BSUSD Monthly Board Meeting
Last updated 6/2/2022 at 9:31am
The Borrego Springs Unified School District held their monthly board meeting on May 11 in the high school community room, where members of the board, schools and the community shared updates and statements.
The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by President of the Board Steve Riehle, who shared there was nothing to report from the closed board session.
The ‘Students of the Month’ recognitions for the elementary, middle and high school followed, presented by principal’s Sherrilynn Polanco and Victoria Baay, but not all students were present to be recognized.
Students of the Month for the elementary school were – Dean Smiley (TK/KN), Kaylee Navarro (KN/1st), Adriel Garcia (2nd), Maylen Navarro (3rd), Nicolas Garcia (3rd), Sebastian Garcia (4th), Alessandra Ochoa (5th), and Alex Shalizi (online).
The following student was also named Student of the Month in Art – Jackelynn Rangel.
After a brief recess, the meeting resumed with comments from the public, as many were in attendance once again to share their statements of concern and discontent with the handling of multiple situations by the schools and its administration.
Once again due to the limited amount of time allotted for public comments, Riehle noted that only 21 minutes were allowed for comments from the public.
Polly Macuga, teacher at Borrego Springs Elementary and BSEA President, said that she would like to “thank and encourage parents and community members to continue to bring any problems to the attention to the appropriate people.
However, as a parent and teacher and community member, it makes me sad to see the “us vs. them” rhetoric that was used in a Facebook post.” Macuga continued that it should not be “us vs. them” and that mentality needs to be eliminated, and all should be working together for the betterment of the community, especially our students.
“Saying our staff does not care can not be further from the truth. Many of our staff members and their children eat the cafeteria food. We all care deeply about all students’ health and well-being.”
Macuga closed by encouraging all to bring concerns up in a respectful manner and hopes solutions can be found.
Parents and concerned community members also shared more statements of how unfortunate it is of the way the administration is handling recent situations.
After the sharing of statements, Riehle said, “Thank you for all your concerns and you are being listened to.”
The board moved on to approving previous board meeting minutes.
ASB President David Hernandez began his report with the excitement that there will be a Prom this year, held at Rams Hill on May 28.
Hernandez said they are also planning a “tug-o-war” and talked to Jessica Gillespie, and found a new place to have it take place. During this, they are planning class vs. class, including the eighth graders to participate, and as well as seniors vs. staff. He also joked that it is mandatory for staff to participate.
Hernandez mentioned that AP testing was still on going, and the seniors are preparing for graduation. The Interact Club also took a trip to Dollar General in Salton City to purchase toiletries and hygiene products for the orphanage in Mexicali, in which Ernie Loza will deliver them.
Kevin Ogden shared compliments to the board about the campus since it has been a while that he has been here where “there was light,” as he joked. Ogden said that the campus looks amazing and thanked the board for all the hard work that they are doing for the school.
Lindsey Reis provided the end of the year presentation for the charter school associated with the BSUSD. Reis shared that the student enrollment is slightly decreasing due to a few factors, including families moving out of the state and area, but hopes that will change in the coming months. She also broke down the demographics of their student enrollment as well as gave an update that they are currently testing.
This school year, they were able to graduate 390 students and will have eight graduation ceremonies. The reason for this is that they have centers in different counties and they try to hold them closer to where most of the students live so it’s easier for them to attend with their families. Most of the ceremonies are in-person, however, a couple of the graduations Reis mentioned, are still doing drive-thru.
Reis notified everyone that students don’t always graduate during the traditional time of May/June, as they have some graduating in October, even in December since it is a credit recovery program.
In the program, they also have students who are also parents or pregnant, which accounts for 102 of those enrolled. She said they do embrace those students and help them through a program called “Hope” (Helping Our Parents/Parenting Students Excel), and provide baby supplies, as well as a community where parenting students can get together with others and bond.
Reis also shared that they have work force programs and resources that help with resume writing, job interviews, job searches, communication skills and more. They also do have sports where they play against other charter schools.
School-Community Liaison Martha Deichler was present via Zoom and shared that Rotary had 15 well-written scholarship applications and are granting them to current graduating seniors, as well as previous students continuing their education. She also shared that the Mother’s Day celebration at Christmas Circle was very successful, and thanked Rams Hill, Rotary, Borrego Outfitters and the Interact Club for participating and lending a hand.
For the Elementary School report, Principal Polanco passed it over to Katie Lee, the school’s reading specialist. Lee, who will be moving back to Oregon, shared what it was like working with the students in Borrego, and what the various outcomes were. Lee thanked the board for giving her the chance to work with the students.
In her report, Lee shared five wins:
Students all showed foundational growth and academic confidence, particularly in fluency and phonological awareness.
Small group instruction permitted a safe community for learning
Flexible grouping allowed for more individual and targeted instruction
Reading intervention and 2nd and 3rd grade provided explicit reading instruction in the foundations: phonemic awareness, phonics, word recognition and fluency
Kids want to learn to read.
Lee also shared a few challenges like not being able to serve more kids and absences that occurred. She even added a few things she hoped to change moving forward. During the presentation, Lee also shared photographs of the students in the program doing various activities.
For the middle/ high school, Principal Victoria Baay shared her report, with the many tests being taken place at the moment. She also mentioned that they would be taking a trip to IVC for a career and college fair, and said there are different opportunities for the students and it is a great experience for them. Baay said they were taking seniors, juniors, and freshmen, as well as eighth graders.
Senior project presentations were also taking place and she discussed what needed to be in their portfolios and what they will be presenting.
Jessica Gillespie, Director of Business Services shared her report to the board.
She noted that they are moving along with their modernization project for the bond, and are looking at December/January of 2023 when plans will be approved and hope to break ground at the high school. Some projects may move a little quicker than others, she noted.
Gillespie added that since we are approaching budget season, that is what she will be working on for the next few months, and will be attending budget workshops in San Diego.
Gillespie also gave a nutrition update, stating a health inspector made a surprise visit to the elementary and middle/ high school after a complaint was made about the food. The inspector passed both sites, giving an A rating and 100%.
The health inspector did observe the items in question and cleared them of anything. She noted that Catherine Paredes of Food Services was questioned thoroughly on her day-to-day work procedures, what she would do differently, what could be done in the future differently and he passed her on all of that.
A letter was sent to parents/guardians and staff in regards to the recent complaints, and assured all that “food and safety and quality of the food served to students is of utmost importance.” Paredes noted that quality products are purchased from reputable companies such as Sysco and USDA.
Paredes also mentioned that they do have health inspections throughout the year, and continue to have an A rating. In the letter, she says that if there are any questions, concerns or suggestions regarding food services to reach out to her.
Gillespie added that they have taken steps on planning for the remainder of the year to increase student and parent participation. She noted that in the past there have been surveys that go out to give a say in menu choices, item selections and have everyone more involved. She also then discussed there is a new program to give the students more hands-on experiences, as well as give them organizational skills. This could also possibly touch on some culinary experience as well. These student groups will be for all three campuses and they will take part in surveys, tastings and recommendations for menu planning and selections, and are looking to meet quarterly. Suggestions for these would be shared among students, staff and parents.
Superintendent Mark Stevens followed, and discussed an Extended Summer Learning Program. He said with all their days, they would need to have nine hours open of the program, which doesn’t need to be instructional, and also 30 additional days throughout the year. They are planning to have those days during some of their longer breaks like winter and summer.
He also added that the Anza-Borrego Foundation is trying to build a more robust education program, and it is mainly focused on bringing people from outside of Borrego. Stevens mentioned a few of the current programs that BSUSD participates in and added that he is working with ABF to see if they can create more programs.
They are also looking at building our own separate organization that supports the school district. The model for this is called “Pathways,” which is at Julian Elementary School District, which is a 501c3, and started that to be a useful and helpful resource for the district. Stevens said they are looking to build one similar for the BSUSD.
Laura Navarro discussed the after-school education and safety program, which is to provide a safe and supportive environment that provides social and emotional support that helps students with educational needs and also offers in reaching out for fun activities. Their funding is based on attendance, which they currently receive $8.88 per student and will increase to $10.18 per student next school year.
The programs serve the elementary and middle school, and average about 85 – 90 students at the elementary; 45 –50 daily.
Stevens recapped what LCAP was to the board and those who remained at the meeting. He noted that LCAP brings budget and programs together in one plan for student achievement, and there are three main goals. In the three main goals, there is some type of measure for success; each goal has three actions; each action has a budget.
In discussing the budget, this included teacher budgets, and a member of the audience asked if this included hiring a counselor for the students. Stevens notified that the position for a counselor is still open, at this time, there has not been anyone wanting to apply. He also mentioned there are a few positions open and can be found on edjoin.org.
The next scheduled board meeting will be 5 p.m. Wednesday June 8 in the high school community room and via Zoom.