June 13, 2003

San Ysidro students getting ready for SDSU

By Pablo de Sainz

San Ysidro School District students now will have a greater chance of being accepted to San Diego State University once they’re ready to go to college.

The District is currently developing curriculum that would enable San Ysidro Middle School seventh graders to be part of the Compact for Success, a partnership between the Sweetwater Union High School District and San Diego State University. Within this plan, Sweetwater students are guaranteed admission to SDSU if they meet several educational requirements starting in the seventh grade. Currently, San Ysidro students are excluded from this partnership.

But not for long, according to Superintendent Jorge Luis Parra. He said that the new, strengthen curriculum for SYMS students will lead to their inclusion to the Compact for Success. He said the District is meeting with SDSU and Sweetwater representatives. If everything goes according to planned, SYMS students would get into the Compact starting next fall, the superintendent said.

This is great news to Tim Allen, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services. “This means that when our students move on to high school, they’ve met all the expectations from all 7th and 8th graders,” Mr. Allen said.

Gonzalo Rojas, a SDSU’s Compact for Success representative, said that at this moment, SYMS students can join the program once they enroll at a Sweetwater high school in ninth grade. But the new initiative would include them starting in the seventh, just like the Sweetwater students.

“An academic culture is established that prepares students for college,” Mr. Rojas said. “Once they go on to San Diego State, the university offers students a full-tuition scholarship for the four years.”

Also, as a way to save money and to provide a better education for students, starting in the Fall the San Ysidro School District’s sixth-graders will attend classes at the district’s elementary schools instead of moving on to middle school.

On May 8, 2003, the San Ysidro School District Governing Board approved a proposal that will move the 6th grade back to the elementary schools. The decision was primarily due to the financial cuts the schools will face next year because of the state budget crisis, according to Superintendent Jorge Luis Parra.

“Moving the 6th grade to the elementary schools will save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars due to savings caused by eliminating the need for some relocatable buildings and non-essential services,” he said.

Also, there will not be the need to bus students to San Ysidro Middle School.

But in addition to the financial savings, there are also educational benefits in this change. First, SYMS, with only 7th and 8th graders, will become a school of approximately 1,000 students. Also, SYMS teachers will be able to focus on developing higher academic standards for those two grades, which would assist in moving into the “Compact for Success,” a partnership with San Diego State University and the Sweetwater School District that guarantees college admissions to participating students.

Elementary schools will also benefit from this change. By remaining one more year at their elementary school, students will feel more familiar with the staff and teachers, as well as the other students.

Overall, this is a positive change, said Superintendent Parra.

“The move of the 6th grade back to the elementary schools will be one of the major tasks that we deal with over the next few months. We will do everything we can to make this move as smooth as possible,” he said.

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