Tag Archives: School News

Does Eastvale Need Its Own School District?

Jennifer Madrigal

Eastvale – When the area of “Eastvale” first wanted to gain local control and map out what their destiny was, they began the “incorporation process.” Now with the many changes and growth in our area with over 60,000 residents, should the City of Eastvale consider developing their own school district as 15,000 of these residents are currently students? The idea of Eastvale becoming its own school district is one worthy of further investigation on the ramifications and the actual process.

So let’s examine the facts: The Corona-Norco School District (CNUSD) currently consists of thirty-one elementary schools, eight intermediate/middle schools, five comprehensive high schools, a middle college high school and three alternative schools. With the district serving over 53,000 students in the communities of Corona, Norco and Eastvale, CNUSD is the largest school district in Riverside County. Of the over 53,000 students in the district, 15,000 of them are Eastvale students.

Eastvale residents already pay a large amount of property taxes, special assessment taxes, a bond tax (Measure U), and also are asked to pay an additional $299m bond, on top of the $250 million general obligation Measure U Bond passed by voters in 2006.

“It was a huge process (to incorporate the city), but I believe it was worth the hundreds of hours of work,” said former Councilman Jeff DeGrandpre, who helped spearhead the process of the team who brought the decision to a vote. “It was tons of work, but now we have local control. We are right where we wanted to be as a community.”

Many smaller school districts have broken away from larger school districts for reasons from lack of accountability to simply a desire to run their own system. Walnut Valley Unified School District has a student population of 15,500 and became their own school district in the 1970’s when the area was in its infancy. Duarte Unified School District is a small district that serves about 4,700 students from the areas of Duarte, Bradbury, and the Maxwell Park area. Baldwin Park Unified has over 15,000 students and broke away from Covina Unified before the 1950’s. All of these school districts were part of larger areas that became smaller school districts and grew.

“We would support such a move if it benefitted our community,” said a group of parents at Clara Barton Elementary. “Especially if we have to pay for another bond. Our last bond, Measure U, we pay taxes on but only received 17% of that money.” Another parent felt they didn’t have enough control of the district and felt it’s because it’s too large. They all requested to remain anonymous because they’ve never researched the idea. “I never realized it was possible,” she said.

If Eastvale were to explore the possibility of separating from CNUSD and becoming its own individual school district, the California Department of Education requires a certain process to be followed. According to the California Department of Education District Organization Handbook- July 2010, this type of reorganization would seek to form one new school district of the same kind from parts of one existing school district of that same kind.

This type of reorganization is more commonly referred to as Unification. Although the exact method of Unification is based on a variety of factors, the first step in this process is a petition. This petition would then be presented to the County Superintendent of Schools and he/she would have 30 days to determine the legal sufficiency of the petition. If the petition is found to be legally sufficient, it is then sent to the County Committee on School District Organization and the State Board. A public hearing would then need to be held within 60 days to advise the public of the petition. After the hearing is held and within 120 days, the petition would need to be reviewed to see if it meets Section 35753 of the Educational Code.

These conditions are as follows: (a) The reorganized districts will be adequate in terms of number of pupils enrolled. (b) The districts are each organized on the basis of a substantial community identity. (c) The proposal will result in an equitable division of property and facilities of the original district or districts. (d) The reorganization of the districts will preserve each affected district’s ability to educate students in an integrated environment and will not promote racial or ethnic discrimination or segregation. (e) Any increase in costs to the state as a result of the proposed reorganization will be insignificant and otherwise incidental to the reorganization. (f) The proposed reorganization will continue to promote sound education performance and will not significantly disrupt the educational programs in the districts affected by the proposed reorganization. (g) Any increase in school facilities costs as a result of the proposed reorganization will be insignificant and otherwise incidental to the reorganization. (h) The proposed reorganization is primarily designed for purposes other than to significantly increase property values. (i) The proposed reorganization will continue to promote sound fiscal management and not cause a substantial negative effect on the fiscal status of the proposed district or any existing district affected by the proposed reorganization. (j) Any other criteria as the board may, by regulation, prescribe.

To maintain neutrality, the County Office of Education would most likely hire an independent consultant trained in evaluating this type of criteria. If the independent consultant does find the petition to be in compliance with EC35753, it is then passed on to the State Board of Education and they will determine if it is approved or sent to an election within the area affected. In most cases, this becomes a major obstacle, as a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) would need to be done, which can be expensive.

According to a source from the Department of Education, this is where most of these petitions “die”, mainly due to the large expense of the CEQA. This step often takes a few years due to the state pipeline and the Environmental Impact Study. If the petition makes it through all of these steps and wins in an election of the area affected by the Unification, then a new school district would be formed.

While there are many pros and cons to becoming our own school district, any action to do so would most likely come at a large expense, be extremely controversial as well as political, and would need to be thoroughly researched to truly understand the greater impact on the students and the communities involved.

“It took us 3.5 years to get the city incorporation to the ballot,” the former councilman said. “It’s definitely worth looking into, but a tough road because CNUSD is highly regarded within the state.”

(Michael Armijo contributed to this story.)

New Report Shows Chronic Absenteeism Concentrated In 4% Of Districts

By Attendance Works

Nine out of 10 U.S. school districts experience some level of chronic absenteeism among students, but half of the nation’s chronically absent students are concentrated in just 4 percent of its districts, according to a new analysis of federal data.

Preventing Missed Opportunity, released on Tuesday, September 6, by Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center underscores how this often overlooked factor is dragging down achievement in communities everywhere – from sprawling suburban places where absenteeism can fester in the shadow of academic achievement to small rural communities where geography complicates getting to school. Disadvantaged urban neighborhoods are particularly hard hit, according to this study of the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

“What’s clear from our analysis is that chronic absenteeism follows poverty wherever it is found in significant concentrations,” said Balfanz, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who leads the Everyone Graduates Center.

Many of the communities with the highest rates are economically, socially and racially isolated. An interactive data map shows the districts most affected.

“Chronic absence is one of the earliest signs that we are failing to provide an equal opportunity to learn,” said Chang, executive director of Attendance Works and co-author ofPreventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence. “A day lost to school absenteeism is a day lost to learning.”

The study, released in connection with Attendance Awareness Month in September, builds on June’s first-ever release of chronic absence data in the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection.

The data showed that 6.5 million students, or more than 13 percent nationwide, missed three or more weeks of school in excused or unexcused absences that year. That’s enough time to erode their achievement and threaten their chance of graduating. More than half of those chronically absent students are in elementary or middle school. Some gaps in the data suggest the numbers may be an undercount.

“Our analysis shows that large numbers of chronically absent students can be reached in a relatively small number of districts and schools,” said Balfanz, co-author of the analysis. “This tells us we need to combine widespread awareness of the importance of addressing chronic absenteeism with high intensity, community wide, comprehensive efforts in the small number of highly impacted school districts. This is how we can make chronic absenteeism rare rather than common.”

Further analysis of the data revealed:

  • 89 percent of the nation’s school districts report some level of chronic absence. This ranges from two chronically absent students in one district to 72,376 in another.*
  • Half the chronically absent students, however, are found in just 4 percent of the nation’s school districts and 12 percent of its schools. These 654 districts are spread across 47 states and the District of Columbia.
  • This trend of large numbers of chronically absent students affecting a handful of districts also holds true for states. In fact, 10 percent of the chronically absent students nationwide can be found in just 30 districts in two states with very large student populations, California and Texas.
  • Some of the places with the largest numbers of chronically absent students are affluent, suburban districts known for academic achievement. For example, Montgomery County, Md., and Fairfax County, Va., two suburbs of Washington, D.C., each have more than 20,000 chronically absent students. While their rates are close to the national average, the large numbers reflect both the sheer size of the districts and their growing populations of low-income students.
  • Districts serving disadvantaged urban neighborhoods have both high rates and high numbers of chronically absent students. Cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Detroit report that more than a third of students are chronically absent. The concentration of intergenerational poverty in these communities of color and the web of systemic challenges families encounter – not enough affordable housing, poor access to health care, absence of well-resourced schools, too much exposure to violence and environmental pollutants – all complicate school attendance. Punitive school discipline practices such as overuse of suspension also can contribute to absenteeism as well as to community distrust of schools.
  • Many small, rural school districts have few students but extremely high rates of chronic absenteeism. Transportation and other challenges related to poverty can keep students from getting to school regularly in remote areas. For example, 31 percent of the 504 students in Arkansas’ Bradford School District missed three or more weeks of school. So did 31 percent of the 2,752 students in Alabama’s Colbert County School District. Washington state reports that 119 of its districts have rates of 30 percent or greater.

Given the scope of the problem, the study by Balfanz and Chang lays out key steps school districts and states can take to turn around attendance. State and local leaders need to know the size of their chronic absence problem to understand how to improve educational outcomes. Information about the concentration and the severity of absenteeism also sheds light on the intensity and nature of support required.

“Leaders can use chronic absence data to engage students, families, community organizations and government agencies in unpacking barriers to getting to school and crafting solutions,” Chang said. “The federal Every Student Succeeds Act offers a critical opportunity for building chronic absence into the school accountability systems used to measure progress and identify where additional support is needed to improve student performance.”

Featuring success stories in communities such as San Francisco and Grand Rapids, Mich., as well as states like Arkansas and Connecticut, the brief shows chronic absence is a solvable problem. It also shares how communities are tackling chronic absence through efforts like the U.S. Department of Education’s My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors initiative and Diplomas Now.

“The challenge and opportunity of improving attendance is to avoid making the all too common, incorrect assumption that chronically absent students and their parents simply do not care. Instead of blame, schools should use chronic absence as a trigger for collective, strategic, creative problem solving,” Chang said.

 

Great Things Happening At CNUSD

Staff Reports

A variety of great things happened in the Corona Norco Unified School District this last month. Read the recap below for more information.

  1. Centennial Football Coach Matt Logan was chosen to participate in “America’s Best Coach Contest.” He was one of 20 coaches that were selected to be part of the nation-wide honor with a chance to win money for their athletic department and a chance to be named a winner of the prestigious title.
  2. CNUSD proudly announced that former 2008 Santiago High School graduate, Chris Benard, will be representing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio for the track and field triple jump event.
  3. Roosevelt High School offered plenty of fun summer programs that helped students. Norco College STEM Robotics Camp gave them the opportunity to learn how to program a robot in order to move in a perfect square on its own and launch a ball.
  4. A Measure GG project update includes the working on the demolition of existing structures for the installation of the new buildings such as; administration buildings, libraries, multi-purpose rooms, testing labs, and classrooms that will be 21st century updated.
  5. At Harada Elementary School, Ms. Visnaw’s 6th graders are getting college ready by starting their day with a song that has them clapping and standing together as a group.
  6. On July 7, CNUSD opened their new Parent Center, with the goal of providing academic support, interventions, parent information workshops/training, support for parent involvement, mentorship resources, and much more.