Education
August 16, 2017
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CRPUSD Board to vote on Computer Science Magnet schools

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
July 28, 2017

Two elementary schools in Rohnert Park are being considered as sites for future computer science magnet schools by the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District, with the hopes of boosting students’ skills in technology for future college and career readiness.

“We’ve been looking at ideas to increase STEM education,” says Julie Synyard, Assistant Superintendent for the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District.

The two Rohnert Park elementary schools being considered include John Reed, in the A section, and Waldo Rohnert, in the B section, due to decreasing enrollment in those two schools. The school district hopes the program will bring more people into the district and increase enrollment in those areas. 

The idea was first proposed at the school district board meeting in June, in response to parents from Technology High School mentioning a need for these types of skills at an earlier stage in students’ academic careers. The idea will need to be approved at a future board meeting before moving forward. Once approved, funding will need to be secured and teachers will be given time to be trained before implementation. The district will also want to receive both teacher and parent input to determine if this is indeed something they would support. At this juncture it is still too early to determine when an official launch might transpire. 

“We want to get teacher input so that we can implement this really successfully,” says Synyard. “I can’t say enough about our teachers. They are hardworking, innovative, and want the best for our kids.”

Synyard compares the program to a dual language immersion school, where a certain percentage of the time focus will be given to computer programming (versus a language), and that this focus will also be worked into other areas of the curriculum. Exactly what the curriculum and methodology will look like is yet to be determined. 

“This will ultimately give students career and college readiness,” says Synyard, “while still offering kids an incredible education.”

Code To The Future, a leader in helping districts build computer science immersion programs, is the company that the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District would retain to implement the system at the two schools. Code to the Future has been highlighted by the White House for helping start America’s first elementary computer science magnet schools, and according to the organization, “over 90% of parents indicate that they want more computer science education opportunities for their children, yet only 6% of superintendents perceive this demand.” The Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District aims to be at the forefront of innovation. Code To The Future’s methods integrate both programming and game design to give students an understanding of how to utilize technology to create. 

“This will give students in the elementary grades a big boost,” says Synyard. “They will also learn to work in groups and how to persevere through challenging tasks.”