Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Around Town in South County: An #Outsider Newsflash re: Capistrano Unified School District

We wanted to report on this very pivotal development for our Community that we just received from the Capistrano Unified School District:

Capistrano Unified School District:
An Unwavering Commitment to Student Success
March 23, 2016
Special Edition
Dear Capistrano Unified School District Families and Community Members:

Yesterday, the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) reached a tentative agreement with the Capistrano Unified Educators Association (CUEA) that will provide our students and employees stability over the next two to three years as California faces economic uncertainty.

When the economic recovery planning began in 2013, the Capistrano Unified School District created a plan to reinvest in our classrooms, campuses and facilities. Currently, we are replenishing reserves to provide safeguards against future downturns. We are rebuilding our deferred maintenance reserve, which was exhausted during the downturn, adding much needed Elementary and High School Assistant Principals, and have hired and placed 30 new counselors in our schools to support student social-emotional health. Additional maintenance staff has been hired, including locker room supervisors and cleaning staff, and a comprehensive work-order system to build efficiency in district operations has been put into place. We have increased safety in our transportation services by purchasing new school buses and adding GPS to our bus fleet. We have invested heavily into our technology plan and Chromebooks for students, and we are working to implement a district-wide business system that will further increase efficiency in our work-flows by moving us from paper to an electronic process.

We are also investing more than $90 million dollars into our facilities around the District for upgrades, refurbishments and expansion. This work, which our teachers are strongly committed to, is critical to our mission to prepare our students to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. We are also investing in the recruitment and retention of the teachers and faculty who are in our school classrooms and on our campuses each and every day.

Under this agreement with CUEA, our students and families will benefit from greater accountability through teacher evaluations tied to student performance and progress, greater transparency and communication with parents in the education of their children and greater support to ensure students have an implementable plan for college or career after High School graduation.

Under this new agreement, and through great collaborative work of the District and CUEA Teacher Evaluation Joint Task Force, teacher evaluation and performance will be directly tied to student performance and progress through clear assessments that will include performance goals, pre- and post-observation of classrooms and teachers, and a formal evaluation process that will also include a self-assessment. Teachers will demonstrate increased performance and progress of students and connect student performance and progress to evidence that was determined prior to instruction.

Additionally, under this new agreement, teachers will utilize our Learning Management System (currently School Loop) to communicate with students, parents or guardians regarding grades, academic matters and other educationally relevant issues. This universal adoption of our Learning Management System will create consistency of engagement and increase communication and transparency across the district for every student, family and guardian of the District.

Finally, the District will have the opportunity to add College and Career Counselors with differentiated hours to support students after the regular school day has ended - as late as 9 p.m. The addition of this position supports one of our highest priorities: to ensure that every student has an implementable plan for college, military and professional careers when they graduate.

The College and Career Counselors will maintain and operate a High School College & Career Center, providing counseling on a wide variety of college and career information and materials. Counselors will work with students, faculty, parents and community representatives concerning career planning and college entrance. Counselors will provide guidance concerning scholastic aptitude and achievement tests as well as counseling and support concerning specialized scholarships and assistance completing application forms. Counselors will plan, organize, develop and implement career events and schedule and arrange guest speakers from local businesses, community colleges, universities and armed forces to provide choices and opportunities to high school students and families. Work hours of these counselors will be non-traditional workday/evening hours at a satellite location to ensure access and availability to students.

The tentative agreement increases salary schedules by four percent effective July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017. The tentative agreement also provides a four percent off schedule (one-time) payment to be paid during the 2015-16 school year. In total, this agreement is for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.

A final but significant objective of this new contract was to put CUSD in the position to recruit and retain teachers in light of the eminent teacher shortage we are facing in California.

Kirsten M. Vital, Superintendent                   Sally White, President of CUEA

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