Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

'Hoo-rays' celebrated, new policies debated

School Board Update

Sarah Mouchet.

Students from the Tehachapi Independent Learning Academy (TILA) shared what kindness meant to them on paper hearts that decorate the district's board room.

The Tehachapi Unified School District (TUSD) held their March board meeting on March 12. Some topics up for discussion included a first read of the proposed 2024-25 academic calendar, new K-6 handwriting curriculum and a teacher/board agreement surrounding homework and makeup policy. The next board meeting will see a discussion of cell phone usage policies in TUSD's secondary schools.

As part of the district's Capturing Kids' Hearts initiative, a program designed to foster students' social-emotional growth adopted by the district two years ago, each board meeting begins with "hoo-rays." To model some of the program's in-classroom implementations, each school principal is invited to share something positive or successful happening at their school to the board, just as students are invited by teachers to share something positive at the beginning of their classes. Student greeters from various schools have also been attending the beginning of the board meetings to shake attendees hands at the door and practice their social skills.

This month's hoo-rays included the smashing success of Read Across America week at Golden Hills Elementary, where each student in the school got a free book to celebrate a week of reading starting on Dr. Seuss' birthday. The new I-Ready game room at Cummings Valley Elementary for high-performing students on their online assessments was also a cause for celebration. The Tompkins' Crow's Nest program, a remedial instruction/intervention and support program, has seen over 45% of students return to their English classes and 35% back to math.

Listening circles were held across the district for grades 3-12, allowing groups of 12 students at a time to sit down with faculty and provide feedback on and suggestions to better their schooling experience. Elementary students wanted things such as more trash cans, playground equipment and an art room, while high school students asked for things like a flex period, longer breaks and more clubs. Students across all grades asked for better/more school lunch options, with an overwhelming number of elementary kids suggesting a "sushi day" at school.

Next month, the board will vote on the 2024-25 academic calendar, which was up for a first read this meeting. The calendar suggests a school start date of Aug. 14 and an end date of June 12, including eight snow/PSPS shutoff days. The draft has already been approved by the Tehachapi Association of Teachers (TAT), although Board Director Paul Kaminsky expressed some concern over the rather lengthy run time of the school year and the hefty number of designated snow/PSPS days.

A new homework/makeup policy has been a repeated point of debate between the board and TAT, with one section in particular causing a stall in the policy's passing. The original language of the policy would require teachers to send an email to parents after every failed homework assignment or test grade, which puts an enormous amount of added responsibility on the already overworked teachers. The revision brought to this meeting suggested that upon repeated failures, teachers should make their best efforts to notify parents. While the new language is far less limiting, both teachers and the board are still unsure about the policy, with TAT expressing teachers' concerns about micro-management, and the board worried about the language of the policy being too open-ended. The policy will come up again in April with new revisions, possibly removing that section in its entirety.

On Oct. 26, Governor Newsom signed a bill that requires cursive handwriting courses for grades K-6. TUSD has published a proposed curriculum up for a 30-day public review that will go to vote at the next board meeting. Parents can sign in to view the document by using username [email protected] and password ZBhcq124! at portal http://www.myzbportal.com/login/parent/. The board also approved two new elective classes for Tehachapi High School, Sports Leadership & Technologies and the Art & History of Floral Design.

TUSD will hold their Classified Employee Celebration Week from May 20-24 to celebrate the district's classified staff, such as custodians and bus drivers. California Day of the Teacher is May 8 and will coincide with TUSD's Teacher Celebration Week happening May 6-10. The next Sipping with the Supe will be held at Kohnen's at 7:30 a.m. on April 9. TUSD board meetings occur on the second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. in the Claude L. Wells education center located at 300 S. Robinson St., Tehachapi.