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Glendale Unified approves 5-year contract with coding immersion program for Cerritos Elementary

Glendale Unified approves 5-year contract with coding immersion program for Cerritos Elementary
The Glendale Unified School Board approved a five-year contract with Code to the Future, a coding immersion program that provides schools with on-site coaching and lesson plans. The partnership is an effort to boost enrollment and possibly turn the campus into a magnet school. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

Plans to help boost enrollment at Cerritos Elementary School are moving forward with a five-year partnership with a coding immersion program that could also help transition the campus into a magnet school.

The Glendale Unified School Board unanimously approved a contract Tuesday with Code to the Future, a program that provides schools with on-site coaching, lesson plans and project-based units, among other materials.

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A steering committee consisting of district and site leaders will collaborate with the company next month to begin learning how to implement coding into curriculum. They will also create a comprehensive plan to roll out Cerritos as a computer-science magnet if approved by the school board in the coming months.

Regardless of board approval, the school's staff members feel strongly that Cerritos Elementary would "benefit immensely" from the computer-science instruction program, according to Kelly King, assistant superintendent of Glendale Unified.

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"Cerritos [has a] higher poverty, higher immigrant, higher English-learner population, and it's a school that does have capacity down the road should the board want to change it into formal magnet school," King said.

If approved, the goal is to launch Cerritos as a magnet school by the 2018-19 school year.

Cerritos Elementary is made up of a majority of students who come from low-income homes, making them eligible for free and reduced-priced lunches.

About 84% of its students live in low-income households, while 54% of them are English learners.

"We need to find that theme that attracts communities and what product or concept will be value added for existing students and [families] in the community," King said.

On-site coaching and the cost of using Code to the Future's services will decrease throughout the five-year contract.

During the 2017-18 school year, the cost will be $100,000 for 36 days of coaching and eight days of professional development and technical assistance, according to a staff report.

By 2021-22, 12 days of on-site coaching and four days of professional development will cost $33,000.

The proposal to partner with the company was brought to the board last month. At the meeting, King said enrollment at Glendale Unified's southern-most school declined from a high of about 580 students in 2001 to 388 expected for the upcoming school year.

In 2013, school officials were unsuccessful when they applied for a grant for Cerritos that would have turned it into a science, technology, engineering and mathematics campus, though school officials said technology is already included in the daily curriculum.

Twitter: @vegapriscella

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