The April 28 online Zoom meeting of the Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Trustees was unavailable as of press time due to technical difficulties. However, CUSD Superintendent Diana Rigby provided CVN with the Superintendent’s Report, the budget report and the CMS online learning report that board members discussed at the meeting. “The board also approved the Grading During School Closure Resolution and the Care Solace Services for families,” Rigby stated.

CUSD has selected Care Solace “to calm the chaos of mental healthcare coordination,” according to a district press release. Care Solace uses a web-based tool to help faculty, students and families determine when support is needed, and assists in coordinating community-based mental healthcare options.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Rigby’s written report began with appreciations for Carpinteria community members, the 93013 Fund and Carpinteria Education Foundation for supporting local schools during the Covid-19 crisis. She also acknowledged National Teacher Week, May 4 to 8. “Our teachers deserve a standing ovation more than ever for their outstanding response to school closures,” the superintendent wrote. “(At) no time in history has the educational system undergone such dramatic changes and CUSD teachers responded with grit, hard work and creativity. Thank you CUSD teachers—we appreciate you!”

US News & World Report named Carpinteria High School a 2020 Best High School, the superintendent reported.   

The California Department of Education approved funding through the Restart Program (established in response to the Thomas Fire) to provide salary premiums (bonuses) to all employees still in a permanent position as of March 2020,” Rigby announced in her report. “We are waiting for funding timelines and will announce bonus amounts and an estimated payment date as more information is received.”

Citing education department guidelines for grading during school closures, Rigby announced that the board would consider a resolution later in the board meeting that would “hold students accountable for academic work while also ensuring that they aren’t penalized by lack of access to remote learning.” The board approved the resolution.

Rigby gave the result from the Dual Language Immersion/Carpinteria Family School lottery, held April 15. All Spanish-speaking and bilingual families were accommodated, but only six slots for English-speaking-only families were available due to a sibling policy, leaving 20 students on a waiting list. CFS selected eight students in the lottery, leaving five on a waiting list. Kindergarten enrollment is smaller than last year, the superintendent stated.

Regarding graduation/promotion ceremonies, Rigby wrote: “Principals are working with their staff and parent groups to develop virtual award and promotion ceremonies for K-8 during the last day of school, June 15. Principal Gerardo Cornejo is working with his staff and parent groups to design virtual and in-person awards and graduation ceremonies for June 11 and early August.”

Rigby announced staff recruitment for 2020-21: Aliso will hire one Special Education teacher; Canalino one DLI and two Special Education; CMS one Science; CHS one Assistant Principal, one School Psychologist, one Physics/Engineering and six Social Studies teachers.

Finally, Rigby provided a Measure U update. Phase three Measure U work at Canalino School is about 75 percent complete and on schedule for completion in early June. New classrooms furnishings will then be installed and classrooms should be ready by the end of June. Summer 2020 projects will get an early start due to the closure of the campuses through the end of the normal school year. Rigby stated that the following projects will begin May 15: Aliso classroom modernization, CHS classroom modernization, CHS gym modernization, and modernization for the old CHS administration building which will house the new CHS Student Center (formerly Rincon).

Phase two classroom modernization at Aliso and Phase two classroom modernization at CHS will be complete by the start of school, Aug. 24. Modernization of the CHS gymnasium and the old CHS administration building will continue into the school year. “As a result,” the superintendent noted, “interim housing will be provided to CHS administration staff in the temporary portables, and interim locker rooms will be created on campus in the former woodshop and also a portable classroom behind the gym.”

A revised Summerland project submission is being prepared for the county of Santa Barbara for approval of the Coastal Development permit.

Budget projections

Rigby also made Assistant Superintendent Maureen Fitzgerald’s 2020-21 budget presentation available to CVN. Projected property tax revenues were provided pre- and post Covid-19, with an anticipated loss of nearly 2 percent in the 2020-21 school year. The report stated a projected “unrestricted fund” reserve in the district budget of 4.73 percent in its 2020-21 budget assumptions.

On a page titled “The New (not) Normal,” Fitzgerald stated that unemployment rates are expected to reach over 30 to 40 percent, “resulting in: delayed property tax payments, slowed or stalled home sales and potential foreclosures.” She added, “economic assumptions are changing daily, leaving many unknown factors in building revenue assumptions.”

CMS remote learning   

Carpinteria Middle School distributed 364 laptops over three days and issued 35 internet “hotspots.” Staff wore masks and gloves, and tape-markers were laid down to guide social distancing. A tracking chart was presented showing challenges faced by middle school students and counselor check ins, and a teachers’ concerns/comments section as well. Examples of online exercises were also provided. Online tutoring and social emotional supports were available to students with check-ins from content-area teachers.

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