HUSD Meeting recap

School district takes first step in draft Equity Task Force action plan to combine kindergartens, reviews LCAP

At the June 12 school board meeting the Healdsburg Unified School District Board of Trustees had a packed agenda of items to review. Among those was a presentation on the Equity Task Force action plan draft and a review of changes to the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). 

Trustees provided input on the items, which are slated to return to the June 19 board meeting (after press times) for formal adoption.

Equity Task Force action plan draft

Throughout the year Superintendent Chris Vanden Heuvel has been working with the National Equity Project and the Equity Task Force team conducting town hall meetings and organizing listening campaigns in order to garner input from the community on the equity climate in the district and how it could change or improve.

“What we did was some deep listening,” Vanden Huevel said of the campaigns. 

Perhaps the biggest step in the action draft plan is creating one kindergarten program, resulting in the charter only having grades one to five. 

“This is one of the bigger changes that I think we maybe didn’t see coming for this next year,” Vanden Huevel said. “Last week the charter governance council got together, had a meeting and revised the charter and is making a recommendation to the trustees to have one kindergarten program under Healdsburg Elementary School. I think that is huge. I think it says a lot about how far our community has come.”

Still, he said, “We have work to do around it.” 

They will ask trustees to adopt everyday math as their curriculum since there are currently two different math curriculums at the elementary schools. 

“We found everyday math to be a better curriculum so we want to adopt that for all of the kids,” he explained.

Vanden Heuvel also noted that project-based learning will not be changed at the charter school. 

Also, with one kindergarten program there will be smaller classes of around 18 kids versus 24 or so.

Trustee Aracely Romo-Flores said of the big change: “It is super important that this will be successful so our kids are getting the best education.” 

She also said it will be important to be very transparent about the changes to come. Trustee Mike Potmesil echoed the sentiment.

Vanden Heuvel said the team spent time reaching out to all incoming kindergarten parents to discuss the change with them and answer any questions or concerns.

Another big goal of the action plan is to establish one elementary school program.

“Very clearly from the community the task force heard that they wanted one elementary school,” Vanden Heuvel said. “I don’t know if it is going to be phased in over time, we might just do the whole thing at once, I’m not sure.”

During public comment two people spoke on the matter. 

Jenny Levine-Smith, an equity task force member and a Healdsburg resident said, “We cannot overstate how grateful we are for all of this,” referring to the teams’ work. “It was a real deep dive into a really, really uncomfortable subject, and difficult work.” 

She said the task force is particularly thrilled about the professional development side as well as moving toward one school and celebrating diversity.

Resident and parent Holly Fox said she is really pleased with what’s in the action plan.

Trustees seemed to unanimously support the items in the plan and applauded the work of the task force team for creating such an in-depth plan in a relatively short time span, however, Trustee Aracely Romo-Flores said she wanted to see more equitable learning outcomes in the plan.

Considerations and ideas for the draft action plan included: Increase bilingual/bicultural staff, create ongoing curricular training in the English Language Department by providing professional training via budget funds, examine and change translation process by researching other translating options that aren’t simultaneous, create a new process to explain English Learner classification by creating a new language survey form, and creating a community liaison — which has been posted and is budgeted and board approved. 

The plan also calls for working on more parent communication via phone calls, email and text, most of which is timelined for this spring and fall. 

Other items included: Cultivating a more college-bound culture by exploring tutoring options, getting Spanish speakers to communicate with teachers via the community liaison, creating more opportunities for meetings with English learner families and conducting an initial meeting, reaching out to parents for technology training via parent education nights, and creating school wide cultural events to help bridge the cultural divide.

LCAP Changes

After the meeting briefly adjourned due to a fire alarm — the alarm was allegedly pulled on accident by a construction worker, there was a public hearing regarding changes to the proposed 2019-20 LCAP.

There were no comments on the plan.

Erin Fender, director of curriculum and instruction, provided a brief update on the LCAP for the district and for the charter school.

The LCAP, which is a three-year strategic plan for how a district can improve and increase student achievement and district specific goals for students, is state-mandated and must be updated annually.

The coming 2019-20 school year will be the third year for the district’s current plan.

“The whole point of the LCAP was to put forth a document to our stakeholders, to engage in a process with our stakeholders and get input from local folks to write that strategic plan,” Fender said. 

She said the report has ended up as a dense, 200-page report. To make the report a bit easier to read and understand, an infographic was created for parents to better understand the four-point plan.

The plan has four goals including rigor, relevance, community and facilities.

Changes to Goal 1 actions include no longer having a full time ELD coach. Instead, there will be two instructional technology coaches.

Changes in Goal 2 include eliminating career academies at Healdsburg High School. Fender said the main reason for this decision was because the classes were not filling up and there were scheduling issues. 

A positive change was the implementation of providing free PSAT testing for all 11th- grade students.

In Goal 3 there were several changes, such as working on adding a TK-5 parent/ community liaison, which was also identified by the Equity Task Force Action Plan, getting interpreters in addition to translators, and implementing trauma informed practices and unconscious bias training. 

In Goal 4 (facilities) the few changes included getting new furniture items at HES, such as the wobble seats according to Fender, and making improvements to the physical education facilities at the HHS and Healdsburg Junior High School gyms.

Changes to the Charter School LCAP included implementing next generation science standards in Goal 2.

To view the entire Equity Task Force Plan and changes to the LCAP view the school board agenda packet by clicking here: 

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