“He who fails to plan, plans to fail,” goes the old adage. The Tracy Unified School District is planning a great deal for 2007 and beyond, and it is planning for great success.
As we move into 2007, local student success is continually being defined more strictly by the state and federal governments. State and national standards require local district goals and targets to reflect these standards, and TUSD has its sights set on ways to help students succeed in meeting these challenging requirements.
To accomplish our goals and targets and bring our plans to fruition, the school board and district staff and students will focus on student achievement, modern and safe facilities, fiscal responsibility and community connection to help guide our planning and decisions and inspire us to succeed.
In 2007, TUSD will continue to focus on our two important targets that are aligned with state and national standards to demonstrate accountability. The first target is that in each district school, 26 percent or more of all students will demonstrate grade level/subject matter proficiency as measured by appropriate state tests. Schools that exceed 26 percent (and the majority do) will be asked to demonstrate a growth of five percentage points annually. The second target is to have 100 percent of high school seniors meeting or exceeding graduation requirements.
To achieve these targets in 2007, we will continue to focus a great deal of our energy on using the Data Team Model to analyze student data to drive instructional decisions, staff and curriculum development. Data Teams are scheduled team meetings that focus on teaching and learning for the purpose of improving student achievement.
With a passing score on the California High School Exit Exam required in order to receive a high school diploma, we will continue to offer CAHSEE remediation courses and use PLATO software as a tool to assist students in need. PLATO software provides skill-building instruction for those having difficulties with CAHSEE by offering students the ability to work individually on a computer to master necessary skills and to assess their progress.
In order to help students learn to read, many TUSD schools are using the ExCEL program, a classroom organizational structure based on early intervention, prevention and acceleration. Frequent assessments are utilized to identify student needs and to group students accordingly. The ExCEL program uses the existing language-arts curriculum that is aligned with state standards. The program influences our students’ behaviors, attitudes and test scores in a positive way, and we look forward to seeing more results in the coming year.
This year, we are piloting the new “transitional math” curricular program for middle and high school students who lack the prerequisite math skills for algebra/integrated math program (IMP). We are also developing programs to provide additional time for middle and high school students who need increased instructional time in order pass algebra/IMP.
With student remediation and support programs flourishing, TUSD is also maintaining focus on teacher training and support as these help to produce and retain teachers of the highest quality. In 2007, there are greater demands placed upon teachers as more is expected from our students, leading to a need for more specialized training and continued support.
We pledge to continue to support our teaching staff through programs for new teachers, such as the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program and the Tracy Teacher Induction Program, as well as various other staff development programs for our veteran teaching staff. In the past two years, more than 400 teachers have been trained on using research-based instructional strategies to assist English-language learner students who are placed in English-immersion programs. As the number of students whose primary language is not English continues to grow, we are looking to provide this training for more of our staff members.
In 2007, we are also eagerly anticipating adding preschool programs as research has shown its many benefits to our community’s children. As the demand for preschool programs continues to grow, we are closely watching and utilizing new legislation and initiatives to seek out the necessary resources to expand services in this area.
Modern and safe facilities
With the huge success of the $51 million Measure E bond, TUSD is on the fast track to renovate and rebuild Tracy High School and completing West High School. The pre-election planning by district staff has definitely paid off, and changes to our high schools are already visible.
Last October, the West Building at Tracy High was ceremoniously demolished, and cleanup is being completed. Plans for the new building at Tracy High and plans for the stadium and pool complex at West High have been approved by the board and are awaiting cost estimates and approval from the state. The West High theater project is in the design stage, and we are charging ahead with plans for the Tracy High renovation.
The upcoming year will certainly bring about huge changes at our two comprehensive high schools, and the voters in the community are to be thanked for providing the funds to add these incredible new facilities for our students and staff.
TUSD also remains in the planning stages of development for its newest comprehensive high school, John Kimball High School. Kimball High School is tentatively set to open on or before August 2009. TUSD staff and the school board have had a number of planning meetings and have wisely set aside necessary start-up funds for this much-needed new high school facility.
In 2007, we also look forward to the official opening of George and Evelyn Stein High School, TUSD’s newest alternative high school on the former West Park campus on West 10th Street. With additional alternative classes at the original Duncan-Russell High School campus on Grant Line Road, the opening of both sites will allow the district to accommodate about 110 additional students working to pursue their diplomas in an alternative school setting. This, coupled with the Freshman Academic Learning Community being offered at West High and the existing academies at both comprehensive high schools, is in response to our community’s need for choices and variety in learning environments.
TUSD looks forward to continuing to provide school facilities that create safe and modern learning environments for our students. Our school sites are constantly in need of repair and modernization. Therefore, we need to continue to be conscious of these ever-growing needs when planning our finances.
TUSD depends on the state for nearly 90 percent of its annual funding. As state funding remains tight, our district budget must be monitored closely each year to maintain fiscal solvency. This will continue to be a challenge as the actual growth of the district is beginning to level off, causing a reduction in revenue.
A tentative agreement has been reached for a 5.5 percent salary increase with the Tracy Educators Association and the California School Employees Association. This is a positive move as the proposed two-year settlement will help us attract and retain qualified staff while allowing us to focus on providing a quality education to all students.
The school board is dedicated to serving our community and its interests. It is a priority of the board to hear from the public and respond accordingly through decision-making. Board meetings are an integral part of the district system, and attending or viewing them can help students, parents and community members keep abreast of the latest happenings and voice their thoughts and ideas on district issues. Please attend meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the District Education Center, 1875 W. Lowell Ave., or watch meetings each at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on cable access Channel 26.
Besides board meetings, there are other avenues for school involvement. Parent or community-member participation at school sites helps our students and our staff tremendously. Whether volunteering in a student’s classroom, serving on a school site council or being on one of the many district-level advisory committees, every donation of your time makes a difference. I warmly encourage you to become involved in your local school district and to help support our community leaders of the future.
A word of thanks must also be said to the hundreds of volunteers already contributing their time to our students and staff members. Your dedication to the future leaders of our community is appreciated and recognized.
The school board is confident we are graduating well-educated citizens capable of achieving noteworthy accomplishments. With your help and involvement, 2007 will be another successful year for the Tracy Unified School District.
Gregg Crandall, a Fremont police officer, is president of the Tracy Unified School District board. He has been a school trustee for the past four years.