At the Dec. 3 meeting of the Windsor Unified School District Board of Trustees, a lot of end-of-the-year housekeeping dominated the agenda.
School calendar changes
With WUSD students missing nearly two weeks of classes due to the Public Safety Power Shutoffs and the Kincade Fire, the district is scrambling to try to figure out how to make sure students receive an appropriate number of educational days and the district receives the money it is due.
The state has allowed districts affected by the fire and shutoffs to petition to backfill their funding for lost days, though they haven’t received official confirmation that that will be happening.
“We’ve not gotten a definite commitment, but we’ve gotten a pretty strong assurance that our waiver will be granted,” Kruger said.
However, financing is not the only concern for school districts. Windsor had prepared for possible issues by having two reserve disaster days on the calendar, June 1 and June 2. Though two days now seem inadequate, the other concern expressed by teachers and Superintendent Brandon Krueger is that “instruction days in the middle of the school year are not the same as instruction days at the end.”
Therefore, there will be a shifting of calendar days such that a previously created professional development day on Feb. 7, where the students would not come to school, has been swapped with the June 2 school day. Students will now come to school on Feb. 7 and the professional development day will take place June 2.
Graduation and promotion ceremonies will go on as scheduled, notably Windsor High School on May 30, North Bay Met on May 28 and Cali Calmecac and Windsor Middle School on May 29.
Understandably, the board, and many parents are skeptical of the schools’ ability to get graduated seniors to return to class.
“It will be an instructional day on June 1, but we will look at way to structure it appropriately for seniors,” Krueger said. “We knew going into this additional day planning that many would not be coming back, but maybe we can put something inviting together.”
Plans for Student Achievement
Every December like clockwork, principals from around the district must come before the board and discuss the previous years goals for student achievement, whether or not those goals were met, and then share their goals for the coming year.
Brian Williams, principal of Windsor Middle School (WMS), went first. WMS’ three goals for the 2018-2019 school year included: 1) Increasing the overall performance of English language arts and mathematics by reducing the distance from “Met” by three points at each grade level. This was implemented by using a universal screener, a Newsela subscription, professional development on the Five Dimensions of Teaching and Learning and additional staff for intervention; 2) Improving the reclassification rate, which is the percentage of students making progress toward reclassification, and the performance of English learners on the CAASPP in the areas of English language arts and math will decrease the distance from “met” by more than three points. This was implemented by using additional staff to create an English learner cohort in all of the core areas; and 3) to implement a multi-tiered system of support to reduce the year-over-year suspension rate by 0.3%, with an emphasis on reducing the suspension rates for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, Hispanic/Latino males and students in special education. Williams created a dean’s list to help with this implementation.
Goal one was partially met, in that all the groups but one — 6th grade English language arts — made the desired progress.
“We’re developing a plan to figure out why we saw such great gains in 7th and 8th but not 6th,” Williams said.
Goal two was fully met, and goal three is uncertain because the data has not been released by the state yet.
The goals for 2019-2020 are essentially the same, with goals one and three remaining unchanged and goal two being slightly altered to reflect improvements in the English learner cohort better. It now reads “Increase student performance for English Learner student on CAASPP in the areas of ELA and Math by 3%. Increase collective performance of English Learner students between Accelerated English End-of-Semester-1 Benchmark and AE End-of-Semester-2 Benchmark by an average of 3%.”
For Windsor High School, new principal Lamar Collins had to present on goals that he had not created, nor had he implemented, but he did have the opportunity to create his own for the coming year.
For the 2018-2019 school year, the three goals for WHS were 1) Data-driven decision making; 2) Strengthening college and career exploration and academic goal setting; and 3) Development of restorative practice systems and improved communication feedback loop.
Implementation of goal one was spotty, due to issues with lack of technology; as a result it was not met. According to Collins, common assessments are still being developed and calibrated and lack of technology caused the iReady rollout to be delayed.
Goal 2 was implemented using academic support classes, tutoring hours were added to support struggling learners and a college/career fair was held. This goal was met.
Goal three was implemented by extending restorative practices training and collecting and sharing data from a student/staff survey. This goal was also met.
For 2019-2020, Collins reduced the number of goals to two, as he felt that WHS’ restorative practices programs are so well-established they no longer need to be set as a goal.
The two goals for the coming year include: 1) focus on data-driven decision making through identification, administration and analysis of common assessments administered over the 2019-2020 school year. Departments/subject level will analyze common assessments. Gaps in learning will be identified and addressed through data disaggregation; and 2) Continue to strengthen college and career exploration and academic goal setting as measured through increased junior participation rates in college assessments, with a goal of increasing the number of juniors who sign up for the PSAT by 10%.
Construction manager Eric Van Pelt provided the board with a quick update to current projects in the district and also alerted them it was time to start preparing for next year’s projects.
Most of the “punch list” items (items that were found to need repair or adjustment after the completion of the project) from this year’s projects have been completed, barring a few that are weather- or delivery-dependent (such as repairing concrete crack in the new high school stadium bathroom or installing the commercial oven in the middle school’s culinary room).
The installation of cameras at the high school is complete, with one more check to ensure that they’re angled correctly to get the best view.
The big projects for the coming year include re-roofing at multiple sites and the new classroom building at Mattie Washburn, which has started its journey through the design committee. Once the design is finalized and brought for approval to the board, it must then go through Division of the State Architect (DSA) approval before construction can begin.
“It’s a busy time,” Van Pelt said. “I can’t believe we’re gearing up for next year already.”
There was also a presentation on the application of the $1.7 million grant the district received from iAspire for integrated arts education.
The grant money had been used for the purchase of supplies and technology as well as a pair of “summer summits” for professional development to teach teachers how to integrate the arts into their daily curriculum.
According to consultants Bob Bullwinkel and David Reider, 95% of the elementary level faculty participated as well as significant numbers from the upper grades.Thus, the primary line of questioning from the board had to do with how to sustain the enthusiasm and integration going forward as the grant expires.
Their suggestions included doing another summit, though not one as involved as before — “It won’t cost you another million,” joked Reider — to help keep this fire going in the teachers and then also seeking additional outside monies to keep some of the programs going as part of the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Plan.
“Windsor needs to find ways to fly its flag and let people know what it’s doing,” Bullwinkel said. “Money follows that kind of buzz. Letting people know what’s happening here is a way to get funding. The kids this year will have had it and kids next year will want it, so find ways to showcase it.”
“Your messaging should be, test scores have never gone down after integrating the arts,” Reider said.