At its Sept. 14 meeting, the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education adopted a one-page document outlining its Goals & Core Values for the 2021-22 year.
It was developed from discussions at an annual summertime workshop attended by board members.
The district’s nine campuses across Rossmoor, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach have been open for full-time in-person instruction for weeks.
During last week’s meeting, Supt. Dr. Andrew Pulver mentioned that part of the motivation of this year’s effort was to communicate what the district stands for, especially in light of societal events that may prompt people to look to boards or organizations to make a statement.
“ … I know the board has tried to stay out of politics as much as they can at times, but we also thought it would be really important as a board, and as a district to identify some of our core values,” Pulver said and added, “What do we stand for as a district?”
Los Al Unified has identified five top goals. They are:
#1 “Passionately pursue academic excellence from all students by providing unparalleled preparation for College and Career Success.”
#2 “Cultivate a thriving culture that ensures a caring, inclusive, equitable, safe and student-centered environment.”
#3 “Foster collaborative relationships and partnerships with students, families, staff and the community.”
#4 “Provide high quality facilities to meet the educational and instructional needs of students and staff.”
#5 “Manage and allocate financial resources to maximize students’ educational experiences.”
The core values are:
“Care: We foster a culture of kindness where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and individuals seek to understand each point of view.”
“Responsibility: We hold ourselves responsible for consistently maintaining a clear focus on our goals and serving the needs of our students and families.”
“Equity: We meet the needs of all students through systems, structures, and opportunities that promote success and value similarities and differences of all individuals.”
“Commitment: We are committed to student success where students, parents, staff, and the community are supported through collaboration, reflection, and a focus on continuous improvement.”
Before the unanimous vote adopting the goals and values, board members shared their perspectives.
Megan Cutuli, first elected in 2000, zeroed in on the phrase “ensure every student” that appears in two subsections in the goals. Under Goal #1 it states: “Ensure every student meets or exceeds grade-level/content standards” in addition to other metrics. Under Goal #2 it reads: “Ensure every student is connected to school through academics, athletics, activities, and the arts.”
“I remember when we first used the word ‘every’ in front of students. And we were one of the first school districts in Orange County to boldly say that we want every student to truly succeed. And, yes, that’s a goal that’s way up there but I think that’s the goal we really need,” Cutuli said.
Trustee and Vice President Diana Hill commented on equity as one of the district’s core values. She noted that sometimes in today’s society the words “equity” and “equality” can be interpreted in different ways.
“I just really remember from the beginning of my time in this district and on this board that we always talked about that equity was equal access; was open and equal access to all students. And I think that it’s a great example of understanding that all of our students don’t come in at the same place or with the same resources … and some have different challenges than others and it’s really giving the students the access and the tools to be able to achieve their very best,” Hill said.
She brought up the new free tutoring now available to Los Alamitos High School students as an example.
“I feel like this really says that what we put down we intend to do,” Board President Marlys Davidson said and likened the goals to a contract. She said the district is already fulfilling some goals with targeted intervention to help stem learning loss and the increase of mental health counselors on campus and establishment of WellSpaces.
Davidson noted that she sees Goal #3, collaborating with the community, as a future focus area.
“I believe that’s where we need to keep going now, especially with technology, engineering, robotics and all of that. We really need to connect with the community and get the kids out there,” she said.
In other Board of Education news:
• At-home COVID-19 testing kits are now available at Los Al Unified’s nine schools for students who are deemed a “close contact” with an infected person on campus and are opting to do the modified quarantine that allows them to continue to attend classes if they commit to testing and other guidelines. Families can contact the school nurse to get the saliva test. The test can be dropped back off at school to be sent to the lab for results. The tests are being provided by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
• Students at Los Alamitos High School have multiple options for free tutoring and instructional support this year, Dr. Pulver explained in his Superintendent’s report. He said this effort is in response to parent’s requests in surveys. He estimated it’s costing about $150,000 in an ongoing commitment.
Students can access free in-person tutoring and instructional support at Los Alamitos High School from LAHS teachers in all math core courses, from Algebra to Precalculus.
This is being offered before and after school. “No appointment necessary, students can just walk right in,” Pulver said.
High school students can also access free 24/7 online tutoring and academic support with credentialed teachers from the company Paper. The service also includes feedback on student essays and writing. Students can connect at mylosal.losal.org.
• The district is launching a new Wellness Initiative as part of its heightened focus on student and staff wellbeing, explained Board President Davidson in her report.
“The purpose of this initiative is to address the social emotional well-being of all students, staff and families by providing resources, strategies and tools for mental health that can be incorporated into our daily lives,” Davidson said
Parents can expect to receive a monthly newsletter from district counselors sharing resources and strategies based on a monthly theme. September’s theme is “Wellness.” Students are being sent home with a bookmark that illustrates a breathing exercise that can be done by tracing the outline of a hand. Staff are taking part in Wellness Bingo to promote activities like stretching, spending time in nature and taking a break from social media.
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