Superintendent's Update - February 10, 2023
From the Office of the Superintendent:
BOARD OF EDUCATION AGENDA CALENDAR
The Board agenda calendar can be found HERE.
INTERDEPENDENCE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION, MUSIC AND ART, TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS
PAUSD has experienced a declining enrollment trend over the past several years. We want to take steps to avoid school closures while preserving strong programs despite low enrollment numbers. One challenge in maintaining small schools is the inability to replicate programs at a site with fewer students. We looked at three areas affected by our numbers in order to problem-solve together. They may not look connected, but there is an interdependence that requires reviewing them at the same time. Below is a brief explanation of each issue and the District’s plan for the future.
When the state legislature expanded the TK program several important considerations were ignored. TK programs have different requirements for classroom space, student caps, playground equipment, and other facility considerations. TK programs are not site-specific (neighborhood) and are considered “District” programs. For decades, the entire TK program was housed exclusively at Greendell on Middlefield Avenue.
Music and Art
Music and art educators benefit tremendously when classrooms are dedicated for their services. It is not difficult to imagine the challenges of moving art supplies or music equipment from class to class while serving students. Some elementary sites have a dedicated space for both, while other sites have been unable to assign classrooms.
Moderate/Severe Special Education
A category of Special Education is called Moderate/Severe. There are currently nine classes across PAUSD serving students in this area. In seven of the nine settings, students are served in either a TK–5 or a K–5 classroom. This is challenging for the reasons we may expect. The span of grades is broad for developmental, academic, and behavioral reasons. The two remaining sites can split their Moderate/Severe programs into a TK/K–2 and a 3-5 classroom. This move provides opportunities for teacher collaboration and for classrooms with students who are appropriately grouped for services.
Returning to TK, the program will expand from the existing five TK classes to seven in 2023-24. In our revised approach, three sites will have two classes and one site will have a single class. The sites were selected to maintain offerings in geographic clusters, maximize the impact of necessary upgrades, and provide collaboration between TK teachers. Additionally, we have taken time to outline TK classes in a way that does not interfere with the desire to dedicate time to art and music. Please note that placement in a TK program that is not your neighborhood will result in your child going to your neighborhood school when they are in kindergarten.
For the 2023-24 school year, the TK locations are as follows:
Barron Park: Two TK classes
Fairmeadow: Two TK classes
Walter Hays: Two TK classes
Duveneck: One TK class
The plan will allow for dedicated art and music rooms at every elementary school by the fall of 2024. Ten of our twelve elementary sites will have dedicated rooms for both programs in the fall of 2023. The two remaining schools, Escondido and El Carmelo, will be under construction with new dedicated facilities planned for the future. To make this addition possible, Palo Verde and El Carmelo’s TK classes will be moved to other sites.
The Moderate/Severe program will be housed at five sites, four of which will begin the year with the desired split between grade levels. The sites were selected based on available space, District geographic location, and existing programs. For a full explanation, we would encourage people to view our Board agenda under Reports.
For the 2023-24 school year, the program locations will be as follows:
Barron Park: TK–2 and 3–5
Lucille Nixon: K–2 and 3–5
Fairmeadow: TK– 2 and 3–5
El Carmelo: K-2 and 3-5
Walter Hays: TK–5 (with potential for future growth)
The changes involve no reduction in staff or resources. The desired impact is to increase resources and focus for students.