Homework Policy Among Items Approved By School Board

STUDENT BOARD MEMBER - First on the agenda was the appointment of the student board member. Ronnie Jaime, a senior at El Camino High School, will serve on the board during the first semester of the school year. Each high school takes turns appointing a student to serve on the school board.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT – Superintendent Doug Domene opened his report by sharing that the school district is joining the City of Yorba Linda in the annual “One Book, One City” celebration of reading organized by the City of Yorba Linda Public Library. This year, the library is encouraging the community to read the award-winning book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The Superintendent also shared the dates for key athletic football match-ups for our high schools. He encouraged everyone to attend. Dr. Domene also highlighted what he calls the “Miracle of the First Day” because of the extraordinary efforts of individuals across many departments and schools that make for a smooth opening day for students. While there are many individuals to celebrate, he invited the Professional Development Academy staff and teachers on special assignment to be recognized. Also recognized was the Maintenance department staff for prepping schools to look their best when students arrived.

BOARD POLICIES - Next, the Board approved or reviewed numerous policies. The Board and district staff are in the second year of reviewing all school board policies. While many policies reflect current law and district practices, they have not been formally updated in years.

HOMEWORK POLICY - Among those policies was the district’s Homework Policy which the Board adopted after a year-long process. The process began last year when the district convened a committee comprised of parents, teachers, principals and district staff to review research studies on homework, school practices and the existing district policy. To capture wider stakeholder input, the district also surveyed students, parents, and teachers. In July, all of the committee work and survey findings were reviewed by the Board of Education during an in-depth study session where they, too, provided input. The next step was for staff to draft a policy that reflected the input of all groups and present it to the Board of Education for first review. The first review took place in August and the policy was adopted at the September 9 school board meeting. The homework brochure which summarizes the policy is on our district website at http://www.pylusd.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=275400&type=d&pREC_ID=610182

“What we consistently heard from all groups is that homework should be meaningful and emphasize quality rather than quantity,” said Assistant Superintendent of Education Candy Plahy. “That is truly what is best for students and what the policy as a whole highlights.”

WELLNESS PARTNERSHIP FOR TITLE I SCHOOLS - The Board also approved a partnership agreement for a grant from St. Jude Hospital. The agreement reflects two of the district’s strategic initiatives: one which is to establish engaging wellness programs and another which is to establish partnerships.

The $45,300 grant will enhance wellness programs at the district’s six Title I elementary schools (Melrose, Morse, Rio Vista, Ruby Drive, Topaz and Tynes). With the funds schools will be able to:
• Purchase mobile produce bars which will be available during lunchtime and help emphasize healthy food choices;
• Bring “Farmer Bob” assemblies to introduce the produce bars and help children understand the importance of healthy food choices;
• Provide lessons from the Dairy Council regarding nutrition education;
• Purchase early childhood SPARK physical education curriculum and equipment for kindergarten teachers;
• Offer a full day of professional development regarding the use of SPARK equipment; and
• Establish a partnership with the Placentia Families First Collaborative “Move More; Eat Healthy” campaign.

CAREER TECHNICAL EDUCATION BOOST - The Board also approved an agreement with the Orange County Department of Education that will provide Placentia-Yorba Linda schools (El Dorado, Esperanza and Valencia) $500,000 over four years to augment their existing career pathways or create new ones. El Dorado, for example, is launching a broadcasting pathway as part of their Digital Media Arts Academy. Esperanza is augmenting their Medical Sciences Academy and Engineering program. Meanwhile, Valencia High School is adding a robotics pathway to their Val Tech program.

FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS - Business Services provided a report on 2013-2014 unaudited actuals which represents the district’s financial position for the year ending June 30, 2014. As part of the report, an update regarding the State’s Local Control Accountability Funding was also presented. The report shared that the state has already changed their financial projections showing a decrease in funding of approximately $4 million for Placentia-Yorba Linda next year.

NEW ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF PERSONNEL - The Board also announced the appointment of Kevin Lee as the district’s new Assistant Superintendent of Personnel. Mr. Lee is currently with the Corona-Norco school district and is anticipated to start in early October. He will replace Robert Kent who is leaving the district for a position in private industry.

The Board also approved many other educational, business and personnel-related items.

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