The Coronado Unified School District Board of Trustees met on Thursday, November 17th at 4pm at District Offices where where four trustees presided over the last board meeting of their terms. Trustees Lee Pontes, Esther Valdes-Clayton, Dr. Helen Anderson-Cruz and Bruce Shepherd will make way for four new trustees who will be sworn in at the next board meeting on December 17th.
Pontes was celebrated for his “razor-sharp wit” and his intuitive ability to get to the heart of the matter on any given issue and Shepherd was applauded for stepping in to fill a board vacancy during an extremely tumultuous time. Valdes-Clayton was called a “champion board member” who led with energy and vigor, and Dr. Anderson-Cruz was recognized for her robust background in education and laser-sharp focus on the kids.
Anderson-Cruz, who ran for re-election as an incumbent but was edged out by other candidates, said it was an honor and privilege to serve, and that she would support the winning candidates on their endeavors to help students actualize their full academic potential. She also shared information on how community members could recycle election signs.
“But if you have any of my signs, please do not recycle them,” said Anderson-Cruz. “Let me know and I will come and collect them. I will need them in two more years.”
Valdes-Clayton had some advice to give to the four new board members.
“You have a jewel of a school district,” said Valdes-Clayton. “Please don’t tear it down.”
Also in board member comments, Trustee Whitney Antrim shared that she visited the district’s Adult Transition Program which helps exceptional needs students who are transitioning from their high school years to adulthood. She also acknowledged local businesses that are currently employing these young adults, including Amalo Brew, Sweat Circuit, Garage Buona Forchetta, Gelato Paradiso, Taco Bell, Coldstone, Coronado Coffee and Coronado Hardware Store.
“We are always looking for more businesses to give more opportunities to our amazing students,” said Antrim.
Coronado Middle School Principal Brooke Falar shared the CMS Annual Report which highlighted recent test scores, demographics, and next steps. The school celebrated an increase in the number of students taking the CAASPP test, as well as increases in ELA test scores for 6th and 7th grade. Farlar also noted a 30 point increase in 7th grade math test scores. Lexile testing data has also returned to CMS, which illustrates that between 67% and 70% of middle school students are already proficient or above spring targets.
CMS has also welcomed six new teachers and more co-taught math sections, as well as several World Language Awards, including Biliteracy Program Participation, Home Language Development Recognition, and Biliteracy Attainment Recognition. Other notable celebrations include the retainment of one counselor per grade level (including therapy dogs) and community partnerships with Emerald Keepers, SAFE Harbor, the Coronado Library.
Charity Campbell and Amanda Tarantino from Child Nutrition Services (CNS) were at the meeting to update the board on some exciting developments. The Universal Breakfast Program, which provides free breakfast to all district students, is enjoying much success: so far, more than 21,843 breakfasts have been enjoyed by students this year. Staff reports and studies show that students are calmer and ready to learn after eating breakfast, and scientific journals report that eating breakfast is associated with a lower BMI.
In addition, CNS is excited to expand scratch-made offerings to include vegan and gluten-free offerings, and healthy meals such as quinoa with chickpea salad, steak breakfast burritos, breakfast fruit smoothies and chicken pesto ciabatta sandwiches.
The district has also unveiled “share table,” which allow students to drop off unopened milk cartons, whole or packaged fruit and other recyclable food which will be used and enjoyed by other students instead of dropped into a landfill. It’s projected that this will amount to about $15,000 in savings by the end of the school year. In addition, CNS is excited to work with local farmers to bring organic produce to the students. The district is also excited to pilot a compost program at Silver Strand Elementary, with a district-wide roll-out on the horizon.
The trustees discussed the upcoming LGBTQ training for school staff, as part of Superintendent Karl Mueller’s long range plan update. Trustee Valdes-Clayton pointed out that, as it stands, there is no parental notification required in California for students over the age of 12 to obtain sexual-related health services. Dr. Anderson-Cruz said that the goal of the training was to help teachers work with students who might be bullied or feel marginalized.
“Every child at our school is precious and and we need to make sure they are treated with dignity and respect,” said Dr. Anderson-Cruz. “This is a very vulnerable population and I think it behooves us and the next school board to make sure all of our children are protected.”
Mueller said that it’s more than the law, it’s their responsibility.
“It’s our core mission as educators, as human beings and parents, and its aligned with who we are as a school district,” said Mueller.
Earlier in the evening, Paul Lull from the Coronado Optimist Club gave a presentation about the organization and presented a check for $2,250 to Coronado Middle School for its Cuyamaca science program for 6th graders.
The Coronado Middle School Choir, led by Linda Kullmann, treated board members to an African-style song called “Sing Noelle.” The Coronado School of the Arts Musical Theater Tour Group, led by David McBean, sang two Christmas carols.
Three middle schoolers presented on behalf of the “Blankets of Love Club,” a group of CMS students who spend Tuesday afternoons knitting blankets for seniors on the island. Next year, they will knit blankets for the animals at PAWS.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting is on December 17th.