December 2, 2020
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Report West Sonoma County UHSD

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
October 23, 2020

The West Sonoma County Union High School District held their regular meeting on-line October 14. The 3-hour meeting covered a variety of issues, some routine while others were not. The agenda and zoom link to participate in board meetings are posted at: under the Board of Trustee tab. The meeting was also recorded for viewing by those who could not attend. Here is a summary of three key agenda items covered.

Allie Greene, Principal of Laguna High School, presented the board a “Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) Plan” for approval. Laguna is the district’s continuation high school and as previously reported has a student body of 85. Laguna is eligible for additional state funding under the “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)” which is a specialized program for improving academic achievement. However, to receive that funding a CSI plan is required. The plan is developed in partnership with stakeholders and intended to improve student outcomes.

According to Greene’s presentation, 60% percent of students are on free or reduced lunches, 12 percent are homeless, 18 percent are special education students while another 12% percent have 504 plans and 7 percent are in foster care. A 504 plan is intended for children who have disabilities but who can participate and succeed in a general education classroom. As a group, they are considered “economically disadvantaged” students. CSI funds are targeted towards schools with low graduation rates. Depending on year of measurement, that was less than either 67 or 68 percent. Although graduations for all groups declined about 10 percent for these economically disadvantage students declined over 30 percent in the last three years. Currently only 55 percent of Laguna students are considered college or career ready.

Greene’s plan focused on four areas of need. They were food, connection and social emotional learning, access to credit makeup and engagement. An access to fresh food is being address by a partnership with Redwood Empire Food Bank. They plan to improve connections and social emotional learning by restructuring instructional periods and implementing four programs to include Teacher Advocates. Credit Makeup also involved changes to the Master Schedule. Those changes allow students to make up credits faster and makes room for them to have more electives too. To increase engagement, they remodeled a classroom to make it more flexible. For example, they created a 3D printing station, purchased additional PCs and laptops so that they can run graphic design programs and AutoCAD; thus, increasing career pathways for the students. A side benefit is it also allows access for SRJC classes to be held at Laguna. Greene’s CSI plan was approved by the board.

Another extensive presentation was given by Laura Schmitt, the Director of Special Education. It was a look at the draft for the “Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services Plan (CCEIS). The final plan will be presented for approval at the board’s regular meeting on November 18. This plan was triggered due to audits of the district’s special education program. “The process emphasizes a broad look at early interventions, services and supports within General Education in order to avoid disproportionality within Special Education”. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) “are services provided to students who are not currently identified as needing special education or related services, but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment”. The districts focus currently is on Hispanic students with a primary or secondary Intellectual Disability designation and white students with Emotional Disturbance designations. Schmitt continues to meet with stakeholders to identify root causes, design activities and outcomes to address them and elicit feedback from the stakeholders. 

An hour was also set aside during the meeting to continue the discussion concerning the feasibility study that looked at combining the high schools into a single campus. As previously reported, the board started a process exploring that option at their October 7 special board meeting. Superintendent Toni Beal provided an overview of the options discussed in the feasibility study. Then Jennie Bruneman, Director of Maintenance and Operations, facilitated the discussion. She and others answered questions posed to the board by the public. This was the second opportunity for the public to weigh-in concerning the possibility of high school consolidations. The board is in a listening mode, not a decision making one. The next opportunity will be at an October 21 Town Hall Meeting dedicated just to this decision. The public is encouraged to participate and make their views known.