Newly elected Coronado Unified School District Trustees Whitney Antrim and Stacy Keszei were welcomed to their first Governing Board meeting on Dec. 17, 2020 after being sworn in two days prior. The meeting was virtual and live streamed on the district’s website. 

Each December the school board holds an organizational meeting to elect board positions and establish the yearly calendar. The Board elected Lee Pontes as President, Esther Valdez-Clayton as Vice President, and Helen Anderson-Cruz as Clerk of the Board.

Following the organizational business, Director of Student Services, Niamh Foley, presented an update on the newly established Equity Committee. “We have now held two sessions of the committee,” Foley reported. Slides and information from the meetings can be found on a new ‘Equity’ page under Student Services on the district website.

Foley said that the committee is made up of 44 volunteers, including 22 staff members, along with parents and students from each of the four school sites. “Our process is slow and methodical and we are taking a phased approach over two years,” she said. The three primary phases are; Building trust and community, Creating teams to analyze data and examine practices, and finally, the ‘Action’ phase.

She noted that Trustee Keszei had attended the most recent meeting as an observer and invited the other trustees to observe as well. Keszei commented on her experience stating, “I learned a lot and am learning more about the needs within Coronado.” 

In other reports, Director of Curriculum Dr. Megan Battle presented the annual Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) program evaluations, which show student progress in each grant focus area. CUSD, with approximately 40% military connected students, has received five multi-year DoDEA grants since 2009.

Currently there are two active grants; ‘Project STEM READ-I’ which expires in 2023, and ‘Project Arts for Learning,’ which expires in 2021. ‘Project M3,’ designed to support military connected students who have gaps in mathematical understanding due to frequent relocations, totaled $1.2 million from September 2015 through May 2020. 

Battle also updated the Board on the district reopening plans. “As you know, we did return to BRIDGE [distance] learning on Dec. 9, and I want to praise our staff, our students, and our parents for a pivot that was unexpected but necessary,” she said. She reassured the Board that the expectation is to return to in-person cohorts at elementary schools after winter break on Jan. 5. She added that secondary school students are expected to have the option to return to campus in a hybrid schedule on Feb. 1, the beginning of the second semester.   

Continuing through the departments, Deputy Superintendent Donnie Salamanca presented the First Interim Budget Report to the community. In order to comply with a Dec. 15 State mandate to approve a positive certification on the Interim Budget, the Board held a Special Meeting on that date. Salamanca reported that there were “no significant changes since the last budget presentation in August.” He defined “significant changes’’ as anything over $100,000 in a budget with revenues of $38 million and expenditures of $42 million. 

He added that $1.3 million in CARES Act funds were spent on student supports such as consultant contracts, learning platforms, and special education. Also related to Covid19 State budget impacts, Salamanca warned that the State will issue IOU’s for deferred payments to school districts through the remainder of the fiscal year. “The State will give us half of what we are entitled to in February and defer the other half until November. Half of the total in March, the other half in October, and so on. Unlike many districts in California we are fortunate, through prudent planning from [the Board] to be entering this time of uncertainty with a healthy fund balance to help us meet payroll, pay vendors, and keep the operations of the district moving,” he said of the potential cash flow issues. 

The single action item on the agenda was the approval of the revised Strategic Arts Plan 2020-2025, which passed unanimously without comment from trustees. The next Governing Board meeting will be held Jan. 21, 2021 at 4 p.m.

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