An Encouraging School Board Meeting in Beaumont

Last week’s Beaumont Unified School Board meeting was one of the most positive and promising meeting I’ve experienced in years. They embraced 21st century technology, reported on many of the district’s successful programs, introduced a new technology academy proposal for the high school and approved the next step to bring a charter school to Beaumont. I was disappointed there was no agenda item per my request to discuss helping out teachers with their classroom supplies but I am encouraged by much of what I heard.

The board broke new ground in technology, something I’ve been encouraging them to do for a long time. They used Skype, a live video linking program, to allow Mr. Hackney to participate in the board meeting from an off site location, somewhere in Montana. I hope this means they will be open to using current technology to improve communications with parents.

There were some reports on a number of existing popular programs, services, and the new technology program they will be offering high school students in the new classrooms.  This Construction Technology program will require about $300,000 of the Measure Z funds. In my opinion, this is the kind of a program many of us thought we were approving when we voted for Measure Z four years ago

Here are the highlights of the reports:

Summer school enabled a high percentage of high school students to make up many of their credits to put them on track to graduate.

The successful Dual Immersion Language Program at Palm Elementary is now graduating students into a similar program at San Gorgonio Middle School.

The Perfect Attendance Program which rewards kids with a trip to an Angels’ game, supported by Beaumont's Police Department, has proven to be a success. Due to the growing number of attendees; parent concerns about the length of the trip - especially for 1st and 2nd graders;  and transportation logistics; next year the plan is to attend a game closer to home and watch the Angels' minor league team, San Bernardino 66ers.

The STEM program for Beaumont High School’s new Career Tech classrooms was presented and discussed. Grant money the district received to help fund the new classroom construction at the high school was granted based on the district’s plan to develop a Construction Technology program. Dr. Goennier, who was appointed at the start of the board meeting to replace Dr. Latham as the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, presented a report with Beaumont High School Principal Mrs. Saucedo. The board will consider approving the program in a future meeting.

The board conditionally approved the Highland Academy’s petition for a new charter school in Beaumont. I believe this means Brent Bishop and his team can proceed with their efforts to seek grants and other funding. A condition of the approval is that the group will be required to meet deadlines to prove they are following district requirements and are on track for the official approval.  If all goes well, the Highland Academy Charter School will be in operation for the 2013-2014 school year.

I’d also like to make you aware of a new Parent Involvement survey posted on the district’s website. This isn’t the first Parent Involvement survey they’ve taken but it is unlike any of their previous surveys. Instead of focusing on the classes and materials available to parents through the Parent Academy and the Adult School, the focus of this survey is true Parent Involvement. It surveys parents on their current participation on district and school site committees. It also asks participants about what the district could do to increase parent involvement in the district. This is something for which I have been asking for years. Please click here and take about ten minutes to take the survey (click here for Spanish version).