The Lodi Unfied School District is at a crossroads, Superintendent Bill Huyett said Thursday at his annual "State of the District" address to the public.
Huyett spent most of his hourlong talk focusing on the district's plans for academic improvement. The key to this progress is closing the achievement gap and improving test scores among ethnic, disabled and English-learning groups of students, he said.
"We're going to see more interventions in our future," Huyett said. "This is something we have to embrace … and something we have done well with."
He referred to teachers and administrators at 15 schools who have taken specialized training since two "subgroups" of students - the disabled and the English language-learning - failed to make high enough improvements on yearly testing.
Schoolwide intervention plans have helped those campuses, ultimately students, improve, Huyett said. Parental involvement makes a difference; so does opening up to honest discussions about students' success - not just those of different ethnicities or income levels but all students.
Further, all educators must examine their beliefs and behaviors, develop a cultural competency and motivate students.
Huyett declared again he's calling on all educators to "demonstrate a passion and believe that all students will learn."
The district saw 17 schools, six more than last year, score at least 700 on the Academic Performance Index (the target is 800 on a scale of 200 to 1,000).
New and expanding plans and programs will help students achieve academic success, Huyett said.
Next year, Lodi Unified may be one of the first eight districts in California to work with a District Assistance and Improvement Team. Three to five schools may receive assistance from new statewide grant programs. After-school programs at 26 schools will serve 3,000 students.
"We have an obligation to move our children up on the improvement list," Huyett said.
About 100 people attended; Huyett said it was the best turnout in the four years he's held the presentation.
Personnel mattersThe school district has been fortunate in being able to hire enough educators to fill vacancies, and the district was fortunate that many teachers are from diverse backgrounds, Huyett said.
The rising cost of health care, and a statewide teacher shortage are challenges in the coming year.
Business, financesLUSD opened its new warehouse, received a clean audit report, garnered support from the Measure K bond oversight committee and funded curricular reforms.
Next year will be considered a "maintenance year," Huyett said about the district's finances. Balancing resources in a slow-growth year will be a challenge. Some funding needs: wellness policy, class-size reduction, clean-air buses.
Construction• Under Measure K the district completed seven new schools and finished construction in five years, not seven as estimated.
• Voters passed the Measure L school bond. Those projects and modernizations under the Measure K bond are starting soon.
Source: Lodi Unified School District.
"I'm hoping we talk about curriculum and closing the achievement gap," school board vice president Richard Jones said afterward. "I hope that gets across to people. We have to get out of 'Program Improvement.'"
Parents and teachers said they were motivated by the superintendent's words.
"I thought it was very positive. I know how hard our teachers work. We have to keep ahead of the No Child Left Behind baseline standards, and it can be difficult work," said Lori Michael, John Muir Elementary librarian and the secretary of the Lodi Council PTA.
Members of the district's Parents' Advisory Committee found their regular quarterly meeting coincided with the superintendent's address. Lane and Mandy Pearson of Lodi felt districtwide interventions would have positive outcomes for students, and they were interested to learn about the schools that were opened using Measure K school bond funds. And they, too, want more parents to get involved with education.
"I didn't realize we were going to see this, but I'm glad we did," Mandy Pearson said.
The board of education meets Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at John Muir Elementary School, 2303 Whistler Way, Stockton. To see a slideshow of the superintendent's presentation, go to http:///www.lod-iusd.net.
First published: Friday, February 16, 2007