A message from Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students,
Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the Gilroy Unified School District team for my eleventh year as Superintendent. Our more than 1,000 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 10 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 two years ago called the California Assessment of Student Performance (CAASPP). CAASPP results for 2016 showed that students in GUSD outperformed their statewide peers in mathematics while equaling them in English Language Arts.
The GUSD graduation rate for the 2015-16 cohort was 92.1 percent, an increase of more than 7 percentage points over the last five years. The GUSD dropout rate for 2015-16 was 4.7 percent, declining over two percentage points over the previous year and half what it was 5 years before. This data demonstrates that our efforts to ensure 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.
Last fall (2016), new math textbooks were purchased and provided to all teachers throughout the district and professional development was provided to support this new adoption. This year (2017-18), teachers will be provided with new reading and English Language Arts textbooks and will receive staff development to support them as they use these new materials.
Our focus in 2017-18, will continue to be increasing student achievement for all students by continuing to offer 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.
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. T J Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA), Gilroy High School, Christopher High School and Rod Kelley Elementary School were all recognized as Honor Roll schools; Rod Kelley Elementary School received the School of Excellence Award from the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) for its Dual Immersion Program; 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, So. Valley Middle School and Gilroy High School received the California School Board Association’s prestigious Golden Bell Award.
The District’s enrollment has steadily grown in recent years due to many new housing developments in Gilroy, with a total enrollment now approaching 12,000 students. In order to meet enrollment growth, Phase 1 of Measure E, which was generously approved by voters last year, has begun to move forward. Measure E projects include: Information Technology (IT) improvements throughout the District in order to provide upgrades and improved services to students and staff; the replacement of aging portables in the math wing at Gilroy High School with a new two story, 20 classroom math building; the planning process for building a new elementary school is underway; Christopher High and Gilroy High will be receiving new science labs; solar panels will be installed in the parking lots at Gilroy High and Christopher High and many other capital improvements will be completed throughout the District.
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!