Welcome Back to School!
Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year! This year we have an eye to the future as we identify ways to make progress toward the goals that were adopted by our Board of Education in January. Together we are working to maintain a focus on student learning and achievement, to foster strong parent and community involvement and to maintain fiscal integrity for the District. Throughout the year, we will be communicating with our employees, our parents and our community regarding progress being made in each of these goal areas.
As part of the focus on student learning and achievement, we are implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) districtwide. Last year teachers received training on strategies for using the standards in their classrooms. They are ready to move forward as they work with their students to teach and encourage them to communicate, collaborate, be creative and think critically. Students will be prepared to be competitive in a global society. Information regarding the implementation of the CCSS can be found on the district website (SimiValleyUSD.org) and each school's websites. There are resources there for parents, which can be helpful in supporting a student’s education at home.
In addition to implementing the CCSS, this year we are proud to introduce new programs at Royal High School. Royal will begin offering International Baccalaureate (IB) classes this fall. RHS is one of only 95 schools in California authorized to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Royal also launched the Air Force JROTC program this fall. The JROTC program provides instruction in air and space fundamentals and focuses on the development of responsibility, character and self-discipline.
Other new programs are being introduced at Hillside Middle School. This year Hillside becomes a STEAM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Over the summer a dance studio and a piano studio were added at the school, and the school’s stage will be completely refurbished to accommodate quality student productions. Exciting new classes in technology are being made available to students. Hillside's new focus has created enthusiasm and excitement for the year ahead.
Our Board of Education continues to look at ways to redesign and repurpose our schools to meet the needs and interests of all students. Teachers, classified staff, parents and the community are encouraged to discuss innovative ways to bring new programs into our schools as we prepare our students for the future. Generating and discussing ideas such as these is just one way that parents and the community can be involved as our partners in education.
Over the summer we have made great strides in the area of technology and are close to completing Phase I of our District Technology Plan. Thanks to the efforts of our Technology and Custodial staffs, the following work has been completed:
- 1,277 new lab and administration desktop computers have been installed.
- 760 new teacher, counselor and principal laptops have been set up and distributed.
- 826 existing computers have been re-imaged with Windows and Google Chrome and are ready for installation in elementary classroom.
- Approximately 1,625 older computers have been removed from schools.
Technology projects currently in progress include:
- Computer lab network wiring and electrical at 14 elementary schools.
- Installation of 603 computer lab computers at elementary schools. Installation of 826 classroom computers at the elementary schools.
- Installation of new computer tables at all school sites.
This aggressive rollout of technology over the summer will support instruction and provide our students with opportunities to use technology to expand their educational experiences.
In addition to the technology efforts, this summer also saw the start of many bond modernization projects. These projects were made possible with funds from Measure C4, the school improvement bond passed by Simi Valley voters in 2004. Various projects are underway and on track to be completed this month at 16 campuses throughout the district. As we approach the end of funds available through Measure C4, we remain grateful to the citizens of Simi Valley for their continued support of education in our community.
In the ongoing effort to maintain the district's fiscal integrity, we will continue to look at ways to right-size our district for ongoing fiscal health. Our Board of Education will revisit the recommendations of the District Advisory Committee (DAC) regarding potential school closures. They will continue to monitor enrollment to gauge the effect of declining enrollment and will seek ways, as was previously mentioned, to implement new programs that focus on areas of interest to our students and parents. The Board will also consider ideas for repurposing campuses that are not fully utilized. Birth rates and business trends within our city will be studied to better determine the impact on our enrollment from companies that either close or reduce their work force.
As we look toward the future, we will continue to look for ways to collaborate with our parents and our community. From the Simi Elementary Restoration Committee (looking to restore the historic building on that site) to the Surplus Property Committee, surveys and other efforts aimed at gathering input on a variety of issues, we value your participation with us as we look toward the future. Like you, we are excited about the 2014-2015 school year, which we know will be marked by many successes for our students.