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Stakeholder update from GUSD Board President Piceno regarding the search for a new Superintendent

Dear GUSD families and staff,
 
This is my first update to our stakeholders regarding the Board of Education’s search for a replacement for Superintendent Flores, who is retiring June 30, 2023.
 
At the Thursday, January 26, regular meeting, the Board of Education approved a contract with Leadership Associates, a leading executive recruitment firm, to conduct a rigorous process to identify and recruit quality potential candidates to serve as our District's next Superintendent.
 
Over the next several months, in order to be transparent and forthcoming about the search and hiring process, I will be providing regular updates to you at both Board Meetings and the District's communication channels.  In February, we will launch a webpage on the District’s website that will outline the search process and a projected timeline for hiring. We will share that link with you once it is finalized.
 
In the meantime, I want to thank you for your confidence in your board members as we work to find the best next leader of our school district.
 
Best regards,
Linda Piceno
Board President
Gilroy Unified School District

  • Superintendent Search
GUSD Communications

Happy New Year GUSD staff and families:

We have jumped into 2023 with rain boots and umbrellas!  I hope you all enjoyed the winter break, and are staying warm and dry in the season of weather we have been experiencing.    Our next break from school is February 20-24, 2023, in just a few weeks.

Professional Development Sessions for GUSD staff
Today, our staff members participated in day-long professional development sessions, while students were off from school.  I am very proud of and grateful to our Educational  Services team for putting together a diverse, relevant schedule of offerings for our certificated staff members.  I am also very proud of our classified management team for offering relevant trainings for our paraeducators, bus drivers, campus supervisors and other staff members.

Retirement Announcement
At the January 12, 2023 Board Meeting, I publicly announced that I will be retiring as Superintendent at the end of this academic year after serving the Gilroy Unified School District in this role for the past 16 years.  In total, my career in public education has spanned 48 years. I am really looking forward to the next chapter in my life. 

Prior to my announcement at the January 12 board meeting, I provided early notification to the GUSD Governing Board’s Executive Committee, which enabled them to very quickly take the first steps in the search process.  The entire Board met in Closed Session on January 19 to discuss the executive search firm they will use to find the district’s next Superintendent, and at the January 26, 2023 Board meeting, they will take action to approve a contract with the search firm they selected. 

During the search process, the Board and the staff from the search firm will seek input in various ways from the school community regarding the next superintendent.  You can expect regular communication regarding the process and updates, as appropriate.  I have full confidence in the Board that they will select the best person for the job.

Upcoming Freshmen Orientations
Preparations are underway for the 2023-24 school year (already!), and there are some upcoming events that some of our families should note for their calendars.

Gilroy High School will host the Mustang Expo for incoming freshmen and their parents or guardians on Wednesday, February 1, at 6 pm.  The Expo will be held in the Main Gym.  Visit the GHS Freshman Hub for more information.

Christopher High School will also host the Cougarpalooza for incoming freshmen and their parents or guardians on Wednesday, February 1, at 6 pm.  The Cougarpalooza will be held in the Main Gym.  Visit the CHS Freshman Hub for more information.

Upcoming Dual Immersion Orientations
The Gilroy Unified School District is one of only 19 school districts in California to offer a dual immersion (DI) program for students in grades K-12, and applications are currently being accepted for incoming kindergarteners (the class of 2035!).  Elementary students in the DI program attend either Rod Kelley or Las Animas.

For an incoming kindergarten student to be eligible to enroll in the DI program, a parent or guardian must attend an orientation meeting.  Four dates are available: Tuesday, January 24, at 6:30 pm via Zoom or Tuesday, February 7, at 3:30 pm via Zoom.  Pre-registration is required to attend the Zoom orientations.  Parents or guardians can also attend an in-person orientation on Wednesday, March 1 at 3:30 pm at Rod Kelley Elementary or on Tuesday, March 14, at 6:30 pm at Las Animas Elementary.  No registration is necessary to attend an in-person meeting, but attendance will be verified.

For more information about DI orientations or the program, visit our website.

Inclement Weather Preparation and Mitigation
Thanks to advanced planning and ongoing collaboration, district staff were prepared for the recent storms.  Our custodial and Maintenance and Operations staff reported to sites and district buildings at 5:00 a.m. each day to assess the status of all schools and departments and to address problem areas including flooding caused by clogged drains, leaks, and fallen branches.    Members of our leadership team, including our new Maintenance and Operations Director, Matt Woolman, were deployed to sites within the district, and were in regular communication throughout the day, starting with the reports first thing each morning.  Overall, the district did well during over two weeks of steady rain, wind and storms, and I want to thank the staff members who were so critical in keeping our campuses weatherproofed to the greatest extent possible, which ensured that the regular instructional day could proceed as usual.  

State budget release on January 10, 2023

 

On January 10, 2023, Governor Newsom kicked off the state budget development process by unveiling his proposal for the 2023-24 budget.  The budget proposal acknowledges significant reductions to state revenues, with an estimated $22.5 billion shortfall for the 2022-23 school ($29.5 billion over three years). 

The education budget for public schools is approximately 38% of the state budget, because of Proposition 98, and the fate of public-school funding in California is tied to the state’s economy.  With weakening revenues, the budget proposal introduces a combination of proposed mid-year reductions to one-time allocations (Arts, Music and Instructional Materials Block Grant), funding shifts, and other adjustments to address the budget gap.  Luckily, the reduction to Prop 98 funding is proposed to be $1.5 billion into next year, and the state’s assumption is that it will be able to fund a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) of 8.13% for the 2023-24 fiscal year.  The funding of the COLA reflects the higher cost of doing business for the District.

While the Governor’s Budget Proposal accounts for weaker-than-expected revenues, it does not assume a recession.  The Gilroy Unified School District will continue to monitor the economic signals and follow the state budget development process. 

The next key update to the state budget will be the May Revise, when the Governor revises his Budget Proposal, updating state revenues through the critical month of April (tax collections).

Upcoming COVID-19/ Flu Shot Clinics at GUSD Schools
There are two upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinics at our schools this month.  On Monday, January 23, Glen View Elementary will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the MPR from 3-6 pm.  Appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome.  Register for an appointment in English or Spanish.

On Monday, January 30, El Roble Elementary will host a joint COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot clinic from 3-6 pm in the MPR.  Appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome.  Register for an appointment in English or Spanish.

Future clinics at El Roble will be held on February 21 and March 20, and at Glen View on February 28 and March 27.  That information will be sent to you as soon as it is available.

LCAP Survey closes January 20
A reminder to you that the LCAP survey closes tonight, so if you haven’t yet provided your input, please do so now!  The survey is short, and should take no more than five minutes for you to complete.  Your input is invaluable and greatly appreciated.  Our staff members and students in grades 5-12 have also taken a version of the LCAP survey and the information will be presented to the Board of Education at a future Board meeting.  Survey responses help guide the District’s spending for educational programs in three-year cycles.

Silicon Valley Reads, February and March 2023
Silicon Valley Reads is a community engagement program that features books and an annual theme to bring people together by providing more than 100 free, public events each year in February and March. Events for all ages include author talks, book clubs, art/music events, community activities, arts and crafts, movies, and creative events or activities based on the theme each year.

The 2023 season is the 20th anniversary of Silicon Valley Reads! For 2023, Silicon Valley Reads will set off on a “Journey to New Beginnings.” 

I encourage you to visit the SVR website for more information about the free youth events being hosted at Santa Clara County libraries.

There are plenty of fun events at our school sites in the upcoming weeks, and I’m looking forward to attending them.  I hope you are finding time to get out of the house, while the weather is nice, to do fun things as well.

Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

GUSD Communications

Gilroy, CA – At the January 12, 2023 regular board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Deborah Flores announced that she will retire from the Gilroy Unified School District on June 30, 2023.  Dr. Flores has been the superintendent of Gilroy Unified School District for 16 years.  She is currently the longest-serving superintendent in Santa Clara County.

During the meeting, Dr. Flores shared the following with the school board, staff and the public:

This was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life.  I love Gilroy Unified and will miss working here.  It has been my home for 16 years.  This is a great district with so many wonderful people, and those people are who I will miss most now that I am moving on to the next chapter of my life.  I have been very fortunate to work with dedicated school board members who work as a team to create the best outcomes for our staff and students.  My Cabinet, executive assistant and PIO are incredible and I feel so blessed to have worked with them.  The principals and management team are a dedicated, hardworking group who do a great job.  There are so many talented staff in our district at our school sites and in the departments, who make such a difference in our students’ lives. We have wonderful students and parents. I feel so honored to have been your superintendent all these years.

Since joining the district in July 2007, Dr. Flores has made it her mission to reduce the dropout rate, increase the graduation rate, increase academic performance for all subgroups and close the achievement gap for students in Gilroy.  Significant and steady progress has been made on all these indicators and many more until the district and nation were immersed in the pandemic. During Dr. Flores’s tenure, the Gilroy Unified School District, and it schools have received a number of awards and recognitions:

  • In 2022, the Gilroy Unified School District was named a California Pivotal Practices District by the California Department of Education, and GECA was named a California Pivotal Practices School.
  • In 2021, the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education. 
  • Seven district schools have been recognized as California Distinguished Schools: GECA (2013 and 2019), Las Animas Elementary (2008), Rod Kelley Elementary (2018), Solorsano Middle (2007 and 2013), Glen View Elementary (1997) and Gilroy High School (1994 and 2009).
  • Solorsano Middle School received the California Department of Education Gold Ribbon Award for their Restorative Justice Program as well as the federal Title I Academic Achieving School Award in 2007.
  • Four other GUSD schools received the California Gold Ribbon Award: Las Animas Elementary and Rod Kelley in 2016, and GECA, Christopher High, and Brownell Middle in 2015.
  • GECA, Gilroy High, Christopher High, Las Animas Elementary and Rod Kelley Elementary were recognized as California Honor Roll schools in 2020. 
  • Rod Kelley Elementary also received the School of Excellence Award from the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) for its Dual Immersion Program (2017) and was named one of the top schools for underserved students by Innovate Public Schools in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 
  • Las Animas Elementary also received the CABE award for its Dual Immersion program in 2016.
  • Gilroy High School’s Biomedical Science Academy was the recipient of the Santa Clara County School Boards’ Association Glenn W. Hoffman Exemplary Program Award in 2017; and,
  • The District’s Dual Immersion Program located at Las Animas Elementary, Rod Kelley Elementary, South Valley Middle and Gilroy High all received the California School Board Association’s prestigious Golden Bell Award in 2015.

Dr. Flores successfully led the district through the most challenging time in our District’s history during the pandemic through the shutdown of schools, distance learning and then the return to in-person learning at the school sites.  She worked tirelessly to gain the support of Gilroy voters for two bond measures, which led to the completion of hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations at most schools in the district and new construction: Christopher High School, Brownell Middle School and South Valley Middle School. Following the Garlic Festival Shooting in 2019, GUSD played an integral role in providing resources and support to the Gilroy community. 

Over the past 10 years, Dr. Flores took the lead in creating a top-notch and comprehensive district-wide safety plan, which includes: security fencing around all school perimeters, the installation of state-of-the art-security cameras, remote access entry systems, and a strong relationship with the Gilroy Police Department and School Resource Officers. 

Thanks to her leadership, the district now has two specialized academies: the Biomedical Science Academy at Gilroy High School and the Computer Science Academy at Christopher High School.  The Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy, which is the result of a strong partnership with Gavilan College, is routinely recognized as one of the top-ten high schools in California and nationally.

She is very proud of the Dual Immersion program at Las Animas Elementary, Rod Kelley Elementary, South Valley Middle and Gilroy High.  Gilroy Unified is one of only 19 districts in California to offer a full K-12 Dual Immersion programs.  In addition, she is also proud of the district-wide events that provide support to families and students, including the annual Run for Fitness event, and the Future Chefs competition.

Dr. Flores is grateful for the strong partnerships with community organizations and groups that include: the City of Gilroy, Gilroy Police and Fire Departments, South County Youth Task Force, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, the Gilroy Foundation, Gilroy Rotary and Exchange Clubs, Rebekah Children’s Services, Community Solutions, the Don Christopher family, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee, and many others who support District initiatives and our school communities.

Dr. Flores earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education from the University of Massachusetts, and began her career in Western Massachusetts in 1975 as a special education teacher and teacher lead. She moved into administration as a special education administrator and was Pupil Services Director for 10 years.  From 1990-2004, she worked for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, where she was the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services, Deputy Superintendent, and then Superintendent for almost five years.  While there, she earned her doctorate at the University of California in Santa Barbara in 1996.  She was superintendent of the Lucia Mar Unified School District in San Luis Obispo County for three years before coming to Gilroy Unified in June 2007.  She serves on the South County CalSOAP Board of Directors, SELPA Executive Council, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Business and Education Committee, and has been a member of the Gilroy Rotary since 2008.

Throughout her career, Dr. Flores has received a number of awards including:

  • Amherst-Pelham School District, Massachusetts Teacher of the Year (1979)
  • Riverside County Woman of Achievement (1989)
  • Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Central Office Administrator of the Year (1999)
  • ACSA Region 8 Superintendent of the Year (2016)
  • ACSA Superintendent of the Year (2016)
  • Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year (2021)

In retirement, Dr. Flores plans to travel with family and friends, backpack in national parks around the country, and go skiing in Mammoth.  She will visit her husband’s family and dear friends on the East Coast and her family in the Southwest, as part of a cross-country road trip with her sister. 

She looks forward to spending more time with her son in Santa Barbara and daughter in Orange County, and taking her dog Simba on all the walks she can.   She is excited about having the time to participate in a few Masters track meets, and to stay active by running, walking and cycling.

In the future, she may do some limited consulting in her fields of interest, but for the first time since she was a teenager, when she worked on an assembly line to pay for her college expenses, she hopes to sleep past 4:00 a.m., read more books, watch Hallmark movies, go to some 49er’s and Giants games, volunteer in the community and just relax.

GUSD Communications

Dear GUSD Families and Staff,

I am writing to provide an update about school operations due to the inclement weather and affected road conditions.  We have been in contact with the City of Gilroy’s Emergency Operations Center throughout the day and have been closely monitoring the weather.  The biggest impact has been in the southern section of Gilroy where there has been flooding of roads and road closures.

As would be expected with the amount of rain we have had in the last ten days and last night’s storm, some sites had roof leaks and/or pools of water, mostly on playgrounds/blacktops, but our staff did a great job addressing these issues. Our custodians, and Maintenance and Operations staff have been coming in very early so that they can assess how sites are doing and respond before other staff and students arrive, and the IT Department is monitoring our sites for power outages.

The weather forecast for tomorrow morning has improved as the day has proceeded.  It is now forecasted that rain will arrive in the early morning hours tomorrow but will not be as heavy as this morning’s rain.  

As of tonight, schools will be open tomorrow unless the conditions worsen overnight and in the morning.   Due to flooding, road closures and limited access to Gavilan College, both Gavilan College and GECA will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

As we have learned through the recent storms, the impacts vary depending on where you live.  It is very important that you check weather and news reports before leaving your home.  If it is not safe to travel in your area, you should stay home.  The safety of our staff and students is our top priority. If information regarding our schools change, you will receive a ParentSquare message from our District tomorrow as early as possible.

If you have not already done so, please register for SCCAlert, which will provide text updates in the event of any type of emergency in Santa Clara County: https://emergencymanagement.sccgov.org/AlertSCC. We also recommend that you sign up for Nixle alerts for the City of Gilroy, which provide up-to-date information about incidents that affect the City and surrounding areas: https://local.nixle.com/register/.  

The City of Gilroy’s social media platforms provide another opportunity to find information (FacebookInstagram), as does the City’s website: https://www.cityofgilroy.org/.

Please be safe as you travel on the roads this week.

Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
 Superintendent
 Gilroy Unified School District

GUSD Communications

After school events, practices and meetings are canceled for January 4, 2023.

Dear GUSD families:

major storm is coming to the Bay Area and Gilroy today and tomorrow.  The District has taken precautions to prepare for the storm.  Based on multiple weather forecasts, it appears that the heaviest rain and wind will arrive this afternoon.  Out of an abundance of caution, after school events, practices and meetings are canceled for January 4, 2023.  Your student's school site will be in communication with you directly regarding rescheduling any canceled events.

* Both Christopher High School and Gilroy High School athletic departments will communicate directly with student-athletes regarding scheduled games/ contests this week.  

** Power School will remain open for students and families.  If parents/ guardians wish like to pick their student(s) up early, please contact your school's Power School site coordinator.

To receive ongoing weather related updates, please register with AlertSCC: https://emergencymanagement.sccgov.org/AlertSCC.

Thank you,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District

For media requests regarding the Gilroy Unified School District and our school communities, please contact Melanie Corona, Public Information Officer.