LOS LUNAS — Students at the county’s only charter school, School of Dreams Academy in Los Lunas, will begin earlier than the public schools.

Students will start their school year on Thursday, Aug. 1, with kindergarten beginning on Monday, Aug. 5, and Pre-K starting on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

All school grade levels

The 2019-20 school year will be the first year School of Dreams Academy will have all grades from Pre-K to 12th grade.

For the past three years, the charter school has been working towards having all grade levels on the campus, and has been awarded the final grades it needed to complete that, fifth and sixth grade along with a new Pre-K program.

Additionally, charter schools have to get reauthorized every five years, and SODA has been reauthorized for an additional five years.

Extended learning days

SODA’s 10 extended learning days will be implemented throughout the school year, usually one day per month.

Something that is being considered is using those additional days for activities such as science fairs or art symposiums.

“We’ll be working with staff to do something different, above and beyond just an additional school day,” said SODA Superintendant Ogas.

Secondary students will be starting school at an hour earlier than last year and getting out an hour earlier.

Elementary students will start an hour later than they did last school year and end at about 3:15 p.m., though the exact times are still being finalized.

Chromebooks for students

Each student in ninth through 12th grade will receive a Chromebook; kindergarten through eighth grade students will have classroom sets, and the entire school will be moving to a Google platform.

The thought is for each student to have the same computer throughout their high school career, that way their information is saved in one place.

“The school is going to move to a Google classroom kind of setting where students will be able to do a good part of their assignments through this format,” Ogas said. “This will allow for us to implement technological awareness and skills throughout the grade levels.”

This past year the school submitted an application to the Legislature for capitol outlay money and was awarded $485,000 to upgrade the technology.

The school had previously been using 10-year old servers.

“We’re upgrading to brand new servers and a brand new technology platform that will allow us to have WiFi for students,” Ogas said.

The school was able to acquire more funding from the state this year because of their graduation rate. With that money, they will purchase a new program called Naviance. It is a tool used to help in college and career readiness.

“It’s going to basically become our electronic Individualized Learning Plan,” Ogas said. “It’s going to track graduation, it’s going to become and electronic portfolio for kids, and when students begin applying for colleges and FAFSA, it’s going to keep it all in once place for them.”

The staff hopes this will help students and parents have an easier time figuring out what the student will do post-high school graduation.

Bilingual program

The school is also boasting a bilingual program that goes from kindergarten to eighth grade.

“We are moving to a full-blown bilingual program, K through eighth grade. It will be a three hour bilingual program K-6 and a two hour bilingual program seventh and eighth grade,” Ogas said.

Students will be getting instruction in both English and Spanish, in language arts and the other core classes.

“I think our charter is unique in that we are one of the few schools, if not the only, bilingual STEAM school in the state,” Ogas said.

Administrative changes

New administrative changes have also been made. Cynthia Swanson is now the assistant principal for middle and high school grades, and Sam Morerod will serve as the director of student services, which includes special education, food, transportation and maintenance services.

Security measures

As far as new security measures, all students and parents will be required to go through the main administrative building for signing in and out.

For more information on the upcoming school year at School of Dreams Academy, visit sodacharter.net.

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Anna Padilla, News-Bulletin Staff Writer