The October Board meeting for the CUSD Governing Board began with all five trustees expressing approval of the recent reopening for in-person learning at Village and Silver Strand elementary schools. More than 85 percent of district students chose to return to campus.
“I just want the public to realize the level of effort that had to go into getting these schools open.” said Trustee Lee Pontes. “When you compare CUSD to what is happening around the state, you can be proud that we are well ahead of most other places.” He estimated that we are probably in the top 10% of California public schools getting students back onto campus.
Trustee Valdes-Clayton recognized the extra effort and sacrifice of school staff to stay healthy, “I don’t know if people realize it but when (staff) are not at school they have to take extra precautions and make an effort to stay away from high traffic areas so that they don’t come back and possibly infect others.”
There were no action items on the agenda and the majority of the discussion focused on three reports: Learning and Instruction, Equity Action Plan, and a Long Range Plan update.
Director of Curriculum, Dr. Megan Battle gave the Board an update on the status of the reopening phases. Phase Two, including preschool through fifth grade, study skills at Coronado Middle School (CMS) and Coronado High School (CHS), and some electives at CMS, has been successfully completed. Just prior to Phase Two, all district staff received health and safety training and “what-if” protocols led by District Nurse, Joellen Semo. Battle discussed Phase 3 which will begin the week of Oct. 26 and include additional CMS and CHS cohorts in elective and academic support classes.
“As published on our reopening timeline, it is our goal to create on-campus options and experiences for all students by Dec. 1. This process is methodical and requires CMS and CHS Principals going through class rosters to make sure no one is left off,” said Superintendent Karl Mueller. “I have confidence that we will reach that goal, or maybe even earlier.”
In addition to the phased reopening, CUSD is pursuing creative ways to provide instruction using livestreaming technologies for students remaining in the BRIDGE distance learning program. There are currently two district teachers pioneering ‘live streaming’ and their experience and feedback will be instrumental in a broader implementation. “We realize there are challenges for our teachers, but it gives us flexibility to provide continuous learning should we have to close cohorts.” said Battle. “There are districts in the county and state who are successfully using this technology and we are working with the San Diego County Office of Education to implement best-practices in the field.”
Director of Student Services, Niamh Foley updated the Board on next steps in the two-year Equity Action Plan. She referred to the recently adopted Board Policy on Equity (BP0415) as the foundation of the plan. Our work “is a comprehensive review of various CUSD data and a forum to listen, explore, and dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion issues.”
Foley recapped the timeline, which began on Aug. 13, 2020 with a draft Equity Action Plan. To date there has been a revision to the Discipline Action Guide, a Board Workshop, a newly approved Board Policy on Equity, and an interactive community survey. Next steps will include the selection of Equity Committee members later this month.
Foley will facilitate selection of approximately 30-40 committee members based on expressed interest from staff, student volunteers or staff recommendation of students, and working with PTO parent leaders to reach out to all district parents to ensure representation from all four school sites. Committee members will be asked to commit to a schedule of meetings over two years.
According to Superintendent Mueller, the committee will serve in an advisory role to the board. “Their role will be to provide feedback to staff who will process the feedback and make regular reports and recommendations to the Governing Board. The committee does not write policy or direct the work of the Board. They are a resource for us to solicit additional information from our constituents.”
Highlights of the Superintendent’s report on the Long Range Plan included enrollment and funding data and a recent mental health initiative. Enrollment has decreased 14 percent from school year 2019-20. While significant, the decrease best positioned the district to adhere to COVID-19 related guidelines. Also, State legislation held district’s harmless during the pandemic by guaranteeing funding based on 2019-20 attendance data for two years (through 2021-22). Mueller reported that he will continue to closely monitor Inter-District Transfer enrollment as part of a long-term plan to maintain programs and position the district to transition to Basic Aid funding.
Mueller reported that 50 staff members recently completed an eight hour course on mental health first aid certification. Likening it to CPR, he said it provided training “for on the spot emergency mental health supports until professional responders can arrive.” Mueller credited former CHS student Asante Sefa-Boakye for facilitating this opportunity in partnership with Mental Health America.
The Board asked for an update on class size at the November meeting and a comprehensive overview of student progress using assessments and grade distribution closer to the end of the semester in January.
The next CUSD Governing Board meeting will be held on Nov. 12, 2020 at 4 p.m.