Robert Guillen, Superintendent
We have many new excellent teachers and classified employees that were introduced. The following is our certificated administration team that includes four new administrators promoted from our teacher ranks:
With the passing of the one year anniversary of the District's notification of Riverside County Schools Superintendent, Kenneth Young's "Disapproval" of the 2011-12 Adopted Budget; he stressed the 2013-14 and 2014-15 budget shortfalls. Assuming the Board required a 3.5 percent reserve and no mitigating measures to address the 2012-13 shortfalls, the District's multi-year financial projections indicated a $7.1 million and $12.7 million budget shortfall in 2013-2014 and 2014-15 respectively.
The "Disapproval" wasn't the District's first warning; it was the last chance the District had to avoid a State takeover.
With a "Contingency Plan" of reductions, increased revenue and cost avoidance measures; the District has an approved budget as stated by Mr. Young on April 16, 2013 in his review of the 2012-13 Second Interim Financial Reports. He mentioned, "The Fiscal Recovery Plan submitted with the First Interim Financial Report recognized a $2.5 million in potential budget solutions to address budget shortfalls in subsequent years."
Looking at the past does not help with the making of important decisions that lie ahead. The question is whether the Board has the political will. The Board majority has focused on a balanced budget. The working majority is helping us move forward. The previous Board was emblematic of years of warnings from the County Office of Education that fell on deaf ears. They had two years to stare fiscal reality in the face prior to receiving the July 9, 2012 letter of budget disapproval.
Curriculum for the 2013-2014 school year is off to a great start! We have been knee deep in Common Core Training for teacher leaders K-12. Math teachers at Nicolet Middle School, New Horizons High School, and Banning High School have attended either Algebra or Geometry Common Core training at the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE). Secondary English teachers have been immersed in Common Core training as well. On Friday, July 26, 2013, teacher leaders worked with their administration and developed a professional development plan for all teachers to be trained with Common Core. Bridge materials have been purchased for grades K-6 so that we can start preparing our students for the new-coming assessments and standards. New Spanish materials for grades 9-12 have been purchased. Spanish has not had new books since 2001! They did not even have technology for their adoption. New English Language Development materials have been purchased for fifth grade and Nicolet Middle School. They have not had new materials since 2005. We look forward to increasing student achievement! Let's make this an exciting year with our transition to Common Core State Standards!
One can imagine that "The Property Brothers" or "I Hate My House" television personalities were at work in the District this summer with a total transformation to the former Adult Education/Alternative Education building at Nicolet Middle School. Interior walls were removed to make room for special education and Innovative classrooms. The building was painted inside and out, new carpet and linoleum were added, and new high-efficiency evaporative coolers were installed. The band room received new musical instrument storage cabinets, paint, flooring, and a sink for instrument cleaning. The former auto shop has been reconfigured into two new art rooms. Two shade shelters have been added in the center quad area. Classrooms for the new sixth graders will be addressed with two new portables next to the "re-conditioned" tennis courts. The parking lot on the east side of the campus has been opened up with additional parking and a new larger entrance on Alessandro Street. Central Elementary School received a shade shelter for its students to have an area that provides protection from the weather elements. And last but not least, Cabazon Elementary School received two portables to address growth needs for Special Education and after school programs. Coming in September are two shade shelters for the campus. Other projects included the removal of nine portables from the Coombs campus and replacement of a portable restroom building at Hoffer Elementary School.
Nutrition Services is working on implementing this year a Universal Breakfast Program, where every student attending the Banning Unified School District will receive a free breakfast before school at all the school sites. We will be exploring exciting ways of serving breakfast, snacks, lunch and supper ("Grab and Go", "Breakfast in the Classroom" and "Second Chance"). Research shows that students who eat school meals perform at their best academically. We also served breakfast and lunch to anyone ages two to eighteen at five of the area parks in the community (Cabazon, Lions, Roosevelt, Sylvan and Repplier) during the summer until August 6th. This program was a very successful win-win, because students were fed and employees worked.
New Alternative Programs:
The Banning Unified School District's program RAPP (Resiliency, Awareness, Protection and Prevention) is a comprehensive elementary school counseling program that aims to provide comprehensive, integrated student support services to assist students in overcoming the barriers that interfere with learning and achievement. Project RAPP utilizes school and community resources and, in collaboration with community based agencies, provides assistance to children, an array of resources for individual and family support services, and teacher consultation and training. The District has hired five full-time school counselors to serve the four elementary schools: Cabazon Elementary, Central Elementary, Hemmerling Elementary, and Hoffer Elementary. The project activities and management are being implemented by a project director/counselor supervisor and ten K-6 school counselors working with three school psychologists, school principals, and numerous classroom teachers.
Primary Enrichment Program (PEP)
Banning Unified School District's Primary Enrichment Program is designed to provide extra academic support to our K-5 students in a variety of ways such as multiple modality learning styles and smaller class size, these students may have exhibited academic or behavior issues. (Coombs)
Banning Unified School District successfully started at the end of the 2012-2013 school-year a special needs preschool. The preschool is located on the Cabazon campus so our students can co-mingle with age appropriate peers. Small groups and a knowledgeable staff will help provide our special needs preschoolers a fabulous start to their education journey.
An all Encompassing, Alternative Education Campus:
Banning Unified School District's plan has reconfigured an Intermediate School (grades 5-6) into an Alternative Education campus. The Alternative Education campus now houses the following school programs in operation, which were spread throughout the District in years past.
The programs include:
Community Day classes that support the development of behavior modification so that students will be successful in a regular education classroom for kindergarten through 5th grade, Opportunity classes that services students with self-discipline control or academic issues in grades 6 through 10th. This includes students that have been expelled from the District for nonviolent offenses.
Continuation Classes for secondary students in grades 10 through 12 that are behind in credits needed for graduation, minor teen parents, and students looking for a non-traditional educational experience.
Independent Study classes for students in grades Kindergarten through 12th that need temporary support for their removal from a regular education setting, which include students with special needs, and Adult Education classes for those needing to finish their high school career as adult learners.
With all alternative education centralized, support services will be better utilized with time management of key personnel. This ongoing personnel structure maintains cost controls over many potentially high-cost learning programs.
Repurposing project was broken down into four stages:
First stage involved organizing a District wide committee with all lead stockholders to explore, support and recommend the restructuring of the student services offered with a focus on the "cost avoidance" that a centralized program would offer.
Second stage took District level administration, committee leaders from employee groups, community/parent members to gather the support and approval of the Board of trustees. The Board then approved the concept of an Alternative Education campus that supports all Alternative programs and the reconfiguration of all Elementary School Sites to a K-5 learning environment.
Third stage took place after the Board of Trustee's approval of concept. Representatives of the committee visited school sites to address any concerns and to promote the foundation of the repurposing of the school site to accommodate all Alternative Education programs, the cost avoidance to the District and the strong potential to stabilize the financial structure.
Fourth stage was to incorporate any preserved items that might need to be negotiated within both certificated and classified unions. If any modifications are agreed too, such as "change in work environment" are justified, these will more than likely be written as Memorandums of Understandings with an expressed expiration date of the terms and conditions.
Many individuals have stated that "Success is achieved through vision, inspiration and resilient determination." Together we have been able to rehire staff, bring back programs, reshape curriculum and bring our District out of a fiscal crisis, and through our team efforts our District will meet the needs of our students to become successful citizens.