Friday, June 21, 2024

CUSD Update: Flood Repairs Underway; Students Push for Shift in Instructional Calendar

The Coronado Unified School District is busy repairing damage from the January 22 flooding and aims to get “as close to normal as possible,” according to Donnie Salamanca, Deputy Superintendent. Flood updates and repairs were discussed at the February 15 school board meeting held at District Offices at 201 Sixth Street.

“I’m happy to report that we expect completion of all drywall replacement and insulation to be completed by Monday,” said Salamanca, who shared that the long weekend was an opportune time to make repairs.

While CUSD was able to use emergency authority to get the school safe without going to public bid, the finishes, explained Salamanca, will take more time.

“We expect to repaint every classroom, replacing tack board, ideation walls from kindergarten classrooms, the innovation lab, the library, as well as replacing any carpeting that was also damaged,” said Salamanca. “We expect all of this work to be completed this summer.”

The historic flooding on Jan. 22 affected three of the school sites, with Village Elementary suffering the most damage. The rainwater gushed into first floor classrooms and hallways, covering them with inches of water. Updates on the flood repairs can be viewed in this document.

The school board trustees congratulated school staff for their quick work to fix problems related to the flood.

“I think that what happened here is very impressive, almost incredible that your staff were able to identify the problem and know what to do…” said Trustee Scot Youngblood. “It’s very impressive. So thank you and kudos to you and your staff.”

Board President Alexia Palacios-Peters thanked all the parents who came in to help support the teachers in flood clean-up.

“We have such a great community, and I was so happy to see all of us come together,” she said.

Mueller said that the disruption the flood caused could not be overstated, but he applauded teachers and staff for acting quickly.

“This profession is difficult enough. You never know what you’re going to be faced with when you start a school day,” he said. “To add a natural disaster, one that hasn’t been seen in 99 years, just completely throws a wrench into the services we provide.”

The district has started insurance claims and hopes to be reimbursed for all repairs.

Students Push for Shift in Instructional Calendar

Two students, Isabella Braga and Griffin Wong, represented a group of CHS students urging the trustees to make a change in the instructional calendar, starting the school year a week earlier in August and wrapping up Term 1 and finals before winter break.

Braga said she and Wong represented a diverse group of students who believe that such a change would yield better academic results and improved mental health. In addition, shifting the calendar would also improve alignment with neighboring schools, according to Braga.

Currently, Term 1 doesn’t end until late January, which means that students are busy studying over winter break. In addition, they spend time “catching up” after the long break, according to Braga and Wong.

CUSD’s instructional calendar, compared to neighboring districts.

“It’s mentally draining, coming back from a long break and studying all the material and taking finals,” said Wong.

Wong said the current schedule is detrimental to mental health, as some students spend break worrying about their coursework and then have to come back and relearn everything.

Associated Student Body President Wyatt Riebe agreed. He said he spent winter break studying for calculus while he was traveling with his family missing out on several family outings. He said it wasn’t “the best,” and he saw no reason why CUSD shouldn’t shift the calendar.

Just earlier, Dr. Megan Battle, Director of Learning, had presented the factors that go into making the instructional calendar, as requested by the board. She shared slides that showed the instructional days required by the state, and the agreement made with the district employees.

Trustee Whitney Antrim asked if there was any pedagogical reason that, in her mind, required the instructional calendar to remain as it is.

“In my mind? No,” said Dr. Battle.

Superintendent Presents State of District

Superintendent Karl Mueller shared a report called “State of the District” which outlined some key facts and ideals that drive CUSD along with new opportunities and challenges.

Currently the district educates 2878 students and operates a $44 million a year budget. The district’s test scores are at the top–or near the top–of the unified school districts in the county, according to Mueller.

“We are very proud of who we are … with an understanding that we can always improve,” he said.

Mueller shared a slide of what’s on the horizon for CUSD, which includes everything from an expansion of CMS course offerings to an expanded TK to a full-day program.

When it comes to challenges, Mueller discussed the budget shortfall. He said the anticipated Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) was previously-projected at 4% and is now down to .76%, which represents almost a million dollars less for the district.

“So what do we do? We have to make plans, we have to anticipate and we have to tighten our belts without sacrificing the resources and the programs that we have worked so hard to build for our students,” said Mueller.

He also mentioned declining enrollment, but share that programs like Coronado School of the Arts (CoSA) allow for targeted efforts to recruit students as interdistrict transfers, offsetting some current budget challenges.

Finally, Mueller said that the district needs to work with opposing perspectives.

“We need to appreciate and respect opposing perspectives and we need to open up dialogue and we need to listen,” said Mueller. “We all want the same thing: the health, safety and success of our students.”

Teachers Worry about Job Stability

Jennifer Landry, President of the Coronado Association of Teachers, said that anxiety is high over potential belt-tightening.

“People don’t know how deep the pink slips are going to go,” she said. “So there’s a lot of anxiety out there because people are worried about putting food on the table for their families in the fall.”

Landry said that clear and transparent communication from the district could help alleviate some of these concerns.

Board Recognizes Community Member

The board celebrated community member Christine Johnson who helped broker the Wyland Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience, bringing it to Village Elementary School for the first time ever. The opportunity, spearheaded by Robert Wyland, renowned ocean artist and marine conservationist, was organized by Johnson, a personal friend of Wyland’s.

The two-day mobile learning experience, which was also sponsored by Emerald Keepers and the Coronado Eagle, was “super successful,” according to Michelle Gilmore, CEO of Coronado Schools Foundation, CSF.

Johnson was also abled to secure seven Wyland art pieces that CSF is able to auction off to support Coronado schools.

ASB Report

ASB President Wyatt Riebe gave his report on the four school sites, sharing that Village Elementary recently celebrated their hundredth day of school and is busy prepping for the Jogathon. Silver Strand is getting ready for it’s global play day, coming up on Feb. 29. Coronado Middle School is getting ready for its Medieval Times field trip, and preparing for Future Islander Night. Students at CHS experienced college night and students from ASB wrote a valentine to every single teacher and staff member, according to Riebe.

Public Comments and Board Member Comments

In public comments, Imperial Beach resident and former South Bay Union School Board member Mary Doyle asked the board to take a stand against sewage in the ocean. She said the South Bay Union School District issued a proclamation and asked CUSD to join.

“I urge you to join your colleges and take an institutionalized stand against this mess,” said Doyle. “I ask you to chime in an advocate for rapid repair to the border sewage infrastructure.”

In board member comments, several trustees shared they enjoyed the new Coronado Historical Association Exhibit, “An Island Looks Back: Uncovering Coronado’s Hidden African American History,” and found it meaningful, with Mueller saying it was the highlight of his year.

Also, Palacios-Peters shared a statement on behalf of the board.

“At the beginning of a recent Coronado City Council meeting, Mayor Bailey read a statement on behalf of the council. The message condemned the use of language that is threatening or bullying in nature, with and between members of the public or public employees. This governing board endorses the same message and and is committed to maintaining civil public discourse inside and outside of this boardroom. We denounce any intimidating or bullying behavior, we will not tolerate any threats directly or indirectly, and we will take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of our school community.”

Earlier in the meeting, the Coronado Village Elementary School and Silver Strand Choir performed a medley of “Lean on Me” and “Don’t Stop Believing,” with Riebe saying it was his favorite choir performance ever.

The next school board meeting is set for Thursday, March 14.


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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