Jim Hogeboom's Blog, Superintendent of Schools
February 14, 2012
MID-YEAR PROGRESS / GOALS 2011-2012
A Report to the Board of Education
Hi everyone! I hope everyone is doing well and the New Year is treating you well. We have so many great things going on at our schools right now which makes it very exciting. A BIG thanks to our teachers and staff who continue to work so hard for our students and community so we can achieve and advance our goals for the district. On that note, I wanted to share with you what I presented to the Lucia Mar Board of Education last night in respect to our progress toward our goals for this year. See below and have a great day!
"Change isn't an event, it's a process,"
-- from SWITCH: How to change things when change is hard
by Chip and Dan Heath
In January, we held a retreat for all of our principals to check in on our vision and goals and to reflect on how we were doing. The theme of the retreat was "managing change," and we looked at principles from the book Switch for clues to help us navigate a rapidly changing world. If there is one criticism of education that seems valid, it is that our education system is not flexible and adaptable enough to meet the changing demands of the 21st Century. Of course we are working on this, but change is definitely hard for all of us! As I reflect on our progress, both at the district and school levels, I believe we are making great strides toward our district vision of becoming the model school district for 21st Century learning in the nation, and I encourage you to take risks, make mistakes and try new things! Below is a brief assessment of our priorities and goals to date:
District Priority #1: 21st Century Learning
District Priority #2: Implement TAP Effectively
District Priority #3: Career Pathways
Stewardship of Resources
Thanks again everyone!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Superintendent's Message October
The new school year is well under way, and I would like to share with you an update about our key goals for the year that will ensure our students are successful in a competitive world. Lucia Mar Unified School District has been on the forefront of innovation, and our School Board has adopted our Vision 2020 Framework to provide direction and guidance as we work to ensure our students not only have the foundational core skills, but also the necessary 21st Century skills that are essential in today's workforce. This is a turbulent yet exciting time for education, and our ability to adapt and change is more important than ever.
Two years ago our School Board charged me as superintendent with the task of helping to craft a new mission, values and vision for our district. We gathered input from our staff, parents, administrators, and students, and sought to develop a compelling vision to answer the question "What skills do our students need to be successful in the 21st Century?" Over the course of that year, we held community forums, visited successful districts and schools, conducted surveys and asked our Vision 2020 committee to draft our framework, which is attached to this letter. I am very proud of the process and the final product that was developed, and that we now have a clear focus and direction for our district. To engage, challenge and inspire is a powerful mission statement; our core values ensure we have a strong foundation; our vision sets high expectations for success, and our seven 21st Century skills make it clear exactly what our students need to know to be competitive in today's ever-changing world.
We are now in the process of working very hard to achieve our mission and vision, and I have also included our goals for this year and our three top board priorities. Now that we know where we are going, these priorities and goals are essential to help us to achieve our vision. Our top three priorities are to promote 21st Century learning, to implement the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), and to develop more Career Pathways for students. Let me explain how each of these priorities will impact student achievement and directly benefit our students and teachers.
21st Century Learning
We have prioritized seven specific skills, and believe all of our students need to be proficient in each of the skills of communication, critical thinking, teamwork, technology, self-direction, innovation and global awareness. So far, we have convened a 21st Century Skills group of principals and teachers, and they have prioritized teamwork and critical thinking as the two skills we will initially focus on. We have developed rubrics to assess these skills and are now preparing how to teach these skills. This group will also help the district to prioritize strategies and develop an action plan to ensure all students and teachers have resources necessary to ensure our students develop these skills.
One area we are working on this year is to prepare for the fall 2012 opening of Central Coast New Technology High School which will be located on the southeast portion of Nipomo High campus. Another, is the continuing development of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years program at Grover Beach Elementary School. These two programs are models of 21st Century learning, and will serve as "incubators of innovation" to spread effective teaching practices throughout our district. Both of these new initiatives are very exciting, and we invite you to learn more about them. We are using special funding sources as well as our new Lucia Mar Foundation for Innovation (LMFI) to help us pay for initial planning costs. For additional budget details, please visit the Central Coast New Tech website at www.CentralCoastNewTech.org. The LMFI has set a goal to raise $150,000 this year to pay for IB and New Tech costs. Their website is www.thefoundationforinnovation.org, In addition to our website, www.lmusd.org, you can also get our latest district news through our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/LuciaMarUnified, and our YouTube channel www.YouTube.com/LuciaMarUnified.
The System for Teacher and Student Advancement (TAP)
You may know that Lucia Mar received a $7.2 million Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant from the federal government last year to implement TAP over the next five years. The seven schools implementing TAP are Nipomo, Lange, Fairgrove, Oceano and Grover Heights Elementary Schools, and Mesa and Judkins Middle Schools. TAP uses Master and Mentor teachers to provide weekly staff development for our teachers, using a scoring guide on 19 key elements of effective teaching. In addition, the TAP system provides feedback, coaching, modeling and support through our administrators and Master/Mentor teachers. Finally, TAP includes a performance-based compensation component based on the scoring guide and student growth. So far, all indications from our TAP schools show that the system is providing wonderful support and assistance to our teachers.
Our final goal is for our two comprehensive high schools to develop more fully articulated pathways so that our students have a better idea of possible career choices. In addition, we are working to include a middle school curriculum to revamp our ninth grade "Skills for Success" class, and are considering asking the Board to approve a pathway graduation requirement. Statistics show that a fairly small percentage of students actually make it through four years of college, and we must make sure they are prepared both for the college and the world of work with 21st Century skills.
Please read through each of our nine goals in the areas of student success, staff success, and stewardship of resources. I am very excited about the direction of our district and am constantly amazed at the high quality of our teachers, support staff, and administrators. Equally important is our community support; specifically, from our parents and guardians of our children. Your continued input, volunteerism, and financial support is critical for our students. The challenge of our times is to move forward towards innovation even during these difficult budget times, and I believe we are doing so in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. With your help, and with the support of our community in general, we can achieve our vision. As the late Steve Jobs said,
"Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat."
If you have any suggestions, questions or ideas, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org; I would love to hear from you!
Friday, August 26, 2011
Welcome Back to School 2011-12 School Year!
Thursday morning was my first opportunity to drive my daughter Alaina to Arroyo Grande high school, where she is starting as a freshman while my son Jack is starting at Judkins. We talked about how excited she was to begin her high school experience, and I realized this was one of those life milestones: my kids are growing up right before my eyes! I had previously spoken to our principals at our retreat about the idea of looking for "remarkable moments" in our lives before they pass us by, and I was so glad I was able to capture this one and so glad to have my kids attending school in the district where I work so I have the opportunity to be with them a little more and observe as many remarkable moments as I can! I hope you all had a memorable first full week of school.
We have so many great initiatives moving forward in Lucia Mar for our students and the energy and excitement you all bring to our schools and district is outstanding. As we move forward, I wanted to share with you more news about where we are now, and where we are heading, with your help.
TAP started off on a very positive note, and our master and mentor teachers are working closely with our site administrators to provide teachers at the seven TAP schools with the support they need and to lead the weekly cluster meetings. This is a new role for our teachers to play, and they are doing such a fantastic job of learning the art of how to mentor, coach, and support our teachers.
After the Welcome Back Rally last Monday, one of our new high school teachers came up to me and exclaimed, "I am so excited about New Tech High, and would love to work there one day. I am so glad I came to Lucia Mar." I had the opportunity to sit in on his presentation at Back To School Night one evening this week, and his love of students, passion for teaching and joy to be with his peers at school was palpable and so invigorating, and captured the positive tone of the new school year perfectly!
As many of you know, New Tech High will be a school within a school located on the Nipomo High School campus. Our facilities division is hard at work with the first phase of preparing the site and renovating existing structures and readying this area. As construction moves forward, we will be keeping you updated on progress.
Career Pathways is also a big priority this year, and we are making plans to ensure our students have options and skills to succeed in the work force after high school. Our goal is to make sure we have at least 5 pathways at each high school, and that students are prepared with the self-knowledge and training to secure employment opportunities. Santa Rosa City Schools has a model we are looking at closely, and we hope to make great progress with our pathways this year. The new Agriculture Science & Technology Facility, made possible with Prop 1D Funding and three years in planning, is under construction - you can see its progress at the southwest corner of Arroyo Grande High School.
Some have said I am being overly optimistic or moving too fast, but that is part of my nature. While I am very excited about all that is happening in our district, I am cognizant that we are living in difficult times, both in terms of our economic and fiscal situation as well as with the rapid changes in our social structures and technology. Here in Lucia Mar, the budget constraints are making our jobs more difficult, and there is no doubt we are all being asked to do more with less. Class sizes are higher, and there are fewer of us to do the jobs that need to be done. I realize these are tough times, and I don't want to minimize how hard everyone is working or gloss over the fact that funding cuts are having a negative impact on education.
Having said that, I still remain optimistic. In terms of our budget, we have planned for anticipated possible mid-year cuts of about $3.1 million, which includes a general cut of $260 per student as well as a possible loss of $500,000 in transportation funding. Nevertheless, as a result of prudent fiscal planning and proactive board action, I am proud of the fact that we have not had to implement furlough days or pay cuts like so many other districts in the state. While we have certainly reduced our work force and hours, this year we were also able to rehire all of the teachers on our reemployment list, due mostly to the addition of 9 TAP Master teachers, funded by the $7.2 million TIF grant, as well as several retirements. At our new teacher luncheon, we welcomed 29 teachers to our district, and it was so motivating to have all that positive energy in one room!
Finally, we have made a strong start in moving forward with our efforts to prioritize, define, assess, and teach our seven identified 21st Century skills. Our teachers identified teamwork and critical thinking as the top two skills, and drafted rubrics to assess student learning in these areas. We will meet with this group again in November to finalize the rubrics and to share effective teaching strategies. New Tech High and the International Baccalaureate program are also top priorities, and will be strong models of innovation for us to learn from.
When we started exploring our Vision 2020 Framework and looking at models of learning throughout our state and nation, I believe we did a great job through school visits, staff meetings, media stories, public forums, and other conversations to generate interest and buy-in, but now we need to outline more of the details related to funding, staffing, curriculum and other interest areas. This year, we will re-double our efforts to share news with all of you, our parents, students, business partners, and community stakeholders. We want and need your input and your ideas as we work together to support our students. The next open forum on New Tech & Vision 2020 is scheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2011. You are invited to join us at one of two sessions that day which will include a tour of the site: 3-4:00 p.m. or 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., at Olympic Hall, Nipomo High School, 525 N. Thompson Avenue, Nipomo. We hope you can stop by - please bring a guest!
Life is a balance, isn't it? We need to balance work with play, humor with seriousness, home with school. We also need to balance the need to move forward boldly with making sure we are being thoughtful, communicating well, and inviting ideas, input, and suggestions. Lucia Mar really is making dramatic progress to ensure our students are ready for the 21st Century, but there will be some bumps along the way. Change is hard, but if we work together we can do anything.
Thank you for working for Lucia Mar.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Fiorentino to Lead Paulding, Empey to Harloe
It is with great pleasure that I announce Chuck Fiorentino, currently the Principal at Harloe Elementary, will be the new principal at Paulding Middle School and Jim Empey, currently the Assistant Principal at Paulding, will be the new Principal at Harloe Elementary School, pending board approval.
Chuck has been the principal at Harloe for the past three years, and previously was a principal at Branch and Dana Elementary. Chuck was interested in moving back to the middle school level, which is where he started as a science and math teacher. I believe this move is a also a good fit for Paulding, and that Chuck will be able to help them continue the academic excellence that has been a trademark of Paulding.
Jim has been the assistant principal at Paulding for the past two years, and previously had been an area administrator at Arroyo Grande High for a year and previously a classroom science teacher. He welcomed the opportunity to lead a school forward, and is looking forward to working with the Harloe staff and community to find a common theme and area of focus for the school.
I have been asked to clarify the process that was used to fill these two principal positions in the district. Usually we will post vacant administrative positions, as it provided the staff and community an opportunity to provide input into the final decision that is made. However, there are times when I believe that a current administrator has the skills and leadership necessary to lead a school forward, and is a good match for the needs of the school. Frankly, the outside administrative candidates we have interviewed have not been of high quality, and this means our internal candidates are usually the most qualified. In this case, as in some previous decisions I have made this year regarding the movement of current principals to new schools, I believe both Chuck and Jim are the most qualified candidates to lead each school forward. We are also late in the year, and so time is of the essence in terms of getting the best person possible for our open positions.
I hope you will join me in welcoming Chuck and Jim to their new positions, and that you will provide them all the support you can to help them be successful. Have a great summer, and rest up and relax—you all deserve a nice break.
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
California Day of the Teacher
I just wanted to say a huge "THANKS" to all of our teachers for your tireless work on behalf of all of our students. You make an incredible difference in the lives of so many children, not all of which can be seen or measured for years to come. Most of your effort goes unnoticed, so on behalf of our students, parents and community members; I just want you know how much you are appreciated and how important the work you are doing is to our community.
When I first graduated from Cal, my parents advised me not to go into teaching but to try and do something I enjoyed "and also make a little money," so I accepted an offer from Boise Cascade Office Products Division as their inside sales manager. I did enjoy the challenge of management, but after a few years decided to give outside sales a shot. The challenge was there, but the job satisfaction and lack of meaning in my work caused me to quit and eventually find my way back to teaching. My first years of teaching at Tamalpais High in Mill Valley were an incredible experience, and like many of you, I still remember so many of those faces and experiences with my students. Some still make me laugh out loud, either at the dumb thing I did or something funny they did in class. One of my biggest mistakes was when I was the leadership teacher and handed out Hershey's Kisses to all the sophomores, juniors, and seniors to give to the freshmen as they entered the rally; instead, as I should have known, they started pelting all the freshmen with the chocolates instead! Not exactly the warm welcome I was hoping for!
Teaching is incredibly rewarding, and incredibly challenging. You have such a diverse range of learners in your classes, and are expected to challenge and support them all and to individualize your lessons. We have fewer resources than ever before, and the budget is always shrinking. Nevertheless, you carry on with your indomitable spirit, and continue to touch hearts and minds every day even in the midst of very difficult conditions. We are so lucky to have such a talented teaching force here in Lucia Mar, and once again I thank you so much for all you do every day. You should be very proud of being a teacher, and of the fact that you are making an incredible difference to so many young people. Keep up your sense of humor, and have a great last month of school. Below are some pictures of our great teachers in action.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
School Board Approves IB and New Tech High Programs
I was extremely happy Tuesday night when the Lucia Mar Board of Education gave a definitive "thumbs up" to two new programs designed to move the district forward towards our vision of becoming "The model school district for 21st Century learning in the nation." The International Baccalaureate (IB) program will begin implementation at Grover Beach Elementary School in the fall of 2011, while planning work toward a New Technology high school located on the Nipomo High campus moves forward with a goal to open for students in the fall of 2012.
Despite these difficult budget times, but with the promise of financial support and backing from our new Lucia Mar Foundation for Innovation, the school board took a leap of faith that we will be able to count on our community to help fund these new initiatives. Rather than circling the wagons and battening down the hatches, our board has chosen the bold alternative of rethinking the status quo and moving ahead with these innovative programs to ensure our students are competitive in the world economy. Their decision to move forward shows great leadership in the face of uncertainty and adversity, and gives us hope and optimism that we can meet the tough challenges ahead.
In addition, I would like to thank all the staff, parents, and community members from both Grover Beach and the district who have worked so hard to move forward with these two programs. We have visited lots of schools and districts to try and learn from the most innovative and effective educational programs, and I am confident that implementing both IB and New Tech will promote the 21st Century Skills of teamwork, self-direction, critical thinking, technology, communication, innovation and global awareness. I also agree with the speakers at the meeting who shared the belief that these two programs are a start and there will be a "ripple effect" throughout our district to positively influence student learning.
It is easy to move ahead with new ideas and programs when things are going well, but much more difficult in the face of hardship. I know every one of us has been working extra hard and putting in extra hours to do our jobs with decreasing resources. While we are all trying to work smarter, the fact is we are all working harder as well. I want you to know that I truly appreciate your hard work, your dedication to our students, and your commitment to making our schools and district the best we can be. Thank you so much for all you do for our children. While I can't promise that our state and nation will head into an economic recovery any time soon, at least you can feel some hope and optimism that our school board has the courage and daring to move forward, and that our community is stepping up to support our vision. Being audacious and viewing our current crisis as opportunity is the only way we can ensure our students get the very best education possible!
Monday, March 7, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
CSU Summit: Transformative Change in the Preparation of Teachers
I would like to thank our good friends at Cal Poly for inviting me to join them at the California State University Summit: Transformative Change in the Preparation of Teachers. Cal Poly was allowed to invite one K-12 partner, and I was more than honored when I received the invitation. It was also a great pleasure meeting Cal Poly's new president, Jeff Armstrong. In total there were about 12 people in attendance from Cal Poly, and roughly 200 overall at this mid-February meeting held in Irvine.
The summit was hosted by the California State University system in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences and several of the nation's leading educational organizations, philanthropic foundations, and corporations. Dr. Charles Reed, Chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, introduced the summit by explaining its purpose. The goal, as stated by Dr. Reed was to, "Help identify exemplary strategies for teacher preparation that clearly warrant dissemination and scaling up in California and nationally."
Dr. Reed added a special focus was on "approaches proven effective in equipping new teachers to work successfully with economically disadvantaged populations, students with special needs, and English learners in order to close persistent achievement gaps." At Lucia Mar, these are the things we are also striving for and doing. That's one of the reasons I'm so excited our teachers recently provided such great support to implement the TAP System, which will do just that. You can read more about TAP and our involvement here.
Most of the CSU presidents were there, along with deans and professors from various fields. The guest speakers and all the individual workshops were very informative. One speaker stood out to me in particular, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, who is an education professor at Stanford. Her resume and achievements are extremely impressive. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school reform, teacher quality, and educational equity. From 1994-2001, she served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, a blue-ribbon panel whose 1996 report, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," led to sweeping policy changes affecting teaching in the United States. In 2006, this report was named one of the most influential affecting U.S. education, and Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation's 10 most influential people affecting educational policy over the last decade. In 2008-09, she headed President Barack Obama's education policy transition team. Her comments on the positive changes taking place in our teacher education programs, and what needs to continue to change, were very enlightening. It was great to hear her thoughts and ideas, considering her extensive background and comprehensive work with education reform.
I left the summit feeling that much work is being done to improve the teacher training process, including making it more like a residency, having new and master teachers work together instead of in isolation, improving the evaluation process of new teachers, and making the whole experience more practical and real. I am also excited to continue to work with Cal Poly as partners to improve the experience of our student teachers, as well as to make sure we hire the best of what they have to offer. There are many great benefits to Lucia Mar having such a strong and positive working relationship with Cal Poly.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration
In an effort to continue our mission of becoming "the model school district for 21st century learning" as stated in our Vision 2020 Framework, I took advantage of a rare invitation to the Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration Conference. The conference which was held in mid-February in Denver, Colorado was sponsored by the Department of Education in collaboration with the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the Council of the Great City Schools, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the National Education Association, and the National School Board Association. The conference airfare and lodging were sponsored by the Ford Foundation. Lucia Mar was one of just 150 school districts from across the nation that was invited. There were only 11 districts from California in attendance. I was fortunate enough to make the trip with Colleen Martin, president of the Lucia Mar School Board, and Lloyd Walzer, president of the Lucia Mar Teachers Association. We definitely felt honored to be there.
This unique conference on labor-management was designed to "transform the relationship among local superintendents, school boards, and teachers into a broad robust partnership designed to boost student achievement." We are doing everything we can at Lucia Mar to "boost student achievement", so I was happy to participate in this great collaboration. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, gave a terrific and informative speech to open the conference. It was a pleasure to listen to him, and spend a little time with him as well. See photo below.
"Union Leaders and administrators across the country are finding new ways to work together to focus on student success. The leaders from these 150 districts are committed to bold reforms and are showing the country what is possible when adults come together, particularly in tough times, to do the right thing for kids," Duncan said about the conference.
There were plenty of informative breakout sessions to choose from, along with engaging networking opportunities. Colleen, Lloyd, and I decided to spread out and attend different breakout sessions in order to gather and share as much information as possible. The breakout sessions were led by leaders of different school districts who are currently communicating and collaborating in innovative and effective ways. They shared their thoughts and ideas on how school districts can improve and strengthen labor-management relationships, policies, and better techniques to holding each other responsible for achieving goals. The main goal of course is to ultimately improve student education and achievement. We learned a lot of interesting and effective practices that other districts are doing, and we hope to implement some of them at Lucia Mar.
This trip provided Colleen, Lloyd, and I a great opportunity to know and understand each other better. On the final day, the three of us spent a good 90 minutes talking and discussing the conference, sharing ideas, and setting goals for Lucia Mar. This time spent with them, and our own collaboration, was one of the best aspects of the trip. We will be meeting again soon and taking the conversation even further, as we all have the same goal, as the goal of the conference was: boost student achievement.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Superintendent’s Message: Preliminary Budget Recommendations for FY 2011-12
At the school board meeting last night, I presented my initial budget reduction recommendations to the board of education, which total approximately $3.5 million dollars. I have attached a copy of this listing. While it is difficult to estimate how the final state budget will affect us here in Lucia Mar, we are using the estimates from our County Office of Education and School Services of California to predict cuts of about $335 per student, which totals the $3.5 million. California Education Code requires us to give preliminary notice to certificated staff by March 15th of any potential layoff.
The board is holding a special meeting next Tuesday, March 8, 2011 to address the formal steps necessary for preliminary notices to any affected certificated and classified staffs. I am very sorry that this course of action is necessary, and only hope the budget situation brightens.
Governor Brown has set a deadline of March 10, 2011 for the legislature to vote to approve the ballot measure that would extend the temporary income, sales, and car taxes, which are due to expire, for five more years. His deadline is 89 days from June 7, the date on which he said he would like to have a special tax election. So far, he does not appear to have the few Republican votes he needs to place the measure on the ballot, but this could change any day.
In the meantime, we have prepared a budget that is prudent and which assumes that the ballot measure is not enacted. While this is not the worst case scenario, it is one that is reasonable at this time. Frankly, we will not have a real handle on next year's budget for at least another few months. Please know that when the final budget is enacted, possibly in June, we hope conditions will be much better for us, but realistically, it could also be much worse. Thanks for your patience during this difficult budget process.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Superintendent's Message: Budget information for FY 2011-12
At Tuesday's school board meeting, the board passed Resolution A-1011-18 (attached) urging our state legislators to work with the Governor to place a measure on the June 2011 ballot calling for a five-year extension of taxes to protect our schools and students by making education a priority in the state. As you are all well aware, education in California has taken a disproportionate share of budget cuts over the last few years - here in Lucia Mar, this amount was over $9.6 million. The Governor's plan for a balanced approach to reducing the $25 billion+ state deficit is with a combination of cuts and tax extensions. We will find out in March if the legislature can muster the votes to put this measure on the June ballot, and then will have to wait and see if it passes. I have provided contact information for Senator Sam Blakeslee and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian at the end of this message if you wish to join me in contacting them with your support for education and opposition of further cuts.
While it is extremely difficult to predict how the budget situation will turn out, projections from the County Office of Education and School Services of California are that if the tax extensions do not come to pass, we are looking at budget cuts of about $335 per student, or an overall cut to Lucia Mar of around $3.5 million. Of course the cuts could be much higher or much lower than this estimate, but this is our best guess at this point. Adding to our woes is the fact that we are a declining enrollment district, so that hurts us even more as we have lost about 130 students since last year.
I have been meeting with my cabinet over the last several months to discuss possible cuts that will allow us to meet this projected deficit, and the work is difficult. Frankly, every possible idea for increasing revenue or decreasing expenditures has already been examined over the past several years and there is little that we have not considered. For this reason, I have decided not to convene the Budget Review Committee again this year, but will instead use the ideas that have already been brought forth to make suggestions for needed reductions. At the school board meeting next Tuesday, March 1, I will present my preliminary budget recommendations for next year to the board, and invite input and feedback from all of you on these ideas. My draft recommendations are a starting point to use for further conversations; and over the coming months, the board will consider many more options to make reasoned decisions when a budget is finally passed in June. Unlike the state legislature, our school district is required to adopt a budget by June 30, and we will meet this deadline.
Budget reductions are painful for our district and will result in layoffs for management, certificated and classified staff. These are very difficult times for education, and it is wearing to have to do this. While we will do everything possible to minimize the impact of these cuts on the classroom; unfortunately, we are already beyond this point. Please feel free to give me your suggestions and feedback related to your budget ideas as we struggle to address our budget shortfall over the coming months. Thank you in advance for all you do to help our students learn and grow even during these times of declining resources; I am well aware of how the cuts have impacted each of you and that it makes everyone's job much more difficult. I will continue to do all I can to pursue other resources, including grants and donations from our community, to try and soften the blow of the state budget cuts.
Senator Sam Blakeslee
1104 Palm Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian
1150 Osos Street Suite 207
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I recently took a very exciting and informative trip to ConocoPhillips. Superintendent of Maintenance Jim Anderson and Facility Manger Tim Seidel invited several representatives from the school district to come over for lunch and a tour. About nine of us made the short trip to ConocoPhillips, which is located near the dunes in Arroyo Grande. Aside from myself, several district counselors, teachers and principals were on hand to explore the facility and learn more about the company.
I also did some sharing. I spoke with them about our Vision 2020 Framework and our new direction for our schools, which focuses on the critical skills needed for success in the 21st century. Turns out we are more similar than we once thought. District skills like “Communicating,” “Problem Solving & Critical Thinking,” “Teamwork,” and “Technology” are some of the same words used to define ConocoPhillips’ Mission Statement.
We weren’t the only ones who benefited from the trip. It also turned out to be very rewarding for our students. Jim and Tim discussed several different career opportunities that ConocoPhillips has to offer and I was pleasantly surprised at how much some of their technical positions pay. It was also great for our teachers and counselors to hear what kind of employees ConocoPhillips is looking for, and what skills they value most. Now our Lucia Mar students truly have an edge on the competition.
I think it’s incredibly important that Lucia Mar continue to reach out and talk with local business leaders. What a great way to form partnerships and learn from each other. A big thanks to Jim, Tim and all the folks at ConocoPhillips for the delicious lunch and for taking some time to exchange ideas and discuss how we can make our students, and our community, a better and more enjoyable place for everyone.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Pacific Gas and Electric Company Donates $30,000 to LMUSD!
Pacific Gas and Electric Company Donates $30,000 to LMUSD!
A BIG thanks to Thomas Jones, Steve Spratt, and everyone at PG&E for their generous $30,000 grant donation! I was thrilled when John Shoals from PG&E (Yes, he is also Mayor Shoals of Grover Beach) stopped by with the check today. The money will allow us to purchase 68 Apple iPod-Touches that will be used by our students at Grover Beach and Oceano Elementary Schools. This is exactly the support we need to fulfill our new Vision 2020 Framework, and to give our students the skills to be successful in the 21st century. It’s fantastic to know that PG&E shares our vision of innovation, technology, teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation. This is very exciting for our students who will now be using cutting-edge technology in the classroom. There will be a formal check presentation at a future board meeting, so stay tuned. Thanks again PG&E!
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Sputnik and Innovation
Last week President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, and here is a short excerpt from that speech:
“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living.
Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS. Just think of all the good jobs -- from manufacturing to retail -- that have come from these breakthroughs.
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment.”
Our country is faced with increasing challenges on so many fronts, including how to make sure our education system responds to the changing world dynamics in a way that ensures our students are successful in that flat and competitive world. I agree with President Obama that innovation is the key to our success, as well as our ability to seize the moment and change the way we deliver education. We either become progressive and adapt to the new world we live in or risk becoming irrelevant and lost. I am also thankful that our community and our district have come up with a mission and vision that accepts the challenges before us. If we engage, challenge and inspire our students, they will learn. If we teach them core academics well, and also prepare them with the 21st Century skills, they will be successful. And we are well on our way!
On Tuesday evening, our school board approved the TAP Agreement that was developed between LMUTA and the district. Our negotiating teams used our district values of integrity, teamwork, innovation and resilience to come together and build an agreement that opens the door towards the implementation of the TIF grant using the TAP model at up to six of our schools. This is a great achievement! The fact that our teachers were willing to work with us, were willing to have an open mind and not be obstructionist says a lot about our teacher leadership and their willingness to embrace change. The fact that our teachers voted to ratify this agreement and allow each potential TAP school to decide on TAP implementation says so much about who we are as a district. Each site will cast their vote on February 25th, and 75% of our teachers will need to vote yes to implement the system. I have confidence that once the real benefits of this system—teacher mentoring, coaching and support, weekly cluster meetings and planning time, a proven model of instruction, increased teacher jobs through the addition of 7 master teachers—are understood and weighed against any trepidation, that teachers will decide to move forward with TAP.
Maintaining the ‘President Obama’ theme of this message, the quote below communicates Mr. Obama’s enthusiastic support for the TAP System:
“America's future depends on its teachers. And so today, I'm calling on a
new generation of Americans to step forward and serve our country in our
classrooms. If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation,
if you want to make the most of your talents and dedication, if you want
to make your mark with a legacy that will endure -- then join the
teaching profession. And if you do your part, then we'll do ours.
That's why we're taking steps to prepare teachers for their difficult responsibilities, and
encourage them to stay in the profession. That's why we're creating new
pathways to teaching and new incentives to bring teachers to schools
where they're needed most. That's why we support offering extra pay to
Americans who teach math and science to end a teacher shortage in those
subjects. It's why we're building on the promising work being done in
places like South Carolina's Teacher Advancement Program, and making an
unprecedented commitment to ensure that anyone entrusted with educating
our children is doing the job as well as it can be done.
Now, here's what that commitment means: It means treating teachers like
the professionals they are while also holding them more accountable --
in up to 150 more school districts. New teachers will be mentored by
experienced ones. Good teachers will be rewarded with more money for
improved student achievement, and asked to accept more responsibilities
for lifting up their schools. Teachers throughout a school will benefit
from guidance and support to help them improve."
The TAP system is just one of the innovations we are acting on in Lucia Mar. Change is coming on a number of fronts as our schools look to other models and programs such as New Technology High, International Baccalaureate, Career Pathways, and the like are examined to see how they can help us address the 21st century skills. We are working hard to find the outside resources we need to implement these programs, which is an incredible challenge. But we will succeed, we will move forward, and we will continue to engage our business partners, challenge our staff to find grant money, and inspire our fine teaching staff so that our students can succeed. This is our time, this is our Sputnik moment. Let’s be bold and seize the opportunity to reinvent our educational system so that our growth becomes our students’ growth; our willingness to change and learn becomes their willingness to change and learn. We owe them that chance.