Residents of Winton rallying support for new high school

WINTON, Calif. (KFSN) -- Efforts are underway to bring a new charter high school to Merced County.

A small office in Winton has become the hub for a big community project. It's where a non-profit group is working on plans, and rallying support, for a new charter high school.

"The community, over 15,000 of them are really excited about being able to have their own high school," said Juan Martinez, Winton Educational Foundation President.

Right now, students from Winton attend Atwater High. Some residents have raised concerns about the safety of those who walk nearly five miles to the campus. That includes Nelly Rubio. She also believes her 7th grade son would have more opportunities in his own community. "We need a high school here. It's a big problem. When a lot of students, they don't have attention for every each student."

The plans call for initially leasing space at a church on Winton Way, or one on Myrtle Avenue, and later building a new school. Organizers anticipate starting with about 200 students and growing to 800.

"We feel a high school here in Winton will make a big difference, not only the education but economic development and the social development of the community," Martinez explained.

Supporters are asking the Merced Union High School District Board to approve the petition, but the interim superintendent has written a resolution to deny it. It lists several concerns about everything from staffing to funding.

Administrators tell Action News the district has an excellent record of serving all students, and that those from Winton have above average rates for attendance and participation in extracurricular activities. They say any plans for a new school would need to meet or exceed the current standards.

The school board is set to consider the petition Wednesday night, but those pushing for the charter school plan to ask for a 30 day extension so they can provide more information to address the district's concerns.
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