Superintendent Dr. David Cash and members of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s administrative team were optimistic about the coming school year at the annual back-to-school meeting on August 2. Cash said it’s extremely important to keep the focus on what happens in the classroom because that is “where great things happen.” He also pointed out the need to “ask our students what works best for them,” and to praise area teachers. “We have great teachers in Santa Barbara,” he said.

Cash talked about working with children who have difficulties learning while keeping in mind that no two kids are the same. “One size doesn’t fit all. We’re going to provide help for every student,” the superintendent said and promised to regularly meet with parents on their turf to learn how to best serve the need of their children. In return, Cash “expects parents to advocate for their children” and communities to get more involved in their neighborhood schools.

Associate Superintendent Robin Sawaske reported “a lot of confidence in the district.” The special education program, she said, continues to be a success. Sawaske was “excited about the growth that has taken place over the last year,” continuing that one of the most important goals for the upcoming school year is to provide better support for teachers and quality learning for all kids.

Also discussed was the preparation by both students and teachers for the new Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by the California State Board of Education on August 2, 2010, and will be implemented in 2014. “A lot goes into preparing, but we’re moving as fast as we can,” said Sawaske. “We want to teach kids how to think, how to be creative, and how to be problem solvers to better prepare them for success in their future.”

The Common Core State Standards were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices — and nearly every state was represented by stakeholders who contributed — to develop standards for mathematics, language arts, and literacy for students in kindergarten through grade 12.

Deputy Superintendent Eric Smith said that, economically, “we’re in a relatively good place,” which puts them “ahead of other districts.” Smith spoke positively of the recent unification of Santa Barbara Elementary and Secondary School districts and was happy that “everything came together at the end.”

District representatives also reported positive movement in the personnel department. Of the 116 teachers who were recently issued pink slips to help the district close its budget gap, 113 saw them rescinded.

At the end of the meeting, coordinator Barbara Keyani reminded parents to have their children vaccinated before school starts. “Many still haven’t finished the paperwork.”


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