I grew up in a community where most people knew everyone and neighbors looked out for each other. Students attended their neighborhood schools and parents supported their children's teachers. Most parents worked within the community and could be at their child's school in a matter of minutes. Times have changed, neighborhood schools are further apart from their neighbors, many parents work out of town and commute via public transportation. making it more difficult to pick up their child at a moments notice.
Some things, however, never change, like the desire for parents to send their children to a safe school that provides a quality education with engaging teachers and programs of interest for all students. That is the dream, but that can be the reality, if we make it so. My goal is to make it so.
LIST OF ISSUES
This past year we have instituted assessments that provide additional information to teachers as they begin to teach their students. They have a starting point and can use this along with interim and formative assessments to ensure student learning is taking place. Unfortunately, Covid 19 hit education hard and much of the year was a loss. However, our teachers stepped up and provided Distance Learning to our students. Additionally, we were able to provide the technical components required for distance learning to our students. We will start the new school year with a new and improved Distance Learning program. Hopefully, we will get back to the live classroom soon. Our teachers miss their students and our students are missing out on a structured learning environment and social interaction with their teachers and peers.
The district does not have a strategic plan and has not participated in a strategic planning session since 2011. In the mean time, the district has changed a great deal and the need for strategic planning is now. Early in my tenure I asked that strategic planning take place and was supported by all of the board members. The California Collaboration for Education Excellence, who recently audited our district came up with the same suggestion. Prior to the departure of Dr. Clark, he contracted with a facilitator to lead us in this process. Unfortunately, Covid 19 came along and delayed the process. However, we are ready to go and include the community of Vallejo in a strategic planning process. I am excited to see what we come up with as we first look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats present in our district and work together to optimize our strengths, minimize our weaknesses and take advantage of our opportunities by eliminating or controlling our threats.
Vallejo is a declining enrollment district, not unlike many other districts in the state. However, our district began declining 20 years ago and not much has really been done to remedy the situation. What we have done over the past two years is put in place programs to improve upon the attendance of those enrolled in our district. We receive funding from the state based on average daily attendance. Our efforts have been to increase average daily attendance to maximize the amount of dollars we receive to educate our youth. The programs initiated during the past two years need to continue. It is my intention that we also look at the root causes of our specific declining enrollment and put in place programs of choice to increase the number of students enrolled in the district.
We have taken the necessary actions to right-size our district. We have made the tough decisions to close schools and streamline personnel and have committed to spend money on essential, identified needs. Due to these efforts, we have moved our financial status from qualified to positive, as evidenced in our last interim report. Many of the issues impacting our finances were a result of declining enrollment but continuing to operate as if we still had 20,000 pupils. We did not recognize the severity of declining enrollment nor address the root causes of the decline. I believe the time has come to not only continue with the strategies put in place to address our financial issues but to begin to address the issues outside of the obvious, and investigate the possibility of bringing back lost students through programmatic changes that invite student participation.
School Climate and Culture
The climate and culture of the district has improved under the tenure of Dr. Clark and the current school board. The current climate and culture needs to be sustained through the continued focus of the board and superintendent. It is imperative for the health of the community, for students, teachers, and staff to feel respected, valued and safe when on any campus in the district. Social-emotional programs will continue to be employed within the district to achieve the level of safety and well being required for productive citizenship. And teachers and staff will be supported with professional development and tools needed to effectively do their jobs.