Although Lodi Unified School District has been considering relocating Joe Serna, Jr. Charter School from its current Lodi campus and have it share Houston School’s Acampo campus for some time, Houston’s middle-schoolers may also find themselves relocated next school year.
In addition to a reviewing a report on the status of relocating Serna for the 2019-20 school year, the LUSD Board of Education will also discuss the possibility of moving Houston’s seventh- and eighth-grade students to Lockeford School in Lockeford during their meeting tonight at Julia Morgan Elementary School in Stockton.
When the board voted in May 2018 to move Serna from its current location on Central Avenue — citing concerns about Serna’s campus such as overcrowding, narrow stairwells and a kindergarten class being taught in the basement — the board intended for both schools to share Houston’s campus in Acampo.
Under the proposed changes to the project, sixth-grade students from Victor Elementary School who would have otherwise become Houston seventh-graders would attend middle school at Lockeford as well as current Houston students, according to Leonard Kahn, LUSD’s chief business officer.
“Victor’s current sixth-graders will become next year’s Houston seventh-graders,” Kahn said on Monday.
Houston’s projected seventh-grade class size for the 2019-20 school year is 28, Kahn said, which includes students from both Houston and Victor.
Lockeford currently has “50 or 51 sixth-graders,” Kahn said, and would be able to accommodate the additional students next year.
Houston currently has a total of 158 students in kindergarten through eighth grade — including 56 students in grades seven and eight — according to Kahn’s report, and needs between six and eight classrooms
Serna currently has 360 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and needs 18 classrooms.
Houston’s current campus has 22 or 23 existing classrooms, two office areas, one counseling area, one multipurpose room and one library.
The district would need to relocate six portable classrooms and one portable restroom from Serna’s campus to Houston’s in order to keep the Houston middle schoolers there while adding the Serna students, as well as install a water tank and pump to support a fire system.
Along with additional electrical and mechanical upgrades and design cost, the current relocation project has an estimated cost of $4,293,146.
Under the proposed changes, Victor would remain a kindergarten-through-sixth-grade school and keep its current attendance boundaries, and Houston would be reorganized as a kindergarten-through-sixth-grade school and use four or five classrooms in 2019-20. The Serna program would still use 18 classrooms in 2019-20.
Although Lockeford is 4.7 miles from Victor and seven miles from Houston, Kahn said transportation would not be an issue for the Houston and Victor students as many of them already receive transportation to and from school.
Relocating Houston and Victor students to Lockeford would also eliminate the need to relocate portable classrooms from Serna to Houston, Kahn said, which would save the district over $4 million that could be used for maintenance projects at any of the three schools.
“Lockeford has a science lab, so science instruction would include labs currently available for Lockeford students that Houston students don’t have access to,” Kahn said.
While seventh- and eight-graders at Houston remain in the same classroom for all of their classes, Kahn said Lockeford has students in those grades change classrooms for the majority of their classes.
“It helps acclimate them to what they’ll experience in high school,” Kahn said.
Kahn said that while the district understands how important Houston and VIctor are to their respective communities, the proposed relocation would benefit students at all schools.
“We just think it would be a more invigorating program as well as a cost-saver to consolidate the northeast area east of (Highway) 99 at Lockeford School for middle school,” Kahn said.