School Board Hears From Principals
For a year, Reginald Brunson has been principal of El Rincon Elementary School in Culver City. At the School Board meeting Tuesday night he looked back on that first year’s achievements.
“What is El Rincon? What are we?” was the theme of Brunson’s presentation. He noted the school’s API (Academic Performance Index) scores have been in the 800s and competitive with La Ballona, Farragut, and Linwood Howe schools.
However, AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) targets were not met in three sub-groups, including English Language Learners. ”What are we going to do to correct that?”
Brunson has taken this task to heart with personal participation. “Every morning I go outside and supervise the students. We go over reading and math—I try to get their bodies and minds ready for instruction on the inside.”
El Rincon, he said, has been focusing on morning reading exercises, morning assemblies, and writing assessments, among other things, to help the students advance in their basic skills.
Brunson also showed slides and videos of some of El Rincon’s instruction techniques. These included a pre-school yoga class and a kindergarten teacher who plays guitar.
The most entertaining video showed the “Star After School Program’s” rock band for kids, performing “Livin’ for the City” at the Whiskey A Go Go club (it was a field trip).
In addition, El Rincon has a golf program, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program, and an agricultural program.
And “we have really focused on parent participation this year,” said Brunson.
Quoting baseball legend Ozzie Smith’s saying that “good isn’t enough—it’s better to be great,” Brunson concluded that he has seen some progress at the school since he was appointed “329 days ago” after a tough vetting by former Board president Scott Zeidman.
Brunson received enthusiastic support from the many El Rincon students and parents who were present to give their applause.
The Board also heard a presentation from Kevin Kronfeld, principal of the Culver City Adult School.
Kronfeld explained the main components of the school: state funded classes in basic skills, computer training, ESL (English as a Second Language) and English, and community service classes that are fee-based and can support themselves.
Funding cuts have decreased the number of classes and 97 percent of the Adult School’s classes are now “core” classes in the basics.
However, average hours per student have increased and the number of students passing GED (General Education Development) has increased slightly.
The biggest improvement has come with the summer classes, said Kronfeld. The program runs five days a week in summer, has no homework or grades, and is “less expensive than most camps.”
Board member Laura Chardiet asked Kronfeld if the school has open enrollment or managed enrollment.
“It’s open for now,” said Kronfeld. “But we are going to get some rules in place.” He explained that students who miss five or more days of class will be dropped in favor of students who really want to take classes.
Kronfeld added that the students at the Adult School are “the nicest people I ever met. You can just feel their enthusiasm.”
Jeanne Davis, Director of Tri-City SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Areas) gave a presentation on changes to mental health services for students with IEPs (Individual Education Program) in the absence of AB 3632.
Since former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed funding for AB 3632 services in October 2010, there has been a need for some alternative way to provide services for students with disabilities.
With the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) no longer providing services as of June 30, 2012, an opportunity has developed for Tri-City SELPA to provide those services.
LACDMH received an increase in funding for 2011-12 to provide mental health services during this transitional school year. In addition, SELPA received more funding to provide services. AS of July 1, SELPA will assume responsibility for “educationally required mental health services,” said Davis.
SELPA, said Davis, will be providing counseling, parent training, and services to students in residential treatment centers. The LACDMH will continue to provide case management and therapeutic services.
Davis repeated that although SELPA has received funding it is not enough for all the services needed.