Just a month from the beginning of the school year, a new Boyle Heights public charter school prepares to open its doors to families looking for an alternative. Located inside Plaza Del Sol shopping center near the corner of 8th and Soto Streets, Arts in Action Community Charter School will serve students in grades K-5, integrating arts into its curriculum as a creative educational approach.
The charter school was founded by Schools in Action, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that plans to open more schools across the city, including a middle school in the Boyle Heights area in the next few years. Christiane Townsend, director of Business and Development, says opening the first location in Boyle Heights was key.
“We want to service a demographic where we feel their surrounding schools may be low performing,” said Townsend.
In Boyle Heights, schools have an overall California Academic Performance Index of 608, far below the statewide target of 800. This rating system measures the academic performance of California schools based on annual test scores. In recent years, budget cuts at Los Angeles Unified School District forced the elimination of programs which shrunk alternative choices for students in the area.
“The fact that there weren’t many charter schools in the area and the cutting back of art in educations is what got us started,” said Townsend.
The school’s core academic instruction relies on an arts-enriched curriculum and promotes community action. Students at Arts in Action Community Charter School will be given music classes and will have a chance to participate in an after-school program offering dance, arts and crafts, and music lessons.
Although the school’s original plan was to offer K-2 grades first, an overwhelming response from the community pushed 3rd and 4th grades to open initially too. For its first school year, a team of 17 teachers will fill the 10 classrooms available. Next year the school will offer 5th grade, eventually extending instruction through the 8th grade.
This week, teachers””some of them Boyle Heights residents””attended a training at the school’s unconventional site, where a partially-covered parking lot will serve as a playground. Inside the strip mall that is the school’s first home, an immigration processing office, a community adult school and a bus terminal surround the school; Outside, is a busy business district where trucks and trailers follow their route into a nearby industrial zone.
“The location is not ideal but it is centrally located. We are working with the city and taking precautions to ensure the safety of our students,” explained Townsend.
Currently, there are 210 students enrolled, and applications for enrollment are still being accepted to fill about 20 open spots in various grades. Instruction is set to begin Sep. 6.
For more information call (323) 266-4371 or (213) 447-3909