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  • Measure U Update: Rincon/Foothill High School

    In terms of the changes that Measure U projects will bring to Rincon/Foothill high schools, the story is less about structural elements and high-tech classrooms (although both are coming), and more about the unique nature of the programs  when the Rincon/Foothill schools moves onto the campus of Carpinteria High circa 2020.

    “The students with the biggest needs, need the most,” Rincon/Foothill Principal Barnaby Gloger said in explaining the nature of the programs he leads. While that statement may seem obvious at first glance, the principal was expressing the focus he brings to the students he serves. “The more opportunities there are for Rincon/Foothill students,” Gloger continued, “the better it is for all of us.”

    Although it may be easy to generalize about the reasons a student might be enrolled at Rincon or Foothill, “Most students, 90-percent” Gloger pointed out, “have chosen to come” to the school. The main function of Rincon/Foothill is credit recovery, as once a student fails more than two courses at the high school level, he or she cannot graduate with their class. “Many students come (to Rincon/Foothill) for a year then return to Carpinteria High School” Gloger said.

    One scenario Principal Gloger offered was of a student who may be involved in “Career Technical Education” in either Culinary Arts or the Agriculture program at the high school, but struggles with mathematics or language arts classes. Once that student comes to Rincon/Foothill—currently located on their own campus next to the high school but separated by a fence and berm—he or she cannot continue to participate in CTE classes at Carpinteria High School. Gloger hopes that once the respective schools are located on the same campus, more resources will be available to his students.

    “The more we share resources (once Rincon and Foothill relocate to Carpinteria High),” Gloger said, “it might change public perception” of his schools’ mission. “For the kids who don’t do well at CHS, they can kind of retreat to Rincon in a safe, individualized environment” he noted. Rincon High School students go to school until 1 p.m. each day, and most of them work, Gloger said. Foothill students study independently and meet on campus on Wednesday of each week, and Gloger said that most of those students also work full time to help support their families, and/or may be teen parents.

    With approximately 30 students enrolled at Rincon High School and 20 at Foothill, Gloger said that some students struggle with anxiety or other personal challenges that make attending a big high school impossible. The programs at Rincon/Foothill “allow them to access their education,” Gloger said. Carpinteria Unified School District provides social and emotion support to students through counselors and therapists available at each campus.

    The biggest challenge facing Rincon/Foothill schools in their eventual move to the existing administration building on the Carpinteria High School campus will be keeping its small-school feel while attempting to integrate, where feasible, with the larger, more “main-stream” institution. One immediate upside of the move will be the shared resources of a one-campus location, namely in custodial and maintenance services as Rincon/Foothill currently get only one-hour of custodial work per day.

    Rincon/Foothill have three portable classrooms and three teachers to serve all of their students. While the population of Rincon/Foothill ebbs and flows, the number of students at Rincon tends to increase at the back half of each school year. Interestingly, the new Common-Core Standards for students in California focus on project-based learning, which is an approach that has been part of the program at Rincon/Foothill all along.

    The new space on the CHS campus will be designed concurrently with the new admin building to be constructed from the ground up on the east side of CHS. Moving into the existing admin building at CHS, Rincon and Foothill will have their own mini-campus within the larger campus. The entrance to Rincon/Foothill will be on the building’s south side, facing Foothill Road, with a small grass area and the native plant restoration area to distinguish it from the rest of Carpinteria High. All of the 21st-century upgrades that are coming to the other CUSD campuses will come to the one-building campus of Rincon/Foothill high schools in order to serve the students who, as Gloger noted, need the most services to succeed.