Robert T. Guillen, Superintendent

Robert T. Guillen, Superintendent

Phone: (951) 922-2706
Fax:     (951) 922-0227



  • Felicia Adkins, Director, Education Services
  • Barbara Wolford, Director, Special Education
  • Cathy Bagnara, Director, Fiscal Services
  • Christina Hoff, Supervisor, Fiscal Services
  • Cornell Williams, Director, Maintenance, Operations and Transportation
  • Mac Patel, Director, Information Technology
  • Karen Sanchez-Wright, Director, Nutrition Services
  • Sandi Khodadadi, Coordinator, Human Resources
  • Johnny Baker, Principal, Cabazon Elementary
  • Marcia Cole, Principal, Central Elementary
  • Alisha Morff, Principal, Hemmerling Elementary
  • Matt Beilstein, Principal, Hoffer Elementary and Florida Discovery Center
  • David Sanchez, Principal, Coombs Alternative Education Campus (AE, BISS, NHHS)
  • Al Evinger, Principal, Nicolet Middle School
  • Janet Gray, Vice Principal, Nicolet Middle School
  • Frank Chavez, Dean, Nicolet Middle School
  • Matt Valdivia, Principal, Banning High School
  • Kelly Daly, Vice Principal, Banning High School
  • Laurie De Souza, Dean, Banning High School
In my third year as Superintendent, I am dedicated to continuously advancing the District's capacity to deliver the finest possible education to our students.

I am eagerly looking forward to the start of a new academic year. I continue to be proud of our accomplishments by staff and I am grateful for the support provided by parents and community. By working together the District will continue experiencing positive gains on our journey toward an ever-improving district. The following are highlights from our District.


The District continues in its efforts to maintain lower class size district-wide. The Board has implemented Banning High School core academic classes of twenty-seven or less students per class. This is one of the lowest teacher-to-student ratios compared to surrounding districts. An average class size of twenty six or less students is maintained in our Transitional Kindergarten through third grade classes.


Teacher leadership is growing through school-based leadership teams that span grade levels and expertise departments. In every school, teachers lead grade-level or department meetings. This is the first opportunity teachers have to take on leadership roles. These teachers attend district wide training sessions throughout the year. They are responsible for sharing what they have learned with their grade or course level teams. Training sessions focus on Common Core Standards, Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID), Positive Behavior Intervention & Support (PBIS) and Intervention. Many of our past educational leaders are now site and district administrators.


The Florida Street Discovery Center is starting its 2nd school year. This facility now houses Transitional Kindergarten and Special Education pre-school programs. Last year both groups of students enjoyed a fabulous start in their educational journey through small group settings and a knowledgeable staff. This year a fourth TK class will be added.


Early education and interventions for children can lead to significantly better outcomes. Early intervention is more efficient and produces higher academic gains than remedial programs. High quality early childhood education can provide the opportunity for increased academic achievement.


This program is in its fourth year and has been expanded to three classes. It focuses on K-5 students only.


The Primary Enrichment Program (PEP) was developed to address a specific need in the District for behavioral and academic intervention utilizing innovative methods. It all started with examining student discipline and academic achievement data. We were seeing that a number of our elementary students starting with kindergarten needed direct intervention immediately. This led us to move as fast as we could to make an instructional shift for these students and create the formation of the Primary Enrichment Program (PEP).


The Board determined that earlier intervention was necessary to ensure pupil success and create a positive school experience for the student to grow and flourish. Placing emphasis of teaching the child as a whole child and addressing the needs of the child as a unique individual is complemented by preparing the child with the tools and strategies to be successful in a general education environment. The student is returned to the general education environment prepared for the academic and social rigor of the classroom. The parent, teacher and administrator develop an individual academic plan and a social emotional plan for the student to complete within a two-year period.


The District is responsible for the quality of the educational experience that all students receive, especially those students who are having a difficult time in a traditional classroom setting. This new educational setting, PEP, has been a success.


The District needs to help with closing the digital divide for our Banning High School students, 87% of whom are considered low-income. This is reinforced by data from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau Report that states household income is the strongest predictor of whether a student has access to both a computer and a high-speed Internet connection outside of the classroom.

  • Of households earning less than $25,000 annually, 62.4% own a computer, but only 48.4% have Internet access.
  • Of households earning from $25,000 to $49,000, only 81.1% have a computer and just 69% have Internet access.
  • Households of $50,000 or greater have a computer with 94.9% having Internet access.

With E-Rate and LCFF, the District is making excellent progress in closing this digital divide in our classrooms, computer labs and libraries, but these gains are not mirrored outside the classroom. The divide, in my opinion, persists inside the homes of our students.


I feel that closing this divide is essential for equal access to education for our students. This is a major goal for our District. This is why each of our Banning High School students will be receiving a Chromebook. Parents will also be given the opportunity to purchase a "Hot Spot" that allows access to the internet for up to four devices per household.


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  • The District will be increasing the quality of the educational experience for all students in Banning Unified School District. The educational experience will be enhanced by the implementation of Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) District wide.  The AVID program is now available for all students TK-12. Professional development focusing on research based instructional strategies are reinforced by English Language Development (ELD) Specialists, English Language Arts (ELA) Specialist, and the Technology Specialist through monthly workshops with teachers. There is the Chromebook Initiative at Banning High School, where all students will receive Chromebooks in the fall 2015. There will be a focus on digital curriculum and preparing our students for the college and/or career of their choosing.  An additional Public Safety pathway is now available for high school students. In addition to program enhancements, there is also a focus on intervention TK-12. There are now intervention teachers at all elementary and middle schools and our comprehensive high school.
  •  All stakeholders have had voice in the planning of the LCAP. Additional focus will be with the sharing of interim data (e.g. suspension rates, attendance rates, course enrollments). Data will be periodically shared with community, staff, the Board, principals, parents and collective bargaining units.  Sharing of information will occur at parent meetings, Board meetings, scheduled meetings with principals and collective bargaining units.

School climate will be improved by providing a school environment where all students and staff feel safe.  BUSD will continue implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention & Support (PBIS) and Boys Town curriculum. There is a focus on changing student behavior by focusing on positive behavior reinforcement and teaching students how to handle different and difficult situations. In addition, to changing behaviors, there is a continued focus to maintain site facilities to ensure the safety for all stakeholders. A continued focus on maintaining site facilities in good repair will increase community pride and connectedness with schools.


During the summer break the "Race Is On" finished its third year with over 200 students participating. In academics, robotics, softball, swimming, choir, baseball, basketball, soccer, flag football, band and culinary arts. English and Math Enrichment were added this year. This program was available to sixth through ninth grade students. School should include involvement in enrichment activities as well as academics. This program, designed like a summer camp, was held for a four week period. It is designed to ignite students' interest in extra-curricular activities at both the middle and high school level.


A variety of programs to support student learning and personal growth are offered. New Horizons High School (NHHS) which provides standards-aligned alternative classroom instruction for students in 10th through 12th grades in the Banning Unified School District. NHHS has a six year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges through 2020.


Banning Independent Study School (BISS) provides a standards-aligned alternative to traditional classroom instruction for students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The program's purpose is to provide differentiated, standards-driven instruction to students who are best served by this non-traditional style of learning. Most high school students are required to meet at least one hour a week with their teachers; K-3 students spend a minimum of 90 minutes a week with a teacher; secondary students participate in additional subject-specific tutoring (math and ELA). Students can participate in their home school's activities and sports. BISS has a six year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges through 2020.


Banning Adult Education School allows students 18 years or older to participate in the completion of a high school diploma and graduation ceremony. Students must complete a minimum of 180 credits in the prescribed required courses prior to the end of the regular school year in which the students are to graduate.


The Opportunity Program is an intervention program for students in grades 6th through 9th. A student that is placed in the Opportunity Program is afforded the opportunity to improve his or her behavior as well as academics. Each student will have a review of their academic work, behavior, and progress at the end of each academic quarter. At that time the Opportunity Program teacher(s) will determine if they are eligible for exiting the program, and will make their recommendation to site administration.


The District is continuing to contract with the City of Banning for the service of one full time Police Officer for the Banning High School site. This is the fifth year of this agreement for an officer to handle minor violations, assist with truants, provide informal lessons on law enforcement topics, and work with students so that they will be successful at school. Currently the District is working with the Banning Police Department for a Resource Office (SRO) for Nicolet Middle School. Three main responsibilities of this middle school SRO will be to work:

  1. To prevent juvenile delinquency through close contact and positive relationships with students;
  2. To work with teachers to develop and implement classes in law related education
  3. To assist in conflict resolution efforts.

Senator Carol Liu (D-La Cañada/Flintridge) introduced legislation in Sacramento (SB172) on February 5th that would suspend administration of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) for three years, and specify that passing the CAHSEE is not required for graduation during the same three-year period (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19), if this legislation passes.


She stated that the CAHSEE was made a requirement for high school graduation beginning with the Class of 2006 and the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core academic standards in 2010. Her argument is that the CAHSEE has not been updated for alignment to the Common Core standards and is therefore outdated as the exam is aligned to standards that are no longer in place.


The Bill requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene an advisory panel to recommend whether an exit exam should be continued, and what alternative pathways could demonstrate competency of the standards. The bill also requires the recommendations of this advisory panel to be included in the currently required report regarding expansion of the State's assessment system.


The City of Banning has announced that its drinking water has levels of Chromium-6 above the State Water Resources Control Board Standards. It recently adopted a new standard for Chromium-6 of 10ppb (parts per billion). One of the city wells showed a Chromium-6 level of 23ppb. The City has stated, "This is not an immediate risk and tap water can be used for drinking, cooking and all other needs." The District is testing our drinking water on a regular basis. We will test again in August.


On Wednesday, June 30, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 277, the highly controversial and heavily scrutinized bill that eliminates California's personal beliefs exemptions for vaccinating school children. Brown signed the bill less than 24 hours after the Senate sent it to his desk on a 24-14 vote. The bill had drawn both staunch support and vehement opposition from across the State, and Gov. Brown had not offered any indication as to his likely action on the measure. In a signing message dated June 30, and addressed to the Senate, Gov. Brown states that "while it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community." Gov. Brown also pointed out that, after extensive debate on the issue, the Legislature did amend the bill to exempt immunization when a physician concludes that there are "circumstances, including, but not limited to, family medical history, for which the physician does not recommend immunization."


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued two statements in the wake of continued reports of measles outbreaks nationwide:

  1. "I urge parents to get all the recommended vaccinations for their children. Vaccines help students avoid crippling, debilitating, and costly diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox. They keep students healthy so they can attend school, learn, and succeed, and they eliminate school disruptions such as those caused by the recent outbreak of measles.
  2. "As a science teacher, I have reviewed the science and can tell you the vaccines have been proven safe and effective for those students who are healthy enough to get the immunizations. They keep your child and your community protected."

Signed into law in 2014, Assembly Bill 2706 (R. Hernández, D-West Covina), requires California public schools to add an item to student enrollment forms that provides the parent or legal guardian information about health care coverage options and enrollment assistance for school years 2015 through 2017. Beginning this year, students and families at all elementary, middle and high schools in California will receive this information and assistance.


Families residing in the Banning Unified School District may begin submitting applications to receive free and reduced price meals for school-age children through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast programs during the 2015/2016 school year.


In addition to your income, this process takes into account all of your household expenses, which include mortgage payments, medical insurance, utility bills, etc. Mortgage payments can take up a large portion of your take-home pay. Please apply if you feel you qualify regardless of your child's grade level.


Applications are available online at or may be picked up from 8 A.M. - 4 P.M. Monday through Friday at the Banning Unified School District Nutrition Services office, located at 161 W Williams Street, Banning. Eligibility is based on household size and income. For more information on eligibility and the meal application process, call Randa Eden at (951) 922-0217.


The election to eliminate the Merit System for the classified employees took place. Over 83% of the classified employees voted yes. The District has formed a new Human Resource Department with an Administrative Coordinator. Its main function is to timely hire necessary personnel.


The Banning Unified School District ("District") Governing Board has changed from at-large elections to by-trustee area elections.


The change, goes into effect starting with the November 2015 elections for the Governing Board. Currently, the District's five member board was elected by voters across the entire District. Starting with the upcoming board elections in November 2015, members will only be elected by voters who reside in their areas. Two current members on the Board will not be able to run due to this change in November.


The District initiated the creation of election areas that would be roughly equal in population and in compliance with State law, the Federal Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution. Using data from the 2010 Census, the District's consultant, Dolinka Group, has created two conceptual trustee area scenarios that divide the District into five new voting areas with populations ranging from 6,550 to 6,905 residents. The trustee areas do not take into account registered voters, only population and ethnic breakdown.


As you can see, the start of a new year is full of new opportunities and new challenges. We have new and promoted administrators along with teachers and classified staff with the ability to meet all of these challenges and to make us proud.


The Board of Trustees, who provide the necessary guidance and leadership for our district, are as follows:

  • Alex Cassadas, President
  • Jan Spann, Clerk
  • Martha Bederio, Member
  • Ray Curtis, Member
  • Larry Ellis, Member

They deserve the recognition for a job well done, along with our hard working district wide certificated and classified staff.

News from the Superintendent