Devoted to Targeting Limited Resources to Directly Benefit Students
A budget is a document of competing priorities that demands tough choices. As a former teacher, I believe the classroom comes first. The Kern High School District derives the majority of its revenues from the State of California. The state economy has suffered through the worst recession in state history and the KHSD has seen its revenues from the state reduced by more than $30 million over the past two years. Allocation of funds for programs that facilitate student learning and support extracurricular activities is the priority. As a Trustee, I will look for ways to eliminate waste and direct every dollar possible to the classroom.
Clearly, the best investment in improved student achievement is more and more highly qualified teachers providing students more classes that provide for more opportunities for a successful high school experience. A large number of teachers reports their graduate and professional school training is inadequate in preparing them for their teaching duties. That makes on-going professional development a must! Fortunately, the high school district has a strong commitment to staff development. Currently the district is in the process of training its staff to work as Professional Learning Communities (PLC). Teachers participating in this model work collaboratively to design lessons and to analyze student work for mastery of concepts and skills taught. When mastery is not achieved, redesigns of lessons occur and students are re-taught. This collegial approach shows great promise for raising student scores. Teachers are learning from each other and developing strategies that enhance student learning. Researched based staff development like PLC, when done well, provides a great return on investment.
Learning power can be maximized with technology. Faster, more accurate and more detailed information about which students are struggling in which areas and why facilitates more effective remediation. The Kern High School District has been very aggressive, a state leader in fact, in advancing the use of technology to increase student achievement. Unfortunately, budget cuts have slowed District progress in this area in recent years. As a Trustee, my budget priorities would be more and better teachers first followed by maximum optimizing of technology in the classroom including more on-line offerings for students who are struggling to graduate and for students seeking to get a head start on college.