On Thursday, March 7, the Coronado School Governing Board meeting began with a delightful treat. Coronado Middle School Performing Arts students performed two songs from their production of SHREK, ‘The Story of My Life’, and ‘Freak Flag Fly’. Directed by Linda Kullmann, this fun preview was warmly applauded by everyone in attendance. Performances of SHREK took place at the CHS Theater over the weekend, Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 10.
Relocate TK/K from ECDC to Village Main
As expected, the majority of those in attendance at Thursday’s meeting were concerned with the Board’s proposal to move the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten students from the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) to the Village Elementary School location. At a CUSD Special Board meeting on February 13, 2019, the Governing Board and community attendees heard a staff presentation, One School, One Campus, regarding the option of moving TK and Kindergarten classes from the ECDC to the Village Main campus. That was the first opportunity for the Board and the public to learn detailed information regarding the potential move. The Board determined that it would be desirable to move the TK/K students from their current ECDC location back to the Village Main campus in a 2020/21 time frame and it was added to the agenda for the regularly scheduled March 7 meeting. A TK/K Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page was established to provide parents and the community information regarding the factors involved in making the “One School, One Campus” determination.
Board President Lee Pontes called for the Agenda Item, Proposal to Relocate TK/K from ECDC to Village Main 2020-21. President Pontes extended the usual 20 minute total time allowed for comments so that all nine people who wished to speak would have their full three minutes.
The first speaker, Jacqueline Heart, parent of two TK students, “strongly opposed” the One School, One Campus plan. Heart asked that all those in the audience opposed to the proposal please stand. About 18 men and women stood in solidarity. Lack of transparency and failure to share the traffic study were only two of Heart’s concerns. She stated, “ECDC is the gem of your educational system. It is perfect for our youngest, most vulnerable. Put students first, always”. Mr. Heart got up and also addressed those issues, lack of information, lack of a comprehensive plan and concerns that the proposal is not yet ready to be voted upon. He mentioned transparency, overcrowding, staggered bell schedules, safety, traffic patterns for conflicting drop-off and pick-up times, and the influence of the older, grade 4 & 5 children upon the very youngest.
TK/K children continued to be the dominant concerns of all who spoke. Grandparents and older graduates of Coronado’s schools who spoke were adamant in their request for further public meetings, the need to involve the public and further studies on what impact the proposed move will have on all students. Passions run high when decisions are being made about educating children; especially when one’s own children will be affected. Jill Proctor is a parent to four children attending Coronado Village schools. Proctor’s complaint that, “Specifics of the proposed plan do not exist and it is not ready to be voted upon,” was echoed by most of those opposing the move. Proctor stated, “I have a petition signed by over 180 people who do not support this shell plan.” Jill and John Proctor had met with Superintendent Mueller and a few board members on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.
When John Proctor spoke, he thanked Superintendent Mueller and the Board members for their time the previous day. Mr Proctor went on to state, “The proposal is biased and does not present an objective, neutral analysis of the move, including overcrowding. The response I got is that it is not the District’s responsibility to present an objective analysis to the Board, rather it is the Board’s responsibility to ask tough questions to ferret out these issues”. Jill and John Proctor believe the District’s and the School Board’s responsibility is to the public.
Jane Mitchell, kindergarten parent, author and journalist, questioned if the main reason for the proposed move was about money and whether the decision was, “already a done deal.” Mitchell feels having a “separate area for the youngest avoids the chaos that happens once you hit first grade.” Mitchell wondered why the urgency? She further requested the District and Board “do due diligence, do right by community, be transparent, do the right thing for everybody.”
After all audience comments were heard, Superintendent Mueller stood to address the questions and concerns expressed. His overview presentation on One School, One Campus began with, “the need to integrate TK/K with Village Main is in order to prioritize programs and services for students and staff by drawing down costs to optimize services. Why? Centralize and optimize services for these young students, increase collaboration for education professionals across the elementary curriculum, maximize resources and help reduce structural deficits.” Superintendent Mueller went on to say that it is desirable to have all teachers and the administrative team together to better monitor the development of students. Mueller continued that teachers want Counseling Support right on site to help with a student in crisis or deal with behavioral issues as they occur. They are often not available on an “as needed basis.” The physical and emotional stability of students and teachers is a priority.
Superintendent Mueller pointed out that the elephant in the room, budget reality, is due to the state of California’s failure to provide adequate funding to the Coronado school district. CUSD must act quickly. If not, the funded reserves will be gone by the 2024/25 timeframe and the CUSD will become insolvent. Mueller was emphatic that with this proposal there would be no cut backs in programs or services.
The complete meeting, as well as the detailed presentation, with financial charts, class size comparison diagrams, and proposed bell schedules is available on line at coronadotv.me. Comments from all Board members, expressing their own concerns and education priorities, may also be heard there. It seems apparent that the Board has given a great deal of thought to moving TK/K to Village Main.
After comments from the Board were heard, Pontes called for a vote and the proposal was unanimously passed. When the meeting ended and everyone filed out, unhappy comments could be heard from some who had spoken out in opposition to moving TK/K.
Other meeting items:
Athletic Director, Robin Nixon, recognized as the CIF Athletic Director of the Year
Athletic Director Robin Nixon was recognized as CIF Athletic Director of the Year for her contributions to the success of the Coronado Schools Athletic Program. Ms. Nixon was lauded for her achievements and efforts, above and beyond the ordinary, including mopping up water due to the leaking gym roof.
Coronado Schools Foundation Telethon Update
A wholly CMS student produced video, promoting the Coronado Schools Foundation Telethon, taking place from 4:30 to 9:00 PM, on Thursday, March 14, 2019, was introduced. Leanne Anderson, Director of Development then presented an update on the CSF Telethon. Ms Anderson encouraged the entire community to help reach this year’s goal by contributing at csfkids.org. Request for any donation amount was specifically made to parents with children in the Coronado Unified School District. “Only 20% of parents with children attending classes in CUSD have donated,” said Ms Anderson. Every dollar contributed by parents is important to the education of their own students. Any amount, no matter how small is greatly appreciated. The state of California’s tax distribution per student to Coronado is $1,600 less than those in San Diego Unified. Laguna Beach Unified students are funded at $20,201 per student compared to only $8,721 for Coronado’s students.
Month of the Military Child
April is designated as the, ‘Month of the Military Child.’ Coronado schools have a significant population of children of our military. Because these children frequently move to different cities and school districts they are in need of special consideration. Their emotional well being, as well as academic achievement, is a vital concern to all. Superintendent Karl Mueller stated, “The CUSD will celebrate resources and programs in place to support military connected students.”
Long Range Plan Update
Assistant Superintendent Donnie Salamanca presented the Long Range Plan Update, including the Budget Cycle. Funds for vital Special Needs programs were discussed by the Board members. Board member Marie Simon pointed out that in order to be eligible for the state’s proposed Special Education Concentration Grant, 55% of enrolled students must qualify. As only 11% of CUSD qualify for this grant, this forces CUSD to comply with an unfunded mandate. This unfunded $12,000 cost per student, adds to CUSD’s financial shortfall. Simon advocates for petitioning the California state legislature to vote against amended AB420.
Future Governing Board items regarding Long Range Planning will determine whether the Math Bridges program or Ready Common Core would be a better fit for CUSD students. Dr. Megan Battle, Senior Director of Learning, is the lead in evaluating the two curricula. A comprehensive report will be presented and voted upon by the board in April. Bell Schedules for high school and middle school will also be evaluated for the Long Range Plan and presented at the May meeting.