Tech High leaving SSU at year's end

At the end of this academic year, Technology High School is leaving the Sonoma State University’s campus, after a six-year run, with plans of temporarily relocating to Waldo Elementary School.

Technology High School, or Tech High, as it is often referred to, was founded in 1999 with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. In 2013, Sonoma State “had extra space,” according to Paul Gullixson, university spokesperson, so they rented it out.  

With Sonoma State planning on renovating Stevenson Hall, there is an obvious need for more classrooms. Last April, the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District and Sonoma State reached a deal that Technology High School’s last year at Sonoma State would be 2019. The original deal was through 2024, but by ending it five years early, it will save the school district some $5 million. 

“The deal is really a win-win for both and we will continue having a great relationship with the school district,” Gullixson said. Technology High School will not only save money but will be closer to their middle school as well.

Robert Haley, the superintendent of the Cotati-Rohnert Park School district, sees Sonoma State as a great partner and will continue to be so. He knows what is best for the school district as well, “We believe this agreement and plan is in the best interest of the district as a whole and our community,” he said.

Tech High School will by no means be done using some of Sonoma State’s facilities, though. They will continue to use the Sonoma State School of Education and the Department of Engineering, as well as a couple of other facilities.   

A big factor in the move is the allotment of space, which has been cumbersome for the students at Tech High. “We have the opportunity to construct a campus, on a district site, that is an improvement over what we have at SSU,” Hailey said. 

With Tech High School moving to Waldo Elementary, 275 third, fourth, and fifth graders will be sent to John Reed Elementary School.

Technology High School students are excited about moving but are sad that they will be moving off a college campus with many good food options. Many students spend their lunches at Lobos or Wyden and Brewster. 

The benefits seem to outweigh the costs, however. Many students had to walk far distances to get to classes such as physical education. Bella Clarke is one of those students. “That was really frustrating. I was showing up to P.E. already tired,” she said.

The number of classrooms will go from 12 to 20 and the school will have much more of a school environment. Principal Dawn Mawhinney is excited that the school will be constructed around their needs. “We’re going to have a quad… This is going to truly be their campus,” Mawhinney said. 

Overall, the move is necessary, but being on a college campus gave the high school, “a certain cachet,” Gullixson said. Haley also acknowledged the prominence of being on a college campus, but has known all along that being at Sonoma State was not ideal. 

“Ultimately, the quality of the school is based on the teachers, curriculum, and students that are there,” Haley said. Moving from Sonoma State to Waldo Elementary will be an adjustment, but in the long run, it will be for the better.

Sonoma State President Judy Sakaki, who came on board Sonoma State  a few years after Tech High had already taken up residency in its halls, said she is “proud to have been a part of the development of this distinguished high school.”