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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | East Valley / MOORPARK

Schools Make Room for Magnet Students

October 07, 1998|TONY LYSTRA

The new Walnut Canyon Magnet School building was slated to open in September, but heavy rains last winter--along with a holdup on what officials say is a much-needed traffic signal at the intersection of Walnut Canyon and Casey roads--have changed the schedule.

The $7.5-million structure in north Moorpark is now expected to be completed in time for the second semester, but the magnet school itself is open--in a vagabond, transitory sort of way.

Officials were determined to get classes going at the beginning of this school year, one way or the other. So students and their teachers are spread out among other Moorpark schools, awaiting the completion of their new campus.

Currently, the 411 students enrolled at Walnut Canyon use classrooms at Peach Hill, Arroyo West, Flory and Mountain Meadows elementary schools, rendering each of those buildings effectively two elementary schools housed under one roof, Principal Terri Williams said. Main offices for the magnet school are at Mountain Meadows.

"I'm kind of running all over the place," Williams said.

The magnet school, which specializes in arts and technology curriculum, offers classes during the day and hosts before- and after-school classes for students whose parents work. Professional artists, dancers and the like teach the after-school classes, which about 200 students attend.

In addition to the arts activities, the school's day program includes the required math, reading and other skills conventional elementary schools offer.

"For the last three years, we've been paying for baby-sitting," said Kevin Phillips, whose sons, Cameron and Tyler, attend Walnut Canyon's day and afternoon programs. "For the same amount of money, they're not just being sat upon. They're being enriched; they're learning things."

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