Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District

Superintendent’s Corner

December 2016

The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District would like to thank the communities of Newman, Crows Landing and Diablo Grande for their overwhelming support of Measure P.  Passing this will allow us to continue providing facilities for our growing student populations.  The District is appreciative of the trust the communities have to house and educate the children in our communities.  With the Reauthorized funds in Measure P, the District will be able to complete facility projects and apply for matching funds due to the passing of State Proposition 51, which will allow us to stretch the funding even further.

The next step in the process will be to establish a Citizen’s Oversight Committee (COC) to assist the District in prioritizing the long list of needed facility improvements.  While $11 million won’t cover the list, it will allow us to move forward on some of the most pressing needs across the District.  The COC will represent all aspects of the community: business owners, senior citizens, parents of students, and members – at- large.  If you are interested in applying to serve as a representative on the COC, please download an application form from our website, www.nclusd.org or fill one out at our District Office at 1162 Main Street.   The committee will meet several times in the next several months to determine the order and priority of projects, and then two to three times per year until the funds are spent.  The COC publishes an annual report to the community which is then adopted by the Board of Trustees in an open meeting, and reviews the independent audit annually to ensure funds are expended per the bond language.

Again, thank you to the communities of Newman, Crows Landing and Diablo Grande for entrusting the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District to be good stewards of this funding to provide facilities for your children for years to come.    

Sincerely,

Randy Fillpot, Superintendent 


September 2016
 

Improving Newman-Crows Landing Schools

Measure P, an $11.1 million General Obligation (GO) Reauthorization Bond on the November 2016 ballot, provides the voters of Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District with an opportunity to decide whether or not we should continue work on improving our local schools and classrooms now or delay making these improvements.

In November 2008, nearly two-thirds of the District’s voters approved Measure R, a $25 million GO Bond for the rehabilitation and repair of our aging schools. Since then, the District has nearly finished construction of the new Hurd Barrington Elementary School and has upgraded many of our children’s schools, including Bonita, Hunt and Von Renner elementary schools, Yolo Middle School, Orestimba and Westside Valley high schools, and Foothill Community Day School.

However, shortly after the passage of Measure R, the Great Recession caused a widespread drop in the value of real estate throughout the District. Because the repayment of a GO Bond relies on tax revenues affixed to a district’s assessed valuation, we have been unable to sell all the bonds approved by voters due to state restrictions related to the District’s total assessed valuation.

This means that many school and classroom improvement projects previously approved by voters had to be put on hold. These include the replacement of portables with permanent classrooms, the completion of Hurd Barrington Elementary School and the repair of deteriorating roofs and leaky plumbing. We estimate it will be 10 to 15 years until all the remaining $11.1 million of Measure R Bonds can be sold, significantly delaying this voter-approved work.

Measure P offers an alternative to this decade-plus delay by asking voters if they want to “reauthorize” the unsold Measure R bonds. If the answer is yes, then new, lower-cost bonds could be sold immediately under a new tax rate limitation without increasing the total amount of debt approved by voters in 2008. If voters defeat the measure, then the old tax rate limitation would remain in place, and we would need to wait a decade or more before being able to complete work on facility improvements.

In addition to being able to address building repairs immediately rather than having to wait 10 years or more, by obtaining a new tax rate limitation, the District will be able to repay the bonds more quickly. This will result in significant taxpayer savings thanks to lower borrowing costs. We estimate that taxpayers would save over $5 million if Measure P is approved.

Taxpayers are responsible for repaying bonds. (If Measure P is approved, the average tax rate is estimated to be $44.25 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year or $3.69 per month.) However, because many bonds previously issued by the District are scheduled to be repaid over the next few years, the reauthorized bonds will not result in an overall increase in District taxpayers’ total tax rate.

Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District is committed to the conservative and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Measure P presents a fiscally prudent alternative that allows the District to improve our community’s schools while offering important taxpayer protections and significant savings.

Randy Fillpot is superintendent of the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District.


 
February 2016
Transformation under way in classrooms


Digital literacy continues to lead the 21st Century learning at Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District. Orestimba High School has gone 1:1 with chromebooks and we are working on getting the rest of the district there, as well. We are committed to ensuring that our students are well prepared for the world they will work and live in.  The technology in the classrooms is used to drive and guide our continuous mission to align instruction and content to make our students career and college ready.  

 

Teachers and students are enjoying the freedom and flexibility that a 1:1 classroom provides chances for more personalized learning. Students are taking the initiative to extend their learning during class time and at home with the ability to access a wide variety of digital resources and opportunities to collaborate with others. Parents, teachers, and staff are expressing a renewed enthusiasm for learning as they see students get excited and take more ownership of their own learning. We are witnessing a transformation in the classrooms where more students are more engaged. While there is definitely a steep learning curve for educators, parents, and students in how to effectively learn, manage, and teach in a 1:1 environment, all agree that for a successful future we cannot go back to the old ways of learning through a textbook that is static and often outdated before it’s even adopted.

 

We are also aware and understand that it’s a significant expense to continue the one-to-one program but our students’ future deserves it. And through implementation strategies aligned with our district’s vision and mission, teacher training, and enhancement of network-we can ensure effective usage.  The learning environment is going through a mammoth transition from a paper world to digital one.  Our schools are working on crafting clear vision and mission statements to connect students to this new world of unlimited digital resources. Staff attend well designed and supported professional development programs that focus on pedagogy as well as technology, aligning standards with digital literacy- acknowledging that technology is an integral part of the curriculum and not just another isolated initiative. 

 

Establishing a safe environment for teachers and students to support risk-taking that will allow for innovations to prosper and induce a culture where inquiry is the goal. Learning communities provide students access to a 24-hour support. Technology is not just a substitution for the traditional pen, paper, and chalkboard but it’s an essential communication, collaboration tool for ongoing global learning and sharing for 21st century learners. Our parents, students, teachers, and staff are focused to truly prepare our students for careers of tomorrow that are not here today.

 

As always, students, parents, educators, community working together for a better tomorrow!
 

 
November 2015

Defining Academic Success!

 

Winston Churchill defines success as “stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

 

The Orestimba warriors capped off a successful undefeated season league play by beating archrival Gustine this past November 6th.   Although, the warriors stumbled in the beginning, they never lost their enthusiasm, winning through pure tenacity.  After the game, seniors on the team spoke of their struggles over the past two years about their stumbles, the support of their teammates, and their student body as a whole.  A lot of credit goes to the coaches and parents that created a culture that praised effort, infused confidence, enthusiasm, tenacity, and grit.

 

And all of our students need exactly that to succeed academically.  They need a culture that provides the necessary support to help students get back up when they stumble.   Educators, students, parents, and community members need to own a mindset of collaboration, encouragement of effort over ability, adopt grit, and instill tenacity.

 

Once we all understand that we are preparing our students for a far more advanced and different future than what exists today then we will have a new understanding of why we must champion a growth mindset over a fixed one.  The simple reason is that schools are in the business of growth and improvement.  Stakeholders with a growth mindset understand that schools need to move away from just dispensing information to becoming catalysts, models, coaches, researchers, learners, innovators, self-reflectors, and collaborators with their students during their academic learning process.

 

Our children benefit best from seeing that the determination to succeed will see them through any obstacle that they may come across.  The renowned Stanford University psychology professor, Carol Dweck, asserts that people with fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed from birth whereas people with growth mindset believe it can be developed through academic tenacity.  Understanding this particular difference will help all involved to provide students with opportunities to develop and strengthen their intelligence through perseverance and resolve.     

 

Clearly, our students arrive at the school door with a variety of ability levels. Stakeholders with a growth mindset strongly believe that improvement can take place at any level. A growth mindset builds a culture of trust that breeds an environment of risk-taking empowering all students and sending a loud message that all can achieve academic success through grit and tenacity.   Churchill was right, success is “stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

 

Always Students, Parents, Educators, Community working together for a better tomorrow!

  


 

October 2015

Culture Trumps Strategy

 

Building a district climate and culture of a collaborative trust has a profound impact on students’ academic achievement.  Our students’ learning environment has to change to create twenty-first century workers who can fill the variety of future careers that our students need in order to be successful. 

 

Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District  (NCLUSD) is striving to initiate change and innovations by a strong willingness to challenge the status quo to build a new type of environment for our learners.  We all know that change, even good change, happens at a painfully snail pace and often only in scattered pockets here and there, rarely making the jump to a real, systemwide shift.  However, NCLUSD is determined to make the shift by learning from other districts that were able to achieve the shift successfully-and through strong leadership, teachers’ and students’ empowerment, and an infusion of technology and the continuous of rigorous learning goals across the district.  This shift does not happen overnight. 

 

Obtaining input from students, parents, educators, and community, the Board of Trustees recently approved a strategic action plan that defines clear goals for the district for the next three years.  A product of these goals will be a profile to be developed of what students should know and be able to do in literacy, mathematics, and technology.  It, also, describes what we expect teachers to do and provide for our learners.  To ensure that all students are on a path of continuous improvement, we have identified a variety of ongoing data metrics that are being used by teachers to drive rigorous and relevant instruction instead of waiting on yearly mandated standardized tests.

 

Our vision is to guide the district in a new direction that will open the door to building strong relationships and new collaborative ways of learning.  An atmosphere in which good ideas can flourish by strong and informed leaders who are encouraged to take calculated risks based on data rather than protecting the status quo.  Yes, we are fostering an environment in which people have the power to change the course quickly if the data for that project or initiative isn’t working.

 

We are establishing high expectations of continuous learning and improvement from every person at every level of our district- and making sure that everyone understands it and adheres to it at all times.  We are empowering students, parents, teachers, educators, and community members to take on leadership roles because we are members of the same team and part of the solution to fit our learners for their future. 

 

We understand the importance of having our whole district culture embrace learning, growing, and evolving, just as technology resources are rapidly advancing.  Without such an embrace, the message will not be heard or applied.  Culture trumps strategies such as digital devices, programs or size of classes and schools.

 

Collaboratively understanding the urgency of preparing our learners to be college and career ready, and aggressively pursuing excellence in instructional knowledge and professional practices for all (students, parents, educators, and community members at large) is the culture we are working diligently to establish.  An attitude of ‘can-do’ by all stakeholders can induce a successful systemwide shift that actually produces real results.

 

We invite all students, parents, educators, and community to be active participants in holding each of us responsible and accountable for our children’s future.

 

As always, students, parents, educators, community working together for a better tomorrow-Now!

 


 August 2015

Several weeks ago our children started school.  Some took a seat on colorful rugs for the first time in our elementary schools and others were returning to new and improved classrooms armed with empowered teachers and staff.  Now, it’s our mission to develop their potential that will impact our community, state, and global economy.  These children of today are the voters, workforce, taxpayers, parents, and civic leaders of tomorrow that need to be guided and challenged to be successful in their personal and work life.

 

Technology advances continue to transform our world faster than anyone can predict.  The speed of that transformation will only speed up exponentially for each entering class of students.  What can we do to prepare our students for an uncertain world?

 

Our education vision and mission must be collaborative, reflective, and action-research based in order to produce outstanding results for our college and career ready students.  This is an era where instructional practices must be armed with rigor, relevance, and relationships. Students should be challenged with rigorous classwork that relates to their daily lives, and their aspirations.  In order for our students to be prepared for tomorrow’s market, they need to know the “how” and understand the “why” behind what they are being taught.  Our whole school district (students, parents, teachers, staff, and community at large) is committed to our focus on rigor, relevance, and relationships.

 

Rigor and relevance begin with creating solid relationships.  Relationships built with a strong sense of collaboration between home and school, teachers and students, and school and community secures a bright and successful future for each of our students and community. Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District (NCLUSD) is a firm believer in creating a professional learning environment that encourages parental involvement, engages educators in the process of examining and reflecting on how to improve their instructional practices, and empowers students to be aware of their own learning. 

 

The Back to School Festival at the Newman Plaza and the Back to School Nights at each school site are great events that send a message that the NCLUSD team is diligently working to increase the empowerment of all involved to usher in a year of togetherness that promotes a systemic, collaborative learning environment in an authentic setting of acquiring knowledge.  High levels of teaching and learning are needed to show students how to use tools of today to participate in life-long learning.  Engaging discussions, critical thinking projects, reflective practices, and personalized learning are fundamental to teaching for a better tomorrow.

 

The 2015 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) results will be released next month.  The assessments are academic check-ups designed to give educators feedback to improve instruction and learning. The CAASPP results are only one measurement of student learning among many other metrics that educators utilize through out the school year.

 

The two-page report that parents will receive describing our students’ results on the CAASPP will be very different from what was seen in the past. It’s important that we not compare the new results with scores on past state standardized tests; this year’s English language arts and math tests are more difficult, and are based on a different set of academic standards. They mark a break from the past, and an emphasis on a new rigorous and relevant curriculum. As always students, parents, educators and community working for a better tomorrow!

 

Mr. Randy Fillpot
Randy Fillpot              
NCLUSD Superintendent