Del Norte’s unified plan calls for restructuring of city’s elementary schools | Wild rivers outpost
Jessica Cejnar / Today @ 5:01 p.m.
Del Norte’s unified plan calls for restructuring of city’s elementary schools
While they have acknowledged that most parents are focused on the upcoming school year, Del Norte Unified officials are proposing to restructure its four elementary campuses in town so that half serve K-2 students. and the other half from the third to the fifth year. students.
Included in DNUSD’s local control responsibility plan for 2021-2022; For the 2022-2023 and 2023-24 school years, the proposal would impact elementary schools Joe Hamilton, Mary Peacock, Bess Maxwell and Pine Grove, Superintendent Jeff Harris told administrators at a special meeting Thursday.
But officials have yet to determine what this restructuring would look like, Harris said. There are infrastructure issues to consider – adding toilets to transitional kindergarten classes, for example – as well as materials and supplies, technology, and furniture. There are also the transportation needs of individual families, Harris said.
“I don’t want anyone to think this is happening,” he said. “We want to have these conversations in a much more public open forum starting in August.”
According to Tom Kissinger, the district assistant superintendent of programs and training.
In previous years, the Local Control Accountability Plan described how the district would spend the additional state funding it receives on services benefiting English learners, fostered youth, homeless students. and low-income children.
However, as CASL was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020-21 school year, next year’s plan not only includes how the district will spend these extra dollars from the State, but also federal funds ESSR and Expanded Learning Opportunities.
The district expects to receive $ 2.6 million in ELO dollars, which is intended to pay for emotional academic and social interventions for students returning to school after the pandemic, according to Jeff Napier, assistant superintendent of student services. companies. DNUSD proposes to use much of that one-time funding to hire more staff, he said.
“My rule of thumb is never to do one-time funding for things that eat,” Napier told directors Thursday. “But the majority of that one-time funding goes to things that eat because that’s the only way to make up for lost learning for these kids.”
Although he noted that it will take a lot of conversations with families, the community at large as well as district staff, Harris said the district has been considering restructuring its elementary schools in town for years.
In some cases, said Harris, you’ll have a school with a single kindergarten class of 26 students while another neighboring school has more than one with 17 students. He noted that the younger students in the district have different needs than their older peers, while their teachers often lack the capacity to collaborate with their colleagues.
“The goal of Kindergarten, first and second (grades) is to learn to read – to learn the basics of reading, and they kind of tie that into third grade,” Harris said. Kindergarten to grade two also does not pass state tests. This is the third year above.
The creation of two K-2 schools would focus on these core college schools, while the remaining two 3-5 schools would change the focus of these middle-level programs, Harris said.
“If we can bring these teachers together for collaborative opportunities, and if we can bring these teachers together to create intervention schedules and we can find ways to work together to provide interventions; if we are able to focus on the curriculum, materials and special education programs according to the needs of the students, this, in our opinion, could be of huge benefit to our students, ”he said .
Although the proposed restructuring is in the district’s budget for the 2022-2023 school year, Harris said it would likely take staff, administrators and the public from August to December to formally decide to proceed.
The district would also need to hire an architect to develop plans for how the schools would be physically altered, Harris said. These plans should then be submitted to the State Architecture Division for approval.
“The DSA is about six months away,” he said. “We would need to get contracts approved and then take action throughout the 2021-22 school year in order to pay for these things in ’22. Hopefully if all goes well, if the board is supportive, if the families are supportive, then to open two K-2 and 3-5 in the 2022-23 school year.
When asked what parents thought of the proposal in previous CASL contribution sessions, Kissinger said they were receptive, had lots of questions, but were also more focused on the issue. opening of the school this fall.
Harris also noted that there is a “community PTSD” around the idea of the district closing schools, but, he said, that is not part of that conversation.
“It’s not about closing schools,” he said. “This will be a conversation next year about restructuring schools… Crescent Elk continues to be college 6-8.”
Other proposed expenses included in CASL for the next three years include continued efforts to reduce combined classes, hiring library technicians, more counselors and another school psychologist, according to Kissinger.
The district’s goal is to have a counselor at each school site. However, Gasquet Mountain School, with an enrollment of 55 students, will be served by a counseling technician with the support of a counselor, according to Kissinger. Sunset High School and Community Day School will share a counselor, he said.
This proposal prompted school trustees Charlaine Mazzei and Jamie Forkner to ask the district to define the difference between a school counselor and a counselor who meets the socio-emotional needs of a student.
Kissinger said district counselors offer academic counseling and socio-emotional support, but do not provide approved individual or group therapy.
Forkner said she was concerned that counselors would focus more on students with socio-emotional issues while putting the school board “on the back burner.”
Mazzei noted that a counselor helping a student who is experiencing domestic violence issues at home or living on the streets requires a different skill set than the school board.
“I’m afraid you’re trying to stress too much on these advisers to say you have to do these two things,” she said.
Harris said the district is also planning to hire an additional psychologist as well as counselors who could devote more time to intensive therapy. The district also has grants to hire social work interns, he said, although this is not included in CASL.
Mazzei and Forkner’s concerns prompted council chairwoman Angela Greenough to ask if the district needed to hire more councilors. She asked Kissinger and Harris to pose this question to the already staffed advisers.
“If we need to hire more, let’s adjust our budget to do it,” Greenough said. “We know the socio-emotional need, but we don’t want to neglect the educational advice. Do we need more? This is a question we need to ask the advisory staff.
The board of directors of the DNUSD will seek public comment on CASL at a hearing on June 15, according to Harris. Trustees will then collect public comments on the proposed budget for 2021-2022. Council is expected to approve CASL and the budget on June 24.
• Presentation of the LCAP budget of June 3