Tag Archives: STEM Academy

Stem Academy Traffic Plan Update

Stem Academy MapThe Press Enterprise recently ran with the headline: Stem Academy Traffic Irks Neighbors. While quite true, University Neighborhood residents are well aware of the long history of impacts to the community from education.

While most of us relish the benefits from high quality educational resources, we are all too familiar with unintended consequences and negative impacts. Fortunately, having lots of practice working collaboratively, a small group of neighbors has been meeting with stakeholders to come up with a plan that brings some resolution and relief. Here’s a brief summary:

At Dr. Kirk Lewis’ request, a small group of local Mt. Vernon/Watkins residents met with the RUSD staff and Riverside Traffic engineers on Monday night, August 10th.  Our City Ward Representative Andy Melendrez was also at the meeting.  The STEM Academy PTSA president was present.

A recap of Monday’s agenda:

New Student Drop Off Pick Up Area Signs STEM Academy

  1. Activities to date: Parking lot done, lights going in, portables 1 is in place and waiting for a second one to arrive 3 weeks after school starts.
  1. Future of RSA, they are still talking about moving the 9-12 kids to another location. UCR is still being discussed. Interestingly though, when we asked again about the 5-8 grades increasing in size to fill in the loss of the HS students and accomplish a 700 student cap that Mr. Hansen had told us to expect, the Board member present knew nothing about a 700 student cap! This may be good news for us as we continue to pressure them to keep the student population down closer to the 350 the school was originally intended to house.
  1. Presentation of a DRAFT traffic mitigation plan: Traffic engineers presented three plans. (feel free to come see them or wait for the next meeting for a finalized map)  The City’s proposal was to have traffic from the West come to the school up Mt. Vernon from Big Springs Rd, Barret Rd., and Broadbend Dr.  The proposal also includes posting no Parking Signs and Directional signs.  There would be No Left Turn sign upon exit of the school from 7:30 am to 8:00 am and 2:30 to 3:00 pmMonday thru Friday, directing the traffic during school opening and dismissal back down Mt. Vernon to these same 3 access points.  There would be no left turns on to Mt. Vernon East bound on Watkins for traffic from 7:30 am to 8:30 am and 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm Monday thru Friday.

City Representative Melendrez suggested we watch the suggestions in action for a month, and then reconvene to discuss the results.

  1. Bussing: Two options were proposed. Cluster bussing from several riverside areas and shuttle bussing from either Goodwin’s or the Newman Center parking lots.

The earliest date of busing would be January, 2016.

  1. Potential staggered beginning and dismissal times

They took our input and suggestions back and will finalize a traffic plan soon. I believe Mr. Lewis wants to meet on a larger scale at the next neighborhood community meeting. That date is September 10th at the church.

William Woodring, Kevin Tippets, Suzette & Herb Chavers, Gurumantra Khalsa, and myself have actual printed documents and maps from this meeting.  William, Kevin, and myself would be happy to share with anyone who wishes to see them. Just let us know.

Notes Sent on Behalf of Mary Simons

High Schooler Grows Food And Future Business

Agricultural Entrepreneur of the FutureVictor Contreras, an 11th grader at Citrus Hill High School is the face of the future generation of entrepreneurs. Students are developing solutions and solving two of the biggest challenges they’re facing: attaining and maintaining health and obtaining jobs.

It’s not yet obvious to everyone, but surprising opportunities exist for optimal health and job creation that start with food. Solving most of our lifestyle related diseases and the shrinkage of the job market can be traced to our food. Watch for more Victors kickstarting industries that are literally rooted in growing food for local markets.

Hyatt On Track For STEM Academy

By Dyana Strahely of the Press Enterprise

Hyatt Elementary School, with the lowest enrollment among Riverside’s regular schools, has been proposed as the new home for Riverside Unified School District’s STEM Academy.

The school board nodded in agreement with a staff proposal presented Tuesday. The next step is to meet with Hyatt staff and send letters to parents today. The actual board decision won’t be made until March 5, and a parent meeting is to be called for Feb. 29, according to the proposal. Hyatt Elementary students would go to surrounding elementary schools, which all have extra room, staff said.

Hyatt was proposed initially as the site of the STEM Academy last year, but the school board balked at the site and even hinted the district might have to close the campus because of safety concerns about an adjacent railroad track. The academy opened in August with about 180 fifth- through seventh-graders in a wing of Central Middle School. Eighth-grade is to be added next year, and staff said the STEM Academy would expand to high school in the future.

The longtime, little-used freight track above Hyatt’s playground is to be upgraded to run Metrolink commuter trains on the Perris Valley Line. A year ago, board members were concerned about a possible derailment with more trains using the track. The district and Riverside County Transportation Commission resolved the concerns with an agreement for a safety wall that would stop freight from tumbling onto the school playground in the event of a derailment.

Hyatt’s advantage as the site of the academy focused on science, technology, engineer and math, or STEM, is its proximity to UCR, where professors in those fields are excited about working with Riverside students, said Bill Ermert, assistant superintendent for instructional services at the middle and high school levels. Hyatt is also close to nature preserves on Box Springs Mountain.

Enrollment at Hyatt has fallen from 411 in 1995 to 278 now. Small schools create more of a need for classes that combine two grade levels with one teacher, which accounts for three of the 10 classrooms there now, said Judi Paredes, assistant superintendent for instructional services at elementary levels. Combination classes require teachers to design lessons with grade-level requirements for each grade.

Hyatt has shared a principal with another small school the past two years, Castleview Elementary now and Bryant Elementary the year before.

Deputy Superintendent Mike Fine said closing Hyatt would save $395,712, including $105,000 additional cost for more busing. The cost to convert it would be $901,151 the first year and $683,042 the second year and each year beyond. Those costs include a full-time principal, secretary and custodians, as well as other costs. Teachers would generally transfer with the students.