The decision to expand several San Fernando Valley high schools to accept freshmen will have a ripple effect on those campuses and associated junior high and elementary schools, necessitating changes in areas from curriculum to personnel, school district officials said Tuesday.
Following the changes approved Monday by the Los Angeles Unified School District board, Granada Hills, John F. Kennedy and James Monroe high schools will add hundreds of ninth-graders to their rolls this fall, with Chatsworth High School scheduled to reconfigure a year later.
The incorporation of an additional grade level will require high schools to revamp their curricula by instituting new courses designed expressly for freshmen and by hiring new instructors--most likely from the junior highs--to staff those classes, said Dan Isaacs, the district's superintendent of senior high schools.
"Basically, what you're going to do is develop a master program for grades nine through 12 instead of 10 through 12," he said. "It's not a lengthy process, but it does take time, and it will take additional assignment of teachers."
New textbooks must be purchased and the influx of hundreds of new students will probably create the need for extra counselors and custodial services.
However, Isaacs said, the expanded program will allow students to embark on a college-prep curriculum in the ninth grade, which most universities still regard as the beginning of high school.
Also, elective subjects such as industrial arts and activities such as band--offerings in danger of being curtailed at some Valley schools because of tightening budgets and dwindling high school enrollment--may well be shored up by a new infusion of students.
"This helps a senior high school keep its elective program," said Anne Falotico, principal at Granada Hills High. "The senior high schools, Granada in particular, anxiously await . . . the ninth grade."
But with four months left in the academic year, the junior high schools that funnel youngsters to those campuses have perhaps more dramatic changes to implement.
The reconfiguration drive embraces a new approach to educating students now enrolled in traditional junior high schools, which cover the seventh through ninth grades. In their place will be middle schools, encompassing sixth- through eighth-graders, who studies show are more alike mentally, emotionally and socially.
As with present ninth-grade teachers taking high school positions, sixth-grade teachers will most likely be given the option of moving to middle-school campuses after reconfiguration, district officials said.
Following a model already set up in other parts of the nation, the middle schools will attempt to bridge the gap between elementary school, where students attend one teacher's class exclusively, and high school, where students switch from class to class throughout the day.
Middle school teachers work closely in teams to create a sense of belonging in the students, according to Arlinda Eaton, chairwoman of the elementary education department at Cal State Northridge's School of Education.
"The concept is really quite different," said Eaton, a professor developing standards for a specialized credential for middle school teachers. "We're no longer talking about an algebra teacher teaching algebra only and thinking only about algebra. It's much different in thinking about how you'll work with other teachers, work in collaborative ways, how you integrate curriculum.
"And there's this notion of a teacher taking on an adviser role"--similar to the job of counselors at the high school level, she said.
Some of the junior high schools slated for reconfiguration have already begun to phase in the middle school philosophy.
Linda Lane, principal of Patrick Henry Junior High in Granada Hills, said faculty members have been attempting to adapt to new teaching modes.
"We've done a lot of cooperative learning and staff development," said Lane, two-thirds of whose student body this fall--the incoming sixth- and seventh-graders--will be new to the school. "The teachers have been very active in trying to get more hands-on activities. . . . They want to do what they're supposed to do."
San Fernando Valley high schools and their feeder schools scheduled for reconfiguration:
John F. Kennedy High School
Robert Frost Junior High School
Castlebay Lane School
El Oro Way School
Tulsa Street School
Van Gogh Street School
Granada Hills High School
Patrick Henry Junior High School
Andasol Avenue School
Mayall Street School *
Tulsa Street School *
James Monroe High School
Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School
Dearborn Street School
Gledhill Street School
Liggett Street School
* Scheduled for fall, 1993
Chatsworth High School
Ernest Lawrence Junior High School
Alfred Bernhard Nobel Junior High School
Beckford Avenue School
Calahan Street School
Chatsworth Park School
Darby Avenue School
Germain Street School
Limerick Avenue School
Nevada Avenue School
Superior Street School
Topeka Drive School