The Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education has unanimously approved a plan to replicate the California Academy of Mathematics and Science, the nationally honored high school that is run by LBUSD on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus. The plan calls for Hill Classical Middle School in East Long Beach to be phased out over the next three years, allowing a CAMS-like school to be phased in at the site.
In light of the approval, LBUSD will gradually phase out the middle school, which offers grades six through eight. A small high school modeled after CAMS will instead be phased in one grade at a time, eventually serving about 675 students in grades 9 to 12.
The existing CAMS program at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson will remain intact. The popular program regularly receives applications from twice as many qualified students as the school can accept, so replicating CAMS at Hill helps to meet strong demand among students and parents. Hill is located at 1100 Iroquois Ave., in between Studebaker Road and Cal State Long Beach. The location will allow for close partnerships between the high school and the university.
Hill will no longer accept sixth graders in fall of 2014. In the following year, or 2015-16, Hill will no longer accept sixth or seventh graders, and the school will simultaneously phase in a group of ninth graders. By 2016-17, there will be no more middle grades (6-8) at the school.
The phase-out of Hill is due to declining enrollment at the school 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. 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.
Facility improvements at Hill will include an already-planned demolition of the existing gym, which will be replaced with a physical education facility and locker rooms. The school district also plans to add parking spaces to the site, though the student population of 675 will be far smaller than Hill’s peak population of 1,200 about six years ago.
Students who remain at Hill during the phase-out period will 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 will expand to include the Hill neighborhood, and the school choice process still allows 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 will draw students from throughout the school district. The new school also will 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.