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Parents help plan new eCademy Charter School
TUSD seeks input for high-tech campus
ecademy pic
Susan Castro and her daughter, Alexis Castro, take a look at an ATT&T NetBook computer at the eCademy Charter School public forum held Tuesday night at Turlock High. The laptop computers will be issued to every student at the new eCademy. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Parents and community members gathered at the Turlock High Performing Arts building Tuesday night to hear more about the new high-tech eCademy Charter School and to add their suggestions on how the school will work.

“This is a draft of our vision,” said Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto at the beginning of Tuesday’s information meeting.

Da Marto and TUSD administrators went on to explain the framework of the new charter school that is scheduled to open in August and talk about the “cutting-edge, 21st century learning center” they hope it will be.

The school is designed to use technology in all programs, with every student receiving a NetBook laptop computer to do their homework, download curriculum and communicate with teachers. The computers will be supplied to the students by the school district, along with Internet access in their homes, which the district will also pay for in lieu of traditional textbooks. 

The school — located on the Crane School site — will include programs for kindergarten through sixth grade home schooled  students, grade seven through 12 independent study students, and grade nine through 12 online distance learning and credit recovery.

The majority of attendees at Tuesday’s meeting were parents looking for an alternative learning environment for their children that included both traditional and home-school aspects.

“I want the best of both worlds,” said parent Holly Roberson.

While the framework and emphasis on technology have already been nailed down as characteristics of the eCademy, the mix of classroom and home-school aspects, as well as specific activities and courses to be offered are still up in the air.

The district plans to take the comments offered at both the public forums — another meeting is scheduled for Thursday —and those submitted online from the district’s website, and present the results to the TUSD Board of Trustees at their Feb. 15 meeting for discussion.

The final eCademy charter petition will be presented to the TUSD Board of Trustees for approval at their March 15 meeting. The petition will then be submitted to the state for approval.

“It’s very unique,” said Lacrisha Ferriera, TUSD assistant superintendent for educational services, of the eCademy.

The next public forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Turlock High Performing Arts building, 1574 E. Canal Dr., Turlock. Information and a place to submit comments online can be found at the district’s website,

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.