.  Both schools will have fantastic math and science teachers.  They are right here at CHS in the classrooms now.

Q. Do you believe the Carlsbad community will be divided with students attending two separate high schools? 

A. Of course.  That’s the point isn’t it?  It’s not called East Carlsbad High or considered a satellite of our campus. They will be STEM Bobcats.  We will be The Carlsbad High School Lancers.  We will have homecoming, football, Lancer Day Parades, a Hall of Fame, top seniors running yearbook and ASB, Champion Lancers, AVID, CHS TV, Lancer Express and 57 years of tradition.  They will have ipads.

Elisa Williamson, President of the Board of Trustees

Q. How will the new school be funded?  Where is the money coming from to pay the opening and operating costs?

A. The money to pay for operating Sage Creek will primarily come from our General Fund, which is the same method of funding used for all our schools.

Q.What major problems will be created and solved with the establishment of Sage Creek?

A. Sage Creek provides students with a clear option…a S.T.E.M. focus, different bell schedule, fewer students, homeroom/advisory period and trimester schedule…all designed for student connectedness and achievement. We believe many students will thrive with these opportunities in this beautiful new facility. The students who choose Sage Creek aren’t the only ones who will benefit. CHS students will have more space on campus as the portables are removed and there will be less traffic. CHS will continue to have strong academic classes and excellent programs. Again, I believe providing a choice will benefit all students.

Q. What will the effect be on class sizes at CHS and Sage Creek when the new school opens?

A. Next year we anticipate that class sizes at CHS and Sage Creek will be about the same as CHS class sizes this year…hopefully, they will end up being a little smaller.

Q. Will Sage Creek be offering the same curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities that are currently being offered at CHS? What benefits do you see offering the STEM curriculum at SCHS? Why isn’t this curriculum being offered at CHS?

A. Sage Creek will be a comprehensive high school anchored in an A-G course offering, very much like CHS. Sage Creek will offer similar curriculum, but will aim at uniquely linking their mathematics and science departments. For example, the Algebra II and Physics teachers will design curriculum that connects key concepts in each discipline so that greater application is experienced by students taking these courses simultaneously. Regarding textbooks, both schools will be using similar materials as they prepare the roll out of Common Core standards. A unique element at Sage Creek is their ambition to offer Mandarin; they will also offer Spanish and ASL.

Regarding extra-curriculars, Sage Creek will offer 18 sports. For the first year, they plan to offer art, drama/theater, and instrumental music. The elective menu will grow as their student population increases. They will have an ASB and students will lead the direction of which clubs will benefit campus life, similar to the process at CHS.

The S.T.E.M. Elective pathways in Biomedical Sciences, which is scheduled to begin year one, and Engineering, which is scheduled to begin year two, will provide students interested in these fields of study a great opportunity to gain insight into the many aspects of these disciplines.

Q. Do you believe the Carlsbad community will be divided with students attending two separate high schools? 

A. The Carlsbad community strongly supported building a second high school for our students. Had the Board drawn boundaries to determine attendance, it could have created an “east vs west” or “north vs south” division within the community. We intentionally didn’t go that route. We believe that by giving our students and their families the option of choosing between two excellent schools, based on what best fits their needs, our community will be stronger and more connected.