Looking Back on Successful Year

Looking Back on Successful Year

It is unbelievable to me how quickly this year has passed — and what an amazingly full year we have had. Once again, our district, our schools, our teachers and our students have accomplished so much. I am delighted with our district’s very steady progress and our community’s very steadfast support of our schools. Before our summer begins, please take a moment to reflect on all that we, as a unified school district, have achieved at both the district and school-site level.

For 2013-2014, our school sites’ accomplishments include:

n Eight of our schools were named to the Honor Roll of the California Business for Education Excellence.

n Edison Elementary School was named a Distinguished School by the California Department of Education.

n Haight Elementary School received a prestigious Title 1 Award.

n Encinal High School launched its Junior Jets middle school, designed to be part of an integrated 6-12 continuum.

n Wood Middle School completed a plan to restructure as an innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics program, so as to better support its students.

n Every elementary school hosted at least one School Smarts Academy to train parents and guardians to become more effective partners with and advocates for their children. This year, we offered the first School Smarts program in Arabic in the state.

This year, our district also:
n Initiated and completed Educational Specifications and a Facilities Master Plan. Based on staff, parent and community input, this plan details what needs to be done to modernize all of our school sites.

n Implemented the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the state’s new funding system for public schools, which aims to get more money to low-income students, English Language Learners and foster youth. This project included creating a Local Control and Accountability Plan and a Parent Advisory Committee to review and help shape the plan.

n Began the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by providing professional development to our teachers, purchasing more than 1,600 Chromebooks for the state-mandated computer testing, and administering the first CCSS pilot assessments.

n Continued to implement groundbreaking instructional programs — such as Inquiry by Design and Math Coaching — both of which serve as precursors to the Common Core State Standards.

n Piloted a new food service that offers a greater variety of healthy, made-from-scratch meals, as well as ethnic and vegetarian dishes and “comfort” food.

n Was named to the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll, in recognition of the number of AP courses offered at our high schools, as well as the number of students passing the AP exams. 

n Saw yet another year of rising test scores in the district. AUSD’s Academic Performance Index (API) has risen from 822 in 2008-2009 to 853 in 2012-2013. In 2013, scores for 87 percent of our schools and 9 of 11 subgroups also increased.

n Maintained graduation rates that are higher than those of the state or county.

n Achieved suspension and expulsion rates that are lower than those of the state or county.

n Continued to spend Measure A dollars according to the measure’s ballot language, as validated by the annual report of district staff and the annual report of the Measure A Oversight Committee.

n Reviewed our paraprofessionals’ job descriptions and increased their salaries to more closely match those of surrounding districts.

n Launched transitional Kindergarten programs at four school sites.

n Received a “90 percent Challenge” grant from the Altamont Educational Advisory Board to put toward hiring a part-time green schools coordinator.

n Established a joint AEA-District committee to develop a pilot program for “Professional Learning Communities.”

n Increased our enrollment (we now have more than 9,400 students across the district!).

n Continued to take steps to increase transparency and accountability in our fiscal operations.

n Successfully negotiated an agreement with the city of Alameda and Housing Authority to secure property for a possible future school site at Alameda Point and pool improvements at Encinal High School.

I am proud to be the superintendent of such an amazing school district and grateful to our employees, our parents and guardians, our neighbors and our community partners for making Alameda such a special place for young people to learn and grow. Enjoy your summer and I look forward to communicating with all of you starting in late August!

Kirsten M. Vital is the Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District.