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Superintendent's Message

Lafayette School District

“Our students are creative thinkers and problem-solvers and are prepared to become responsible, ethical, and productive citizens.”

January 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Families:

Welcome to a new calendar year after a busy and fulfilling 2019.  I have been working closely with the Governing Board and the leadership team of the District over these past twelve months on both addressing our budget and finance issues and continuously improving our teaching and learning efforts.

Just before the beginning of our winter break, we heard the exciting news that Burton Valley Elementary School has been named a California Distinguished School for 2020. Burton Valley became eligible through its results on the California School Dashboard – demonstrating its academic excellence and strengths in attendance and behavior – and subsequently submitted a full application with a rigorous essay about the connection between student behavior and academic achievement, with evidence provided through the implementation of a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports approach on its campus. Principal Meredith Dolley and her team will be celebrating their achievement in February at a special event in southern California.

The award for Burton Valley recognizes not only the special year of achievement and the school’s collaborative effort to articulate its program for the judges, but also the excellence in teaching and learning across the district. Our results on the annual statewide achievement tests in English/Language Arts and Mathematics maintained our strong performance from prior years and kept us in our perch among the highest performing school districts in the state. Our emerging work in formative assessment is providing real time information student-by-student and classroom-by-classroom to make a difference day-by-day as well as year-by-year for all students. New adoptions of science curriculum aligned to Next Generation Science Standards will advance our efforts to teach relevant and rigorous science, including hands-on experimentation and engineering concepts, in all of our schools.

Our goal to continuously improve our teaching and learning has been made easier this year by the modernization of classrooms across the district, and the addition of critical new space at many schools, funded by the community-backed 2016 bond measure (Measure C). We have upgraded fire and safety systems at all campuses, moved to new technology that will allow us to maintain our buildings with more environmental awareness, and made our classrooms technology-rich to engage our students and provide them the best access to their curriculum and their learning opportunities through these new teaching environments.

The District’s new systems were put to the test this past autumn with two separate PG&E initiated “Public Safety Power Shutoffs.” Our administrators and teachers rose to the challenge of providing two days of lessons without electricity, and I was excited to hear the stories of creative pedagogy and problem solving by our team.  We are committed to reviewing our communication protocols and continue our collaboration with the City of Lafayette and the Lafayette Police Department to keep our youngest residents safe and sound should there be more of these events in the coming year.

While the District continues to be challenged by the impact of the Local Control Funding Formula that dictates our state apportionments, and its inadequate level of base funding for our programs, our financial management systems are protecting the long-term health of our schools. The Governing Board will hear early in January from the District’s auditor another bill of clean health, and the District enacted budget reductions to ensure it meets all its statutory obligations for financial health. A Community Revenue Study Committee convened early in 2019 and in December reported to the Governing Board on its activity and its highest priority possibilities for creating new revenue. More information is available elsewhere at lafsd.org.

It is always a pleasure to hear directly from our constituents, be they parents, residents of Lafayette, our own staff, and of course our students. Please feel free to provide feedback or ask for more information at superintendent@lafsd.org.

Best regards,

Richard Whitmore

Richard Whitmore