CRPUSD eyes SSU partnership for La Fiesta site
Board announces retirement of MV Principal Wheeler
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By Natalie Gray  February 15, 2013 12:00 am

The Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Board (CRPUSD) of Trustees met Tuesday, Feb. 12, to discuss a possible partnership with Sonoma State University to open an elementary school on the La Fiesta location and the retirement of a local school principal.

Before the board addressed items listed on the agenda, it announced the retirement of Jane Wheeler, retiring principal at Monte Vista Elementary School in RP.

“She (Wheeler) has set the bar very high,” said Ed Gilardi, Trustee member. “She is going to be sorely missed.”

According to Wheeler, she has intentions to continue to take part in the school system and be involved in any way possible. There was no discussion regarding her replacement.

The board then discussed and unanimously approved plans for advancement in a potential agreement with SSU to create a partnership to open an elementary school. According to Superintendent Robert Haley, there is already a sufficient enough amount of potential students to open the school and talks with the university are under way.

“Part of the attraction with SSU is they’re our neighbors,” said Gilardi, “The partnership just feels natural.”

SSU appears as hopeful as CRPUSD at the prospect of the partnership, for it would mean possible jobs and hands-on experience for their students, as suggested in a list of requirements provided by the university.

According to Haley, SSU has compiled some conditions it would like to discuss and are hopeful to see met should a partnership be made and the elementary school opened. SSU wishes to have its students studying education able to participate in the elementary school, to help teach and get professional and personal experience with teaching. The university also requests the school be called, ‘University Elementary School at La Fiesta.’

The board found the prerequisites to be within reason and agreed with them.

“It will really help their teaching program, and we can meet those early teachers,” said Haley. The benefit of meeting the student-teachers is for the prospect of later incorporating them into the local school district upon their graduation.

Haley made it clear to the board that despite the partnership with SSU, the elementary would belong to the CRPUSD and therefore the district would control the curriculum. It was also noted there would be no principal presiding over the elementary school and the curriculum would include “play-based learning,” a balanced system dedicated more to developing a child’s creativity and as an individual thinker.

The Board of Trustees will meet next on March 12, at Mountain Shadows Educational Center. Agendas to the meetings can be found online, as well as a recorded live-streaming of the meetings, at

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