Wednesday Jun 08 2011
Placer Hills district keeping programs
By: Kathy Ito, Colfax Record Correspondent
Most of the news about schools these days is dismal, focused on cuts, cuts and more cuts. However, the Placer Hills Union School District is an exception. Placer Hills is a small district of approximately 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, with schools in Meadow Vista and Weimar. Even though the district’s 2011-12 budget is reduced to $8 million from $8.5 million and enrollment is projected to drop by four percent, all school programs will be preserved for the upcoming school year. “I am pleased to report the district will provide students with the same comprehensive programs for the upcoming 2011-12 school year as they received for 2010-11,” said Fred Adam, district superintendent and principal at Sierra Hills School in Meadow Vista. The good news is the school programs are preserved. Unfortunately, three teaching positions were pink-slipped due to declining enrollment in the middle school grades, Adam said. District trustee Tracy Critchfield credited Adam with crafting the budget. “Thanks to the amazing work at the district office, PHUSD can continue to provide remarkable educational programs for children in our community,” Critchfield said. “Fred is truly a visionary that makes all of this work.” The district offers certificated instruction for language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, library, media and music at all grade levels. Twenty-first century learning methods focused on arts, communication, and technology are integrated into core subject programs at all grade levels, Adam said. “We also offer a comprehensive K-8 visual and performance arts program,” he said. To help overcome year-over-year budget shortfalls, the district moved to a blend of public and charter schools in 2010. “Moving to a blended public/charter school model allowed us to get more dollars per student which saved three certificated teaching positions at Weimar Hills,” said Steve Schaumleffel, fourth-eighth grade principal at the Weimar Hills schools. The district is made up of four schools on two campuses. Charter status allows students who do not reside in the district to attend the schools. Sierra Hills School and Sierra Hills Arts and Science Academy provide K-3 programs, and are located on the Meadow Vista school campus. “The emphasis at the Sierra Hills schools is small-group instruction with a focus on arts, science, and high student achievement,” Adam said. “The school also has a strong art docent program providing in-depth art study at all grades.” Adam is also the Sierra Hills schools principal, and outgoing superintendent for the Colfax Elementary School District. The fourth-and-fifth grade Weimar Hills School and sixth-eighth grade Weimar Hills Charter School are both on a split campus in Weimar. “Weimar Hill’s state-of-the-art campus provides high-speed Internet services and over 300 centrally managed laptops and computers that are used at all grade levels. Smart boards, digital projectors, document cameras, and mobile laptop carts also enhance and expand cost effective 21st century instructional opportunities,” Schaumleffel said. According to Adam, Weimar Hills schools offers clubs and activities such as robotics, sewing, band, guitar, golf, tennis, mountain biking, archery and technology repair. Team sports such as volleyball, basketball, cross country, track and field are also competitive option at Weimar Hills. The district has strong community support as well. Besides active participation by volunteers in the classroom, the Sierra Hills parent teacher club, Weimar Hills academic student body, and the Placer Hills Education Foundation provide significant funding to preserve school programs and offset budget shortfalls, Adam said. For the 2011-12 school year, the Education Foundation is contributing $79,000, the parent teacher club is donating $20,000, and the academic student body is giving $30,000 to preserve school programs. Adam said while it is not clear what the future holds, the district is in “good shape” for next year.