At the first of two June meetings, the CUSD Governing Board began with a video honoring each of the eleven employees retiring this year. Retirees included seven teachers: Bradford Couture (Coronado High School 2020 Teacher Of the Year), Kathy Couture, Eileen Farrell, Debra Hatheway, Steve Patrick, Constance Johnson, and Tracy Walmsley; along with four classified employees: John Coolidge (2017 Maintenance and Operations Classified Employee of the Year), Karen Maggio, Wendy Toomey and Sandra White. Many of the retirees have worked in the district for decades, according to Superintendent Karl Mueller, “There is a combined 238 years of experience among these retiring educators.”
The Board also recognized the contribution and “retirement” of Student Board Representative, ASB President John Shoemaker. Trustee Helen Anderson-Cruz commented that she “wanted to thank John for being a superb young colleague. He has proven to be mature, thorough, insightful and a delightful young man…. who will be sorely missed.”
Shoemaker thanked the trustees and superintendent for the opportunity to learn and serve as a member of the governance team. He also introduced incoming ASB President, Kelli Morris, who will represent students on the Board next school year.
During Board Member Comments, the establishment of a community-wide dialogue on racial and educational equity was proposed. After facilitating a moment of silence to reflect on unity and social justice, Trustee Valdes-Clayton articulated a desire for CUSD to partner with community leaders, the City Council, and students in the formation of a focus committee to act. She outlined her interest in bringing awareness of intersectionality with outcomes to include racial and educational equity. Trustees Valdes-Clayton and Maria Simon will discuss ideas with City leaders at the next 2x2 meeting.
Additionally, Board members requested that Mueller prepare a report for the October meeting detailing current curriculum and policy that addresses diversity and supports inclusivity, and ideas for areas of improvement. Mueller will work with Shoemaker and Morris to include student voice in the discussion and report.
Because the Board will hold two meetings in June, the business part of the meeting was primarily first-reads and discussion. However, action was taken on three items; the adoption of a resolution to establish a Capital Project Fund (for accounting related to the $12 million loan approved at the May meeting), the adoption of new High School College Prep Chemistry textbooks, and middle school science curriculum. All three motions passed unanimously.
Director of Curriculum Dr. Megan Battle presented a Distance Learning Update detailing preparations on the development of an e-Learning Unit Template for teachers to “ensure continuity while delivering optimal instructional experiences in a virtual setting.” Battle reported that during the two weeks of dedicated professional learning time, June 1-12, teachers will develop one full unit of learning with corresponding lessons, set for implementation in August. During discussion of this item
Trustee Lee Pontes pointed out that according to the report, staff acknowledged “that distance learning cannot replicate the content and standards taught in a brick and mortar learning environment,” and that “our teachers will not be able to cover all standards and incorporate all learning activities and lessons during distance learning.”
Pontes further elaborated that, “Public education right now is at a crossroads, it can go out the window really quick if we cannot get kids back into the classroom. People will leave for other options. Parents are going to take their kids and go elsewhere.”
He stated that he does not believe we can give students the academic standard and social emotional experiences they need by doing distance learning and he “would do anything in (his) power to get the kids (physically) back into the schools in the fall.”
Valdes-Clayton read a statement from UNESCO regarding the high cost of closing schools and added “Closing our schools is one of the most harmful things you can do for a student. Nothing replaces a good teacher in the classroom.” She asked Mueller “Are we prepared to, without clear direction, or conflicting direction, from public health officials, take local control and open our schools?”
Mueller responded “We have decided on a deadline of Aug. 1 to determine our course of action for the first day of school.” He added, “We are preparing for multiple scenarios for when we begin the school year and our staff will be prepared for any of them.”
Trustees agreed to add a meeting in July for the Board to hear an update on district plans for fall.
The next meeting of the CUSD Governing Board will be held on Thursday, June 18 at 4 p.m. On the agenda for that meeting will be action items to approve the 2020-2021 Budget and the College and Career Access Pathways Partnership Agreement with Southwestern Community College District.