1st Annual Report Launched to Keep Community Apprised
Like school districts across the state, our local schools face serious challenges as a result of California's budget woes, but we also have a lot of good news to share with our community! We want to make sure that you hear about the many ways our community is supporting the children in our schools, so we are launching this annual report, which will be sent out each year to provide you with an update on the academic progress and financial status of your local schools.
You will not find a district with more heart, hope and optimism than the Redwood City School District - and I say this as a 33-year veteran of the teaching profession! I noticed this quality the first time I visited Redwood City, and it has only grown during these years of budget shortfalls. Those of you who have children enrolled in our schools know what I am talking about!
Our schools are built on a strong foundation of highly trained staff, research-based teaching strategies, academic rigor, involved families and growing support from the wider community.
- Our teachers, principals and staff give it their all, every day, even with larger classes, because they want their students to succeed.
- We offer a slate of school choices unique on the Peninsula, and our programs receive accolades.
- Test scores are rising dramatically at most schools throughout our district. Taft Community School, for example, had an Academic Performance Index (API) of 444 in 1999, and today its API score stands at 774.
- North Star Academy consistently has one of the top API scores in the state of California.
- Three of our schools - Taft, Hawes and Henry Ford - have been taken off the state's program improvement list, a near impossible task.
- Our students pursue excellence in academics and the arts, and they are honored for it. Our graduates excel in area high schools, and are accepted at some of the finest universities in the country, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, MIT and Brown, among others.
- Our parents not only teach Art in Action, they also help in the classroom, and serve on PTAs, PTOs and Site Council.
- Our community has stepped up to the plate in amazing ways during the last few years, and many of you have been a part of that by volunteering time and money to our students. We would have made even more serious cuts to our music program, if not for the extra money raised by the Redwood City Education Foundation.
Despite our budget challenges, there are many accomplishments of which we are proud. We will continue to work and engage our community as we consistently seek to improve education for all of our students.
Redwood City School District Cuts
|$13 Million in Five Years|
Due to state budget cuts to education, the Redwood City School District tightened its belt and made many difficult decisions in order to keep our local elementary schools solvent. The district has cut about $13 million over the last five years, including laying off more than 120 teachers and other staff, increasing the number of students in many classrooms by up to 50 percent, and reducing the number of hours that school libraries are open during the school day. Per student funding has dropped from $5,534 per student in 2007-08 to $4,972 per student in 2011-12. This drop in per student funding occurred at the same time that operating expenses such as energy, utilities and cost of supplies have increased.
Student success is our school district's priority. That is why most of our budget goes directly to academic programs and classroom instruction. We operate on a lean budget to deliver quality education to all of our students.
Redwood City is one of the lowest funded school districts in our area, which has made recent budget cuts even more harmful to our academic program. The chart below shows the differences in funding between Redwood City School District and the seven other elementary districts that feed into Sequoia Union High School District. It is based on the 2009-10 school year, the most recent year for which comparative data is available.
Academic Achievement Continues to Rise, Despite Budget Cuts
Despite larger class sizes, loss of summer school, and loss of teachers who received pink slips due to state budget cuts, many schools in the Redwood City School District continued to make gains in both Academic Performance Index (API) scores and the percentage of students proficient in English language arts and math.
Garfield School, in its second year after returning back to the district after many years as a charter school, saw a 52-point rise in its API score. MIT and Hoover Schools increased 21 and 20 points respectively; Roosevelt gained 14 points, Fair Oaks gained 9 points and North Star Academy gained 7 points for a near-perfect 992 out of 1000, one of the highest API scores in the state. Ten of the district's 16 schools increased their API or had API scores above the state target of 800.
"It is a tribute to our teachers, principals and staff that even with more students in the classroom and significantly reduced resources, we continue to see academic achievement rise at many of our schools," said Superintendent Jan Christensen. "We are happy when we see test scores go up, but we are focused on much more than test scores in this district. Our mission is to prepare students for a successful future, and I am proud that our staff and parents have worked hard to keep hands-on science, art and music alive in our district."
In recent years many local schools have made dramatic gains in student learning, and these gains are due to our outstanding teachers, greater collaboration between teachers, shared expertise among principals, and a deliberate strategy by district to increase student learning.
In 2007 the district began implementing an Achievement Plan based on the premise that identifying potential problems early, and then adjusting instruction to reflect student needs is the best way to increase learning. The district also invested significant time and money on professional development for teachers over the last few years, which has increased the tools available to teachers to increase student learning.
"We are making the most of every dollar," said Christensen. "State budget reductions have forced us to cut to the bone and beyond, but our goal remains to educate every child for success and we are not giving up on our students despite the hardships we have faced in recent years. We have tremendous spirit in our ranks, and we remain a district of heart, hope and optimism committed to educating our students."
Stable Education Funding Needed to Continue Student Achievement in Redwood City Schools
Redwood City School District is one of the lowest funded school districts in our area and has cut $13 million over the last 5 years due to state budget cuts to education.
To provide a stable source of revenue for our schools that cannot be taken by the state, the School Board of Trustees is exploring the possibility of placing a $67 annual school parcel tax on the June 5, 2012 ballot. The measure would not fill the entire gap left by State cuts, but would address our top academic priorities to continue student achievement. If passed by 67% of local voters, the measure would provide about $1.7 million to:
- Enhance reading, writing, math and science skills
- Attract and retain qualified teachers
- Support school libraries
The funds from this measure would be distributed to each school in the district. Parents and school staff would help determine how funds would be used at their school to protect academic programs, retain teachers and continue student success.
The proposed measure would include a citizen oversight committee to review all expenditures to ensure funds are used wisely. The measure would expire in 5 years and would not be used to pay for administrators' salaries. Senior citizen homeowners and persons with disabilities, regardless of age, who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), could receive an exemption.
On February 22, the school board will hold a public hearing during its regular board meeting regarding this proposed measure, and after hearing public testimony, the board will decide whether to place such a measure on an upcoming election ballot. All parents and community members are invited to attend. The board meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the board room at the district offices, 750 Bradford St., Redwood City.
As we continue to explore stable revenue for our schools, we invite your comments and questions. Please contact Superintendent Jan Christensen (firstname.lastname@example.org, 650-423-2230) for more information.
Measure B Bond Work Complete;
School Improvements and Upgrades On Time and On Budget
On September 28, 2011, the Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee for the 2002 Measure B voted unanimously to disband the committee because all Measure B bond proceeds have now been spent and all projects funded by the bond have been completed. Measure B, passed by voters in 2002, was used for a variety of building upgrades across the district, such as remodeled classrooms, remodeled restrooms, roofing, fixing or replacing leaking roofs, security upgrades and campus safety. Every school in the district benefitted from Measure B bond upgrades.
Redwood City School District Chief Business Official Raul Parungao reported that two types of audits on the bond were completed. The financial auditor, Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., LLP certified that all funds were reported properly and accounted for with no discrepancies. The performance auditor, Capital Program Management, Inc., certified that all expenditures were in accordance with the ballot language.
"Kudos to the district for completing all the projects on time and on budget," said Ms. Kerry Memole, who served on the Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee. "The District did an excellent job managing the projects."
Committee member Lew Miller added, "We are pleased that the money was spent according to the ballot measure; the taxpayers were well served."
Citizens who served on the Measure B Bond Oversight Committee include Ms. Judy Buchan, Mr. Geary Lloyd, Mr. J.P. Garcia, Mr. Dennis Patano, Mr. Lew Miller, Mr. Scott Morton, Mrs. Kerry Memole, Mr. Dwight McMillan and Mr. Chris Bohl. Trustee Dennis McBride, Superintendent Jan Christensen, Chief Business Official Raul Parungao, and Director of Facilities Don Dias attended meetings as District representatives.
Mission, Beliefs and Long Range Goals
|The Redwood City School District aims to be a premier California School District. We are committed to the success of each and every student and we take seriously our obligation to meet the challenges laid before us by federal and state accountability guidelines. |
The RCSD believes equally, however, that we must be committed to more than just academic performance of our students, if they are to truly be successful in life--now, in high school and beyond. Therefore, we commit to developing our students' full range of developmental needs--intellectual, physical, mental, and social-emotional.
As part of its process to develop a 5-year Strategic Plan, the board approved a new mission statement, set of belief statements and long-range goals on February 27, 2008 (last revised April 8, 2011):
Educating every child for success.
Children learn and succeed ...
... in a safe environment with challenging and enriching instruction.
... when all students and staff are held to high expectations.
... when each of us supports their intellectual, physical, social and emotional development.
... when they have caring adults in their lives.
... in a community that respects diverse backgrounds and treats everyone equitably.
... when their ideas and involvement are encouraged and respected.
... when families actively support their learning.
... when we work in partnership with families and community.
... when all employees are highly qualified, valued and respected.
... when each of us acts on the conviction that every child can and will learn.
1. Ensure that all students are prepared to be successful in high school and beyond.
2. Ensure a safe, healthy and respectful environment for students, staff and community.
3. Ensure that all schools are places where children grow intellectually, socially, physically, and emotionally.
4.Work with our community to engage, support and take collective responsibility for our children and our schools.
Orion, Adelante, and North Star Academy were named California Distinguished Schools.
North Star Academy was nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School.
Adelante, Hoover, North Star and Orion received Kent Awards from the San Mateo County School Boards Association for innovative practices.
Shannon Cody, 4th grade teacher at Clifford School was named the 2010 San Mateo County Teacher of the Year.
Michelle Griffith, currently principal of Garfield School in Redwood City, was named Principal of the Year for Region 5 of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) when she was serving as principal at Taft School.
Roosevelt Teacher Sigrid McCarthy received San Mateo County Dorothy Boyajian Honored Teacher Award.
The entire K-3 teaching staff won a San Mateo County Literacy award for their work in using assessments to improve reading.
The Redwood City School District was one of eleven districts statewide to win a "Champion for Fitness" Spotlight Award from the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Hoover student Omar Avellan was named Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula Youth of the Year in 2011 and Hoover student Ashley Campbell was Youth of the Year in 2010. Hoover graduate Nancy Orocio was named high school "Youth of the Year" in 2010 and advanced to the Northern California Youth of the Year contest.
School board trustee Alisa MacAvoy was honored as an Outstanding Volunteer at Family Connections' Night of Dreams.
John Gill students won the Hometown Holidays parade contest prize of $500, and were honored at a City Council meeting.
Two Clifford students were awarded first and second place awards at the 2012 San Mateo County Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fair.
Role of the Financial Advisory Committee
A Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) was formed at the beginning of April 2008 to advise the Superintendent on the District budget and ensure that the community is informed on the financial condition of the District. The formation of this committee came from a suggestion made at a Community Budget Forum several years ago.
The committee is comprised of six community members, representative from Redwood City Teachers Association (RCTA), California School Employees Association (CSEA), Redwood City Administrators Association (RCAA), three employees-at-large, and the Chief Business Official (CBO) as an ex-officio member.
The Financial Advisory Committee met 9 times during the 2010-11 school year. Each meeting lasted several hours, during which the committee heard budget reports from the Chief Business Official. FAC discussed options available to the District, reviewed budget suggestions and input submitted by the District Management Team, the Redwood City Administrators Association, and community members who attended the Community Forums. In addition to attending meetings, each member of the FAC spent significant amount of time outside the meetings reviewing information provided by the Chief Business Official.
District Conducting Survey Regarding School Programs
Enrollment is at its highest level in years in the Redwood City School District, and as a result, some schools are becoming overcrowded. Some schools have requested to expand to offer more grades. The district recently formed a committee of parents, teachers, principals and community members to study these issues and propose potential solutions. At the end of Phase I, the committee recommended to Superintendent Jan Christensen that the district conduct further research before long term solutions are identified.
In response, the district has hired a demographer to provide a wide range of data, including enrollment projections, and the district is conducting a survey to gather input on programs offered by the district.
You are invited to participate in the survey, available by clicking here:
Grade Configuration, Enrollment and Programs Survey
"As with past decisions that have the potential to impact the broader community, we wanted to engage a cross section of our parents, staff and local citizens to analyze our challenges in the context of our community and our current program offerings," said Christensen.
|Outstanding Employees Give District Heart|
Garfield Custodian Saves Student's Life
Luis Hinestroza, a long-time employee at Garfield School, is so well-liked and respected by the Garfield student body that last year's 8th graders overwhelmingly selected him to address their class at its promotion ceremony. Recently, during an otherwise typical Tuesday lunch hour in the cafeteria, he also proved himself a hero.
On January 31st, as students were eating lunch, yard duty staff and Mr. Hinestroza were notified of a 3rd grader struggling, evidently choking on her food. Drawing on his annual safety training, he did not hesitate when it became clear that the child was unable to breathe. He deftly performed the Heimlich Maneuver, effectively dislodging the food from the girl's throat.
Owing to Mr. Hinestroza's quick actions, the student, though shaken, suffered no injuries. She was taken to the hospital for observation but was soon released with a clean bill of health.
His supervisor, Director of Facilities Don Dias, said, "What happened that day was a wonderful thing and lets everyone know what we have already known - that Luis is a great man and great things happen to great people. I am so happy for everyone involved, but especially for the student - who was in the arms of an angel."