Program Structure Forum

Please mark your calendars and attend our Monday, May 23 Program Structure Forum at 6:30 pm in the school MPR. This important event addresses the results of the parent-led survey and is designed to hear YOUR input as we consider the structure of our elementary programs for next year. The forum will have a professional facilitator and our school board will be present.

One goal for the forum is to create an environment where we can all comfortably share opinions, then participate in and listen to difficult discussion. We are facing a challenging time at Lagunitas. The survey and informal conversation with parents this past year show that there are significant concerns about about our current structure, including the limited social opportunities some students have in smaller classes separated by our two programs. We are facing a decline in our enrollment numbers that is projected to continue according to reports on the local population. Our future program structure has financial impact for us to consider too.

I come to this discussion with such love for the program choices at Lagunitas. It is what drew me to apply for the principal job eleven years ago and subsequently move to Marin. At the time, we had three robust elementary programs for parents to consider with an overall student population over 300 including middle school. The numbers fluctuate for a number of reasons that we acknowledge, and the student population in the Valley has declined considerably. For the next couple years we anticipate a very small group of incoming kindergarten students.

We currently have 7 incoming Montessori kindergarten students and 1 incoming Open Classroom kindergarten student registered for next year for a total of 8 incoming kindergarten students. Some of the possibilities we can consider include:
• Keeping with our current structure of two programs each with a K/1st, a 2nd/3rd, and a 4th/5th (and 6th for Open);
• Combining students in one program with one K/1st, two 2nd/3rd, and two 4th/5th;
• Combining students in one program with a K/1st, a 1st/2nd, 2nd/3rd, 3rd/4th, and 5th
• (Placeholder for other possibilities.)

The class sizes of these grade configurations, with opportunities to think of other structures, will be an important part of the forum. Formatting these two program structures, as well as what one program can look like if we combine, is another goal of the forum.

Whatever decisions are made after this forum, I anticipate we will all have to be prepared for compromise. I’ve been racking my brain in considering how we can have it all – keep all that is working well, build in new possibilities, and also make changes to alleviate areas that are not working as well. The forum will help us identify the overall priorities to help us move forward. Decisions we make for the short-term do not have to be forever.

Whatever we ultimately decide for next year, it’s important to me that we keep as many of the unique and special elements of the programs we can that have flourished at Lagunitas. I also see that our current challenges create an opportunity that can be very positive for our students and school. I look forward to hearing more about what you value most.