A message from Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students,
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the Gilroy Unified School District team for my twelfth year as Superintendent. Our more than 1,100 employees are deeply committed to increasing the rigor and quality of our educational programs so that students can achieve at the highest possible levels academically. Thanks to their collective efforts, student achievement data indicates steady growth from one year to the next for the past 11 years.
State and local test results continue to indicate that we are moving in the right direction as a District. After eight years of consistent District-wide gains in proficiency on the Academic Performance Index (API), our students began using a testing tool three years ago called the California Assessment of Student Performance (CAASPP). In the three years since the implementation of the CAASPP program, GUSD students have outperformed their statewide peers in mathematics while equaling them in English Language Arts.
The GUSD graduation rate for the 2016-17 cohort was 90.1%, as compared to the statewide rate of 82.3% and the rate in Santa Clara County of 84%, an increase of more than six percentage points in a four-year period. The GUSD dropout rate for 2016-17 was 4.3 percent, in comparison to the statewide rate of 9.3% and 10.10% in Santa Clara County. This is a 5% decline in a four-year period and demonstrates that our efforts to ensure that students are engaged and actively participating in school have been successful and have resulted in both positive gains in our graduation rates and a significant decline in dropout rates.
These successes are the direct result of a number of initiatives in the District which have focused on mastery of the California State Standards. At the secondary level, our primary focus has been to prepare students for college and career options. Staff development days have focused on teaching and learning to support all students to successfully graduate from high school and choose their post-secondary paths. At all three levels (elementary, middle and high), Academic Coaches and Instructional Specialists have supported teachers through modeling, coaching and curriculum development at each of our school sites.
During the last school year (2017-18), teachers were provided with new reading and English Language Arts textbooks and received staff development to support them as they used these new materials. Our focus in 2018-19 will continue to be increasing student achievement for all students through offering high-quality academic programs that provide students and parents with a range of educational options. The District offers exemplary and specialized programs such as the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program which is offered at five elementary schools. Other signature District programs include the Dual Immersion program, GATE program, Biomedical Science Academy, Future Farmers of America, and the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy. In August of this year, a Computer Science Academy will be launched at Christopher High School as well.
Schools in the Gilroy Unified School District have also been the recipients of a number of prestigious honors and awards over the last several years. 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; Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA), Gilroy High School, Christopher High School, Las Animas Elementary School and Rod Kelley Elementary School were all recognized as Honor Roll schools; Rod Kelley Elementary School was recognized as a California Distinguished School and received the School of Excellence Award from the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) for its Dual Immersion Program and was named one of the top schools for underserved students by Innovate Public Schools; Gilroy High School’s Biomedical Science Academy was the recipient of the Santa Clara County School Boards’ Association Glenn W. Hoffman Exemplary Program Award; and the District’s Dual Immersion Program located at Las Animas Elementary, Rod Kelley Elementary, South Valley Middle School and Gilroy High School all received the California School Board Association’s prestigious Golden Bell Award.
The District’s enrollment is currently over 11,000 students, housed at 15 sites throughout the District. Thanks to the support of voters, Measure E funds will allow the District to rebuild two of its oldest campuses over the next five years: Brownell Middle School and South Valley Middle School. Other Measure E projects include: Information Technology (IT) improvements throughout the District in order to provide upgrades and improved services to students and staff; new science labs at Christopher High, Gilroy High and GECA; and many other capital improvements to be completed throughout the District. The District is also pleased to have replaced the aging portables in the math wing at Gilroy High School with a new two-story, 20-classroom math building, which will open for students this year as well as the installation of solar panels in the parking lots at Gilroy High and Christopher High.
I look forward to meeting you as I visit school sites and attend events throughout the upcoming school year. I wish you a successful and productive school year!