Almost five years ago, we transitioned to a new Superintendent, Dr. Robert Bravo, who has created a new leadership team, spirit and approach in our District operations.
Under Dr. Bravo’s guidance, we hired new cabinet members. German Cerda, Asst. Supt. of Educational Services oversees curriculum and instruction, student services, special education, and technology services. Meredyth Hudson, Chief of Strategy & Human Capital has revised and reformed our evaluation processes and worked hard to recruit and hire outstanding teachers of every ethnicity to better align with our student demographics. Nancy Pfeiffer, Asst. Supt. of Business Services and Program Manager for Measure AA, has done a magnificent job of bringing clarity to our budget processes and maximizing every single penny of our bond funds.
As a Board, we have worked diligently to meet with stakeholders and create a living, breathing STRATEGIC PLAN which we are using to guide our thinking and set budget priorities. To view the plan, use this link to our District website: https://www.cuhsd.org/apps/pages/OurStrategicPlan
if I were Queen, there would be sidewalks, but this is certainly safer than before.
Student safety was also foremost in the minds of board members as we considered fencing our schools in addition to adding new security cameras, improving lighting, adding an emergency notification system and creating new and improved handicapped access points. While it is true that the fencing can be scaled, I don’t agree that it is useless because it cannot stop everyone. It is a deterrent only, just as my own home security cameras, sirens, and impact sensors and dogs are deterrents. If someone really wants to break in, it will happen. I can only make it more conspicuous and less convenient—and possibly risky! So while no solution will ever be perfect, it is our top responsibility to do everything possible to keep our children safe. And, aside from safety concerns, we have already experienced a drop in vandalism. Every dollar we don't spend on repairs, repainting or removal of animal waste or litter is a dollar that can be spent on programs or people.
Even though we increased our graduation requirements, more students than ever before are qualifying for --and going on to --higher education.
We are now offering Dual Enrollment Courses through the West Valley College Partnership to underrepresented 10th, 11th and 12th grade students. Last year, 205 students completed a course and this year it's looking like close to 400 students. These courses make it possible for students to simultaneously earn both high school and college credits, and the courses and materials are free!
To learn more, go to the CUHSD website, select “Departments,” then “Educational Services Department,” then “Curriculum and Instruction,” and finally “Educational Programs.” Whew!
There you can learn about AVID, CACE (our adult education program), College Advantage, ELL, IB (International Baccalaureate), Middle College, Naviance (an internet-based student guidance tool), special education, summer school for students needing additional support, and vocational education at the Silicon Valley Career Technical Education (SVCTE) Center on Hillsdale Avenue.
OVERVIEW For readers new to the District, we operate five comprehensive high schools, each recognized as a California Distinguished School, as well as a continuation high school which was named a Model School by the CA Dept. of Education (a status renewed for the 4th time in a row over 12 years!) , a Post-Secondary Program, and an adult education program (CACE) serving the communities of San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno and Santa Clara. We are one of six districts sending students to SVCTE for advanced skills training in 22 A-G approved courses. In addition, Del Mar High School is now fully recognized as an International Baccalaureate School offering one of the most challenging education programs in the world. Altogether, we serve approximately 8300 students.
The Campbell Union High School District first opened its doors on September 14, 1900, with two teachers and 35 students. The first graduating class was one student who went on to Stanford and became a lawyer, thus beginning a long line of distinguished Campbell alumni. We have come a long way, and the best is yet to come.
I am so proud and honored to be part of this tradition!
Nicole Smita Julie CEO Andrea Eve
Shaddox Garg Reynolds-Grabbe Ciplickas Walton
Oh and those parking lot solar panels--they now save us around a million $$ a year on electricity.
We raised graduation requirements to include an extra year of math, science and world language and have hit all-time highs for test scores and college eligibility.
We successfully founded a thriving International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Del Mar High School. A team of Del Mar students qualified to compete in the World Scholar's Cup in Greece in July, 2017, and from there, they qualified for the Tournament of Champions at Yale University in November, bringing home multiple medals. You can learn more on the CUHSD website by clicking on “Schools” and “Del Mar.”
We have expanded channels of communication to include, not only the CUHSD website and School Loop, but Face-book, Twitter, Instagram, email and press releases. We launched a Thought Exchange to get student and parent feedback on a host of topics.
Congratulating Ikenna Kuba
Del Mar's Nina Costello and Westmont's Sam Mirzadeh whose artwork will be a part of the City of San José's Downtown Doors.
Students from each of our schools had ther work selected to be featured at the San Jose Internatl. Airport's Young Artist Showcase for 2019
Please click on the "Facilities" Tab
There has been extraordinary improvement in our existing infrastructure and in access to devices for students. District bandwidth for direct and WiFi connectivity has increased dramatically, and our new mobile Chromebook labs, in addition to existing stationary labs, have increased our ratio of devices to students from almost 100 to 1-- to 2 to 1. At Prospect and Del Mar, the ratio is now 1-1. Teacher of the Year Kira Durant and her GenYES students really drove that change at Del Mar. Students who do not have internet at home, are given a Chromebook from the District and provided access through the One Million Project, a non-profit dedi- cated to the goal of getting one million students online. We have 500 students receiving services this way, and it has been a real game-changer for them.
We have no desire to expand the use of technology for its own sake; its only value lies in its use as a tool to improve instruction and to effectively and interactively engage students in their learning. Each site now has a designated tech leader to support others in the use of technology to enhance instruction.
The Board and Citizens Oversight Committee 2019-2020. From left: Trustee Varich, Creighton Nolte, Jack Reeves, Ray Dyer, William Becker, Ron Wheelehan, Trustee Brown, Trustee Goytia, and Supt. Bravo. These and many other volunteers were honored with a luncheon in December.
ARTS AND ATHLETICS
The Board is committed to providing opportunities for students to explore their unique talents and abilities and to engage in self-expression. Each site offers a rich variety of clubs and activities, performing and visual arts programs, and athletics. All sites now have a state of the art Performing Arts Center for concerts, plays, musicals, and ceremonies. These centers optimize performance opportunities, and they have made it possible for students to acquire marketable theatre tech skills. In fact, we now have alumni working in professional theatre and as "Hollywood" technicians.
Above center: Stock Cortez who works with adult ed students, is honored in 2018 as our oldest--and one of our most vital--volunteers.
But that's not all! More than a million dollars worth of scholarships went to students from across the District, including a $200,000 Navy Officer Reserve Training Scholarship to Student Board Member Clarabelle Walkup.
We are so blessed! Below is just sampling of the people who give so much of their time an energy to our cause.
In 2015, an alumni group requested that the Del Mar gym be named in honor of legendary basketball coach and Silver Star recipient David Jackson Morgan. As the Board does not want to establish a precedent of naming structures, (even our schools are named by the streets they border,) I worked with alumni to fund-raise for the bronze plaque now installed in the gym lobby. After the dedication, we found we had funds remaining to give the Del Mar Don’s Club matching dollars for an annual $823 scholarship (one dollar for each of Coach’s wins) to go to a deserving citizen-athlete of any sport or gender. The first four winners were Tara Everton, Ikenna Kuba, Eliza Hallinan and Arturo Hernandez.
As we expanded course offerings and increased the rigor of our curriculum, we also increased our commitment to professional development for our teachers. They have participated in large numbers in trainings on topics such as Transitioning to the Common Core, AP, IB, Technology in the Classroom, Educational Equity, and Mental Health First Aid. Opportunities for staff collaboration and sharing of best practices have increased dramatically.
Annual State of the District Event
This is the 4th such 3-year term for this award, which means that Boyton has held this title now for 12 consecutive years. Principal Sarah Thomas and her staff and teachers deserve high praise indeed!
TWO BIG STEPS FORWARD
We have succeeded with two major initiatives: the passage of Measure AA, our facilities bond, and For the Kids, our plan to leverage an under-utilized and land-locked strip of land to generate ongoing revenue without raising taxes. Please click on FOR THE KIDS here to learn more. You may also find information on the District Website. Click on "About Us" followed by "District Budget and Finances."
Measure AA passed in November of 2016, and as of December 2019, the District has completed 140 of 235 (59%) of projects planned in the first three years of construction. Students and teachers are already enjoying new classrooms, tracks, pools and technology infrastructure. See FACILITIES tab.
And, we now have District-wide AC, something I fought for relentlessly as a teacher.
I remember pleading that we not waste days of valuable instructional time in misery. Many politicians said we needed a longer school year when we couldn't take full advantage of the one we had!
Now, thanks to our wonderful supportive community, our students can learn in comfort. So thrilled we have finally been able to get this done. To learn more, go to the CUHSD website and click on “Departments,” then “Facilities.” Under the “Measure AA” tab, you will find the construction schedule.
EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL EQUITY
We know we have much work to do to ensure equity and support our at-risk and low-income students. Two things are paramount going forward: that we continue to make equity a priority in our budget, and that we perform a thorough analysis of what we are already doing. In short, what's working, what is not.
Here are some things we have done and are doing:
First, the CUHSD was cited in “Education Resource Equity in 2020-21: An Action Guide for District Leadership” for being proactive in developing an online forum for gathering community input, conducting Q&A sessions and surveys—among them the Student Well-Being Survey piloted during May 2019 to better understand the supports and services being provided to students around socioemotional well-being and mental health, and to guide the Board in next steps. This can be seen on our District website under ABOUT US then LCAP 2019-20. We also reach out to our students through Thought Exchange.
Each year, Innovate Public Schools celebrates the Bay Area schools achieving excellent results for low-income Latino and African American students. Their list highlights the schools that are leading the way. For 2016-17, Del Mar H.S. ranked 11th of the top 52 Bay Area schools to be recognized. English proficiency in this group of students went up by 14%.
Over the past three years, we have continued to see strong increases in our re-classification rates of EL students to PROFICIENT STATUS. To some extent, this gain can be attributed to the fact the ELLs are not tracked into remedial classes anymore. They have access to rigouous classes with their peers. This includes a dramatic increqase in access to AP and IB classes.
Says Olmos, “You can see the power and the strength of what we do here. It is all about self-esteem, self-respect and self-worth.”
ABOVE: FlexFactor competition winners from Branham and Westmont. Guided by Project Lead the Way Teachers Barbara Schremp and Daniel Coonce, they presented industry-changing ideas to a panel of experts. Out of the eight teams from three school districts across the county, CUHSD schools won first, second and third place, for the second year in a row!
FIRST PLACE: Branham Team Enfire- A smart gun with a locking mechanism and GPS to help police track stolen guns
SECOND PLACE: Westmont Team Hydroprotect-A device designed to prevent cars from hydroplaning (prompted by the death of a fellow student last year).
THIRD PLACE: Branham Team RXR Connect a Crop--A device to communicate plant growth information to farmers.
In addition to Student Board Members, we have launched a Thought Exchange where students may tell us what academic supports they find useful and what supports they still need. You can see more about our progress and goals yet to be met at https://www.caschooldashboard.org /
Three years ago, Dr. Bravo delivered the first spring State of the District Address, and since then, the event has expanded to include additional speakers, student performances and an exhibition featuring our clubs and activities and programs.
Five years ago, the Board decided that we needed a way to connect with our students. We now select two student board members each year, and added a Superinten-dent’s Student Advisory Board to meet with student focus groups and uncover issues needing the Board’s attention. These students also relay student needs to our Education Foundation. Students have served in this capacity are: Matthew Kersman (Leigh), Hannah Zawacki (Branham), Madhav Nekkar (Westmont), Taykhoom Dalal (Del Mar), Muskaan Sandu (Prospect), Clarabelle Walkup (Branham ), Emely Martinez (Del Mar) and Geetanjali Jain (Branham) pictured above, and now, new Rep. Riley Anderson.
It should be noted that from 2012 to 2019 our drop-out rate fell from 16.1% to 3.4%.
From 2011 to 2020 we've increased our UC/CSU college-eligibility rate of our graduates from 40% ato 68%.
The CUHSD has had the 2nd largest college eligibility growth for low-income students in our county, 2nd largest improvement in English and Math scores.
We have been doing various equity trainings and initiatives since 2013. During that time we also formed Gay Straight Alliances across our schools and “degendered” student activities. We started administering the Healthy Kids Survey for all students so we have benchmarks to measure changes and we increased social-emotional counseling services. I’ve recently had very informative conversations with two Trans women to better understand the needs of Trans stuents. I can’t serve ALL students if I don’t know ALL students, so I continue to learn.
I think we all have a lot to learn about all the issues ranging from discrimination in hiring, lending, access to capital, and housing to voter suppression and human rights abuses that have created the current Black Lives Matter Movement. I pledge as your trustee to become as pro-active as possible to make our District a safe and uplifting place for all to learn and to be seen, heard, valued and respected, and I have begun by c0-authoring a Resolution to be introduced Oct. 1 around this precise issue.
In addition to adding classes in engineering, manufacturing, and computer science, we finance the enrollment of over 300 students at MetroEd/Silicon Valley Career Technical center. They are transported there for 2-hours programs offered in 22 career areas and taught by industry specialists. Nearly all courses have “A-G” approval for university acceptance, so while most graduates of one of the programs go directly to well-paying jobs, their coursework also makes them eligible for higher education. I an currently serving as the SVCTE Board President for 2020. These are programs about which I am extremely passionate. See SVCTE Tab
Of the 2018 graduating class, 78% went directly to a two or four-year college, ranking us 5th out of 11 county districts (up from 8th in 2015) for the percent college-bound students Data for the graduating class of 2019 will become available in July of 2020. This can partly be attributed to the robust increase in the number of students completing A-G course offerings. For anyone unfamiliar with this terminology, it is simply a lettering system to identify courses that have been approved by the UC system an which satisfy their subject requirements. These courses must involve substantial reading, writing, problem-solving and laboratory work (as appropriate) and require analytical thinking.
A great predictor of student success is teacher belief in the ability of every student to excel. We have encouraged many more students to take AP classes and the corresponding exams. Studies show a strong correlation between taking AP exams and college graduation rates, and we have seen a sharp increase in the number of students taking these exams and scoring high.
We have an expanded sequence of CTE and Project lead-the-Way courses too complicated to list here, but which can be seen on the CUHSD website in the 2019-2020 course catalogue. Below, 2018 visit with Dr. Bravo and the Board to Westmont's new manufacturing facilities. We got to make our own 3-D printed name plates! Quite tricky.
Really exciting work is taking place in Del Mar's Latino Film Institute English Enrichment classes which are part of the Youth Cinema Project, created by Edward James Olmos. The work is designed to improve literacy through reviewing and creating films.
BOYTON HIGH SCHOOL has been named a Model Continuation High School for 2020
Students are subject to stress factors from a variety of sources, so we have increased the number of academic counselors and added social-emotional counseling services at every site. I was particularly pleased that we contracted with Cassy Counseling Services as that was something I led us to explore following my election in 2012. Six licensed therapists, one at each school site, provide crisis intervention and treatment, staff consultation and training, parent consultation and community outreach, and ongoing counseling for students in need. CASSY counselors help our students cope with depression, anxiety, academic stress, and relationship issues. In the first semester alone, 411 students were assessed for services.
We are now “piloting” a full-time social worker at one of our sites, and we continue to sponsor programs at every site to address the issues of teen suicide and depression and bullying. Many of our teachers and staff have now completed a program called Mental Health First Aid training. A list of mental health and wellness resources may be found on our District website:
HEALTH AND WELLNESS--for info on meals and mental health services being provided during the shelter-in-place, please visit the CUHSD website.
Meanwhile, the recent vaping epidemic is concern. The Board recently passed a resolution in support of tobacco-free and vaping-free schools and community which was recognized by the San Jose City Council as a model. Our wonderful parents, students and staff are hosting parent information nights on the topic. We continue to explore what can be done.
Student safety is my top priority, and there was certainly room for improvement on the streets around Leigh H.S. I worked extensively with Leigh area residents and city officials to address safety for cyclists and pedestrians on Los Gatos-Almaden Avenue, Leigh Avenue and Lone Hill Road. The resulting improvements include a new cross-walk with flashing lights, new striping, lane barriers, the planting of new trees and the creation of new campus access and drop-off points.
We launched our Fairness and Belonging Committee in 2018 and have worked toward implementing their top recommendations:
1) In 2019-20, over 100 teachers, administrators and staff participated “Leading and Working Toward Equity” training hosted by the National Equity Project. This is a continuation of the “Coaching for Equity” training conducted in 2018. The second phase of the training prepared the participants to share what they had learned with their peers. As this group continued training, a new group began in September 2019 to take on the work of becoming effective equity leaders at their school sites.
2) All administrators have now received Advanced Restorative Justice Training to inform their approach to discipline issues. Between 2012 and 2019, we reduced suspensions from 632 annually to 270 and expulsions to fewer than 1%.
3) In 2020, we certified over 100 staff members in Mental Health First Aid.
4) We increased representation of students of color and those from low income backgrounds by 134 students for 2019-20 in advanced placement and IB classes. From 2011-2019 we increased the number of AP exams taken from 1,038 to 1,844 while increasing the passing rate form 67% to 78%.
5) We were able to make a few more hires of people of color in 2019. NOTE: During a zoom meeting with Joyce Davis, Branham Guidance Counselor, she said something really energizing. She said, “We need to stop advertising what credentials we are seeking and start advertising the qualities we are seeking.” She suggested looking for those people who gravitate to positions such as YMCA or youth group directors and onboarding them, see if they are a fit for our students and if they function as positive role models, and then sponsor them in becoming credentialed.
6) Staff are currently engaged in the FACES anti-bias training.
FINANCIAL BRIGHT SPOTS
We have worked to ensure transparency in our budgets and to be sure we are good fiscal stewards of the public’s investments in us. As a result, Standard and Poor’s has renewed its rare AAA+ bond rating of the CUHSD, making us one of the highest rated school districts in California. Over the past few years, we have refinanced District bonds to save the community over 18 million dollars!
Thanks to the efforts of some incredible
community activists: Andrea Ciplickas,
Nicole Shaddox, Eve Walton, Smita Garg,
Julie Reynolds-Grabbe, Dr. Elizabeth Ward,
Nicole Antonopoulos and others,
we now have The Campbell Union HSD Education Foundation to build partnerships with the business community and support student programs. Some Foundation priorities are to continue and expand college and career fairs (1300 people attended the Sept. 2019 event), provide “teacher innovation” grants, and grants to support social and emotional wellness in our students. To learn more, go to the CUHSD website “Community Resources.”
The CUHSD Education Foundation has now awarded us a grant of $25,000 ($5000 per school site) in support of Black Lives Matter equity education!