New pilot program sets path to coding

Primary and secondary school student will have access to free afterschool coding classes funded under California's latest state budget.

Santa Clarita Valley students in grades K-8 may soon be able to learn critical computer programming skills following the state’s approval of a new pilot program and $15 million in one-time funding.

With the Department of Education’s approval, the state will continue its attempt to offer coding curriculum and prepare students for careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — by allowing school districts to apply for a new pilot program.

The recently approved program will seek to provide free after-school coding classes to students at more than 4,000 after-school sites by offering grants of up to $80,000 over three years.

Coding, robotics and computer programming have all been areas of focus for multiple school districts across the SCV, according to various district leaders.

“We are very involved in coding,” said Ken Chase, president of the Sulphur Springs Union School District board. “We teach coding in class and we have coding clubs, so I’m sure it’s something the district will look further into.”

The funding may be a good fit for the Newhall School District’s robotics program, said board President Philip Ellis. “So, it seems coding would fit in naturally to the Newhall School District’s curriculum offerings.”

While the new grant is limited to children who aren’t in high school yet, William S. Hart Union High School District spokesman Dave Caldwell said it’s very likely that the district’s junior high schools will take advantage of the new program.

“Coding is essential, along with robotics,” he said. Both are subjects that the district is greatly involved with, especially at the junior high level.

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