Two Schools, One Building

Horace Mann Middle School and Metropolitan High School have been sharing the same facility for five months.

Horace Mann Middle School and Metropolitan High School have been sharing the same facility for five months.

En Español.

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The relationship between Horace Mann Middle School and Metropolitan High Charter School got off to a rocky start. First, the San Francisco Unified School District suggested that since Horace Mann was at half its student capacity and Metropolitan High was looking for a location in the Mission, Metropolitan should just move into Horace Mann.

Staff at Horace Mann said they didn’t think that was a very good idea, and no thanks.

Then, a few months later, Horace Mann found out that Metropolitan High was moving in anyway. Legally, the San Francisco School District had to provide a space for Metropolitan, since it’s a public charter school, and so Horace Mann was overruled without being told. The process upset teachers more than the fact, said Horace Mann teacher Gail Eigl.

After five months of sharing the same facility, most involved say that the problems many parents and some teachers feared have not developed.

At the time, parents too were uneasy about the idea of middle school and high school students sharing the same space.

“There hasn’t been any incidents between my son and the older children,” said Horace Mann parent Cecilia Gutierrez. “They have different schedules, and I always pick up my son after school.”

But there are still some tensions, and the question of how long the high school will share Horace Mann’s space remains outstanding.

“So far, it has been better than everyone thought,” said Metropolitan Principal Nick Kappelhof.

Even though some faculty members are reluctant to work with the charter school, many of the hard feelings have been put aside, said Horace Mann science teacher Priscilla Owren.

Most immediately, sharing the auditorium has been a major issue.

“Scheduling events has been an issue, specially when both schools need the same room on the same date,” said Eigl. One of those events was National AIDS Day, December 1. A workaround was ultimately reached, Eigl said.

Horace Mann staff still expect this issue to be temporary. The school was chosen to share its space partly because its enrollment had dwindled — built to hold some 600 students, it now has about 330. But it doesn’t intend to stay at that size. “We need Horace Mann to grow,” said principal Mark Sanchez. “That is difficult when we share the same facility with 200 other students.”

Plans for Horace Mann to become a K-through-8 school would be impossible if Metro stays, said Eigl.

“There are no rooms for new teachers,” she said

Metro would prefer to stay in the Mission. Its lease with the SFUSD is up in another six months, but it doesn’t want to move again.

“We understand it would be difficult to remain here because of the many implications,” said Kappelhof. “But we would like to stay, because 50 percent of our students are from here. Moving constantly is not what we want.”

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