The conjoined campus is home to one of Mountain View's most diverse school communities, with administrators at both schools fielding questions in English and Spanish throughout the morning. And while signs of construction can still be seen all over the place, Castro Principal Terri Lambert said the new classrooms were completed and mostly aired out in time for the first day of school.
Castro's design diverges from the classic single-story classroom wings typical of other local campuses, and is Mountain View Whisman School District's first significant foray into denser, multi-story facilities. Children from kindergarten through second grade are all on the first floor, while older students travel along second-story outdoor pathways to classrooms above.
Lambert said the district has ground rules in place for student safety — younger children need an adult escort to the second story and all students are asked to walk single file heading up and down stairs — a rule the Voice reporter broke.
The major $44 million in improvements to the campus also include what are called "flex space classrooms," which have yet to be built, and the new kindergarten wing at Mistral Elementary won't be done until November, Lambert said. The library itself is done, but is filled with boxes of books and bare shelves. It will likely take at least four weeks before the library is fully prepared for students.
Lining the edge of one of the new classroom wings is the campus' school resource fair, which intends to link new and returning families — particularly those in a lower-income bracket — to outside educational services and nonprofit support including Second Harvest Food Bank, Community Services Agency and Community Health Awareness Council.
Other major construction hurdles reached over the summer included the completion of the new Stevenson Elementary School campus — though construction will continue at the site for the adjacent district office and preschool facilities through June 2019. The track and field at Crittenden Middle School, along with an extension of the Permanente Creek Trail to Middlefield Road, was also completed this year, with a formal conveyance of the property back to the city of Mountain View scheduled for this week.
Still on the horizon is the new Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School currently under construction at 220 N. Whisman Road, which will serve residents in the Whisman region of the city east of Highway 85 and north of Central Expressway. The school is tentatively scheduled to be completed in June 2019 alongside major changes to school attendance boundaries.
Changes at the middle schools
For students attending Graham and Crittenden middle schools, the start of the school year this week also marked the launch of multiple new initiatives amid a major churn in the leadership staff.
Both schools now have a new principal at the helm — Sonia Gomez at Crittenden and Michael Hermosillo at Graham — along with three new assistant principals, after district administrators decided to remove four principals from their posts earlier this year.
Middle school students this year will also get to say goodbye to the old six-period schedule in favor of a new eight-period format. The schedule format was approved earlier this year as a way of granting more time for elective classes, particularly for special education and English-learner students taking a remedial support period.
This year also marks the launch of a new co-teaching model at the middle schools, in which students with special needs in general education classrooms will receive support from an additional teacher in the classroom. Along with the added benefit of having two teachers in one class for differentiated instruction, students with special needs will no longer need to be pulled from class for extra support.
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