ALAMEDA -- The Board of Education has cleared the way to add seventh- and eighth-grades at Bay Farm Elementary School, a move that follows trustees approving a sixth grade on the campus last year.

The decision Tuesday means that portables will be installed to accommodate the additional students at the school on Aughinbaugh Way, where enrollment now stands about 484 and could eventually total about 640.

Supporters of adding the higher grades say the anticipated increase in students is still far fewer than what would be found at a traditional middle school, where the population could be up to 960 students.

Other benefits of creating a K-8 school include the stability of having students on the same campus for up to nine years, and teachers and administrators knowing an academic history of a student, which can allow for more focused instruction.

Barbara Kahn, who was elected trustee last month, cast the lone no vote.

The decision to add grades at Bay Farm was initially made by the board in February, although the approval hinged on certain conditions that were reviewed in the run up to Tuesday's vote. The board's decision was also part of package of changes aimed at middle school students and their parents, including creating magnet programs at Encinal High School and at the Maya Lin School.

Seventh grade at Bay Farm will begin next year. Eighth grade will begin in 2014.

Adding the new grades falls under the school's "21st Century Learning" plan, which features integrating technology in the classroom, as well as an online curriculum and wireless access on the campus.

In other business Tuesday, Kahn was sworn in as a trustee, Niel Tam was elected board president and Trish Spencer was elected vice president, while Mike McMahon was selected as the board clerk.

The board also approved a meeting schedule for the coming year and heard reports on the Measure C facilities bond and the Measure A parcel tax.

Trustees also held a public hearing on the district's first interim budget for the 2012-13 school year.

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.

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