Scripps Ranch Schools Committee (SRSC)

Language Immersion Program

At the February meeting Veronika Lopez-Mendez from the San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD’s) Office of Language Acquisition presented information on the language immersion programs. The district is interested in establishing an immersion program at a school in each cluster. There are two instructional models of language immersion programs: one that is total—with 100% instruction in the foreign language for grades K–2, then gradually adding English to the curriculum in grade 3, and moving to a mix of 50% instruction in English in grades 4–5—and a partial immersion model that instructs in both languages at 50% each beginning in kindergarten. Generally, two classes are started in kindergarten—or one in kindergarten and one in 1st grade—with additional classes added per grade as these students progress through school.

Jerabek Elementary representatives expressed an interest in starting a Spanish immersion program. The school currently has a before-school Spanish program, previously had a Spanish program with daily instruction, and has three teachers on staff who are certified bilingual. That allows a program to be implemented without hiring staff. The caveat is that implementation requires $4,000 per classroom in materials, which the district does not provide.

Ms. Lopez-Mendez recommended that Jerabek gather interest from neighborhood parents with children from infants to 5 years old. Concern was expressed from other elementary schools that these students not be recruited from their boundaries. Ms. Lopez-Mendez indicated that past experience suggests there likely would be interest from children located in the nearby Poway Unified School District as well.

Area Superintendent Leaves

David Lorden, the district’s Area 2 superintendent, made his last appearance at the February meeting. He left the district to become the superintendent for the Lakeside Union School District. The Schools Committee congratulated Dr. Lorden on his new position and thanked him for his service to the schools and community.

Education Funding

Tamara Hurley reported on Governor Brown’s proposed state budget and its impact on the district’s funding. The governor is proposing a new education funding system: district base funding in 2013–2014 equal to the current year’s levels, plus supplemental funding for English language learners or students from low-income households. Under this system, SDUSD would receive more funding than some districts because 60% of students qualify for the supplemental funds.

However, SDUSD will not get much relief from the budget crisis due to many factors. These include the fact that the bulk of Proposition 30 funds to education will be spent in payments of deferred funds the state owes districts, as well as backfilling education funds lost due to “realignment,” which transferred state responsibilities and funds to local governments.

In addition, the district has agreements with its employees to use more than 40% of any new funds from the state to pay deferred raises, general costs have risen—particularly health care—and the district has an ongoing deficit that has been supported by real estate sales. The district faces an $84 million shortfall in 2013–2014.

Even with the Prop 30 revenue, the district plans to sell at least $34 million of real estate and institute centralized resources, such as nursing and counseling. The district will not issue pink slips but hopes to use employee “attrition” with a hiring freeze to reduce expenses, which will be accomplished in part by increasing class sizes in grades K–3 to 27.

Principals’ Reports

The principal updates focused on teacher professional development, collaborations, and professional learning community meetings. They looked at intervention plans for at-risk students, Common Core Standards implementation, and discussion of what is working or needs improving and the use of technology in these areas.

In addition, Michelle Irwin, Marshall Middle School principal, invited the community to participate in its World Café, monthly parent discussions on books, documentaries, and speakers with themes on education. Dates are on the MMS calendar at [www.marshallmiddle.org].

Districtwide Cluster Conference

In preparation for a districtwide conference of cluster leaders, the committee developed answers to a district survey that focused on identifying the cluster’s greatest strengths—parent and community involvement—and weaknesses, such as time management. Also, we looked at how the schools address the district’s strategic plan with respect to quality schools, teachers, and curriculum. In addition, we identified three topics affecting our cluster: equitable allocation of school site funding, protection of programs threatened under budget reductions, and student safety.

Next Meeting

The SRSC’s next meeting is on Wednesday, Apr. 17, at 4:30 pm in the Scripps Ranch library’s seminar room. The public is welcome to attend.

Tamara Hurley, SRSC Legislative Analyst