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Crossroads Names New Principal
Students of Crossroads Elementary School, which operates on a year-round schedule, returned to classes on July 7 under a new principal named Russ Antracoli.

In his 38th year as an educator, Antracoli takes over the reins from Mardi Reed who was the school's first principal and is now the director of categorical programs for the Sylvan Union School District. Antracoli was formerly principal of Mary Ann Sanders Elementary which was built at the same time as Crossroads and to the same design with a slight variation in building placement.

"As for changes, we're adjusting to budget constraints but still will ensure the school provides the best educational opportunities possible," he said.

The number of teachers is down by four and classes are a little larger than last year. Grades kindergarten through third range as high as 25 students instead of the previous maximum of 20 and fourth and fifth grades go up to 35 students.

But the school is providing the same services, he stressed.

Shawn Choate who taught art fulltime at the school last year has become a first grade classroom teacher.

But the school will have art classes, said Antracoli. Silver Lamb taught music at the school every day last year but will now be there only part time since she must divide her talents among all the district's schools.

As he was interviewed in his office, a steady stream of children and sometimes school staff traipsed through Antracoli's room to the main office without seeming to distract him at all.

"I don't mind," he said. "When I arrived here, the main gate (adjacent to his office) was on a latch and not locked. I had it locked for security reasons and have the kids come though my room," he added. "Fact is, I must get out on the playground now for lunch break. It's a good opportunity to get to know the kids."

Enrollment remains at 840-850 pupils. But with one of the tracks out of school on a rotating basis, there are about 630 students on campus at any one time.

Sylvan district does not expect any lack of students in the area during the next few years, said Antracoli. He anticipates the district building a middle school in the area soon but he predicts the end of the year-round system is also coming.

"We're the last of a dying breed at least in California, " he said.

Nowadays you have schools making their own modified calendars to suit both the parents and the community. East Coast cities, for instance, typically don't open until after Labor Day and continue until mid-June as opposed to California's August start-May stop system.

Year round schools were started to accommodate a surplus of children in too few schools and make the best possible uses of classroom space by having three quarters of the students at school at any one time. But the system has its problems.

The traditional system, on the other hand, was instigated to serve an agricultural community when the children were needed in the fields throughout the summer to help with the harvest.

Antracoli is married and he and his wife, Donna, have two grown daughters. One is a college professor in Pennsylvania but thinking of returning to college to train as a librarian and the other an architect working in San Rafael.

Antracoli said that his surname is that of a small Italian town from which his grandfather immigrated to the United States, except the town is spelled with two c's. Once in the US, his grandfather, he said, looked into legally restoring the extra 'c' to the name but found it would be hugely expensive and a waste of money in those Depression days.