Dr. Barry Kayrell, superintendent of the Hemet Unified School District, discussed the district’s Local Control Action Plan with parents and staff at Idyllwild School. Joining Kayrell was Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer (standing in back). Photo by John Drake
Dr. Barry Kayrell, superintendent of the Hemet Unified School District, discussed the district’s Local Control Action Plan with parents and staff at Idyllwild School. Joining Kayrell was Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer (standing in back).
Photo by John Drake

The Local Control and Accountability Plan was the subject of a lively discussion at Idyllwild School last week. The LCAP is a product of 2013 legislation that changed the method in which the state allocates educational funds.

Hemet Unified School District is preparing its third LCAP and has been holding meetings throughout the district to garner student, parent and community comments about its programs, their funding and HUSD priorities.

At the Feb. 29 meeting, more than 30 people, including staff, turned out to hear Superintendent Dr. Barry Kayrell and Deputy Superintendent Dr. LaFaye Platter present the draft plan and the goals HUSD is attempting to achieve.

“We’re in the process of getting information and ideas. This is our third year,” Kayrell said. The draft final plan will be presented at the first board meeting in June and adopted at the second June meeting.

The eight areas, which the state expects each district to address, are basic services, implementation of Common Core Standards, school climate, parental involvement, course access, student achievement, student engagement and other student outcomes.

Kayrell explained that HUSD has developed three separate goals whose achievement would enable the district to address the eight state priorities. The three HUSD goals are in the accompanying box.

HUSD has devised and begun implementing various programs and actions to work toward achieving these goals. For example, to encourage students to consider and work toward college attendance, HUSD will pay the cost of the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement and the Scholastic Achievement tests for all students to take. This may encourage students to complete course requirements and finish high school, he said.

Also, HUSD has expanded its career technical courses for students seeking a vocation rather than college following graduation. Among the first steps are more support and materials for the agricultural and video production programs. Hemet High School is expanding its automotive tools classes, according to Kayrell.

Kayrell also stressed efforts to improve literacy, reading ability, and English understanding and fluency.

“Literacy continues to be a major challenge in the district,” he lamented. “K-3 kids are not reading where they should.”

Among initiatives to create improved student engagement are expanding high-school athletic programs and restoring athletics in middle schools. Also, HUSD is expanding music programs in the elementary and middle schools.

He also mentioned that HUSD may add another person to the Idyllwild School staff for 2016-17. If the growth projection comes true, Kayrell said in an email, another full-time teacher may be assigned to Idyllwild in order to reduce the number of combined classes.

After school administrators finished their presentation, the public raised many questions during the rest of the session. Among the most discussed were expanding the music program beyond instrumental instruction to include choral opportunities, the revival of a Gifted And Talented Education program for students in Idyllwild, and books for the middle-school algebra class.

Funding for the G.A.T.E program is part of the local control funding and up to each district’s board, according to the state’s Department of Education.

Another parent questioned the need to begin the school year so early in August. This schedule disrupts many family vacations, the speaker said. But another parent supported the early start because it allowed high-school students to finish exams before Christmas vacation.

Kayrell replied that this topic was better directed to the whole school board and HUSD Trustee Vic Scavarda acknowledged he was taking notes about the parents’ comments and ideas.

A final suggestion was to find more bilingual aides who can directly help some of the students who don’t speak English well.

Kayrell encouraged the parents and community to focus their suggestions into a few recommendations and to share them with Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer and Scavarda.

“Consolidate your ideas and concentrate on four or five ideas that you feel will be beneficial for this campus,” Kayrell urged the participants.

A survey is available online for parents and community members. It can be found at www.hemetusd.org/ on the right at the bottom of listed areas or in the LCAP area under “Educational Services.”

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