SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Panels Urge Changes at 3 District Schools


A group of committees convened by the Capistrano Unified School District has recommended several changes at three district schools, including shifts in attendance boundaries and adoption of a year-round schedule at one school.

The six attendance-boundary committees of administrators, principals and parents recommended to the district’s Board of Trustees that Niguel Hills Junior High School in Laguna Niguel be converted to the district’s first middle school this fall. Junior high schools house seventh- and eighth-graders, while middle schools enroll sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

The committees also recommended adopting a year-round schedule at San Juan Elementary School, starting in September, 1992, and asked that the attendance boundary between that school and Harold Ambuehl Elementary School be redrawn this fall, with up to 24 San Juan students transferring to Ambuehl.


The committees, which began their studies in December, made their recommendations to the board last week. Four committees studied elementary school attendance boundaries, while the two remaining ones studied junior high school and high school boundaries.

“We feel the committees are important because they give us community input on an issue that will affect their neighborhoods,” said William D. Eller, the district’s assistant superintendent for instructional operations. “The parents are a very good sounding board.”

The trustees said they will hold public hearings on the committee recommendations at meetings next Monday and on April 16 before making their decision on May 6. A proposal to redraw the attendance boundaries of the district’s three high schools is also expected to be revealed Monday.

The board has the option of adopting the committees’ report, amending it or rejecting it.

Eller said the district would consider converting Niguel Hills Junior High to a middle school since Laguna Niguel’s four elementary schools--Crown Valley, Marian Bergeson, Moulton and George L. White--are becoming overcrowded, but there is room at Niguel Hills.

“By removing the sixth-graders from the elementary schools, we fix that problem,” he said.

The committees’ plan to convert San Juan Elementary to a year-round school would, if adopted, place the school on a four-track calendar that would allow it to house 33% more students. Built for 1,000 students, San Juan is projected to have an enrollment of 1,200 by 1992.

The student body would be broken up into four equal-size groups, with three of the groups in session while the fourth

is on vacation. Each group would be in school for three, three-month sessions annually, interspersed with three, one-month vacations.

The plan to redraw the boundary between Ambuehl and San Juan elementaries involves the Rancho San Juan neighborhood along San Juan Creek Road, where, according to the district, 24 children of elementary-school age now live. About another 25 students are expected to move into the developing neighborhood in the next year.

The neighborhood, a block away from Ambuehl, is now in the San Juan attendance district, a mile away.

“It is ridiculous that our children are bused past an elementary school that they could easily walk to or ride their bikes to,” said Linda Tysdal, a parent in the neighborhood. “My child spends six hours a week on a bus.”