Below is a snapshot of the things we have achieved since I joined the board.
Focus on whole child: VAPA (visual and performing arts) has been expanded all the way down to our kindergartners, where they are offered a rotation of music, visual art, and performing art from specialized credentialed teachers. Knowing the importance of outdoor education, every sixth grader in WUSD is provided the opportunity to go away to science camp, free! We have gardens thriving on campuses across the district and students getting their hands dirty to provide produce in the cafeteria. Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports are being incorporated to address students behavior and social needs. With the help of a homework committee, the Board changed the homework policy to match current research (which does not show a significant impact on student achievement in primary grades) and includes words like, “brief” and “to be effective, homework should not place a undue burden on students, families or teachers.” We know the importance of giving students the time to pursue passions, spend qualify time with family, and engage in their community. Less homework in elementary school helps balance this. A Dual-Immersion program was created at Elkhorn Village and is open to students throughout the district. In High School, bilingual students can earn a Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas. The Educational and Student & Family Support Services include a team of dedicated adults (social workers, outreach specialist, home school liaisons, school nurses, healthy clerk, health aides, and school resource officers) who are in the schools each day supporting our students to be successful in their learning.
Safety: The Board hired an outside safety committee to come in an assess our schools and work with our staff, police officers, and fire fighters to create more robust safety plans. All classroom and fieldtrip volunteers have been fingerprinted and issued a badge, and fingerprinting is now free. We know the importance of volunteers as well as the importance of a safe system to bring volunteers on campuses. Thanks to Measure V, old heating and air conditions units were replaced as well as leaky roofs in classrooms where students are present. Breakaway gates were approved by the Board for the high school and the entrance to Alyce Norman and Westfield Village were remodeled to provide safer gates.
High Expectations/Work Environment: We hired a strong superintendent to lead our district. Superintendent Luna began her career as a music teacher and has carried that passion throughout her roles, always keeping students as her focus. The district and labor unions have worked together to update job descriptions and get them in line with current standards. Every member of the WUSD team, across every department and school, is given professional development opportunities to grow. Our teachers have been working throughout the summers and school year on curriculum design and standards for the entire District. Raises have been given to every WUSD employee to be competitive with surrounding areas. Relationships with employee groups has strengthened, as evidence by a signed 3-year contract with our teachers and 2-year contract with our classified staff. I worked to add the ethics training, offered under the state law known as AB 1234, to our district bylaws and now all board members are required to take this training. All of our Board policies have been updated to reflect current law and the Board and District philosophies.
Community Engagement and Input: From a new logo and district website to regular electronic communications, this is an area the district has really grown in the past few years. Principal Cafes occur across the district, where families are invite to have coffee with the principal and hear updates and ask questions in person. District newsletters are emailed monthly, keeping the community updated on the work being done. The community helped craft our Local Control Accountability Plan through meetings and online surveys. Our district’s strategic plan was developed by teachers, administrators, staff, the community, and the Board which will take us into 2021. Our Board meetings are streamed and uploaded online for viewing and transparency. In our 2016-2017 school year Superintendent Luna, together with the Board of Trustees, organized 16 community forums across the district to connect with families and stakeholders. In 2017-2018 the momentum continued as Superintendent Luna and her Cabinet team attended Principal Coffees throughout our campuses. Connecting with our community is vital for every member of the district.
Supporting readiness for colleges and careers: The district converted a school into what is today Washington Middle College. This small high school setting allows students the opportunity to dual-enroll in community college. In this program, students have the ability to graduate from high school with a AA degree, with tuition and books paid for. A Get Focused Stay Focused course has been added to the schedule of every 9th grader. This course was created in articulation with the community college and helps prepare students for success. Students create 5 and 10-year plans and learn everything from college applications to resume building. Yolo High School courses have been strengthened to allow for A-G, so every student graduates with access to 4-year college. There are new textbook adoptions, after a lengthy review process by teachers and administrators, across grade levels. An Educational Pathways Action Committee (EPAC) was established to evaluate, strengthen and expand WUSD educational pathways. Our adult school, Career Technical Education, and high school pathways have all been expanded and strengthened. There is a Summer Bridge program for incoming high school students, to prepare them for the demands and culture of high school. The district hired FCMAT (Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team) to do an audit of our special education programs, and from that audit created a five-year plan to ensure the district is best serving our students who qualify for special education services.
Partnerships: WUSD has strong partnerships with our local police and fire departments, both of whom offer our students academies in the summer where they learn more about the important work public safety does each day. High School internships are giving students invaluable experiences across disciplines. Thanks to grant funding our Career Technical Training has expanded, we are adding more social workers, and professional development has been supported. There are countless organizations who donate and give to our kids, helping with supplies, our school gardens, and scholarships. After school programs (ASES) at many of our sites are done in partnership with the City of West Sacramento and grant funding.