Campus: CSU Northridge -- September 10, 2004

University and LAUSD Open First New High School in Three Decades

Unique Partnership on CSUN Campus Aims to Improve High School Student Learning

Cal State Northridge teamed with the Los Angeles Unified School District today to open the district's first new comprehensive high school in more than 30 years — a unique educational partnership located on the university campus that aims to improve the education of high school students.

Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester joined LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer, Board of Education President Josť Huizar, board members Jon Lauritzen and Julie Korenstein and other dignitaries to greet more than 600 ninth and tenth graders arriving for the first day of classes at the new high school.

Special features of the unique educational partnership between the school district and the university include Cal State Northridge faculty members helping shape the educational program of the new high school, CSUN teacher credential students doing student teaching there and the high school students having shared use of various university facilities and resources.

"This high school will be a true model educational partnership," said President Koester. "What better location than Cal State Northridge, where the university has a nationally renowned teacher preparation program that also is one of the largest such programs in California. It is the people and students of the San Fernando Valley who will benefit from our collaboration."

LAUSD officials said the new high school, known for now as Valley New High School #1 until a permanent name is selected, is the first new comprehensive high school to open in the district and the San Fernando Valley since 1971. That was the year that LAUSD opened John F. Kennedy High School in nearby Granada Hills.

The new Northridge high school opening came on a record day for the LAUSD, when officials celebrated the opening of eight new campuses, the most ever, on the traditional first day of the new school year. Before the end of this school year, LAUSD officials expect to set another record by opening 17 new campuses district wide.

"LAUSD is opening the first high school and the first middle school in the district in more than 30 years," Romer said. "The transformation of the L.A. school district is well underway." At the same time as the Northridge project, LAUSD also opened a new San Fernando Valley middle school in nearby Van Nuys, the LAUSD's first new middle school for the area in 35 years.

Philip Rusche, dean of CSUN's Michael D. Eisner College of Education, said the new high school fits well into the university's newly launched Teachers for a New Era initiative. Funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, that national project selected Cal State Northridge to help develop new models for improving teacher education in the coming years.

The $36 million, 115,000-square-foot high school project opened on schedule after more than four years of planning between LAUSD and the university. The new high school is funded and operated by LAUSD, but it is located at the Cal State Northridge campus. University officials and faculty will continue to be partners with LAUSD in the school's future operation.

"What Cal State Northridge wants to do with the new high school is work together to increase the achievement of students and create an outstanding model for university-high school collaboration," said Bonnie Ericson, chair of the university's Secondary Education Department and the campus liaison to the new school.

"The high school students will be better prepared for college, and our own students will be better prepared to become teachers," said Ericson. During the past summer, a team of about a dozen university faculty members worked with their teacher counterparts at the new high school to help shape its academic program.

The new high school will have three "academies" (emphases of learning) matching three major academic programs at the university: careers in education; arts, media and communication; and health and human development. One purpose of the new school is to educate high school students who may have an interest in becoming future school teachers.

The high school opens for the first year with ninth and 10th graders, and then in the future will expand to 11th and 12th graders for a total enrollment of about 1,000 students. That compares to the typical 4,000 or more students at other LAUSD high schools, meaning students at the new Northridge high school should get more personalized attention.

LAUSD selected students for the new school from the areas around three nearby district high schools in the Valley--Monroe, Granada Hills Charter and Cleveland — to help ease their overcrowding. The new high school will have no LAUSD busing program, so all the students will come from nearby neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley.

The new high school will operate as a closed campus like other LAUSD high schools, meaning high school students generally must stay on their own campus during the school day. However, high school students will have access to the university campus through organized, supervised activities such as class visits or making use of the university's library.

Even the development of the new high school site itself was unique. The university gave the high school site to LAUSD in an even exchange for ownership of a former elementary school site located elsewhere on the university's campus. Gaining control of that site enabled the university to build a large student parking facility in a high demand area of the campus.

The idea of the university-LAUSD partnership for the high school originated with former CSUN Provost Louanne Kennedy and LAUSD board member Korenstein, who formerly represented the Northridge area. LAUSD and the university are planning a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new high school on the morning of Wednesday, October 27.

Contact: John Chandler, CSUN Public Relations, (818) 677-5674 / (818) 822-7852 john.chandler@csun.edu


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