Mary Pimentel receives Excellence Award


The Hemet Unified School District Board of Trustees held its annual meeting at Idyllwild School last week.

Mary Pimentel, the Idyllwild School Office parent liaison, received the Governing Board Recognition of Excellence Award Tuesday, Oct. 3, during the Hemet Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting in Idyllwild. In making the presentation, President Vic Scavarda said, “She is a vital link with the Hispanic parents and community. She’s highly respected and an important part of our office staff. Photo by JP Crumrine

While no major agenda items were debated during the meeting, Dr. Alex Ballard, director of assessment and accountability, did provide a report to the board on the HUSD results of the spring 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.

An Idyllwild School volunteer was honored and a local eighth-grade student led the pledge of allegiance to open the meeting.

After Matilda “Millie” Terry led the board and audience in the pledge, President Vic Scavarda, the Idyllwild representative, recognized Mary Pimentel for the work she does at the school. She is the school office parent liaison.

She was given the Governing Board Recognition of Excellence Award, which includes a $500 certificate to spend on any school program of her choice.

“She has been an outstanding parent volunteer,” said Scavarda, who met Pimentel when her son Raul was in his class several years ago when he taught at Idyllwild School.

“She went to Anza first and returned to Idyllwild and is doing an incredible job,” he continued. “She is a vital link with the Hispanic parent and community. She’s highly respected and an important part of our office staff.”

He praised her problem solving and people skills, and mentioned that she would be co-teaching adult education classes later this year.

Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer recommended the award for Pimentel’s contributions at the school. “She has been a true ambassador for Idyllwild School and we feel fortunate to have her!” he wrote in his recommendation.

The only educational item discussed during the meeting was Ballard’s presentation of the district’s performance, announced last week, on the CAASPP test. Fourteen states employ this tool, he told the board. This was the third year of using this instrument.

The four levels are exceeded, met, nearly met or not met the standard. Typically, the first two levels of achievement are grouped together. Students in grades three to eight and 11 were tested last May.

Unfortunately, HUSD declined 1 percent in English language and 2 percent in the math test. However, Idyllwild School, not only increased its percentage in the two top levels, it led the district in both tests.

“I am very proud of the job Idyllwild students and staff did on ELA and Math. And, it appears that all grades have grown since 2015 District-wide,” Scavarda wrote in an email before the meeting.

This year, two-thirds of the Idyllwild students met or exceeded the English-language standards, up from 2016, and 55 percent met or exceeded standards on the Math portion, also up from 2016. Idyllwild was the only elementary school in which more than half the students met or exceeded standards. For the whole district, about a quarter of students achieved these levels.

HUSD underperformed at the state and county levels. According to Ballard, the district was 15th out of 22 in Riverside County.

Ballard said staff was examining the allocation of the district’s local-control state funds and found “several opportunities to re-focus” in efforts to help the students.

“We’ve had a courageous conversation about what’s to come in the future,” HUSD Superintendent Christi Barrett said. “[Hemet] is committed to ensuring improved academic outcomes for every student that we serve. While the district and Idyllwild School have made progress compared to last year, we acknowledge that there are areas of opportunity for growth.”

In a district where nearly three-quarters of the student population are eligible for free or reduced lunches, the staff was pleased with the overall results. Barrett complimented the teamwork at each school. Yet she acknowledged that demographics have always been a factor in predicting performance and actual results.