BSUSD Monthly Board Meeting
Last updated 5/3/2022 at 9:58am
The Borrego Springs Unified School District held their monthly board meeting on April 13 in the community room at the high school, where members of the board, schools, and the community shared updates and statements.
The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Steve Riehle, president of the board, who shared there was nothing to report from the closed board session.
The meeting followed with comments from the public, with many in attendance to share their complaints to the district in regards to situations happening at the elementary and middle/high school. Due to a limited time given for comments from the public during school board meetings, Riehle noted that only 21 minutes were allowed, so not everyone in attendance would be able to speak. He invited those not able to share to come back to the next board meeting.
He said, “school safety, you can’t really have school without it. It’s the most important thing that school can have. Because without feeling safe, you can’t really learn, and so we understand that as a board. We want you to know that we have taken everything that you have said, we’re going to go back and look at our comprehensive school plan, things that we could do better, and continue to work ahead to be able to have safe schools. You are a partner in your school’s education.”
Board member Ramien Shalizi also added his thanks to those who attended for sharing their concerns, and said that as a parent himself, he understands.
After a brief recess and approval of previous board meeting minutes, ASB President David Hernandez began his report with sharing his recent college acceptances, with Santa Barbara and Berkley – those are just a couple of the many.
Over $1,600 was raised at the last pancake breakfast held at the American Legion Post 853, which will be divided amongst the baseball and softball teams.
A DJ and a tentative date for Prom has also been secured.
They are also currently planning for graduation, and hope to hold the ceremony outside due to many students having huge families, and feel that an outdoor graduation will be able to accommodate more people to attend.
Kevin Ogden presented an update on what is going on with the charter school associated with the BSUSD, focusing on the east county centers – Lakeside and Lemon Grove, which were previously closed. Those centers are doing well with 182 students in Lakeside and 212 in Lemon Grove.
Ogden then discussed the “Hope Program,” designed to help the students who are moms and dads. The program helps them stay focused and give them an opportunity and extra support to still be a student, but take care of their families.
He also mentioned they will have an in-person graduation this year in June.
Ogden thanked the board for their support and highlighted that they are making a difference in their lives. He also shared a student’s success story.
School-Community Liaison Martha Deichler shared the multiple scholarships out there for students to apply for – from Soroptimist International, BASIC, and Rotary.
She also discussed the CTE grant that will help students.
Deichler mentioned her involvement in the Borrego Village Associations Interpretive Class that currently has many students that greatly supports their skills.
Elementary School Principal Sherrilynn Polanco followed and shared a statement about what was said by the public.
“I would just like to say that I listened closely to the public comment tonight, I heard the concerns, and I thank those who shared for being so involved in their children’s education. Since 1997, I have served as an aide, a teacher and a principal. I am of course also the parent of 4 kids who all attended Borrego schools. Our students are important to me; there is nothing more important. What parents say is important to me. Parents are an essential part of the team needed to help each child grow, learn and thrive. Communication is important, and I will strive to improve the way I communicate. Please know that I have taken to heart what I heard today and will act accordingly.”
For the middle/high school, Principal Victoria Baay shared her report by mentioning the American Legion breakfast, and thanked the Post for their continuous support for the high school.
Baay then stated the goal for CTE – every student will graduate with a pathway, no matter where they are going (four or two-year, trade school), stating they want the students to take skills with them so they are able to get a job immediately as they grow into the next chapter of their lives. They hope to build a program that will better help the students in life and the community.
She then acknowledged Mauricio Polanco, head coach for the boy’s basketball team, where he has been spearheading the middle school basketball program. She noted that because of this program that he has graciously volunteered to do, it gives the students something to look forward to, especially those who have been struggling academically.
Jessica Gillespie, Director of Business Services shared her report to the board.
Superintendent Mark Stevens followed and said there are many things going on at this time of year. He spoke of ratios to the board that are being done, and special education, also noting they are in “Year 2.”
He also mentioned “site counseling,” which was previously talked about being done/implemented. Stevens said that they were not able to get anyone to really show, and feels that this year could be different. He hopes for good parent involvement.
The board also approved several items, including one that was explained by Baay, asking the board to invest more into the APEX system, which would provide better assistance for students and teachers.
Another was to be able to hire two instructional aides, and prefer one to be bi-lingual that could better help with translation.
Baay noted that these aides could help not just students, but also teachers, be more organized and guide them with staying on track. A board member suggested to add “strongly preferred (degree),” however, a board member interjected saying the problem could be that this could disparage someone who can do it, and make them feel like they shouldn’t.
Baay agreed, noting the hiring pool in Borrego could be quite sparse.
The next scheduled board meeting will be 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 11 in the high school community room.