10:13 PM PDT on Sunday, May 2, 2010

By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
The Press-Enterprise

At least five principals will be replaced and six schools will be converted to charter status in the wake of a state report ranking 11 San Bernardino schools among the state’s lowest-performing 5 percent.

Two of the principals — Karen Craig of Arroyo Valley High School and Sandy Robbins of San Gorgonio High — already planned to retire, San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Arturo Delgado said by phone.

The other three principals, at Barton and Marshall elementary schools and Serrano Middle School, may be moved to another school or demoted, he said.

Principals must be removed from low-performing schools using a transformation model, one of four alternatives laid out by the state Department of Education when it released its list of low-performing schools in March.

Teacher evaluations under that model will be tied to student performance and teaching time may be increased.

Delgado said there is nothing in the state mandate that would prevent the San Bernardino district from shifting the principals between low-performing schools, but vowed that his district would not do that.

“We don’t want to appear like we are playing games with the intent of what this law is about,” he said.

The San Bernardino district opted not to use either of the two most severe models: one would close low-performing schools and the other would replace at least half of the instructional and counseling staff.

No teachers will be fired as a result of schools making the state list, Delgado said, but the school board must still decide how many, if any, will be laid off before the next school year as a result of budget problems.

Some 218 teachers were given notice earlier this school year that they are subject to layoffs, but the number of teachers actually laid off will depend on state budget numbers still to be determined, Delgado said.

Six of the San Bernardino schools on the state’s low-performing list, including Pacific High School, will be converted to charter schools.

One or more of the principals at those schools may remain there, Delgado said.

All of the schools are expected to continue operating as part of the district, he said, although they will be governed by a board of directors separate from the district school board.

“There is some flexibility there about how their programs would be run, which textbooks they use, the personnel and the length of the school year,” Delgado said.

The school district has the option of turning charter schools into specialty campuses, such as performing arts-focused schools.

Pacific High could expand existing programs and become a technology trade-concentrated school, he said.

Proposals are being drafted for the charter schools, with the school board expected to formally approve submitting charter applications to the state at its May 25 meeting.

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