The California Academy of Mathematics and Science, home of the highest SAT scores in the state and winner of numerous national honors, may be replicated in East Long Beach as part of a proposal to phase out Hill Classical Middle School over the next three years.
Long Beach Unified School District staff will recommend the plan to the Board of Education during the board’s next regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 at the LBUSD Administration Building, 1515 Hughes Way, Long Beach. At this meeting, staff will provide the school board an overview of the proposal, and the school district will accept public input.
Pending the school board’s approval, LBUSD would gradually phase out Hill, which is a traditional middle school offering grades six through eight. A small high school modeled after CAMS would instead be phased in one grade at a time, eventually offering grades nine to 12.
CAMS currently exists on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, and that program would remain intact. The popular program regularly receives applications from twice as many qualified applicants as the school can accept, so replicating CAMS at Hill would help to meet strong demand among students and parents. Hill is located at 1100 Iroquois Ave., in between Studebaker Road and California State Long Beach. The location would allow for close partnerships between the high school and the university.
Pending approval, Hill would no longer accept sixth graders in fall of 2014. In the following year, or 2015-16, Hill would no longer accept sixth or seventh graders, and the school would simultaneously phase in a group of ninth graders. By 2016-17, there would be no more middle grades (6-8) at the school.
The proposal to phase out Hill is due to declining enrollment at Hill and districtwide, and because the school district is implementing a larger Facility Master Plan that calls for the creation of several smaller high schools. Of Hill’s approximately 800 students, only about 45 live in the Hill neighborhood, and the school population has decreased by more than 400 students over the past six years. Like CAMS in Carson, the new high school would accommodate between 600 and 800 students.
The Facility Master Plan, developed with significant input from parents and others in the community, is helping to guide the expenditure of Measure K school bonds that were approved by local voters in 2008.
Students who remain at Hill during the phase-out period would continue to be provided with their core subject area classes and electives, minimizing the impact of the phase-out period. The Rogers Middle School attendance boundaries would expand to include the Kettering/Hill neighborhood, and the school choice process would still allow for attendance at other middle and K-8 schools in the district.
Like other LBUSD high schools such as McBride, CAMS and Renaissance, which have no attendance boundaries, the new high school would draw students from throughout the school district. The new school also would require students to fill out a supplemental application.
Students at CAMS have the top SAT scores in the state, according to a ranking of America’s Best High Schools released in May by Newsweek. CAMS also boasts the fourth highest SAT scores in the nation, according to the ranking. CAMS students on average scored 2,168 on the SAT, out of a possible score of 2,400.
CAMS has repeatedly earned both the California Distinguished School Award and the National Blue Ribbon Award. U.S. News and World Report, The Washington Post and Newsweek all named CAMS among America’s top high schools this year. The Class of 2013 at CAMS earned $13.5 million in scholarships.