When will the new campus open?

According to the construction timeline, the main building will be available for use by students in Fall 2017. Phase 2 (the soccer field, gymnasium and pool) is expected to be completed by Summer 2018.

What kind of programs will go in the new high school facility?

The facility will house a total of three charter high schools: Da Vinci Design, Da Vinci Communications, and Da Vinci Science. The campus also include Wiseburn and Da Vinci administrative offices, a multi-purpose/theater space to support visual and performing arts, an athletic field, gymnasium, aquatic facility, and professional development institute for adult educators.  By maintaining small learning communities, just like in Wiseburn’s K-8 schools, where students are known by name and valued for their unique contributions, our Da Vinci kids also benefit from a culture where students cannot easily “fall through the cracks.”

What is the cost of this project?

The budget for the project is approximately $160 million. This project has succeeded through a creative alliance of local Wiseburn bond funds ($87M); a charter facilities grant match ($52.7M); generous corporate and foundation giving; and strong local support from the Wiseburn community and the City of El Segundo.

What is the relationship between the Wiseburn Unified School District and the Da Vinci Schools?

The Wiseburn Unified School District and the Da Vinci Schools have entered into a creative partnership to best serve students and create a continuum of learning from pre-school through high school graduation and beyond.  This partnership leverages the benefits of both a traditional school district and an independent charter school organization. The partnership has been an ongoing evolution guided by the firm belief that all decisions must be made in the best interest of our students.

By design, the governance and coordination of the Wiseburn Unified School District and Da Vinci Schools have been closely intertwined from the very beginning, starting with the initial planning in 2008.  Da Vinci Schools was developed internally out of the Wiseburn School District as a way of serving the high school needs of its residents in the Wiseburn community.  The seven-member Da Vinci Board has purposely included members who are closely intertwined with Wiseburn.  The current Da Vinci Board President, Chet Pipkin is a graduate of Dana Middle School and attended K-8 in Wiseburn.  The Da Vinci Board Vice-president is Dr. Don Brann who attended Wiseburn schools as a K-8 student and came back to serve as Superintendent of Wiseburn School District from 1993-2008.  Other Board members include Wiseburn resident and Da Vinci parent, Jennifer Morgan, past-Wiseburn Board member Brian Meath and Cheryl Cook, whose son attended Dana Middle School before attending and graduating from Da Vinci. The Da Vinci Board is rounded out by Northrop Grumman Vice-President Art Lofton and Wiseburn resident Israel Mora who serves on both the Da Vinci and the Wiseburn boards.   The Da Vinci Schools are an independent Charter Management Organization that is set up as a non-profit 501 c (3) organization.  Under the Memorandum of Understanding for governance, the Da Vinci Board of Trustees selects new members who are subsequently confirmed or denied by the Wiseburn Unified Board of Trustees.

With four district schools and four independent charter schools, Wiseburn and Da Vinci now serve close to 4,500 students.

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a public school that provides instruction in any combination of grades, kindergarten through grade twelve. Parents, teachers, or community members may initiate a charter petition, which is typically presented to and approved by a local school district governing board. The law also allows, under certain circumstances, for county boards of education and the State Board of Education to be charter authorizing entities.

Specific goals and operating procedures for a charter school are detailed in the agreement between the charter authorizing entity and the charter developer. A charter school is exempted from many of the statutes and regulations that apply to school districts. Students enroll in charter schools on a voluntary basis and are under the jurisdiction of the Public School System, as specified in California Education Code (EC) Section 47615.

What is the educational philosophy at Da Vinci Schools?

The main focus at the Da Vinci high schools is college and career readiness for all students. The high schools’ culture of small learning communities, personalization, engaging curriculum, and outstanding college and career-ready results are a continuation of the exceptional work taking place in Wiseburn’s K-8 schools.

What is project based learning?

Project-based learning (PBL) is learn-by-doing curriculum that integrates core subjects with real-life problems to be solved. Teachers work in teams with one another to identify key Common Core content standards and skills that need to be addressed at the grade-level. Then, teachers work backwards to plan their curriculum, striving to create engaging, interdisciplinary projects that center on a big idea and a real-world connection that is rigorous, relevant and meaningful to students’ lives. Industry partners play a vital role by helping to define the knowledge and workplace skills students need most to succeed in the 21st century global workforce. Da Vinci has developed mutually beneficial partnerships with more than 125 businesses, corporations, colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations, including Northrop Grumman, Chevron, Belkin, Gensler, 72andSunny, SpaceX, Boeing, Raytheon, DaVita, El Camino College, Antioch University Los Angeles, UCLA Extension, Southern New Hampshire University, and many more.

Will the knowledge and skills learned by students at Da Vinci prepare students for success in college?

Innovation in the 21st century has reshaped the world of work and society. At Da Vinci, students receive direct instruction in the 21st century skills of problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and more. Success in college, career and life can be found in these competencies. More than 4 million jobs remain unfilled in the U.S. because workers do not have the skills employers need. K-12 schools and colleges are responding by graduating students with significantly more preparation in 21st century skills. Da Vinci graduates are finding success at a wide variety of colleges and universities, including those that are thought to be more traditional.

Da Vinci students work on projects both independently and in teams. They also regularly take traditional tests and quizzes, and teachers lecture in Da Vinci classrooms. Da Vinci students are also required to make individual Presentations of Learning as a culminating activity for each semester which deepens their content knowledge and builds public speaking and presentation skills.  Current research demonstrates that students engaged in project-based learning obtain a deeper knowledge of subject matter, have increased motivation, improved problem solving skills, teamwork and presentation skills. Project-based learning is occurring in all Wiseburn schools to some degree, including such programs at Project Lead the Way. There are many prestigious universities engaged in project-based learning, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Cal Poly, MIT, Boston University, and others.  Beyond college, workplaces use project based approaches and skills as a primary source of learning and executing on company objectives.

What is the joint-use agreement for the pool with the City of El Segundo?

The pool is part of a joint-use agreement between Wiseburn and the City of El Segundo. The El Segundo Department of Parks and Recreation will maintain the pool and run the aquatics programs, which will be available to both El Segundo and Wiseburn residents. The high school program will receive top priority for use of the pool that is estimated to be 3 hours per day on weekdays and occasional weekend use.