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April 01, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, April 01, 2005

High-tech plans in store for Alta Vista campus High-tech plans in store for Alta Vista campus (April 01, 2005)

Superintendent wants to create multimedia academy

By Julie O'Shea

High school district Superintendent Rich Fischer hopes to turn the Alta Vista campus into a multimedia learning academy by December 2006, giving students a chance to experiment with Web design, animation, sound engineering and video production.

The present campus is scheduled to be vacated in December when Alta Vista High School moves into a new $5 million facility on Bryant Avenue.

Fischer intends to take his business plan for "Freestyle High" to the school board next month. He said he would like to remodel the old campus to include graphic, film and sound studios as well as an independent learning center that would enable students to take online courses.

The curriculum would be geared toward juniors and seniors who have started to envision life beyond high school and whose future careers would benefit from Freestyle's projects-based coursework, Fischer said.

"I want to be entrepreneurial about it," he said. "We've seen components of this in different places, so we know it works."

School districts in Fresno have multi-media centers that have been big hits with the student body. Fischer said he'd like to repeat that success in Mountain View.

The vision of Freestyle High came shortly after Fisher began brainstorming ideas for how to fill the soon-to-be vacant Alta Vista campus.

If Fischer's idea gets the green light from the school board, he said he'd like to have the new campus open by December 2006. He estimated it would cost between $300,000 and $400,000 to renovate the buildings and an additional $500,000 to run the campus. The money for the renovation would come from a restricted building fund.

Planning for Freestyle High is still in the preliminary stages. Fischer is anticipating the campus will be staffed by five teachers but hasn't worked out the finer details, such as whether students will be enrolled at the school for a full day or just come over for a few hours at a time, signing up for classes as elective courses.

The superintendent is in the process of setting up various focus groups of students and teachers to gauge the interest of such a campus. Fischer said he is also hoping to attract educational and high-tech partnerships to help, mentioning that he has already spoken with representatives of Microsoft, Shoreline Amphitheatre and Foothill College.

"I think here in Mountain View, this type of innovative idea will be embraced by the business community," said Chamber of Commerce president Carol Olson. "Getting kids involved and on a future career path is really important."

Fischer said several companies have already hinted at how they might like to contribute to such a learning academy. There is talk of Foothill loaning one of its teachers to the school, and Shoreline has expressed a desire to set up internships with students enrolled in the multi-media program, Fischer said.
E-mail Julie O'Shea at [email protected]

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