(Duarte, Ca) - The Duarte Unified School District (DUSD) Board of Education voted 5-0 at the Regular Meeting held on Thursday, June 30, 2016, to approve a partnership with Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), which will bring the highly successful public charter school to the San Gabriel Valley starting the 2017-18 school year.
“This is the culmination of a year of discussions both within our school board, and between our administration and the OCSA leadership,” said Dr. Allan Mucerino, Superintendent of DUSD. Mucerino went on to say that, “Ernest L. Boy, the President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, summed it up perfectly when he said, “During the past quarter century, literally thousands of school-based programs have demonstrated beyond question that the arts can not only bring coherence to our fragmented world, but through the arts, students’ performance in other academic disciplines can be enhanced as well.”
At the June 30 meeting, the Board of Education approved a proposal to license the Northview Intermediate School campus for five years to OCSA, who will be launching a public charter high school for 9-12 grade students. It will be called the California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley (CSArts-SGV) and will offer aspiring young artists from all over the region an opportunity to refine their skills and flourish in one of their trademark five schools of study, in addition to their nationally recognized rigorous college preparatory academic experience. The five schools are as follows: School of Dance: Classical & Contemporary Dance, Commercial Dance, and International Dance; School of Fine & Media Arts: Creative Writing, Digital Media Arts, Film & Television, Integrated Arts, and Visual Arts; School of Music: Classical Voice and Instrumental Music; and School of Theatre: Acting, Musical Theatre, and Production & Design.
OCSA’s fifth school, The School of Applied Arts, which focuses on culinary arts and hospitality at their Orange County location, will be offered through Duarte High School in a unique branding arrangement as part of the partnership. The partnership developed between DUSD and OCSA is the first of its kind between a charter and public school district with measures taken by the district to ensure the students of Duarte Unified and community of Duarte benefit from the venture. This partnership is one of seven strategies outlined in the district’s new five-year strategic plan, known as the Competitive Advantage Plan, which was spearheaded by Superintendent Mucerino. It is the result of a comprehensive study of the impact of 14 years of declining enrollment and the feedback of over 4,500 stakeholders through surveys and focus groups conducted this year. This is one step in moving Duarte towards its ultimate goal of becoming a destination district for students, families, and staff.
“Dr Allan Mucerino, a great example of a superb educational leader, has taken our School Board, staff and our entire community through a thorough process. It led to a unanimous decision by the Duarte Unified School Board. It is a great beginning for DUSD, staff and community to address our 14 year declining enrollment. I applaud his leadership, vision and our forward thinking School Board, for this new partnership with the nationally acclaimed OCSA charter school,” stated DUSD Board President, Mr. Ken Bell.
As part of the arrangement, the partners agree to act in good faith to ensure that up to 10% of the new CSArts-SGV enrollment is comprised of Duarte Unified students at any given time, and that 3% of CSArts-SGV’s revenue collected form the State will be paid annually to the district. In addition, CSArts-SGV will assume all operating costs to run and maintain the Northview property which is an estimated savings to the district of approximately $800,000 in General Funds each year. Because it is a shared-used agreement, the district retains ownership of all property used by CSArts-SGV and the rights to use the Performing Arts Center, Gymnasium and Cafeteria Complex during set hours. OCSA also has agreed to invest over 5 million to remodel the Performing Arts Center and to build a state-of-the-art conservatory/studio on the Northview campus. DUSD will own that building. By agreement, that building will be owned by the district too.
The CSArts-SGV will operate in collaboration with Duarte High School, not in isolation as many charter schools are known to do. The leadership teams of both schools have been collaborating all year and are in the process of developing plans to provide classes on both campuses that will be taken by CSArts-SGV and DHS students together, and the faculties of both schools will work closely to offer all students an opportunity to participate in an arts-rich environment and comprehensive high school experience.
Not only will Duarte High School students benefit from this forward thinking enterprise, but students attending DUSD in grades PK-8 will also reap the rewards. OCSA has agreed to dedicate the staff to create and teach a custom K-8 arts curriculum in collaboration with DUSD teachers. It’s expected that the 7-8 conservatory element of the program, serving only students attending DUSD schools, will be offered on the CSArts campus.
“DUSD students will be prepared to reach the same high levels of student success in the arts that OCSA students currently reach, through the OCSA-branded curriculum that provides enriched and affirming learning environments, empowering pedagogy, challenging and relevant curriculum, high quality instructional resources, valid and comprehensive assessment, high quality professional preparation and support, powerful family and community engagement, and advocacy-oriented administrative and leadership systems,” stated Superintendent Mucerino.
Another one of the seven strategies outlined in the district’s five-year strategic plan is the reconfiguration from PK-6 elementary schools to PK-8 magnet schools focused on STEM and arts. Based on a comprehensive review of the district’s enrollment trends, it was clear that 70% of all students transferring out of DUSD exited at the transition point from elementary to middle school. To address this issue, DUSD elementary schools will house students PK-8 beginning in 2017-18.
The transition from Northview being a 7-8 Intermediate School to the CSArts-SGV Public Charter High School, will also take place at the start of the 2017-18 school year. At that time, incoming 7th grade students will remain at their current elementary school. For 8th grade students in 2017-18, a secure satellite campus has been designed between the current Northview site and Duarte High School. The 8th grade students will remain in a self-contained setting, separate from the high school students, taught by 8th grade staff, and led by Dr. Mark Newell, a veteran principal with K-8, Middle School, and Comprehensive High School experience, who begins his tenure in 2016-17. Though separated, 8th grade students will have many opportunities as a result of being part of Duarte High School, such as curricular and extra-curricular opportunities currently not afforded them as a result of low enrollment at Northview.
The California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley at Duarte Unified will be the second campus for OCSA, established in 1987. Currently headquartered in Santa Ana, it serves over 2,200 students in grades 7 to 12 and is credited with leading the revitalization of the Santa Ana downtown area. OCSA’s current campus operates under a charter authorized by the Santa Ana Unified School District and draws students from 121 cities throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Approximately 4,000 students apply annually for its 400 openings. The charter from Duarte USD is expected to have similar widespread appeal.
On a visit to OCSA earlier this year, Duarte Board members, administrators, faculty, students and parents got an opportunity to see the school in action and came away impressed. The academic results reflect a commitment to excellence: Academic Performance Index (API) of 914, math proficiency of 93 percent, English proficiency of 97 percent, graduate rate of 100 percent. The current student body reflects the diversity of the artistic world, with 51 percent minority representation.
OCSA Founder, President, and Executive Director, Dr. Ralph Opacic, stated, “Our team is very excited to partner with DUSD. I can assure you that our team will work in collaboration with the entire district to create a meaningful partnership and experience for the students of Duarte and the greater Duarte community.”
One of the many attractions of DUSD to OCSA was the proximity to the recently opened Gold Line, which should allow potential students from a number of Foothill and San Gabriel Valley communities easy access to the city and the campus. Additional advantages include the close relationship the district has built with Citrus College, also a leader of arts education in the region, as well as the backing of the Duarte City Council and the support of many in the Duarte community.
With a projected enrollment of 1,000-1,600 students, depending on eventual capacity, CSArts-SGV expects to create over a 100 new jobs within the city of Duarte and an increase in patronage of local businesses by the many families whose students will be either commuting or moving to the area to attend the new school.
“I am happy for the children of Duarte. They deserve it.” According to Mucerino, “It’s a great time to be a kid in Duarte.”
For more information about the partnership between the Duarte Unified School District and the Orange County School of the Arts or the launch of the California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley charter school, please call (626) 599-5037 or visit the district website at www.duarteusd.org.
Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) was established in 1987, and provides a creative, challenging and nurturing environment that offers bright and talented students unparalleled preparation for higher education and a profession in the arts. This premier public charter school currently serves nearly 2,000 students in grades 7-12 from more than 100 cities throughout Southern California. https://www.ocsarts.net/