Measure L Bond Update
The Board of Trustees voted at its meeting on April 16 to file an active validation lawsuit regarding its resolution to authorize the issuance of up to $5 million of bonds for needed school construction.
The resolution authorizing the bonds was approved after a series of public Board meetings at which borrowing costs and tax rate scenarios were discussed. The funding represents the balance of an $8 million bond measure that Hope District voters approved as part of Measure L in June 2010.
The Board’s borrowing plan features a repayment ratio of less than two dollars for every dollar borrowed, saving taxpayers millions of dollars over a 25-year term. To accomplish this outcome, the plan relies only upon current interest bonds and uses no capital appreciation bonds, which have a longer term for repayment and would drive borrowing costs higher.
The Board of Trustees is convinced that this plan is the best possible arrangement for property owners, even though the funding plan projects an increase in estimated tax rates. The plan can be likened to a credit card holder who pays the balance due each month rather than the minimum monthly payment and its accompanying high interest cost. With respect to the bond measure, the increase could range from $9-$18 per every $100,000 of assessed valuation. These amounts are below the legal limit of $30 per every $100,000 of assessed property value.
The potential tax increase resulting from the bond issuance, however, is the reason that the Board is taking the pro-active step of initiating the active validation process. In this process, the school district seeks a court ruling regarding tax rates while inviting response from members of the community who would object to the increase. The Board has chosen this path because it is a transparent approach to secure court validation to fund a library for Monte Vista School, renovate the multi-purpose room for Vieja Valley School, and acquire educational technology for students throughout the district.
Students in Grades 2-6 take the California Standards Test the weeks of April 29-May 10. Scores on these tests tell parents how well their children have mastered the content standards for their grade level. Results will be mailed to your home during the summer. Please help your child do his or her best by maintaining a regular schedule during the testing window, getting plenty of rest, and eating a healthy breakfast before coming to school.
Common Core Curriculum—Grade-Level In-Service
On Thursday afternoon, May 9, district teachers will meet after school to work in study groups on topics related to the new common core curriculum. The common core standards will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. The after school grade-level meeting will offer teachers another opportunity to increase their familiarity with the new content and teaching techniques that will be required.
End of School Year Approaching
With the arrival of May, we have reached the last full month of the school year. Please remember that our last day of school is June 7. Grade 6 graduations will be held that day. Monday, May 27 is Memorial Day, a school holiday.
The first school day for students for 2013-2014 is Monday, August 26.
Please write or call at anytime if you should have questions or if we can provide assistance. Thank you.
The school year is now well past the halfway point. Soon, it will be spring and we will enter the last months of the school year. In our classrooms, it is a key time for student learning and growth.
At this time of year, I like to reflect on our goals to determine if we are truly focusing on what we have agreed is important. Here is a brief summary of these goals and some comments about what has been accomplished.
1. Maximize Student Achievement and Potential: This goal is the foundation of the three-year Strategic Plan. This goal is easily observed. I visit each school’s classrooms at least one time per month. The success of the teacher’s instructional efforts is seen in the active engagement of students. The proof of their learning lies in the answers they contribute to classroom discussions and the written work that students generate. Classroom visits confirm the reputation for high achievement among Hope School District students.
2. Assessment to Guide Instruction: We have done a lot in this area. Our teachers are actively working to learn online programs that monitor student progress. The results help us see the areas in which instruction is helping students, and those areas in which we need to do more or modify our approach. We have had in-service days and school-based training to accomplish this goal. There is a heightened awareness of the importance of assessment, and the use of results to modify instruction to meet student need. Assessment is an ongoing process, and whether it is done online or with classroom observation and paper and pencil tests, Hope School District teachers recognize the importance and value of knowing what students are learning, and what they need to learn next.
3. Enrichment and Intervention: The critical point here is that every student, whether advanced, on-grade level, or below, needs time and opportunity to be challenged at his or her current skill level. Each of our schools allocates specific times in the school day in which this type of targeted instruction takes place. The varied activities, known by the term differentiated instruction, are provided in our classrooms on a daily basis during enrichment and intervention time. Some teachers extend the school day to assist students after school has ended. A couple of our schools are providing after school learning opportunities for students across a range of skill levels. Finally, as a result of our close collaboration with involved parents, PTA-sponsored after school enrichment programs are offered.
4. Technology as an Instructional Tool: The funds that our community approved through Measure L have been essential to accomplish this goal. As a result of this support, schools have lap top computers for classroom instruction in Grades 4-6, and iPads and iPod Touches in primary grades. Visit our classrooms: The use of technology to supplement and strengthen student learning is frequently evident. The increased use of educational technology to engage students and differentiate learning according to skill need has been an enormous benefit. It is a gift from our community that we will always appreciate.
5. Teamwork Within and Across Schools: The combined focus on achievement, assessment, technology, and instruction has led our teachers to seek opportunities to work in teams to plan curriculum for our students. While it happens informally every day, each Thursday afternoon is set aside expressly for this purpose. Some of these Thursday afternoons are additionally planned to permit teachers to meet in grade level teams with colleagues from across the district. Each of these team meetings heightens our effectiveness as a district. Finally, the advent of electronic communications now allows our teachers to share lessons not only with each other, but also with teachers from around the world. The growth that results from teachers sharing the challenges they face and the lessons that they develop has been phenomenal over the past several years. Teamwork and rapid development of new ideas has replaced more traditional models of incremental change. We are doing well in this area, and we can do even more.
That’s a quick summary of our key goals and the progress that we are making. You may notice that each domain has roots in our Strategic Plan. Please call, write, or meet with us if you should have any comment or suggestion that would help us on our way. Thank you!
The major benefit of Proposition 30 is that further budget cuts are unnecessary. Less certain is whether funding will improve for our district in the coming years. Governor Brown has proposed a new formula to fund California public schools. Known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the governor’s plan would seek to equalize school funding over the next seven years.
The good part of the plan is that Hope School District would remain a basic aid district, allowing us to keep local tax revenue as our funding base. Less clear is whether our funding will grow over the next seven years, and if so, by how much. We will need to keep an eye on the outcome of state budget deliberations. While we will not lose money to budget cuts as we have over the past four years, we want to know how to project future program development based upon LCFF, the new school funding mechanism.
School districts are beginning to receive estimates of LCFF impacts. As we know more, I will relay the information to you through this column and my meetings with parents and staff at school PTA meetings.
Measure L and School Facilities
As of this writing, the Board of Trustees is very close to giving direction to fund the remainder of the bonds approved under Measure L. The remaining amount is $5 million. The money will be targeted for the construction of a new library at Monte Vista School and a renovation of the Multi-Purpose Room at Vieja Valley School. The remaining funds from the bond will be allocated to continue the use of educational technology in district classrooms over the next three years.
At the Board meeting on March 11, Board members will hear a presentation from our architect and contractor regarding construction costs. If the figures meet the Board’s expectations, then the remaining bond funds will be drawn and construction on the Monte Vista library would begin as soon as this summer. At this same meeting, the Board will consider how to structure the next round of bond funds to balance the competing interests for reasonable tax rates and fiscally sound borrowing.
A lot will be happening, and you are welcome to join us at the next meeting. Public comment is always welcome. The meeting will be held March 11, 7 PM, in the Hope School District Board Room.
The above information covers the major district news for the month. Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled the week of March 4-8. Students in Grades 1-6 are dismissed at 1:30 PM; kindergarten dismissal time remains the same. Spring break will be the week of March 25-29.
Thanks for your time to read this newsletter. Please write, call or visit if we can provide information or assistance. We are grateful for your support!
Happy New Year and welcome back. As I write, classes are in session for the second day since the break. We are happy to see everyone again, and enthusiastically look forward to the months ahead. Here are some notes regarding district news as we start the new year.
Budget Restorations—Proposition 30
Proposition 30’s success enabled our Board of Trustees to rescind a number of planned fiscal reductions. Thanks to Proposition 30, our Board voted to restore the following items that were scheduled for elimination if the measure had failed:
Restore School Days on June 6 and 7, Eliminate Furlough Days
(The Board Will Take Formal Action at the January 22 Board Meeting)
| One Night Custodian for the Remainder of the 2012-2013 School |
| Reading Specialist Positions|
| Enrichment and Intervention Teaching Specialists|
| Lead Teachers|
| Funds to Supplement Site Payments for Computer Specialists|
| Teaching Positions to Maintain Class Size|
The Board chose to keep these items because of their importance to our instructional mission with students.
Although Proposition 30 cannot solve the budgetary challenges that we face, its passage does eliminate the threat of much deeper cuts to our educational program. It is a great relief that we can maintain the services and personnel listed above that are essential components of the high quality program for which our district is recognized.
The national trend towards common core curriculum standards has been mentioned in previous newsletters. Hope School District has begun to prepare for the change in curriculum with an in-service day for teachers held last October. The preparation will continue with an after school meeting for teachers on January 17. At this meeting, teachers will work together to practice lesson planning in English-Language Arts and Mathematics using the new common core standards. The changeover to the new standards is expected to be complete by the 2014-2015 school year.
Here are samplings of some other curriculum developments at our three schools:
Vieja Valley: Grade 4 students preparing for the Math Super Bowl competition in May have been working on line with a group of San Marcos High School students to practice problem solving and receive immediate feedback. It’s a clever way to engage our students with higher-order math skills while using technology to increase communication, teamwork, and learning.
Monte Vista: Principal Nancy Lorenzen and seven teachers attended a two-day training academy to learn up-to-date strategies to accelerate academic challenge for children learning English. The methods learned turn out to be practical for use with all students, and the principal and staff are thinking of ways to share the new knowledge with teachers throughout our district.
Hope: With the help of supplemental funds in the school budget, Hope School has initiated an after school program to help 20 children struggling to meet the challenge of our rigorous academic standards. Two teachers and additional volunteer help have been coordinated to offer this program to help the targeted students. All students, however, realize the benefit because the additional after school support enables classroom teachers to more easily focus on the needs of all learners during the regular school day.
Hope School District wishes to thank the Santa Barbara Kiwanis Club for its support at the Hope School District Educational Foundation’s (HSDEF) Pancake Breakfast held last November. Charging HSDEF only for the materials, the generous members of the service organization lead the preparation, cooking, and clean-up that makes this annual event possible. We are so fortunate to live and work in a community that is so supportive of our local schools. Please join me in thanking the Santa Barbara Kiwanis Club for its kind and generous assistance.
If you missed the breakfast this year, watch for the event next year. We’d love to see you there!
In collaboration with our district’s GATE program, a series of workshops for parents is being presented at our three schools. The first workshop, held in December, helped parents raise mindful children. The second workshop was held on January 10, 7 PM, at Vieja Valley School regarding childhood well being. The final workshop will be held April 10 at 7 PM at Monte Vista School.
Presenters are Dr. Jane Close Conoley and her husband, Dr. Collie Conoley. The pair are UCSB professors. Jane is also the Dean of the School of Education, though she was recently appointed the interim chancellor at UC Riverside.
The workshops are open free of charge to all parents—having a child in GATE is not required. If you missed the first two workshops, we hope you have a chance to join us at Monte Vista School in April. The workshops have been lively and informative.
Those are the main items to report for January. We want to do the very best that we can for your children, so please write or call us at any time if we can answer questions or offer assistance. Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you at our schools during this second half of the school year.
Parents want their children to be academically challenged every day. For that reason, lessons that appropriately challenge each student are a central concern of classroom teachers. Despite this common focus, parents sometimes wonder how a teacher manages to provide lessons adapted to the varied learning needs of the children in each classroom.
Intervention and Enrichment
In Hope School District, one of the answers is Intervention and Enrichment time. Daily intervention and enrichment is a key component of our Strategic Plan. You may recall that the Board of Trustees adopted our Strategic Plan three years ago. The plan was the product of two days of facilitator-led planning meetings in spring of 2010. A committee of parents, teachers, classified staff, and administrators developed the plan. The plan draft was shared with school site councils and school staff before presentation to the Board of Trustees. The Strategic Plan provides a road map of ideas, activities, and curriculum that enable us to maximize each child’s academic potential. Among those activities is the Intervention and Enrichment program.
What is Intervention and Enrichment time? It is a scheduled time each day, generally one-half hour to forty-five minutes, in which classroom teachers regroup students so that they receive either advanced academic enrichment or essential skill reinforcement. Our Board of Trustees has allocated additional money to hire an intervention and enrichment teacher at each school. Schools further supplement available personnel with support staff hired with School Site Council approval. The result is a greater number of adults to provide instruction and guidance to students during Intervention and Enrichment time. This instructional program can take place at one school-wide time, or it can be arranged by grade level—it depends on the school.
What happens during Intervention and Enrichment time? Students are regrouped according to skill levels and provided with instruction targeted to their needs. For example, enrichment students may be observed analyzing current event articles from the newspaper in fourth grade, writing science reports in first grade, or competing in mathematics with students in fifth grade from schools around the world via the Internet.
At the same time, students who need to reinforce skills might be engaged with discussing and writing answers to comprehension questions based upon informational text, or writing equations to practice mastery of addition facts.
Frequent assessment is conducted to make sure that students receive appropriate instruction during this time period.
Overall, Enrichment and Intervention assures that students are learning something new each day. The effort to coordinate program and differentiate instruction demonstrates our staff’s commitment to meeting student needs. If you would like more information about our schools’ Intervention and Enrichment program, please ask your child’s teacher or school principal.
Voter approval for Proposition 30 eliminates annual reductions of $457 per student. This is good news because it means that we can keep $457,000 that otherwise would have been lost mid-year. Proposition 30 also means that our Board of Trustees can now consider restoration of budget reductions that were planned in the event the ballot measure had failed. These reductions included furlough days, a night custodial position, and loss of teachers for intervention, reading, and classroom positions.
The Board will need to decide which spending items to restore, and to what degree deficit spending should be reduced. Our Board of Trustees has managed our budget well through the many financial obstacles encountered since 2009. I am confident that a continued sound effort will be made to support our students and schools. Budget items are considered at public Board meetings. Our next meeting is Monday night, December 17, 7 PM in the District Office Board Room. You are welcome to attend.
Additional factors that affect our revenue are property tax revenue, student enrollment, and so-called Fair Share reductions that the state levies against Basic Aid districts. State plans to modify the funding formula for public schools pose another potential loss to Hope District schools.
The Board of Trustees and I will keep a watchful eye on each of these developments; in the meantime, the passage of Proposition 30 is very welcome news.
Measure L Bond Update
The Board of Trustees gave approval to fund the remaining $5 million in bonds from Measure L. The bond funds, authorized through supermajority voter approval of Measure L in June 2010, will be used to build a new library at Monte Vista School, remodel the Vieja Valley School multi-purpose room, and provide additional classroom technology.
The district will not move forward, however, unless the architect and builder are able to construct the library for not more than $3.3 million. Plans to meet these price specifications will be presented at the December 17 Board meeting.
The initial bond series of $3 million was used to provide the solar energy panels at our three schools and classroom technology upgrades. The annual savings on our electricity bills as a result of photovoltaic energy is around 70%. In addition, we are receiving approximately $118,000 this year in solar energy rebates from Southern California Edison. The savings and revenue are particularly important during the current economic downturn. Our district is very grateful for the community support that permitted these improvements.
Our thanks go to all parents who made time to attend parent-teacher conferences in mid-November. Your involvement is a big reason that our schools run so well.
I hope that you had an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving with your families and friends. Winter holidays are approaching. The last day of school in December is Friday, December 21. Dismissal time that day will be 12:45 PM for students in Grades 1-6. Kindergarten dismissal time is unchanged.
Winter Break is from December 24 to January 4. Schools re-open Monday, January 7.
I wish you a very happy holiday season. Please call or write at any time with questions, concerns, or suggestions. Thank you for your support.
The Board of Trustees faces a challenging decision at its meeting on November 19.
As you know, 70% of voters approved Measure L, which authorized the district to fund $8 million worth of general obligation bonds. Four main objectives were listed for this money. These objectives were:
- Install photovoltaic power cells to reduce energy costs and to
generate revenue from solar power rebates.
- Build a new library at Monte Vista School.
- Renovate the Multi-Purpose Room at Vieja Valley School.
- Provide upgraded educational technology for classroom
instruction and student work.
The plan was to fund the bond through a series of installments. The reason for this incremental approach is that it holds the most promise to maintain stable tax rates on assessed property value. The target rate was approximately $9 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
To date, the district has funded $3 million through the first series of bonds. The money was used to install the photovoltaic systems and to acquire the first round of upgraded educational technology for classrooms. That work is complete, and the district is realizing substantial savings on energy and revenue from energy rebates. Students and teachers use the new educational technology daily.
The focus has now turned to funding the second bond series. Once again, the district needs $3 million, this time to build a new library at Monte Vista School. Monte Vista would be the last of the three district schools to receive a new library; Vieja Valley’s and Hope School’s libraries were rebuilt within the past decade.
The challenge is that assessed valuation of property within Hope School District has declined. The decrease makes it more expensive to fund the second series of bonds. This fact means that to fund $3 million to build the library, the tax rate on property owners could increase by approximately $4 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. That would bring the tax rate closer to $14 per $100,000 of assessed valuation rather than $9.
Therein lies the dilemma that the Board of Trustees must resolve. If we are to proceed and build the library, tax rates increase. If the Board chooses not to fund the next series of bonds, the old library, currently housed in temporary relocatable buildings, will remain. There is no single solution that fulfills all objectives.
The Board of Trustees will discuss this topic as an action item at its meeting on November 19. Board meetings are held in the District Office Board Room, 3970 La Colina Road. Meetings start at 7 PM. Parents and community members are welcome to attend the public meeting. Your input and comments would be greatly appreciated.
Remember to Vote. Hope School District's financial situation will be affected by the outcome of Propositions 30 and 38. Discussion of these two measures is provided in previous superintendent newsletters. Programs and staff will be reduced if the propositions lose; income and sales tax temporarily increase if the propositions win. Regardless of your point of view, this election is important. Please vote.
Parent-Teacher Conferences take place starting November 9 and last until November 20. Grades 1-6 are dismissed at 1:30 on those days to allow time for the conferences. If you haven’t arranged a time to meet with your child’s teacher, please contact the school to make an appointment. Student achievement rises when home and school work together as a team.
Schools will be closed in honor of Veterans’ Day on Monday, November 12.
The Hope School District Educational Foundation (HSDEF) will hold its annual free Pancake Breakfast on November 17, from 8 am to 11 am. This year, the event will be held at Hope School. The free breakfast is HSDEF’s way to thank the community for its support of our schools. Most recently, HSDEF held a successful golf tournament that raised thousands of dollars to support our three schools.
Goleta Valley Beautiful planted eleven trees at Vieja Valley School on Saturday, October 27. With this round of planting, Goleta Valley Beautiful has now planted several dozen trees at our schools. We are grateful to this community sponsor for its generosity and help.
Thanksgiving Recess will be November 21-23. Schools will be closed on those dates. We wish each of you a happy and restful holiday celebration with your families.
Once again, I would like to thank our families and community for your kind and generous support. Our success depends upon our partnership with you.
Dear Parents: As I write this letter, we are now five weeks into the new school year. We are definitely underway! Thanks go to all families for helping our students with the transition back to school.
Families also deserve recognition for outstanding attendance at Back To School Nights on September 6. I visited each campus that evening. Parental time and attention reinforce the efforts of student and staff alike. We appreciate your support; your encouragement helps us do our best.
This month, I will focus my comments on two important items that affect schools and students.
Common Core Curriculum Standards
Common Core Curriculum Standards are part of a national movement to standardize curriculum throughout the United States. The educational campaign for common curriculum is voluntary; California is one of forty-five states that have signed on to the effort. The intended result is an educational program that holds high expectations for instruction, learning, and assessment in classrooms across the nation.
The new curriculum standards number fewer than the current set of California standards. The key differences, however, are that the new standards will require greater depth of instruction, learning, and expectations for higher student achievement. Instructionally, classrooms will challenge students to innovate, problem-solve, and collaborate to prepare them for higher education and a competitive global economy.
Hope School District prides itself on its reputation for challenging instruction of higher order thinking skills. The new curriculum standards will reinforce and intensify that effort. To familiarize teachers with the transition from current state standards to the common core curriculum, we are going to provide our teachers with a one-day training session on October 12.
Though one day will be just the beginning, it serves as an important stepping-stone to make the change to a revamped curriculum. Teachers will be consulted to determine what other support is needed for the transition to the common core curriculum. In the meantime, our effort to provide a strong standards-based curriculum within the California Standards continues to be the best method to prepare for the coming transition to the common core. The annual standardized testing program will first reflect the new standards in spring, 2015.
Please make note on your calendars that there is no school for students on October 12. I hope that this overview gives a better understanding of the value of taking this day to prepare teachers and students for the new curriculum.
Election Day—November 6 and Proposition 30
Hope School District has lost nearly $1.8 million in state budget reductions since 2008-2009. Lower property tax values, increased enrollment, and the economic downturn have combined to lower the revenue available to provide our children with basic programs.
The Board of Trustees, to honor its primary commitment to maintain fiscal solvency, has been forced to reduce services to students and compensation to employees. To their credit, our teachers and classified staff have understood the enormous pressure of reduced budgets. They have agreed to salary reductions in the form of two furlough days in 2012-2013, larger class sizes, fewer hours for instructional assistants, the loss of a night custodian position, and shorter hours for office clerical staff and health services. Our library media specialists also are working on a reduced schedule, and the district is unable to contribute to the hours for computer specialists this year.
The Board of Trustees has approved these painful cuts, but has had little choice. Ninety percent of the district budget is allocated to personnel costs. Within this context, the upcoming election on November 6 is very important to the future course of education.
Proposition 30, sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown, is proposed legislation that would temporarily raise state sales tax by .25% for four years. In addition, Proposition 30 proposes that state income tax be raised on individuals that earn more than $250,000 per year, or couples filing jointly that earn more than $500,000 per year. The tax increase would apply only to the amount earned in excess of the targeted amounts ($250K or $500K) for individuals or couples. The new taxes would expire in seven years.
The increased revenue, if Proposition 30 were to pass, would be used first for state deficit reduction through 2015-2016. With that goal implemented, some of the new revenue also would be allocated to maintain school funding at current levels. If Proposition 30 passes, Hope School District would not lose $457 per child, or $457,000, to mid-year budget cuts.
If Proposition 30 fails, there would be no temporary tax increases and the current tax structure would remain. Hope School District would lose $457,000 mid-year this year and every year thereafter as our contribution to state deficit reduction.
If Proposition 30 passes, the California Department of Finance calculates that state taxes per $100 of personal income will equal $6.67. If Proposition 30 fails, that amount drops to $6.45 per $100 of personal income. During the 1970s, when Ronald Reagan was governor, the tax rate per $100 of personal income was $6.89.
The November elections will be an important opportunity for the public to express its voice regarding the future of public education. Parents are encouraged to seek information regarding the key issues, and to be sure to vote on November 6.
October 12 - Professional Development Day—No School for Students
November 12 - Veterans’ Day—No School
November 9-20 - Conference Days—1:30 PM Dismissal, Grades 1-6
Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year! We hope that your children are ready and excited about the new school year. The teachers, staff, and I look forward to this opportunity to serve Hope School District families and students. Here are a few notes about what is new in the Hope School District.
Strategic Plan and Instruction
Hope School District is in the third year of its Strategic Plan. Educational technology and professional development are two major components of this plan.
The educational technology program made strides beginning last year, thanks to Measure L. Measure L was a bond initiative that our voters approved to install solar cell shade structures, build a school library, renovate a school multipurpose room, and acquire educational technology.
With Measure L funds, Hope School District purchased lap top computers for upper grade students, iPads for students in Grades 2 and 3, and iPod Touches for the early primary grades. Training was provided to promote effective use of these new tools. The effect is visible when visiting classrooms. Students use the equipment to develop projects or study independently according to their current skill level. Classroom application of technology and the Internet have increased access to information and the quality of written work and research. These advances are possible because of the generosity of our voters, and the staff and I are grateful for this kind support.
On August 22, our teachers will attend a one-day in-service to learn about our new online assessment program called Data Wise. This program enables teachers to create, schedule, and administer classroom tests, and to rapidly generate score reports. Teachers know this type of ongoing assessment as formative assessment. Formative assessment is critical because it quickly identifies what students have learned, and which skills need more discussion and review. The automated preparation of score reports permit teachers to efficiently tailor instruction to individual students in need of assistance.
Hope School District teachers will lead and present at this in-service. By growing our within-district capacity to use this technology, we promote the effective and timely use of this important instructional tool.
A second in-service day will be held on October 12. There is no school for students on that date. Teachers will attend training about the national core curriculum standards. Nation-wide standards are the outcome of an educational movement to standardize curriculum in all fifty states. By unifying learning expectations, it is possible to maintain high standards for every student and to compare student performance among states and districts. The transition to the new standards is projected for spring of 2015. It is important that Hope School District teachers be prepared for this broad-based reform.
Hope School District works closely with community agencies to expand educational opportunities for students. One such partnership is with United Way of Santa Barbara County. Most recently, United Way collaborated with our district by providing a grant to fund a summer pre kindergarten institute. This program enrolled eighteen incoming kindergartners. The children were selected through the kindergarten pre-screening process. The goal is to offer students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with school routines and procedures, and to allow the children to preview the lessons and content that they will start to learn in September. We are very grateful to United Way for their partnership and support.
Community partnership also resulted in sidewalk expansion and installation of flashing lights at the corner of Hope Avenue and Pueblo. This improvement came about from the work of a parent and school group called Safe Routes to School. Last year, Safe Routes to School walked the location with officials from city and county traffic control. The project will increase student safety at this heavily trafficked intersection. We are grateful to Safe Routes to School for initiating this collaboration with the city.
This year, Hope School District intends to capitalize on its gains in the area of cafeteria food for students. This year, parents and students can expect more food from scratch, more fresh fruits and vegetables from local vendors, and less processed food. Watch our menu over the course of the year. We hope you see the change, and that your children will want to participate in our cafeteria program.
The Board of Trustees, staff, and administration have collaborated to maintain programs for students in the face of steep cutbacks in school funding from the state. In an effort to keep class size manageable, district employees have accepted pay reductions in the form of two non-work furlough days. To minimize disruption to the educational program, employees asked, and the Board approved, that the furlough days fall on the days that would have been the last two days of school in June. These concessions are significant, and they reveal the commitment of staff to the welfare of our students. Other reductions include the loss of one night custodian and reduced hours for office clerks, library staff, and instructional assistants.
Ballot Tax Measures
On November 6, California voters will decide the fate of two ballot measures that would affect public school funding. The first is called Proposition 30. Proposition 30 involves a temporary increase of one-quarter percent in the state sales tax and a temporary increase on income tax for individuals that earn more than $250,000 a year, or couples earning more than $500,000 per year. If this measure passes with a majority vote, schools will be spared a mid-year reduction of an additional $457 per student. If the measure fails, the temporary tax increases would not go into effect and the mid-year “trigger” cut of $457 per student would be applied.
The Munger Initiative, Proposition 38, is another measure intended to help schools. If this measure were to pass, income taxes would temporarily increase, on a graduated scale, for persons earning in excess of $7,316 per year, or couples earning $14,632 or more per year. The revenue from Proposition 38 would be allocated to schools on a per student basis with an augmentation for students from low-income families. Finally, 12% of the funds would be targeted for educational technology in schools. If Proposition 38 fails, then the temporary income tax increases would not go into effect.
If Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 were to both pass, then the measure with the greatest number of votes would go into effect and the other measure would be defeated.
Within the context of budget reductions to public education, the outcome of these two measures carries a significant potential impact to Hope School District. Please stay informed on these issues, and be sure to vote on November 6.
Classes start August 27. Children in grades 1-6 will be dismissed at 1:30 PM on Thursday and Friday, August 30 and 31. Families can meet their children’s teachers on Friday afternoon, August 24. Your children’s school will have the exact time for this event.
I wish you and your children an enriching year of learning and growth in our schools. If there is any question or issue that arises, please contact your child’s school or my office. We are happy to give such matters personal attention. Thank you for taking the time to access our web site and reading this update. Here’s to a great 2012-2013 school year!
While summer is moving along quickly, more than a month remains until the first day of school on August 27. I hope that you are enjoying the more relaxed pace of summer. Here are a few mid-summer notes for parents. Thank you for accessing our web site to check for updates.
State and District Budget
Our Board of Trustees has adopted the budget for next year. Reductions in several areas are included. These reductions are the result of the combined financial pressures created by reduced state funding, low growth in property tax revenue, and increased student enrollment. To accommodate those factors, teachers, administrators, and other staff have accepted two furlough days that are scheduled for the last two days of the 2012-2013 school year. We are fortunate to have the staff that we do: Our teachers, for example, took the lead in bringing about furlough days because they saw that class size would otherwise increase. That level of commitment and concern for students is uncommon. Other reductions include elimination of a night custodial position and fewer hours of work for lunch clerks, library technicians, and school office/health clerks.
More budget reductions could become necessary mid-year if Proposition 30 fails to attain majority vote approval in November. Proposition 30 is the governor’s initiative to temporarily raise sales tax .25%, and income taxes on individuals earning $250,000 per year or couples earning $500,000 per year. If Proposition 30 fails, we would need to reduce our budget by another $457 per student in the middle of the school year. In addition to the reductions that the state has already imposed, this mid-year cut would further challenge our ability to provide the programs that our students deserve. In the face of this adversity, however, the Board, staff, and I remain committed to doing everything possible to maximize the academic program with limited resources.
Summer PreK Institute and Transitional Kindergarten
Eighteen students are attending our summer PreK institute. This program is for incoming kindergartners whose screening results suggested that they might benefit from additional preparation for kindergarten next fall. The program is taking place at Hope School, from July 16 until August 10.
The Board of Trustees has also given approval for the district to implement the Transitional Kindergarten program. Children who turn five in November are eligible for this program. Transitional Kindergarten is designed to allow the youngest students to remain in kindergarten for two years, increasing the probabilities of school success for students who might benefit from this opportunity. Questions about the Transitional program may be directed to your school office once they open the second week of August.
Extended School Year Summer School
Students with special needs have completed a four-week summer session held at Hope School. Brian Medel, our coordinator of special education, and our special education teaching staff provided this session to offer ongoing academic support to our students with special learning needs.
Other Summer Work
What else does our district office do over the summer? Here are a few of the things that keep us busy.
Teacher In-Service: Summer is the time that we plan the professional development activities for teachers when they return to work August 22, and again on October 12. This year in August, we are going to provide teachers with training for new online systems to measure how well our students are learning the key standards for their grade level. In October, we are trying to arrange training for our teachers in the new national core standards, a set of common learning targets that will be used in more than forty states nationwide. More information will follow as these plans develop.
Parent Handbook: When school starts each fall, we send parents a handbook with important school-related information and requirements. Each summer, this information is reviewed to cover any needed updates or revisions. This job is time-consuming, so we are grateful for the quiet time in summer to approach this task.
Teacher Handbook: We are developing a new handbook for teachers, also. This resource will provide teachers with a written guidebook regarding important policies and procedures with which district employees must be familiar. As a new project, this work also requires extended periods of concentrated effort, an ideal project for summer.
School Clean-Up: Our custodial staff each summer finds itself in a race against time to clean each classroom, office, restrooms, and cafeterias. Time exerts considerable pressure as our custodians work hard to be sure everything is clean and in good repair for the return of students and teachers.
Test Score Analysis: The state has not sent the standardized test results to us yet, but once they arrive, we need to work in high gear to mail them to parents and to summarize the data so that teachers and the Board of Trustees can see the areas in which students mastered content, and those areas to which greater attention must be paid.
Plan for Other Energy Saving Projects: Our solar electricity panels are doing a great job of generating savings on electricity and rebates. At the same time, we are looking for additional ways to reduce energy costs. Next to personnel, electricity is our second largest operating cost. This summer, we are working with energy consultants to consider whether to retrofit our lighting fixtures, or to make other changes to our heating and ventilation systems.
Please remember that school begins August 27. Thursday and Friday, August 30 and 31, students in Grades 1-6 will be dismissed at 1:30 PM.
The Labor Day holiday will be September 3.
Back to School Night will be held September 6. Details will follow.
October 12 will be a staff Professional Development Day. School will be closed for students on this date.
Thank you for checking in our district web site. You may call the district office at any time with questions. Your local school office should open August 8.
Thanks again and please continue to have a great summer!