district news


Please scroll down to see the May 31, 2019 Superintendent's Newsletter

Upcoming events

Sports Physicals
are required to be able to participate
in activities such as cross-country running, cheer leading, football, volleyball, basketball, softball, track . . . and the list goes on. 
To schedule a Sports Physical 
Please call (530) 251-5000

Here are the announcements for the week of May 26th, 2019:

Tomorrow, Monday May 27 is a Holiday – Memorial Day and there will be no school.

Tuesday May 28 is a Public Hearing to consider the level of support for the charter petition for the establishment of Long Valley School at 5:30 p.m. in the board room. Following, will be a special board of trustees meeting at 6 p.m. to consider the district calendar, the charter petition, and the school bus lease.

Wednesday May 29th is the FFA awards banquet at 6 pm in the gym. 1st -6th grade students will be going on a field trip to Ranch Park. They will be trail hiking and learning about the natural fauna and local habitat. Please return permission slips ASAP. 

Thursday May 30th is Sierra Primary’s accelerated reading party. This is for TK-6th grade students that have met their reading goals. Please join us for this celebration. The fun begins at 1:45pm in the primary cafeteria.

Friday May 31st Awards will be held at 8:30 am for TK-6TH grades. Please join us in honoring your child’s hard work. Following Awards is Sierra Primary’s Swimming Fieldtrip. This field trip is to honor students that have met the trifecta of success: Attendance, Academics and Behavior. If your child qualified, you will be contacted and permission slips will need to be returned ASAP.

Wednesday and Thursday public health will be at Herlong High school doing the students’ teeth along with educating them on how to take care of their teeth. Please sign and return your student’s permission slips as soon as possible.

Sierra primary parents, there are a few more yearbooks available. First come first serve. See Lesli.

Save the date: Last day of school is June 6th
 2019 sport physicals will be at Herlong High School on July 19th and Sierra Primary on Aug 29th. Please schedule your appointment now as availability is limited. Call Northeastern at 251-5000 ext. 1205 

Remember, Chronic Absenteeism reduces the funding available for fun activities, field trips, and supplies for your student.  Please remember that coming to school is critically important for student success.  We know life can be crazy, so please let us know if there is anything we can do to help get your child to school. 

Make it a great week. 

May 28, 2019
Public Hearing
5:30 p.m.
In the Board Room 

May 28, 2019
Special Board of Trustees Meeting
6:00 p.m. 
In the Board Room

May 22, 2019
PLC=Minimum Day







Fort Sage Unified School District
Superintendent and Principal

Dr. Bonn

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Superintendent’s Newsletter
May 31, 2019


Dear Parents, Students and Community. This year was extremely eventful and promising. Last night, I was able to attend and participate in the commencement ceremony for Mt. Lassen Charter School. First, I want to Congratulate Amy Owens and her wonderful staff. I have attended many commencement ceremonies in my 28 years of education, and this was absolutely one of the best. I was extremely impressed by the piano performances from Natalie Nakanishi (9th Grade) performing Pomp and Circumstance and Elise Giles (8th Grade) performing Chopin, Waltz in A Minor. Elsie Giles played the entire Waltz without music. Elsie Giles also spoke for the 8th grade class and if I wasn’t told, I would have thought she was a Keynote Speaker from the University. Her speech was of utmost quality and eloquent. She is certainly talented, and we are going to see great things from this student in the very near future. Nicholas Van Zee (Valedictorian) also addressed the Class of 2019 and the spectators. His speech was powerful and well-articulated. This demonstrates the quality and level of education at Mt. Lassen Charter School. The commencement ceremony, students, productions, ambience and attention to detail is First Class. Again, congratulations to the faculty and staff at Mt. Lassen Charter School.

Tuesday night we had a public hearing and board meeting to consider the Long Valley School Charter proposal. The board voted 4-0, with one board member absent, to accept Long Valley School into the Fort Sage family. We welcome the partnership and believe this is the first step of creating a strong South County. If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at the Dashboard of Long Valley, we invite you to do so. They are doing some amazing things with virtually the same community of students.

I would like to state a few facts for clarity. We are providing oversight for Long Valley School, but they will maintain their non-profit status and have their own governing board. They will maintain their own governance, policies, procedures, protocols and guidelines including but not limited to calendar, bell schedule, salary schedule, bus routes, facilities, and board meetings. We are their sponsor and will provide oversight and support their current as well as endeavors.

They are officially part of the Fort Sage family and I want to embrace this partnership and help each other in any way possible and logistically relevant. We want to develop a strong South County presence in Lassen County, and the State of California. We want to reunite the Doyle and Herlong communities and build a stronger partnership and network. Again, I am excited and honored to partner with Long Valley School.

I thank you for allowing me to work with your children and this is the most rewarding portion of the job. Any new superintendent in a school district spends a considerable amount of time learning the climate, culture and community before eliciting change. I would like to share a few observations.

* Herlong and Doyle in South County is a hard-working “blue collar” community rich in tradition, values, and culture.

* Many of our families work at Sierra Army Depot and the Federal Correctional Institution while others must commute long hours outside of the area.

* All of our families must commute for necessities, medical attention, and other daily amenities however, we sacrifice the convenience of a big city for the quiet and intimate comfort of our rural area.

* The community is also rich in agriculture and ranching as well as art and trades. There are not many communities with blacksmiths, gunsmiths, farriers, and seamstresses.

* The people and families are passionate about their children and are willing to help out when needed especially in our schools. I am from a ranching community in Arizona and we refer to it as the “Cowboy Way” where everyone helps anyone in a time of need.

I have also taken time to observe our schools in the district and have assessed their strengths and areas of concerns. I would like to share my observations:

Strengths

* The educators at Sierra Primary, Herlong High School and Mt. Lassen Charter School are extremely passionate and dedicated to this community and the children we serve.

* We operate with insufficient staff and everyone is working above and beyond to make sure each student receives services necessary to be successful as a student.

* Our teachers and staff are working long and late hours often sacrificing their own time from family and friends including spending their own money to make sure the children in our district have a wonderful experience.

* The governing board volunteers their time. All of them have committed themselves beyond their normal board duties to learn more about the community and students they serve.

* The community always is willing to assist and often rescue the district when needed.

Areas of Concern

* Our teachers come to work every day knowing they make $10,000.00 to $20,000.00 less than teachers in neighboring school districts

* Our teachers haven’t been afforded ample time to develop professionally. When professional development is available, we often can’t find substitute teachers.

* We have a difficult time recruiting and retaining employees because we are rural, and most people must commute long distances to work here.

* There is a shortage of approximately 65,000 teachers in California for the 2019-2020 school year and this number is tripled when you add other education professionals and specialists including bus drivers.

* The standards and accountability are becoming more extreme and there hasn’t been efficient resources nor time dedicated to professional development to assist in the transition teachers and support staff need to meet the state’s expectations.

In spite of these difficulties, our children and our data continue to improve ever so slightly, and this is a testament to the hard work, dedication and passion of the educators at our schools. We also need to give credit to our families who continue to volunteer and support our endeavors in the face of adversity.

Analysis

* We have approximately $600,000.00 budget deficit with approximately $4,000,000.00 in expenditures. We are projected to run out of money in roughly 3.5 years if our expenditures stay the same and don’t increase. Historically our expenditures have increased each year. We are trying to offset these costs by applying for grant money, however grant funding is not guaranteed and usually not sustainable long-term.

* We have assumed responsibility for our special education department as the SELPA at the county level has reorganized. We have to assume all financial responsibility of maintaining staff and providing related services to our students. This includes but is not limited to hiring a special education teacher and maintaining paraprofessional staff for students who have related services in their Individualized Education Plans. The reorganization of the SELPA was a decrease of approximately $70,000.00 dedicated to staff. We must now take that funding from our general fund.

* All of our paraprofessional staff retained will be paid through our general fund account.

* We are losing approximately $500,000 per school year in student funding for excessive absenteeism and low enrollment.

* We have an amazing summer school program, but we need opportunities for student interventions more frequently throughout the year and as close to the instructional benchmark and assessment for reteach and enrichment. This could be done every quarter if we have a system to identify the students needing intervention and a time and place to provide the program.

* We must maintain and fund a summer school program and enrichment for grades K-12

* We can recover Average Daily Attendance if we bring students in for 3 hours and provide instructional support (e.g., intercession, Saturday school). We receive approximately $122.22 a day per child. This can help us reduce our loss of revenue due to chronic absenteeism, as well as address the lost instructional time.

* We can also support and develop enrichments for our gifted and talented students who are achieving beyond the state’s expectation. These students can possibly go on extended educational field trips including community-based instruction and community service projects.

State of Fort Sage Unified School District

In the past, Fort Sage Unified School District leased buses from Lassen High Union School District. As a result, we were required to follow their calendar to provide transportation service to the students in our district. After advertising for bus drivers (over a year) they had no applicants and then decided to lease a bus to our district. Our district was fortunate because we had a current employee willing to get his bus driver endorsement and drive the leased bus. This created a situation where we could customize our school calendar to meet the needs of our district and the children we serve. This was the first year we asked for parent input and ideas into the development of a new school calendar. There was much tension and anxiety with the process, however it is a true example of democracy at work. We learned many lessons from the process and as a result we retracted a proposal to consider a modified block calendar that would allow for intercessions at the end of every 9 weeks and shorten the summer by 2 weeks. I chose not to submit both calendars to vote. There is too much tension in the community, and we
don’t need a civil war.

I hope I will have an opportunity with you to present the facts and the methodology behind examining this option and the potential academic, monetary and logistical benefits. Like all change, it is difficult and we as humans have a tendency to remain in our comfort zone and maintain the status quo. I completely understand but we must also continue to strive for excellence and think outside the box.

There were many concerns and ideas that where presented consistently by parents and I would like to take responsibility for not clarifying:

* Child Care: Intercessions (Reteach and Enrichments) would be open to all student regardless of need. Students being identified as needing more assistance and intervention would be encouraged with a specific course of study to help identified target areas, but other students are welcome and encouraged to attend for enrichment activities.

* It is a goal to offer transportation (possibly through the SIC Grant)

* We can offer free breakfast and lunch

* We would pay teachers a stipend (to be determined and negotiated) to teach during Intercession (Reteach and Enrichments)

* We would be able to hire support staff to assist during the Intercession (Reteach and Enrichment). We could work on school projects (e.g., cleaning, painting, maintenance, compliance reporting) during these periods with less interruptions to classroom instruction. We would need to hire support staff to do these projects.
We would use this time for teacher planning, preparation and professional development and teachers could collaborate and develop 9 weeks of lessons aligned to a viable curriculum focused on the essential standards with all the materials (e.g., manipulatives, copies, materials, resources). This would allow our teachers to focus on classroom instruction. We would also pay our teachers for their time commitments.

* We could possibly reduce the amount of days students are missing instruction because of weather.

* I also know the vast majority of the comments and criticisms suggest we should not start school before August 11.

Unfortunately, there are a couple concerns we need to address, aside from the calendar. How will we recapture Average Daily Attendance (ADA)? We have discussed Saturday School. I can pay the Middle School teachers from the Comprehensive Improvement Systems Grant (CIS) but I need to find a solution to address the primary students. We can use the CIS Grant money to purchase an auto-dialer to call parents when kids are not at school as well as the data analysis function. The entire school and all grade levels could and would benefit from this purchase. We can also use Saturday school to address students needing additional intervention.

We also need to address how we will provide Tier 2 interventions above and beyond Saturday School. We can pay for Summer school for students in grades 7-8with the CIS Grant monies. Mrs. Pacheco, our Business Manager, was able to find a grant to fund the primary school. How will we organize this and would middle school
students attend? What about interventions for grades 9-12?

I am anticipating having a couple summer academy (professional development) sessions and pay teachers to attend. I am interested in Positive Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS); Social / Emotional Issues focusing on improving Climate and Culture; Multi-Tiered Systems of Support; Google Classroom; and Developing and Implementing a Viable and Comprehensive Curriculum; and Essential Elements of Instruction. We don’t have intercession days so all this Professional Development will occur on Saturdays and over the summer. We will save our Wednesdays for Professional Learning Communities with an emphasis of (Unwrapping Standards; Tier 1 / Tier 2 Interventions; Developing Common Formative Assessments).

We must start discussing with our faculty / staff, our students, our community / parents how to reduce the approximately $600,000.00 deficit spending. How can we become more efficient and effective in our schools? We may have to discuss reductions in force to account in rising costs and minimal increases in funding. One
major cost is maintaining paraprofessionals serving students with related services. Our current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding is not enough to hire and maintain our current personnel but it is essential under federal law. We need to take that money from other parts of our budget to stay in compliance with federal special education laws to keep our paraprofessionals.

How will we address snow days as the State of California is no longer providing waivers for weather?

How can we increase our enrollment and retain our students?

We must also discuss if our district can currently afford to not require participants to pay participation fees in extracurricular activities such as athletics similar to how FFA students pay for their participation fees.

Save The Date

 

Senior Roast Wednesday June 5th @ 5:30pm   Herlong High School Gym
 Kindergarten & Sixth Grade Promotion  Thursday June 6th @ 9:00am  The Chapel
 High School Graduation  Friday June 7th @ 6:00pm  The Theater
 LCAP Available for Review  Wednesday June 14th @ 12:00pm  District Office
 Public Hearing for LCAP  Wednesday June 19th @ 5:30pm  Fort Sage Board Room
 June Regular Board Meeting  Wednesday June 19th @ 5:30pm  Fort Sage Board Room
 July Regular Board Meeting  Wednesday July 17th @ 6:00pm  Fort Sage Board Room
 First Day of School  Thursday August 15th @ 8:30am  Sierra Primary / Herlong High School

Again, this is a considerable amount of information and I am sure many of you are overwhelmed. Please trust me I have omitted several items and will address these at another time. I encourage you to contact me to ask any question or share any ideas that you may have. We are working to make Fort Sage Unified School District an exemplary school district with a focus on excellence. We certainly need your help and guidance.

I appreciate your dedication and support. I also want to thank you for allowing us to work with your precious children. We know you have a choice and you continue to choose us. If you have any comments, questions, concerns or ideas please feel free to contact me. Have a fabulous day and wonderful summer.

Welcome to the Fort Sage Unified School District!

The Fort Sage Unified School District is a Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade school district. We have a TK-6 primary school (Sierra Primary School), a 7-8 middle school operated on the high school site (Fort Sage Middle School), and a 9-12 comprehensive high school (Herlong High School). The district also operates an independent study charter school (Mt. Lassen Charter School).

The mission of the Fort Sage Unified School District is to cultivate each student’s academic growth, as well as their physical, emotional and social well-being. We do this while also recognizing every student's unique abilities to think learn and create. Through encouragement and modeling, we challenge everyone to be respectful and compassionate. By providing an authentic, engaging curriculum in a safe environment, we are becoming reflective, lifelong global learners, planting seeds to change the world.

To help us reach these goals for every student the Fort Sage Unified School District has interventions and enrichment programs in place including after school programs, classroom instructional aides, an extensive special education program and small class sizes.

We always welcome the opportunity to involved parents in helping students reach their full potential. Parents partner with us through the Response To Intervention process and parent conferences to help students succeed.

The district curriculum is aligned with state adopted standards, delivered by fully credentialed staff. Staff development and training is on-going through out the school year. Many of our teachers also pursue additional courses and training on their own to keep up with educational trends and advances to help guide student achievement. 

At the high school, any 11th or 12th grade student has the opportunity to take Advanced Placement courses at the District's expense. Flexible course offerings meet the needs of changes and challenges that present themselves. Most high school classes are UC/CSU a-g approved.

Implementation of technology are embedded in all subject areas during the instructional day. Our computer labs are kept updated and we provide students daily access to computers.

If you are a parent, we invite you to take this survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/728N56R