SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Forums on Future Curriculum Planned

The Capistrano Unified School District will conduct a series of town hall forums this month for public comment on the development of "Capistrano 2000," a plan for the district's future.

Capistrano 2000, approved in concept by district trustees last year, is designed to develop and implement an educational plan for the district's transition from the industrial age to the high-tech information and service world, said Barbara Smith, the district's director of curriculum and instruction.

"This is long-range planning," Smith said. "It's the means by which an organization periodically re-creates itself for the purpose of meeting the needs of its clients. In our case, the clients are students."

The plan will provide what district officials say is a "blueprint" for the school community to follow in preparing students for higher education and the workplace.

"We are almost at the dawn of a new century and are seeing enormous changes in the world," Smith said. "Technology is changing our daily lives as well as our work lives, and it calls on us to examine what we teach and how we teach it.

"We're really looking at the curriculum for the new millennium and how we can deliver it. There are a lot of questions out there. It's clear that we need to link our schools to the workplace and continue to link them to the universities."

The "blueprint" for Capistrano 2000 will be developed throughout the year by a committee of 51 people to include Supt. James Fleming, some of the district's trustees, teachers, students, staff employees and members of the business community.

"These are the people who are the major stake-holders in the school district," Smith said. "They have a real stake in the education of our children and in their future."

Following the forums, the committee will begin its work at a weekend retreat at Lake San Marcos, beginning Jan. 24.

"They will come up with commonly held beliefs and values for the district, set goals and write a mission statement that will define the unique purpose of this district and the special function we need to perform," Smith said.

The forums will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Capistrano Valley High School; Thursday at 7 p.m. at Dana Hills High School, and Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at San Clemente High School.

"This is a way to get to survey people's opinions in a personal way rather than just sending out a paper survey," Smith said. "You need to open the door to the entire community and invite them in and find out what their perceptions are for the needs of their children."

The Capistrano Unified School District has more than 28,500 students in 28 schools, with three more schools under construction.

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