The Davis school board heard a progress report on school climate issues during Thursday night’s meeting, as school climate coordinators Mel Lewis and Kate Snow introduced speakers from several campuses.
Principal Sally Plicka and several others from Marguerite Montgomery Elementary described how services offered on that campus by the English Learner Advisory Committee, Intercambio (a program that helps parents who are English speakers improve their Spanish, and parents who are Spanish speakers improve their English), the Family Resource Center (which offers bilingual playgroups, a mother’s group, a walking club and other activities), and the Davis Bridge Foundation (which matches elementary students who are struggling academically with tutors/mentors who are students at UC Davis) have led to greater participation in the Montgomery PTA, greater participation in PTA fundraisers, and increased engagement by parents and students across the school.
There was also a presentation on how the school district is implementing AB 9, recent state legislation that outlines pupil rights and mandates that school districts investigate complaints of bullying, harassment and intimidation. The school district is working with staff at all campuses to make sure the law’s requirements are understood and upheld.
There was also a presentation about the Latino mentoring program at Holmes Junior High, which serves both male and female students. And there was a report on the California Health Kids Survey, which the district is conducting again this year during the October-November survey window. Some schools have already surveyed their students, others will be doing the survey after next week’s Thanksgiving holiday break. This will be the fifth time that the every-other-year survey has been conducted in the district.
School climate coordinator Lewis noted that “the climate gap often parallels the achievement gap,” meaning that when a group of students feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or unrecognized at school that group often experiences problems in terms of sub-par academic performance. Improving school climate, Lewis said, will help close the achievement gap.
The school board also reviewed and adopted two board policies that had been slightly modified to reflect recent changes in state law. One of the updated policies relates to interdistrict transfer students. During the last five years, the California legislature has made changes to interdistrict transfer language. Many of the Davis district’s “transfer” students were previously DJUSD students who have moved to adjacent areas and wished to continue their education in the Davis district. Additional students have been placed in available seats after the Davis school district’s master schedules at various campuses have been completed. These factors were addressed in the new version of this policy. This policy does not apply to students who seek to enroll because their parents or guardians are employed within the Davis district (state law allows parents who work in a community to enroll their children in that community’s schools).
The other board policy updated on Thursday relates to intradistrict open enrollment, meaning parents living within the school district who want to move their child to a different school, rather than their regular neighborhood campus. Minor changes were made to existing policy to align the policy to current practice.
The school board also shuffled staffing a bit to reflect the ongoing reorganization of the district’s technology department. Kim Wallace, who has served as half-time principal at King High School and half-time principal at the Davis School for Independent Study (DSIS), will continue as before at King High, but drop the administrative duties at DSIS in favor of a half-time position as Director of Instructional Technology and Learning. Wallace has a doctorate in the area of education and technology. Taking the administrative reins at DSIS will be Laura Juanites, who will serve as interim principal on a half-time basis. Juanites will also continue in her role as manager of student services in the district office, which is a half-time position.
The school district, including all schools and the district office, will be shut down next week for a Thanksgiving holiday break. The school board will meet again on Dec. 6, which will be the final school board meeting for outgoing trustee Richard Harris, who opted to manage the recent campaign for Measure E rather than seek a second term as a school board trustee. The school board’s annual organizational meeting will be on Dec. 20 — at that time, Susan Lovenburg and Nancy Peterson (who were elected to the school board in the Nov. 6 election) will be sworn in — Peterson will be starting her first term, Lovenburg her second. The Dec. 20 meeting will also include the election of a new board president for the coming year, and the announcement of committee assignments.