COMMUNITY DAY SCHOOLS
An article recently appeared in the Hanford Sentinel, reporting the possible closure of the Reef-Sunset Primary Community Day School. http://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/avenal-district-may-close-school/article_d03fd5df-622c-54fd-8fe4-abb5a23c1749.html
The following is a Letter to the Editor of the Avenal Chimes, from a group of deeply concerned parents, students, and teachers:
The Reef-Sunset Unified School District Board of Trustees will hold a Study Session to discuss the closing of the Primary Community Day School (PCDS) on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the district boardroom. It is open to the public and all concerned citizens are invited to attend.
PCDS is a school for K-6th grade students who have been expelled, or who have had problems with attendance or behavior. The superintendent has recommended to the school board to close the school and send any Avenal or Kettleman City 4th-6th grade students, who would attend PCDS to Secondary Community Day School, which now serves students in grades 7-12.
PCDS serves many needs for the high-risk students who attend:
California State Department of Education guidelines intend Community Day Schools to provide a low student-teacher ratio where instruction gives attention to the individual student's needs, ability levels, and how the student best learns.
California Education Code states students in a K-12 school district need to be divided into a K-6th grade school and a 7-12th grade school. This allows these high-risk students to be grouped together for more age-appropriate social interactions.
The school focuses on teaching pro-social skills and developing student self-esteem.
The students are taught strategies to help with self-control, self-discipline and personal responsibility.
The school's current teacher for the last twelve years has a school counseling credential, that is used daily without compensation to provide guidance to students who would otherwise receive limited support.
The small classroom setting allows students who are not able to focus, or are highly disruptive to receive the support and instruction needed for them to gain the self-confidence, skills and education to return successfully to the regular education setting.
It allows students in a regular classroom to get the education they deserve, without the teacher's time being monopolized by a student who would otherwise receive the help needed to be successful at PCDS.
It provides a safe, age-appropriate placement for students in the primary grades, who may be expelled, to get the support, instruction, and skills necessary to return successfully to the regular school setting, without exposure to students who are much older.
The State of California has given school districts permission to spend the money intended for Community Day Schools where they believe it will best serve the students. The School Board is having this Study Session as an open meeting for parents, community members and staff to voice their opinion.
We believe there are going to be a relatively small number of high-risk students in our communities who, all out of proportion to their number, greatly impact the learning and school environment in a negative way. Their needs never will be served in the regular classroom, but they will receive the support, education, guidance and hope needed to achieve success through placement in the Primary Community day school setting until they obtain the skills, education, and attitude necessary for a successful re-integration back to the regular school setting.
Until there is an alternate, specific, step-by-step plan in place to help these at-risk students, we believe the Primary Community Day School should remain open. Just because the money can now be spent elsewhere, does not mean it best serves our students' needs by being spent on something else.
Please come to the Study Session for an open exchange of ideas on how best to support all our students.
Concerned Parents, Community and Staff
WHO CAME TO THE MAY 28 MEETING to SPEAK UP FOR STUDENT SERVICES?
Attending this Special Study/Discussion Meeting were three teachers, 6 administrators, administrative assistant, 2 parents, and one community member. Focus of discussion was the Primary Community Day School. It was agreed that much more needs to be done to support all students and create positive school climates where every child can succeed. This is a state LCAP priority so resources must be allocated for staff training in restorative practices and social-emotional learning, with effective additional services provided for special needs children.
Information about Community Day Schools can be found in California Ed Code #48660, 48660.2, 48661, 48662, 48663, 48664, 48666, 48916.1, 48915.01. (Causes for expulsion are found in Ed Code 48915)
Find this information on CA Community Day Schools at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/eo/cd/cefcommunityday.asp