The Governing Board of the Coronado Unified School District met at District Offices on Thursday, February 18th, for their regularly scheduled board meeting. The gathering marked the first meeting of the year in person, inside the boardroom. CUSD Board President Lee Pontes opened with a reminder about mask-wearing at the meeting.
“We are going stay masked at this meeting, and we are going to play by the same rules they do at the school sites,” said Pontes, from behind a plexiglass divider. Pontes also urged board members to refrain from pulling down their masks when they made comments.
In the opening comments, board members expressed their enthusiasm for the February school re-openings, and Esther Valdez-Clayton pointed out that many districts have yet to open their doors to in-person learning.
“We welcome back and celebrate the reopening of our schools. Even at our phased reopening, it’s a celebration that a lot of school districts aren’t able to merit,” said Valdez-Clayton.
Superintendent Karl Mueller shared that the on-campus COVID-19 testing site, spearheaded by District Nurse Joellen Semo and Deputy Superintendent Donnie Salamanca, is a success. The site, which kicked off in January, has administered more than 1600 tests to CUSD students and staff.
“The rapid antigen testing was definitely something that helped our [school reopening] with County of Public Health,” said Mueller. “It’s just one of two pilot district testing sites in the state, and it’s something we should all be proud of.”
Niamh Foley, Director of Student Services, introduced a new program called “Handle with Care” which is a collaboration between CUSD, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the Coronado Police Department. The newly-adopted app alerts school staff when CUSD students have been exposed to trauma that involves police involvement.
“The app will simply say that a child was present during the police call, and that the child should be handled with care,” said Foley. “It could be domestic violence, a mental health call or a 9-1-1 call. It’s just one more tool that helps us provide our students with a safe environment and a trusted adult that they can speak with.”
Foley updated the board on the Equity Action Plan, sharing a graphic of the timeline. 40 individuals, parents and staff are meeting via Zoom, with “Tiger Teams” focusing on areas of positive school culture, supplemental instructional materials, professional development and human resources.
Mueller underscored the importance of equity as a district-wide endeavor.
“Our work in equity is ongoing, it’s happening daily, and it crosses into every aspect of how we educate our students, how we support our staff, and how we interact with our community,” said Mueller.
Board members Valdez-Clayton and Keszei addressed community concerns over the sentiment that the equity committee is embracing a controversial narrative.
“I think the concern is, is that the committee is driving a narrative—critical race theory—which we all hear about, in the news… and maybe the committee hasn’t defined where we are falling short equitably,” said Keszei.
Valdez-Cayton asked for clarity as well.
“[Institutional racism] is still a very widely controversial idea throughout our nation, but the question is, are these ‘tiger teams’ dedicated to examining hard data?” asked Valdez-Clayton. “Are we moving away from any sort of theorizing relating to institutional racism, which is very theoretical, and now we are going to drill down on actual hard data?”
Foley confirmed that yes, actions taken by the equity committee would be data-driven.
When it comes to learning and instructional updates, Dr. Megan Battle, Director of Learning, shared that the 4×4 bell schedule is set to launch at Coronado High School for the Fall 2021 semester. The 4×4 bell schedule increases access to courses for students’ passions and interests, and expands college and career readiness and equitable access to opportunities; in addition, remediation and acceleration opportunities are built into the schedule, according to Battle. The schedule also allows for CHS students to more readily access A-G requirements for UC admissions.
Learn more about the 4 x 4 schedule in these two videos put out by CHS:
When reviewing the grades and data from the last year, Battle affirmed that there was an increase in Ds and Fs for specific subject areas, but there was also an increase in As.
For students desiring summer school, Mueller shared that the district will use current school data and future survey data to determine what courses will be available for summer school in 2021. He said the district hopes to offer ten courses at the high school level, six at CMS and six at the elementary school level, all in the areas of need and interest.
“The experiences that we offer this summer…will be very purposeful in design, and we will be able to cater those experiences to our data,” said Mueller.
Parents are urged to keep their eye out for a survey to determine interest in summer school classes.