Saturday, July 13, 2024

CUSD Update: Post-COVID Test Results, CHS Annual Report, District Eyes Solutions for Security and Air Conditioning

Updated 10/26/2022

The Coronado Unified School District Board of Trustees met on Thursday, October 20th at 4pm at District Offices where Dr. Megan Battle, CUSD Director of Learning, presented the long-awaited Learning Department report which included updated test scores. CHS Principal Karin Mellina presented her annual report on the high school, and trustees spoke at length about viable options for increased school security and installation of air conditioning.

The meeting opened with board member comments, where Trustee Whitney Antrim thanked the Coronado Optimist Club for donating $12,000 to CUSD athletics.

Also in board member comments, Esther Valdes-Clayton shared that her daughter, a 2015 CUSD graduate, just received her masters at Northeastern University with a scholarship.

“I bring this up, because it is a dream of many people in San Diego County to attend this school,” said Valdes-Clayton. “And when I see people are misusing some of the data for political platforming, I take umbrage to that. I have a debt of gratitude to the teachers and administrators, they provide not just for your student’s safety, but also their academic success.”

About 50 community members packed the board room for the school board.

In public comments, Coronado resident Bob Grobe spoke in regards to a published announcement on recent CUSD test results. He acknowledged that there were “some good things happening” as evidenced in CAASPP testing data, and congratulated third grade at Strand Elementary for especially strong scores in ELA and math. But he said that some of the data is “not as rosy” and encouraged the district to be more honest about test results.

“You can put lipstick on a pig, but when it’s all said and done, it’s still a pig,” said Grobe.

In her academic achievement report, Director of Learning Dr. Megan Battle shared a 1.5 hour-long presentation encompassing recent CUSD testing results. She shared that the CAASPP English Language Arts results showed “steady maintenance” when it comes to pre and post pandemic performance, with a slight decrease by 0.9%. She said that 76% of students have met or exceeded ELA standards, with 8% not meeting standards, and 15% of students nearly meeting standards.

About 76% of students met or exceeded English Language Arts standards, according to the most recent CAASPP testing.

When it comes to math, about 64.8% of students met or exceeded learning standards. Dr. Battle acknowledged that secondary math will be a critical focus area.

“We do want to celebrate that CUSD math results did increase from last year by 2.8% coming out of the pandemic, but we know there’s work to do,” said Dr. Battle.

Dr. Battle said there is work to be done, especially in secondary math.

When it comes to AP testing, Dr. Battle shared that CUSD students took exams in 23 different subject areas, and they scored a higher pass rate than both the state and global rates in 20 out of 23 subject areas. She also shared that the new AP Human Geography class, which is offered to freshmen, scored a pass rate of 83% while the global and state pass rates were 54% and 53%, respectively.

When it comes to post-COVID learning loss, Dr. Battle said that overall, CUSD has weathered the storm.

“We know COVID affected our students, every single one of us and our staff, but based on the data, and those measures, we aren’t seeing significant learning loss at CUSD,” said Dr. Battle.

She acknowledged that social-emotional needs had increased post-pandemic, and that the loss comes in “different packages.” Still, the district learners are strong, especially compared to some districts across the bridge whose testing results had declined by 50%.

Dr. Battle also said that the landscape of college admissions is changing, and school districts are being forced to adapt. She said there are fewer colleges accepting transferable credits and fewer colleges requiring the SAT or ACT and there is an increasing emphasis on dual enrollment, CTE certifications, internships and extra-curricular activities.

Superintendent Karl Mueller said that CUSD was working to make students more competitive with an emphasis on these programs and internships, and pushed back on the narrative that district test scores are poor.

“The narrative in the community that we are ‘cherry-picking’ data or that we’re putting lipstick on a pig, or that our test scores are dismal, is not fair to our educators, it’s not fair to the community of Coronado, it’s not fair to our parents and it’s not fair to our students,” said Mueller.

In her annual Coronado High School report, Principal Karin Mellina said that the focus of CHS is to prepare its graduates to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and civic-minded 21st century contributors who are ready for 13th grade.

She acknowledged that the number of kids taking AP tests was down last year, which she attributed to the fact that AP test takers were down nationally, as well as the transition to the 4×4. But scores were strong, with 80% of students earning a 3, 4, or 5 on their AP scores with 20% earning a 5.

CHS testing data, which shows data for AP tests, SATs and PSAT.

She noted an increase in graduates meeting A-G requirements, up from pre-pandemic levels of 57% in 2019 to 72% in 2022. Mellina also shared that there was a 100% increase in CTE pathway completers.

Current CUSD dual enrollment opportunities include classes like Intro to Administration of Justice, Medical Terminology, Intro to Business, Cyber Security, American Sign Language and Intro to Mexican and Mexican American Cultures in the United States. This term, 84 students are taking dual enrollment courses, compared to ten last year, according to Mellina.

In addition, CUSD offers partnerships for internships and work experience with Emerald Keepers, PAWS, Coronado Historical Association, Safe Harbor, InclusioNado, Sharp Hospital and Emerald City. About 41 students are participating now, compared to ten last year.

Other good news: The D and F list is going down.

When it comes to the 4×4, Mellina shared that so far, the benefits included student flexibility and access to courses like CTE; opportunities for remediation and acceleration such as meeting and A-G requirements; and expansion of college and career readiness. Some cons include decreased student and staff connectedness, the quick pace, greater impact of student absences, the timing of AP course exams, as well as term turnover time for teachers.

“Some teachers are enjoying [the 4×4], and there are teachers that are struggling with it,” said Mellina when asked if teachers were “moving forward” with the new schedule.

She said that she encourages teachers to work collaboratively, take release time, and take time for planning.

Trustee Antrim said that the governing board should take a bigger responsibility in helping  the staff and teachers adjust to the 4×4.

“[Mellina] is one person, who is really not responsible for the rollout of the 4×4 and the debacle that it was. We are, collectively,” said Antrim. “There is major fracture between the district office and a lot of the people on that campus and the community around this issue… I want to ask us what are we doing as a board, and a district.”

In the Committee to Analyze the School Learning Environment (CASLE) Update, Deputy Superintendent Donnie Salamanca said that the district was working with a “think tank” of community experts to focus on lowering temperatures in classrooms. The installation of HVAC throughout all of the classrooms as well a solar analysis and required facility updates would likely cost the district around $40 million, according to Salamanca. The district could pay for this expenditure in a few different ways which includes asking for a $40 million voter-approved taxpayer bond, pay from the general fund and launch a capital campaign or create an ongoing revenue stream; or a combination.

In public comments, community member Scott Dugan asked that the district prioritize classrooms and buildings that are the highest security risk, such as those at street level that have open access. He asked that those projects be funded first while the district looks for a more comprehensive solution for other parts of the schools.

“It’s a large bill, but I would ask that we prioritize the security concern… we should not be putting educators in the position where they have to open those doors and windows when it’s hot, because they don’t have a climate-controlled environment that is conducive to learning,” said Dugan.

In his department update, Salamanca said that Budget Study Committee meetings are underway, and that they are an opportunity for community members and all share-holders to ask probing questions. He said he also wanted to clarify some misinformation.

“Some folks are saying that CUSD is going broke because of our pattern in deficit spending. That is unequivocally false,” said Salamanca. “This is the strongest our financial situation has been in over 20 years.”

In the Association of Coronado Teachers report, ACT President Jennifer Landry shared teachers are still suffering from a shortage of instructional aids.

“Teachers are looking longingly at the door each day, hoping that a classroom aid will show up,” said Landry. “And that it will be the aid that was there the day before, or even the week before. We are still lacking the number of aids that we need to have, and we are asking the district to do what they can to attract a number of qualified applicants.

In his report, Associated Student Body President Luke Johnson shared that Silver Strand Elementary is busy collecting clothing and household goods for veterans, and Village Elementary PTO hosted “Bingo for Books” whereby more than 300 books were passed out to students. In addition, students wore purple for the elementary school kids who have Rett Syndrome. CMS wrapped up its first nine-week grading period and parent conferences are on the horizon. In addition, CMS choir, band and Advanced Performing Arts will perform on October 27th. Johnson said that at the high school, CHS Homecoming–which was held at the New Children’s Museum–was a big success. This week, CoSA is hosting Horror Nights and a haunted house. “Cry Baby, the musical,” continues on Friday October 28th.

The next CUSD board meeting takes place on Thursday, November 17th.

Updated on October 26, 2022 with the correction of a class name and a typo.


Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuyl
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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