Culver City Observer -

El Marino’s High Test Scores Are Highlighted


October 14, 2009

El Marino Language School received the spotlight at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, as principal Tracy Pumilia gave a presentation on student achievement for the 2008-2009 school year.

Overall, El Marino is doing very well, with exceptionally high scores on assessment tests. At the state level, El Marino students scored at or above proficient in 2008 and 2009, with 77.3 per cent of students at or above proficiency levels in English Language Arts in 2009, and 83.5 per cent of students at or above proficiency in Math for 2009.

On the Academic Performance Index (API) for 2009, El Marino increased its score from the previous year’s 903 to 905 (800 is the statewide goal score). Scores for sub-groups varied however, as only small percentages of students in some subgroups took the test and results could not be gleaned from small numbers of students.

Pumilia listed several factors that contributed to El Marino’s high scores. These include teacher collaborations, the ST math program for grades 2 and 3, Delta Therapy Dogs for Reading Intervention, and in-class interventions. She outlined future steps that the school will take to improve scores in lower-scoring areas, including content-based instruction and the use of the Galileo online assessment system.

Another presentation was given by Julie Garcia, Director of Food Services for the Culver City School District.

The Food Services Department, said Garcia, has 45 employees, 31 of whom work at the Central Kitchen for the Middle and High Schools. They prepare over a million meals annually, with approximately two million in revenue. (Except for economically disadvantaged students who receive government support, students pay for their breakfasts and lunches).

Nutrition guidelines are followed-each student is entitled to three ounces of meat or meat alternative, ten bread or grain products, and milk, on a daily basis.

Improvements have been made and continue to be made. Garcia mentioned applying for and receiving a stimulus grant of $21,000 for the La Ballona School. She also spoke of how, after student taste tests were given, the school menus were changed to include innovations like orange chicken, new types of pizza, and bagels for breakfast.

Board members wanted to know: what about those rumors that some schools had run out of food?

“There is always food,” replied Garcia. “It’s just that some items are popular and those items run out quickly.

“A girl came in one morning and we had a smoothie, a bagel [and other things]. She asked for coffee cake. We told her the coffee cake had run out. ‘There’s nothing to eat’ she said. But there is always food. It’s just that-you know kids-they want certain things.”

Assistant Superintendent David El Fattal gave his first enrollment report of the school term. Enrollment is up. This triggered some public comment. Karlo Silbiger and Alan Elmont, both School Board candidates, were concerned that the schools might be physically overcrowded and that no one has done a study of what the total capacity is for each school in the District.

Patricia Siever, also a School Board candidate, offered an answer. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. That information is available from Sacramento. It’s very accessible-look it up on Ed Code online.”


Other issues raised in Public Comment included a girl’s request that the School Board and District consider observing Islamic holidays, a suggestion by School Board candidate Robert Zirgulis that the District sell the Natatorium and then lease it back from the investors, and a woman’s suggestion that ROTC be instituted in the high school.

During Board member’s comments, Scott Zeidman emphasized that traffic is still a major problem and that something must be done about it soon to avert accidents such as the one suffered by his own son last year. He suggested a joint meeting of the School Board and City Council to discuss the issue.

The Board and Administrators welcomed Evan Wilson, new student rep from Culver City Middle School, who admitted that “I don’t have much to report because I was just elected.” But he gave a brief report on student activities including a magazine drive to raise money for schools. The audience applauded his first address.


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