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RI siphons Mossdale students
New school replaces textbooks with iPad Minis, Chromebooks
The photo shows part of the River Islands Technology Academy being prepared for its debut on Aug. 14. - photo by Photo Contributed

LATHROP — River Islands Technology Academy — the South County’s newest charter school — will lighten student loads when it opens on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Student backpacks will be much lighter as Apple iPad Minis will be issued to kindergarten through third grade students with fourth through sixth graders receiving Samsung Chromebooks. They are being used for the language arts and math curriculum instead of bulky textbooks.

The student load will also be lightened at Mossdale School just across the San Joaquin River. That’s because the vast majority of the 400 students going to River Islands attended the Manteca Unified campus last school year.

The technology academy has a waiting list in excess of 300. While there is some space left, that is being held by Banta School District officials for the children of the first families expected to buy homes in the 11,000-home planned community in early 2014.

Plans call for the adding of a seventh grade in August 2014 and eighth grade classes a year later. Kindergarten classes are full-day sessions while transitional kindergarten is a half-day.

Meal service will be provided by Revolution Foods at a cost expected to come in at $3.50 for lunch and $2 for a mid-morning breakfast.

A Meet the Teachers Night is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 8, at 6:30 p.m. Principal Brenda Scholl heads up a faculty of 14 teachers for San Joaquin County’s first public school wired for technology from the ground up.

The school also has a strict uniform code requiring specific brands and style from two online vendors, JC Penney and French Toast. All polos, polo dresses and V-necks require school logos. There is also a list of other approved wear such as uniform pants, skirts and shorts that are available either online from Old Navy or  through Sears. Even hats must have a school logo with the proviso they can only be worn outside.

The Banta school board is debating whether future campuses to open on River Islands will do so as charter schools. They are more flexible to operate and programs can be tailored as magnet schools concentrating heavily on one discipline among many.

It also would capitalize on a growing  trend. When the first California charter schools were allowed to receive money from the public school system in 1994 there were just 21 to open. The number has grown annually  until this year when charter schools numbered 1,063 statewide.

There are 470,600 charter school students among California’s 6.2 million public school system students.

The California Charter School Association indicated there are 49,705 students on waiting list for charter schools. That number is lower than others quoted by state sources since the association adjusted the number to account for students who are duplicated on  more than one waiting list.

At any rate, if there was available space essentially one out of every 10 California public school students would be in a charter school. That has more than doubled in the past eight years.

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