SAN MATEO -- The San Mateo-Foster City School District infuriated a group of parents Monday when it announced its plans to turn Parkside Elementary School into a science- and math-focused campus and phase out of a popular Montessori program.
The changes will begin next year, district officials said, when Parkside stops accepting children to the Montessori program and begins implementing its new curriculum. In 2014-15, it will officially become the district's first STEM elementary school, focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Parkside currently runs both traditional and Montessori programs. Children in the Montessori magnet program, which emphasizes hands-on learning and individualized instruction, make up roughly one-quarter of the school's 435 students, said Molly Barton, the district's assistant superintendent for student services.
Shawn Fletcher, chairman of a Parkside committee for Montessori parents, spent most of the weekend fielding calls and emails from upset parents after word got out that the program was in jeopardy.
"It's very disappointing that the district wouldn't extend to the parents the courtesy of being part of a discussion on a solution to possibly keeping the Montessori program going," Fletcher said. "We're being told how it's going to be."
Barton said having uniform instruction at Parkside will better enable students and teachers to keep pace with changing academic demands. The STEM
The Montessori program will be phased out over six years, so that each student currently in the program is be able to finish. As a STEM school, Parkside will accept local children as well as some students from elsewhere in the district.
The district scheduled meetings Monday night to explain the changes to Parkside parents.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.