REEDLEY – Students took the podium at the latest Kings Canyon Unified governing board meeting to give testimonials on the extended learning programs (ELP) at Reedley and Orange Cove high schools.
At the Sept. 12 meeting, the KCUSD board also learned the results from the annual school performance survey, was provided with an overview of the district’s financial health and heard reports from the district’s three-member student board. Still, ELPs were the rave of the meeting as the board heard positive feedback on the programs from district partners and students alike.
Extended learning programs
KCUSD partners with Community Youth Ministries (CYM) on the running of the district’s after-school ELPs.
Orange Cove High School principal Amanda Lopez Doerksen, Reedley High School principal John Ahlin and Reedley Middle College High School principal Josh Darnell along with Don Reimer, the CEO of CYM, presented the board with highlights from the programs.
“High school students have a lot of options after school,” Reimer said. “But a lot of them don’t have the best environment to go home to.”
Reimer noted that CYM first partnered with Reedley High. His initial concern was there might not be enough programs to make the enterprise sustainable at Reedley High and, later, at Orange Cove High. The opposite occurred.
“Reedley High had a whole list of different programs,” he said. “And teachers wanted to help. I thought, ‘Wow. There’s honestly almost too many options.’”
Reimer said Lopez Doerksen was not happy for the past two years with the afterschool programs at Orange Cove High.
“I was thinking she’d want to start from scratch,” Reimer said. “No. She had a whole list of things.”
Reedley High’s ELPs
Following Reimer, RHS students Andre Gutierrez and Olyviz Martinez, members of the school’s auto club, spoke to the board.
“During my time in the auto club, we’ve learned how to change tires,” Gutierrez said. “I hope to learn enough skills so that I can make money (at this) when I get older. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.” Gutierrez also noted that, through the auto club, he doesn’t have to sit at home all day.
Martinez said the club teaches students about basic safety procedures and about how to stay safe in an automotive environment.
“I do appreciate the opportunity to have an after school activity. In this case, the auto club,” she added.
Reedley High offers 16 ELPs, including a robotics club, a battle of the books club, a mock trial club and a welding club.
Reedley Middle College High ELPs
Students from Reedley Middle College High School, Julian Echeveste and Adrian Morales, are members of the school’s barbecue club. Morales, who is the club’s president, said there are currently 38 members.
Members currently cook on a single smoker, but they are hoping to expand, perhaps later adding deep fryers and pizza ovens.
“We want to make sure we add in the culinary part of it,” Morales said.
He added the club has taken on interns at Reedley High.
Reedley Middle College High School’s ELPs include yearbook, computer gaming, boxing, criminology and Dungeons and Dragons.
Orange Cove High ELPs
Alexis Summers, a senior at Orange Cove High, is a member of the school’s sports medicine club. She joined the club because she wants to pursue a career in physical therapy. The club meets twice a week after school. Members learn about wound care and taking care of sports injuries.
“Once we get certified, we will be able to do these in the actual field. At football and volleyball games,” Summers said.
Marissa Miramontes, a junior, is a member of the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. Miramontes said she has participated in AVID for two years. The program’s field trips have made a significant impact on her life.
“I was very excited about the Bay Area trip we took in February,” she said. “I always wanted to attend Stanford. We also went to UC Berkeley. That field trip created a strong bond among all the people who went. But none of this would be possible without everyone going to our afterschool programs.”
Orange Cove High’s ELPs include peer tutoring, chess club, photo club and table culinary club.
SCHOOL PERFORMANCE SURVEY
Sergio Rodriguez, KCUSD student services administrator, presented the board with the results from the annual school performance survey.
KCUSD serves approximately 6,000 families. The online survey was conducted last February. Rodriguez said 4,387 parents completed the surveys and the results were shared in June.
Results from the surveys were broken out by grade sites – TK through fifth (TK-5), kindergarten through eighth (K-8), sixth through eighth (6-8), ninth through 12th (9-12) and Mountain View School/Kings Canyon Online (MVS/KCO) as well as district wide. Respondents were asked to rate their reactions to 24 multiple choice questions and two free response questions. Ratings ranged from excellent, good, satisfactory, not satisfactory and no opinion.
Rodriguez shared the results of seven questions that focused on the quality of a student’s school life. For example, the first question asked parents to rate the quality with which they are greeted; as in, do they feel they are treated with respect and made welcome.
Ninety-two percent of parents of TK-5 responded with either excellent or good; over 88% of parents of K-8, over 82% of parents of 6-8 students, over 84% of parents of 9-12 students and over 95% of parents of MVS/KCO students also responded with either excellent or good. District wide, over 88% of parents of students responded with either excellent or good.
These results held true for nearly all of the other questions. However, replies fell below the average when parents were asked to rate the quality of how well schools responded to shared concerns. For this question, the six sites were split evenly, with parents of TK-5, MVS/KCO students and parents district-wide recording excellent or good in the 80 percentiles, but parents of TK-8, 6-8 and 9-12 students not breaching that level of satisfaction.
Following Sergio Rodriguez’s presentation, KCUSD Fiscal Director Shaun Rodriguez presented the board with the district’s 2022-2023 Year End Unaudited Actuals Report.
According to Shaun Rodriguez, the district’s enrollment average daily attendance (ADA) for 2022-2023 was 8,736 out of a total enrollment of just over 9,300. He added the district was being funded for a student population of 9,008.
The district’s general fund revenues ended at $224,184,962 with expenses totaling $198,877,885. Rodriguez said 76% of expenses went to payroll. Six percent of revenues were spent on books and supplies.
“Other school districts spend upwards of 85% on payroll,” Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez said there were increased costs for pensions, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
According to Rodriguez, the district is in a sound financial situation. He mentioned there are nine school buses on order. He also mentioned the district is able to fund the various projects under construction throughout the district.
The final presentation of the evening was from the three-member student board.
Orange Cove High student Adilene Gomez, Reedley High student Jemimah Balallo and Reedley Middle College High student Samuel Badilla provided individual presentations to the board regarding their respective schools.
Gomez said Orange Cove High’s theme this year is working together as a team in spirit. She added that the school’s underlying theme is improving the school culture and climate. She said these two themes were on display at the schools back-to-school night.
“The families of new students and returning students were able to see just how welcoming our teachers and staff were,” said Gomez.
In her presentation, Balallo mentioned that each year, the RHS girls’ volleyball team plays Dinuba. Owing to the close proximity of Dinuba to Reedley, Balallo said each year’s volleyball match includes a side match among audience members. This year’s side match was between barbecue dads and soccer moms.
Pointing to her presentation, Balallo said, “As you can see in the picture, the more popular team was barbecue dads.”
Balallo’s presentation included photographs from the seniors’ sunrise, RHS Celebrates America football game – featuring the freshman tailgate party and a veterans’ celebration – and the back-to-school dance, which featured a western-themed luau. She concluded by mentioning the upcoming Fresno Area College Night and the Bulldog Bound presentation that will take place on Sept. 18.
Lastly, Badilla said his presentation would focus on Reedley Middle College High School’s culture, climate and school spirit and his personal experience.
“The word I settled on was ambition,” Badilla said when thinking of the best word to describe Reedley Middle College High.
Reedley Middle College High School was founded in 2012 with a student population of 12 and consisting of a few portable classrooms. Since then, the population has grown to more than 200 students and the school boasts its own campus. Badilla said the school attracts students from all over the district.
“Students come here to follow their ambitions and to better themselves for the future,” he said.
Badilla said Sept. 15 is Reedley Middle College High’s club rush, which includes the newly founded gay straight alliance club.
Reflecting on the school’s culture of inclusion, support and unity, Badilla concluded by saying, “In short, Reedley Middle College High School provides an environment that supports our ambitious students for being well prepped for being successful in the future.”