Glendale Unified hopes to continue magnet success

Glendale Unified plans to request an extension of the three-year federal grant that officials say has bolstered the success of its three magnet elementary schools over the past three years.

In late 2010, Glendale schools won a grant worth more than $7.4 million to convert Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Keppel elementary schools into magnet campuses, each with different emphases.

Officials plan to request an extension to use any money left over at the end of this year to continue to support the magnet schools.

“We don't have any reason to suspect it's not going to be available,” said Kelly King, the district's director of early education and extended learning programs.

And by all accounts, there's plenty of demand.

Eleven days into the magnet school application period, school officials announced this week they have received more than 480 applications seeking entrance into the three schools or one of the district's dual-language programs at four non-magnet schools.

Over the past three years, the grant established Franklin Elementary as “a 100% dual [language] immersion program,” King said.

When French was added to the mix this past fall with grant funds, it rounded out Franklin's other offerings of dual-language programs in Italian, German and Spanish.

As the application period for magnet schools finishes on Jan. 25, King said the magnet schools and dual-language programs could easily attract more than 1,000 applicants.

But officials aren't yet sure how many spaces could be available.

The spaces depend on negotiations that will determine if average class sizes remain at 24 students per teacher or increase to 30 students per class.

At Mark Keppel — a visual and performing arts magnet — King said the grant has infiltrated the arts at every grade level.

“Keppel takes it to a higher level of performance value. The kids who are exposed to that, those are gifts they'll take long into the future,” she said. “Maybe they're the ones supporting the arts in the future.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Edison — a technology magnet — has used the grant money to utilize smart boards and loan laptops to each sixth-grader on campus.

“Those kids really are going to leave that school being the leader,” King said. “They'll go to the middle school and explain to the teachers how to use the white board in new and interesting ways.”

Once the district knows when it could receive the grant extension, officials will then draft a new set of goals for its elementary magnet schools in 2013-14.


Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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