Dear FCUSD Parents and Staff,
This school year brings a level of energy from the staff and community beyond any I’ve experienced in the past ten years. I believe there are several factors that contribute to the enthusiasm.
We are encouraged about the budget passed by the State’s legislators. The newly implemented Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) drastically changes the structure of how school districts receive funding from the state level. In very simple terms, the LCFF will shift the focus from funding dozens of state-mandated programs to funding based on local district control and student needs, with substantial extra dollars allotted to low-income children, foster youth and English learners. The California economy is still very fragile and the rebound from recession is very slow, but the funding for education is slated to improve over the next eight years. Over that time, schools will see significant improvements in funding levels with a long term goal of raising school funding levels back up to a similar level of education funding in 2007. The district will solicit input on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to improve student achievement. The first forum will be held on September 26, 2013, at the Educational Services Center, and thereafter at the monthly meetings of the Superintendent’s Communication Committee, where we hope to get your input.
Implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a major effort this year. These national standards will ensure that all students attain a deeper knowledge of curricular content, along with higher order thinking skills and practical application of what they know, regardless of which school they attend in the nation. Recently, over 850 FCUSD teachers participated in a day of professional development to continue our transition to the Common Core State Standards. Our teachers demonstrate a collaborative spirit by sharing newly developed lesson plans and units with one another and with teachers in neighboring districts. Our teachers will continue to receive CCSS training throughout the school year, and specifically on October 11, 2013, and January 17, 2014, which are staff development days and non-student days. Please view this video for a three minute explanation of Common Core: CCSS Video (English), or CCSS Video (Spanish). Our website has much more information for parents about the Common Core State Standards, including a District news article.)
Family and community connections will continue to be a priority for the District. We have launched a community partnership in Rancho Cordova to increase K-3 literacy by asking Rancho Cordova businesses, service organizations, churches, retired residents and, of course, parents, to partner with our teachers and commit to two hours a week of reading with students. Folsom schools will continue with their successful volunteer-at-school program, encouraging parents to volunteer in the classroom.
We have added several new programs for students this year. International Baccalaureate (IB) has been implemented at Cordova High School and Mitchell Middle School. IB stresses depth over breadth in learning and develops students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. Because students are required to accept more responsibility and accountability for their education, they will be exceptionally well prepared to succeed at the university level. Universities in the United States are continuing to increase acceptance of IB coursework for college credit. Since 2006, the UC and CSU systems have awarded 30 quarter or 20 semester units to Diploma students with qualifying scores. Students who are determined, enjoy a challenge, and have an interest in global cultures and issues will be successful in the IB Program. Another new program at Cordova High is the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC). This program provides coursework in aerospace science, communication, leadership, cultural studies, life skills and global career opportunities.
A new magnet program using the Montessori method for elementary students has been added at Carl Sundahl Elementary School. Under a Montessori-certified teacher, “children learn by doing,” which is the basis for the Montessori philosophy. The lessons naturally build the child’s ability to focus and concentrate for their studies, with a hands-on approach with concrete materials that helps children understand abstract concepts, and a prepared environment that provides educational and intellectual exploration. The environment accommodates movement, discussion, and the use of engaging activities.
This school year is filled with optimism and opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with you to make this the best year so far for our students. Thank you for being dedicated parents and employees. We are blessed because of your daily effort. And, as always, I welcome your input, questions, and help on our priorities.