Staff reports at the CUSD (Coronado Unified School District) Governing Board February meeting focused on the student experience and academic achievement for the district’s 2,600 kindergarten through 12th grade learners. District administrators are closely monitoring academic indicators and delivery models as they plan for future educational, social, and emotional needs as a result of the pandemic.
Director of Learning Dr. Megan Battle gave a three part report on reopening for in-person learning, the upcoming high school bell schedule change, and middle and high school first semester grading data.
Battle reported that elementary students are still on the same morning or afternoon cohort schedule that began last October, and middle and high school students can now attend on-campus classes two days per week (at 50% classroom capacity). All teachers have been trained on Concurrent Curriculum Delivery (CCD) for students on days when they are not on campus.
Battle indicated that the goal is to expand on-campus classes prior to the end of the school year but did not offer any timeline. The trustees did not ask for a schedule for further opening but it was noted that state and county regulations would be the primary factor in determining the timing.
Battle also reported on ongoing preparations for the new 4x4 bell schedule at Coronado High School (CHS), a decision that was made by the board last spring for the 2021-22 school year. “Right now we are building the infrastructure to support the transition at all levels,” she said.
The CHS counseling department created new resources for parents and students to register and plan for the schedule, and Principal Shane Schmeichel held virtual information sessions with parents. Battle noted that teachers were provided training and opportunities to collaborate with peers in other districts who have already transitioned to a 4x4 schedule.
Battle answered a question from Trustee Antrim regarding the optimal time to make the schedule transition. “We want to do what’s best for our students right now if we have the power to do it right now, and we know that the opportunities this new schedule will provide to remediate, accelerate and explore is important for our students.”
She also said that the process was on track for August 2021. “The transition to this type of pacing really began last spring when our teachers had two weeks to prepare for block lessons in distance learning. They have been doing 90 minute blocks for almost a year now. That preparation has already happened [as a result of the distance learning model]. They have already pivoted. Why pivot back to something they haven’t been doing in almost a year (53 minute lessons) and then pivot back again. It wouldn’t make sense.”
Finally, Battle presented first semester grade data from Coronado Middle School (CMS) and CHS across all subject areas. Although the numbers varied by subject, it appeared that there were overall more A’s and more F’s. “Grades are only one measure and we believe in using multiple measures. We will also use classroom data and benchmark assessments,” she said. The Learning Department began an in-depth examination of the district’s assessment system before the pandemic and is looking critically at which tests provide the most relevant information for teachers to use to tailor instruction.
Director of Student Services Niamh Foley also had an extensive report highlighting three different initiatives. She led with a brief update on Special Education services, specifically at Crown Preschool. CUSD serves students with disabilities ages 3-22 years old. Preschool aged children (3 and 4 years) who are eligible for specialized academic instruction receive their academic services through the full inclusion program at Crown Preschool.
In addition, Foley announced a new initiative the district plans to introduce in partnership with the San Diego County District Attorney’s office and the Coronado Police Department to help students feel safe at school after a traumatic event. A newly developed App called ‘Handle with Care’ which alerts school officials when a student has been present at a law enforcement call will be tried this year. Law enforcement officers will initiate the notification process. Details of the incident will not be revealed, only that a certain student might need extra attention. Trustee Antrim shared that she had spoken with the District Attorney’s office and believed the App would provide a vital connection for students in need and she was assured that information was private and would not be saved. Trustee Valdes-Clayton raised the question of parental consent when a student is involved in an incident. The Board asked for a follow-up on the issue after training and adoption had occurred.
The third part of Foley’s report was a monthly update on the district’s recently created Equity Committee. The group has had three meetings via Zoom, which focused on getting to know each other, building trust, and understanding the scope of the work. She said that the next meeting would move into Phase 2, forming subcommittees which will examine data related to: Positive School Culture, Supplemental Instructional Materials, Professional Development, and Human Resources. Each group will be led by a district administrator.
Foley noted that equity in the school setting is defined as “what does a student need, when they need it, and how do we provide that.” She reminded the Board that the district has done a lot of work in the past several years through the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) initiative which uses student data to identify areas where support and intervention are needed. The Equity Committee work will complement and support current practices and Board Policy.
In his monthly report on the Long Range Plan (LRP), Superintendent Mueller announced early planning for summer school. Using historical and current grade statistics, student and family feedback, and budget data, staff has created a blueprint for district-wide summer offerings.
“We want to be responsive to parents and what they tell us their student needs are,” Mueller said. “Parent surveys, along with grade data will determine our course offerings.”
According to historical data, Integrated Math 1 and 2 and English 9 and 10 are the high school courses in which most students struggle (highest percentage of D/F grades). In middle school the courses are in math and history. The district is planning to offer up to 10 academic credits of summer school in those areas and will determine how many sections of each based on interest survey data. Enrollment will be prioritized for students who wish to remediate a grade and will be based on space availability for who wish to accelerate.
Elementary level course offerings will focus on a “Summer Boost” program using research-based, district-adopted curricula in both Math (Bridges Learning) and English Language Arts (Benchmark Advance). “We believe these courses will provide students time to brush up on core content in order to best prepare for the next grade level,” Mueller stated.
He added that Coronado Schools Foundation will run its regular summer enrichment program offering fee-based experiences in STEM and VAPA.
Mueller said the district could afford the cost of a summer school program (full state funding for summer school ended in 2007) due to a recent budget allocation from the state. In response to the pandemic the state will pay for summer school for 2021 to confront the academic challenges most students have faced with distance learning.
Mueller and his staff are exploring different summer school models which will be split between synchronous and asynchronous learning and taught by credentialed teachers. He hopes to have a plan finalized by the end of March.
In other business, the Board took action to publicly ‘accept’ proposals for negotiations from the Association of Coronado Teachers [ACT] and CUSD. The teachers union provided notice of intent to negotiate Collective Bargaining Agreement articles on; Hours (related to preparation time), Salary (increase), Class Size (enhanced language). The district provided notice of intent to; review transfer and reassignment practices, and adjusted language for health and welfare benefits in relation to any adjustment in total compensation.
The next meeting of the CUSD Governing Board will be Thursday, March 11 at 4 p.m.