Although the official end of summer is still weeks away, for students in the McFarland Unified School District, the new school year has arrived.

Little ones with shiny new shoes and backpacks representing the entire Marvel Universe could be seen crossing streets and boarding buses eager to make it to class Aug. 7.

And while much of the activity is business as usual, there are big changes across McFarland schools.

Better, smarter and faster — McFarland is obviously not a mega sized district, but it uses that fact to its advantage by capitalizing on its ability to change and respond to meet student and community needs more quickly than larger districts.

In the last 12 months, McFarland schools have begun a transformation that would take larger districts years to achieve.

Here are just a few of those changes:

Focus on early childhood education — transitional kindergarten

Recognizing the need for early childhood education, McFarland Unified has set out to reach children as young as 4 with its newly created Early TK (transitional kindergarten) program, doubling the number of TK classes, and partnering with the McFarland Park & Recreation District to offer an optional, low cost, afternoon Fun Skills program at each of their schools, that allows working parents to drop their kids off as early as 7:15 a.m. and remain at school until 5:30 p.m.

McFarland Junior High School

McFarland Middle School has transformed into McFarland Junior High School. Among many advantages to this change, it allows the now seventh and eighth grade courses to more closely align with those students will take when they arrive as ninth graders at McFarland High School — Early College.

McFarland High School – Early College - what’s the big deal?

Many schools offer college courses in high school, but in the state of California, only McFarland High School is a Level 3 Early College. Being a Level 3 Early College means that every student beginning McFarland High School this year will complete college level courses during their four years at McFarland High, finishing a minimum of 12 units and up to an Associate of Arts degree – at no costs to parents.

The future is bright for students in McFarland, and the drive to offer students instruction for the 21st century is just beginning.

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