Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the Gilroy Unified School District team for my sixteenth year as Superintendent. Our 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, our students learn in school environments that are safe, well-maintained, and that provide for the development of the whole child through a wide range of programs and activities.
State and local test results continue to indicate that we are moving in the right direction as a District. In 2014, our students began using a testing tool called the California Assessment of Student Performance (CAASPP). In the eight years since the implementation of the CAASPP program, GUSD students have outperformed their statewide peers in mathematics while being nearly equal to them in English Language Arts. The District administered the CAASPP assessments in the spring of 2022 after two years of not administering these assessments due to the pandemic and distance learning challenges. The results will be released in the Fall 2022. The GUSD graduation rate for the 2020-21 cohort was 81%, as compared to the statewide rate of 87.7% and the rate in Santa Clara County of 89%, a decrease from previous years. The GUSD dropout rate for the 2020-21 cohort was 9.6%, in comparison to the statewide rate of 6.4%, and 5.3% in Santa Clara County. Unfortunately, the pandemic had a big impact on our students and families.
The many successes at GUSD are the result of district initiatives targeted towards achieving the goals defined by the Board of Education and the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). One of the main goals of GUSD is to provide high quality instruction and 21st century learning opportunities to ensure college and career readiness for all students. Staff development days focus on teaching new practices and strategies to teachers to support the different needs of students and ensure that students have the skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce. This year, like the last two years, an additional focus of professional development will be on social and emotional learning of students, as well as helping students remain connected to their school communities. 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.
The District continues to update instructional materials in all core content areas. We are fortunate to have strong teacher involvement on the curriculum adoption teams. In the 2022-23 school year, we will continue to focus on increasing student achievement through offering high-quality academic programs that provide students and parents with a range of educational options. In 2019, we opened the Envision Academy, located on the campus of Gilroy High School, to offer an innovative academic environment that is much different than a traditional high school classroom. The combination of online courses and teacher-directed courses allows students more flexibility and control over the way in which they learn the subject matter. We also continue to offer the GUSD Virtual Learning Academy, an online learning option, which is a student/ caregiver-led program, where teachers act as advisors for learning.
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, Computer Science Academy, Future Farmers of America, and the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA).
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:
- 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. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
- 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 in 2016, and GECA, Christopher High, and Brownell Middle in 2015.
- GECA, Gilroy High, Christopher High, Las Animas Elementary and Rod Kelley Elementary were all 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.
The District’s enrollment is currently 10,600 students, housed at 14 schools throughout the District. In addition, the District provides early childhood education opportunities to students at three preschool campuses, and offers an Adult Education program so that learners of all ages can meet their educational goals.
Thanks to the support of voters, Measure E funds allowed the District to renovate Brownell Middle School, which opened in August 2021. Students are now attending school in a brand new state-of-the-art campus. Demolition of the South Valley Middle School campus commenced in summer 2021, and the projected completion date is late 2023. Measure E funds have provided 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 completed throughout the District. The District has also replaced the aging portables in the math wing at Gilroy High School with a new two-story, 20-classroom math building, which opened in the 2018-19 school year, the installation of solar panels in the parking lots at Gilroy High and Christopher High, and a new pool at Gilroy High School.
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!
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Gilroy Unified School District
Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Gilroy Unified School District
Assistant to the Superintendent
Public Information Officer