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AUSD Evaluates Online Learning, Posts Fall Plans, Awarded Grants

Distance learning computer packages are prepared for each student. Photo by Helen Arase


Alhambra , CA

Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting was a short 30 minutes. Missing from most of the conversation were the 2020-2021 learning plans – which can now be found online – Alhambra Unified School District is putting into place.

During the “citizens request to address the board” portion, Cesar Salgado brought up the fall reopening.

“As a parent I’m very concerned,” Salgado said. He asked if there were going to be testing for COVID-19 symptoms of the children and staff.

Salgado also asked about the assessment of the learning loss but said to make sure “we don’t put unnecessary stressors on the students. This happened through no fault of their own.”

AUSD superintendent Denise Jaramillo thanked Salgado and said, “You summed it up best. We are living in a pandemic. We may attempt to pretend life is normal; life is not normal.”

Jaramillo also stressed that the district is making no final plans for the fall as they do not have COVID-19 health guidelines yet. The district anticipated them at the beginning of last week, then at the beginning of this week, but have yet to receive them.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health and Office of Education are defining the Standard of Care, which will give mandates and guidelines on how the county’s schools must operate going forward, much like the Health Officer Order.

AUSD is, however, asking each parent to select their preferred teaching method: hybrid teaching of in-person and online instruction, or entirely web-based distance learning.

A multilingual informational letter was sent to parents at the beginning of the week. It details each style of learning and asks parents to make a selection by July 6.

Included is an invitation to two virtual meetings where parents can ask questions of the district, scheduled for July 1 at 5 p.m. and July 2 at 10 a.m.

An email is also available to parents with questions, and videos of the presentations are on the district website in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese – the links are at the bottom of the page.

As part of the learning assessment and effort to improve distance learning in the fall, assistant superintendent Janet Lees created the state- and county-mandated Distance Learning Report, for March 13 through May 31, 2020.

Food security is a large part of AUSD’s responsibility to student wellness – it is in Goal 1 and Goal 7 of their “Building a Culture of Equity” mission included in the Distance Learning Report – and the district is still working on the plans for the next school year.

Two grants were accepted by the board on Tuesday with virtually no fanfare.

AUSD was awarded a $5.9 million Inclusive Education Expansion Program (IEEEP) Grant from the California Department of Education, which must be spent by December 2024.

The money must be used to upgrade existing or build new preschool facilities to expand services and “mainstreaming” special education with general education students.

AUSD is using the money for two directives, on two different timelines.

The first is to be completed by the end of the 2022 school year, spent on Park Elementary School by Alhambra Park. The district plans to renovate empty classrooms next to existing preschool rooms, to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant – meaning informational technology design standards and more must be accessible to all people with disabilities – with updates like flashing fire alarms, playgrounds, restrooms and other general updates of the facility’s infrastructure and technical systems.

With the proximity and updates to facilities, AUSD says, special education and general education will have the option to plan and learn together.

The second spending goal is to renovate the Scanlon Building at the corner of Garfield and Alhambra, once AUSD headquarters, in order to replace the Moor Field Special Education preschool by the end of the 2024 school year.

The new preschool will have 10 ADA compliant special education and two additional general education classrooms, offices, playgrounds, a lunchroom and rooms for speech, language and occupational therapy.

With the majority of the facility accessible and ADA compliant, the district says the general education and special education preschool students have the option to attend class, eat lunch or play together.

The IEEEP grant was given to 134 California school districts – 19 of the awardees under the watch of the Los Angeles Office of Education – including Alhambra Unified.

West San Gabriel Valley Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) has funded the State Early Intervention Grant with $69,000 for the ’19-’20 school year.

The After School Education and Safety Program has been amended to extend the use of $1.8 million through December 31.

Much of the Tuesday night board meeting was spent by board president Patricia Rodriguez-Mackintosh reading the renewal of contracts for superintendent Denise Jaramillo and assistant superintendents Janet Lees of Educational Services, George Murray of Facilities and Planning, Josephine Quach of Financial Services, Jonathan Scanlan of Human Resources and Pat Mahony of Student/Employee Welfare.

The headline is that none of the superintendents will take a raise in a year that the budget might fall short.

The Board of Education approved next year’s board meeting schedule. The next meeting is July 21.

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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