A lot happened at the most recent Hart School Board meeting. Here’s a recap from the Hart District.
Board Reviews Drug Testing Research
Less than 1 percent of Hart District students are suspended for drug-related offenses, but students and parents know that drug use is prevalent among teens, according to Governing Board members who discussed the issue at their Jan. 23 meeting. The Board heard results of research which covered statistics as well as input from parents, students and community members, and from other school districts in the state that have experience with drug testing programs..
The Board asked staff to return with specific options that would address drug abuse, including mandatory random drug testing of students involved in extracurricular activities, better drug education programs and active involvement of students as tools against student drug use. All agreed that community consensus is key to implementing a successful program.
New Charter School Petition Presented
Organizers of a proposed Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School presented a petition to the Hart District requesting that their school be established as a charter school under Hart District jurisdiction. The school is proposed as an option for students who do not “fit” the structure of traditional public schools—many of whom are currently home schooled. Staff will now meet with the petitioners to resolve questions about such issues as financial impact on the district, curriculum, and the proposed school’s ability to serve the needs of local students. The district has 60 days to approve or deny the petition.
English Language Program Continues to Excel
The Hart District’s English Language Development (ELD) program has grown exponentially in the past 10 years, but local English learners continue to make progress well above state goals, according to Terry Deloria, director of special programs. The program has grown from 768 English learners in 1995 to 1819 in 2007, as the district Hispanic population continues to grow. Korean is the second largest primary language served by the district, but it is still well below the number of Spanish speakers involved in the ELD program. Deloria explained to the Board the District’s program of maintaining course standards while striving for English fluency. The most difficult challenge is students who come and go in the middle of the school year, as well as those who come to the Hart District with serious gaps in their education.
Grant to Fund District-wide Music, Arts Programs
The Hart District is designated to receive some $370,000 this year in an Arts and Music Block Grant authorized by SB77. The Board approved a resolution to hold 10 percent of the grant to support district-wide events such as the Honor Band Concert, District Choral Concert, Theater Festival and Chalk Art Festival. The remaining 90 percent will be distributed to schools on the basis of enrollment for their own music and arts programs. The funds will be distributed once the District is certain of the impact of the State budget on the approved grant funds.
Fencing Approved at Golden Valley High School
The Board approved a proposal to extend fencing at Golden Valley High School to enclose entrances to classrooms which currently are accessed from outside the campus perimeter. The extended fence is similar to the design at West Ranch High School and would provide better campus security at Golden Valley. Installation is expected to be done over the summer break.
Bowman, Sequoia Report on Literacy Efforts
Administrators from Bowman High School and Sequoia Charter School reported to the Governing Board that they are making marked strides in student literacy, a major component of the District’s Strategic Plan. Bowman reported on strategies it is using to increasing reading and writing skills, as well as staff development programs to focus on literacy. Principal Robin Geissler reported that 275 Bowman students graduated with a high school diploma in 2007, 87 percent of Bowman students have passed the English portion of the California High School Exit Exam, and 65 percent of Bowman students increased their reading level up to two levels in the 2007 school year. Sequoia Administrator Lori Andrews reported on her school’s collaboration with the Children & Family Center and with Bowman, and noted that all Sequoia teachers and instructional assistants have been trained in literacy strategies. She noted the success of a contract system to help students clearly see their progress, assure that all courses are aligned with the State Standards, and improve student motivation.
Board Recognizes Champions, Career-Technical Education
The state champion girls cross country team from Saugus High School was recognized for their second consecutive state championship and their ranking as No. 2 team in the nation. The Board also recognized the marching bands from Hart and West Ranch high schools for their Southern California championships. This is the sixth championship for the Hart Regiment in highly competitive Division 4A, and the first for the West Ranch Wildcats as new competitors in Division 3A. The Board also adopted a resolution designating the month of February as Career and Technical Education Month.
Students Active in Electoral Process
Student Board Member Sean Herron reported that a number of schools are conducting mock polls and stimulating discussion prior to the upcoming State Primary election. A number of students are taking part in the actual electoral process by serving as paid poll workers. Herron also congratulated video teams from Placerita Junior High, Valencia and West Ranch high schools for winning awards at the recent TV Network Convention.
Audit Report Approved
The Governing Board has accepted an audit of District funds for 2006/07, which covers the District’s financial status and compliance with government regulations. The audit found the Hart District to be in full compliance with its financial statements. In the area of compliance, the audit found the District in sync with all Federal requirements and in compliance on most State programs. The report suggested that the District focus on accuracy in its attendance reporting procedures. The audit found an instance in which attendance was underreported, which resulted in additional funds for the Hart District. In the Status of Prior Year Findings and Recommendations, the audit firm noted that there has been some improvement in its previous recommendations related to ASB accounting.
Mercado, Castellanos Named to Facilities Foundation
Board President Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Superintendent Jaime Castellanos were named Governing Board representatives on the SCV Facilities Foundation Board for the current year. The Foundation’s by-laws call for the Governing Board president and the District superintendent, or their designees, to sit on the Foundation, which is charged with developing future school sites for the District.