About Branciforte Small Schools Campus

The Branciforte Small Schools Campus (BSSC) has been located on the old Branciforte Elementary School site (built in 1914) since the fall of 2004, and houses four schools in the Santa Cruz City School District— Alternative Family Education (AFE) Homeschool, Ark Independent Studies, Costanoa High School (created from the merger of Loma Prieta High School and the Ark daily program), and Monarch Community Elementary School. Branciforte Head Start is also located on our campus.

BSSC is a Coalition of Essential Schools campus. The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) is at the forefront of creating and sustaining personalized, equitable, and intellectually challenging schools. Essential schools are places of powerful learning where all students have the chance to reach their fullest potential.Graduates understand and exhibit the habits that foster a lifetime of success.

Ark Independent Studies and Costanoa are accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) Accrediting Commission for Schools.


BSSC has become an affiliate site for Bookshop Santa Cruz. Anything purchased through the affiliate link will be credited toward the purchase of new books for our library. Please click on the Bookshop Santa Cruz logo to make a purchase from them and support the Branciforte Small Schools library at the same time. Thank you!

About Our Schools

Alternative Family Education

AFE is a home school program for students in grades K–12 and their families who prefer an individualized,home/community-based approach to education combined with the support of school district resources. In addition to regular meetings with Consultant Teachers who help outline educational goals and objectives,students may participate in weekly enrichment classes, league sports,theater productions, and field trips, including the annual trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Oregon. Visit AFE's website

Ark Independent Studies

Ark Independent Studies is a fully accredited alternative high school with 90 students. Ark students are self-disciplined and motivated students in grades 9–12 who are working toward a high school diploma. Students participate in weekly individual meetings with the assigned teacher. During individual meetings students are given specific assignments, and course work is corrected and evaluated. Assignments are tailored to fit the individual student's interests and learning style. Students are expected to spend a minimum of 20 hours each week completing their assignments at home. Visit Ark's website

Costanoa High School

Costanoa students benefit from small class sizes and strong relationships with staff members. We focus on developing the following habits: "Use your mind well. Do the right thing. Work hard." Costanoa has a diverse student population that includes 140 students in grades 10–12. Curricular offerings include English Language Development and special interest courses like garden science, careers, digital photography, ceramics, yoga, and weight training. Costanoa is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Visit Costanoa's website

Monarch Community School

Monarch is an alternative K–5 elementary school. The families of the 140 students are expected to participate in school-related activities, in and outside of the classroom, thus providing opportunities for the staff and families to work together to implement a shared educational philosophy. Students learn in a multi-age, caring, hands-on, and developmentally appropriate environment with a theme-based curriculum that is connected to students' lives and builds upon prior knowledge and experiences. Visit Monarch's website

BSSC Mission Statement

The mission of the Branciforte Small Schools is to create and sustain alternatives to traditional public school models where childhood and adolescence are celebrated, children and youth feel connected and respected, and each individual works toward his or her personal best academically, emotionally, socially, artistically, and culturally.

We work together to develop a rich learning environment spanning home, school, and the greater community. We create a safe, caring,developmentally appropriate learning experience in which students are constructing their own knowledge connected to their real lives and building upon their prior experiences. We provide hands-on, relevant experiences. We value and promote multi-age and cross-cultural groupings. Students are engaged in purposeful learning in which they have ownership and responsibility, a balance of choice and direction,experience and practice.

Download the BSSC Professional Development Plan (PDF)

SCCS Safety Plan 

Santa Cruz City Schools Safety Plans

School Accountability Report Cards


Ark Independent Studies

Costanoa Continuation

Monarch Elementary

Informe de Responsabilidad Escolar


Ark Independent Studies

Costanoa Continuation

Monarch Elementary

informe de responsabilidad escolar
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