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July 2018

Greetings Community Members,

The 2017-18 school year has come to a close in the John Swett Unified School District. This year we devoted considerable time and effort to improve the climate and culture within our schools. Each site established a Climate and Culture Committee designed to improve conditions within the school. Our goal was to create schools that help students to feel supported and included. Teams of teachers, staff, and administrators met throughout the year to improve classroom management systems, school-wide rules and expectations, and systems to acknowledge students who are working hard and showing respect for their school community and fellow students. As a result, our suspensions and expulsions have dropped dramatically. During the 2016-17 school year our suspension rate was 13.2%, four times the State average. This year (2017-18) our estimated suspension rate is estimated to be far lower, closer to 6%. In some schools, the suspension rate dropped as much as 70%. Expulsions dropped as well. During 2016-17 we had eight expulsions. This year we had just one. While we have made considerable progress in this area, we still have much work to do.

In addition to working on Culture and Climate, we have been identifying ways to support struggling students using a team approach. Each school had a Coordination of Services Team (COST) that meet on a weekly basis to support at-risk students. These teams of teachers, administrators, and specialists met to develop interventions for students, classroom supports for teachers, counseling options if needed, and ways to engage families and community agencies in supporting students. In addition, we had a District COST team that worked to support the highest needs students within the District. While we are still seeking ways to make the COST system more effective, we were able to directly support and engage many struggling students.

Our District has also been grappling with declining enrollment and the impacts of a red-hot housing market in the Bay Area. We have had to contract our staffing quickly to keep pace with enrollment decline. Wherever possible, we used attrition as a way to make our staffing reductions. As a result, we have been able to maintain a positive budget certification while also raising salaries for our teachers and staff. It will always be our goal to ensure that we are a fiscally sound school district while carefully attending to the academic and social-emotional needs of our students.

Your thoughts and viewpoints about the John Swett Unified School District are important to us. We invite you to visit our website at www.jsusd.org and complete our LCAP survey, send us emails, and learn more about the goings-on within our District. In addition, I am always available by cell phone at 925-639-7408 or at cmiller@jsusd.org.