Scripps Ranch Schools Committee (SRSC)
In October we welcomed new parent representatives and district staff: Gil Gutierrez, Area 6 superintendent; Sue DeVicariis, Jerabek Elementary School principal; and, Liz Sloan, Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School principal.
In response to a question Gil discussed the ongoing Common Core State Standards preparations, including staff development, preparation, and classroom observations at different school sites.
School board trustee Kevin Beiser spoke about the status of air conditioning installation at district schools, including Scripps Ranch High and Dingeman Elementary. The board has approved the first of five areas to be bid, with multiple contractors doing installations simultaneously. Air conditioning will be installed in classrooms and two critical auxiliary areas on each campus, such as a nurse’s office.
In response to a question regarding distribution of the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds, Kevin said that Scripps Ranch schools are unlikely to receive any of these funds as they are designated for schools with high-poverty students. [Only LCFF supplemental and concentration grant funds are designed for high-needs students. Base grant funding is used for all schools.]
From Our Principals
All principals shared staff efforts around the impending implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), as well as collaborations with the other schools. Sue noted that the Jerabek Family Faculty Organization was financially supporting CCSS curriculum writing.
Principal Peggy Crane from Miramar Ranch Elementary shared improved test scores in math, science, and English language arts. She also updated the committee on efforts to find a compromise to issues surrounding a new electronic marquee for the school.
Liz spoke about EBS’s higher enrollment and new vice principal, Mark Morici. During a site visit, Kevin designated EBS a GATE school. Teachers have been using differentiated lessons, so there is unlikely to be noticeable differences.
Kimie Lochtefeld from Dingeman Elementary shared the success of early implementation of CCSS teaching techniques last year, which boosted test scores and increased the school’s Academic Performance Index (API) to 971. She also shared the staff’s efforts to seek grants, citing the “BEE-BOTs” robots to introduce robotics and programming as an example.
Marshall Middle School principal Michelle Irwin shared test score improvements in math and science, with English scores unchanged. MMS has an API of 934. Also, small grade-level groups are working on the CCSS.
Scripps Ranch High principal Ann Menna shared success in balancing class sizes to a maximum of 36 students by the second week of school, despite problems with PowerSchool, the new software.
Policy and Legislative Updates
Tamara Hurley shared state legislative bills and actions that impact education. California Standardized Testing is suspended for 2014, and the district suspended benchmark testing. New district testing will be written, but is not yet defined.
The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is now law. It provides additional funding for low-income, English learners, and foster students. The school board has expressed divided philosophies for spending these funds. Public input sessions on LCFF are planned. See [www.sandi.net/lcff] for more details.
The school board passed a resolution for reduced class size, and the teachers’ union is pressuring the board to lower class sizes. However, current law allows merely “movement toward” K–3 class size ratios of 1:24, the union contract allows for higher class sizes, and school board president John Lee Evans explained that budget realities put constraints on the ability to reduce class sizes.
Proposed School Calendars
Of great interest to the committee was the potential change of all district schools to a common calendar. It would replace year-round and traditional calendars, with a school start date of Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, a three-week winter break, a two-week spring break, and ending Monday, June 22, 2015. The proposed calendar is on the SRCA website at [www.scrippsranch.org/documents/SDUSDcal.pdf].
The goal is to finish the first semester before winter break, which pushes the start of the school year into early to mid-August, with the common calendar for 2014–2015 part of that transition. The current common calendar has been approved by the district Calendar Committee. Conversion to a common calendar will cost several million dollars the first year but is expected to reap annual savings thereafter. The financial analysis is not yet available.
The intention is for the district to distribute a “communication plan” to solicit feedback on the proposal and then to present the calendar, cost/savings analysis, and feedback to the school board for approval before winter break. As of press time, the communication plan for feedback had not been released. Until then, feedback can be sent to a Calendar Committee representative through [[email protected]].
The Calendar Committee is going to produce traditional and year-round options as well. The majority of members are committed to moving the school start date before Labor Day, so it is likely that all other proposed calendars will have an Aug. 25 start date. Also as of press time, the Cluster Congress was developing a survey for all stakeholders on some of the big concepts, such as moving the start date before Labor Day and the lengths of the mid-year instructional breaks.
Because of the size of the library’s seminar room and parking issues, Schools Committee meetings will now be held in the MMS community room. Meetings are on the third Wednesday of each month at 4:30 pm. The next meeting is on Wednesday, Dec. 18. For questions, email co-chair Shana Smith at [[email protected]].
Tamara Hurley, SRSC Legislative Analyst