Castaic Board to consider adopting new curriculum materials

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Castaic Union School District (CUSD) Governing Board is expected to review two new materials for the district’s English Language Arts/English Language Development (ELA/ELA) program at its meeting Thursday.

If approved, the district will begin implementing materials from National Geographic Reach for Reading for students in kindergarten to fifth grade and Houghton Mifflin CA Collections for students in sixth to eighth grade.

Throughout the past school year, staff at all grade levels met to collaborate and pilot new materials for the district ELA/ELD programs.  Teachers and staff tested materials from two publishers, National Geographic and Benchmark Advanced, and seventh and eighth grade teachers tested Houghton Mifflin.

The staff chose to pilot these educational materials after a Pilot Team—made up of all elementary schools and elementary grade levels in the district—met and selected two series for teachers to pilot during the school year.

This team met throughout the year to discuss the pilot ELA/ELD materials and elementary school staff used a rubric to review components of each series to make their final decisions.

This school year, all teaching staff in kindergarten to eighth grade voted for the program of their choice and selected National Geographic and Houghton as their majority vote decision.

The two eight-year programs will cost the district a total of $408,153.83 for materials and implementation.

Resolution in support of SB 751

During Thursday’s meeting, governing board members are also expected to pass a resolution in support of Senate Bill 751: Fix the Reserve Cap.

The bill is sponsored by the California School Boards Association and would give school districts more flexibility in managing their money and saving their money in the event of a recession.

Authored by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), the bill would alter the limit of unassigned reserves, or money set aside without a specific purpose, from 6 percent to 17 percent of the district’s general fund.

This would allow districts to set aside the equivalent of two months of spending to defend against potential economic difficulties and make classroom purchases for items like textbooks and technology updates.

SB 751 would also exempt small districts with attendance less than 2,501 and districts that do not receive state aid from having a reserve cap.

In its resolution, the CUSD Governing Board states that it is in favor of the bill because it will “restore governing board flexibility over the use of reserves to adequately prepare for economic difficulties and save for investments in educational programs.”

Professional Development

Governing board members are also expected to approve a proposal for professional development with Wendolly Lemus for instruction and training with the district’s state preschool programs.

The professional development will provide staff with training on the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale for two hours on May 5, May 19 and May 25.

This training will include increasing teachers’ knowledge and skills related to optimal learning environments and adding strategies to programs to create positive learning environments and interactions with children.

The professional development will be funded by $9,000 in grants the district received in December 2016 for its state preschool programs.

Additional Agenda Items:

  • Approve a music instruction contract with Molly White to provide preschool programs with three 45-minute music sessions as part of a collaboration with the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program
  • Approve the purchase of in-wall tables for Live Oak Elementary School at $78,842.66 for installation prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year
  • Conduct a first reading to delete old policies and adopt a new board policies and bylaws on Transportation for Students with Disabilities and Board Training
  • Review School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) for Live Oak Elementary and Northlake Hills Elementary
  • Review an annual state preschool program self-evaluation report from Program Director Jackeline Vasquez

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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