Friday, March 23 , 2018, 5:53 pm | Fair 63º


Santa Barbara Superintendent Updates Community on the ‘State of Our Schools’

Dave Cash discusses major upcoming changes to instruction and funding under the new Common Core State Standards

Santa Barbara Unified Superintendent Dave Cash laid out the district’s successes and shortcomings at a State of Our Schools presentation on Wednesday.

Cash, who returned to the district as superintendent in July 2011, talked about the major changes coming to the K-12 system’s instruction and funding models with the new Common Core State Standards, student assessments and funding formulas.

Santa Barbara is “not a winner” with the Local Control Funding Formula, since the state withheld money coming to the district from the Redevelopment Agency dissolutions, he said.

He and Meg Jette, assistant superintendent of business services, are going to Sacramento next week to talk to the Department of Finance and to try to show those officials the error of their ways, Cash said.

New standards for English language arts and mathematics put emphasis on preparing students for college and career. It’s about “recognizing that not everybody needs to go to Harvard,” Cash said.

Students are going to start reading as much nonfiction as fiction and learn fewer math topics — but more in-depth — each year, Cash said.

Testing methods are moving to computers, too, so the district is working on technical learning environments in all of its schools. The district is going to pilot a one-to-one iPad program (one device for every student) at Adams Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Washington Elementary and La Cuesta Continuation High schools this year.

District leaders have also been concentrating on cultural proficiency and making opportunities available for every single student, Cash said.

Gifted students were not identified well before, with a lot of the formula depending on the student speaking English, he said. There have been fruitful efforts to get more Latino students in GATE, Advanced Placement classes and academies in the past year.

Emilio Handall, assistant superintendent of elementary education, has been heading effort to reclassify more English Learner students as well, an area in which the district has been sincerely lacking.

Very few of the students scoring high enough to be designated as fluent English proficient were actually reclassified, and the percentages are still “abysmally low,” Cash said. Five percent of all English Learner students were reclassified in the 2012-13 year.

Every junior high school and Santa Barbara High School are using restorative approaches for discipline and are reporting lower rates of suspension and expulsions, Cash said.

“The data are awesome,” he said.

Presentation audience members asked Cash about other types of cultural proficiency and he said the schools want all students to feel comfortable.

LGBT students have a history of being bullied at high schools and schools have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, Cash said. Another person asked about the upcoming law to give equal access to transgendered students, and Cash said the district has had several students in the last several years.

Schools successfully worked with students, their families and friends on an individual basis and will continue to do so, he said.

Someone also asked about the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on schools, and Cash said the high schools want to work with the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics to help serve the community at those sites. The district wants to become a bigger part of the community and have schools become neighborhood centers, he said.

At Franklin Elementary School, Principal Casie Killgore said “a ball of energy” has become a true community center with regularly-scheduled events and resources for families, Cash said.

It’s the second annual State of Our Schools presentation, which Cash started to keep parents and school supporters updated with what’s going on in the district. It was organized by the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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