New schools highlight changes for CRPUSD
University, Technology Middle School open as students return to class
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By Mira Brody  August 23, 2013 12:00 am


Bells ringing, cars idling, the collective chatter of hundreds of students filing back into their classrooms as the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District begins its 2013-2014 school year. 

Even the old campuses of Mountain Shadows Middle School and La Fiesta Elementary will, for the first time in years, no longer be vacant as two new school openings grace Rohnert Park, a positive change after what seemed like a succession of closures.

“It’s an exciting time for us,” says Robert Haley, District Superintendent for three years now. “We are committed to providing our community with the best educational programs. We’ve created new innovative classes with lower class sizes.”

The first major change is University Elementary, located where La Fiesta Elementary used to be before it was closed in 2008. By utilizing the forces of Sonoma State University just down the street, the new school will entail a multi-age project-based curriculum, beginning with K-2, but hope-fully growing to a full facility in years to come.

The new Technology Middle School at the old campus in B section is currently hosting 6th and 7th graders with the addition of 8th grade next year, and stresses a computer-based curriculum with code-writing courses, a career path quickly becoming vital in the brave new world of technology.

While most high schools have minimized their woodworking and metal shop classes, Rancho Cotate High School has expanded in those areas, providing students with the opportunity to use some of the newest tools and accessories to construction, including the use of a 3D printer. Rancho Cotate also is continuing a sustainable project called “Tiny Houses” in which students construct fully functional, environmentally friendly dwellings.

“This does not look like a traditional shop,” says Haley of the renovated workshop classroom. “It’s all very 21st century.”

Tech High, the high school situated in Sonoma State’s Salazar Hall, is expanding, having acquired the use of thee more classrooms, which will accommodate at least 300 more students. Haley notes and appreciates the close bonds SSU has always had with the CRPSD.

It seems just a few years ago we were plagued by school closings, but due to the construction of new homes and new jobs in the county, things are beginning to look up for the district.

“Our biggest challenge is that we’re under-funded by the state of California,” Haley says simply. “They are in the process of changing the way they fund us, which may have a negative impact. Until the state realizes that education is vital, we will struggle.”

It is clear though, that despite any lack of support from the state, the classrooms of CRPUSD will remain lit and filled with students.

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