Cleanliness at Sulphur Springs district schools to be evaluated 

Sulphur Springs Union School District administrative offices.

School cleanliness was the biggest issue that Sulphur Springs Union School District students cited in a survey sent out by the district to help create the 2024-25 local control and accountability plan. 

The survey, conducted in March, saw 58 transitional kindergarten and first-grade classes submit responses as well as 3,590 individual responses from students in grades two through six.  

Of those responses, 50% of the former group disagreed with the statement, “I feel my school is clean,” while 48.5% of the latter group disagreed with that statement. 

Parents were presented the statement, “My child’s school is well maintained (including classrooms, restrooms, cafeteria and outdoor spaces),” with nearly 85% of the 260 who responded saying they would agree with that. 

Of the 191 staff members who were presented a similar statement, 70% of classified staff agreed with it and 60% of certificated staff agreed. 

Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi said at Wednesday’s governing board meeting that this is an area that clearly needs to be addressed as the district continues to create next year’s LCAP. 

“A lot of the concerns came from bathrooms and cafeterias,” Kawaguchi said, adding that with the district feeding more students on average each day than in previous years, it only makes sense that there is more to clean up. 

The fact that the district has been able to provide meals to more students is something to celebrate, Kawaguchi said, but if the students are telling them there is a problem, the district should find a way to fix it. Part of it, she said, is making sure all rules are followed in terms of cleaning up, but she acknowledged that the district could do better with more custodial maintenance. 

She also noted that while parents seemed to have less of an issue with school cleanliness, they are not there every day to see it. 

Another area that Kawaguchi said she would like improved is the overall number of responses. She said when the district first started doing this survey, the district would receive more than 900 responses from parents and guardians. This year, that number was down to less than a quarter of that. 

“I keep pushing it out there. That’s all I can do,” Kawaguchi said. “And I asked our Parent Advisory Committee to please push it and we’ll continue to do that. We do want to hear from parents, and they know that.” 

Board member Shelly Weinstein said she’s heard concerns about the food being served, though she knows that the food might not taste as good as there has been a focus on healthy food being served throughout the district. 

Joshua Randall, deputy superintendent of business services, said students, on average, probably get more whole grains at school than the average family at home. He added that 80% of the food is made from scratch in the cafeterias. 

When going to an open house earlier this year, board member Paola Jellings said she was shocked to see that edamame was available as an option in the cafeteria. 

Kawaguchi said she and other district staff members will be working with the LCAP Advisory Committee, made up of teachers, parents and classified staff, and using the results of the survey to create next year’s LCAP. The governing board is set to have that proposal presented at its June 12 meeting. 

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