By Christopher J. Steinhauser
Superintendent of Schools
The new school year began with $1.1 billion in active projects as we modernize campuses using school bonds approved by local voters. These projects add to the excitement and challenges already inherent in the start of any school year. I want to thank everyone for their patience and help in making our students feel welcome. We are blessed to have so many caring staff members and supportive parents. Seeing modernization projects underway, and many projects completed, also deepens our appreciation for the bond funding that our community generously and overwhelmingly approved as Measure E back in 2016.
The magnitude of our facilities improvements is extraordinary. We now have 75 projects, 16 of which have started since June. Nearly 9,000 students and 380 classrooms were relocated during the summer, and 3,900 students began the year with new air conditioning and heating systems in their classrooms.
Of course, most important is what happens inside those classrooms and schools. I’ve enjoyed a whirlwind tour of our schools in recent days, and I can attest that great things are under way.
At Bryant Elementary School, in the same classroom where I was a kindergartner 54 years ago, I told students that, like them, I sat on the classroom rug and played in the same playground. The students were eager and attentive, and I believe there could be a future superintendent in that class.
I saw Ms. Grimalt and her colleagues off to a great start developing our newest Spanish dual immersion program at Bixby Elementary School.
Staff at Franklin Middle School were busy analyzing state test data and setting goals for the new school year using tools from our Research Office – a scene I saw repeated at many of our schools.
At Roosevelt Elementary School, where I was fortunate to start my teaching career in 1982, I saw teachers and support staff who are incredibly dedicated to students and their parents.
At Cabrillo High School, I met some outstanding students who are ASB leaders and pathway ambassadors for new students.
I could feel the excitement at Renaissance High School for the Arts as students got their first look at the campus after a two-year, $40 million renovation. Similarly, the energy level was high at Stephens Middle School, where students returned to see refurbished, newly air conditioned classrooms along with a new athletic field.
I enjoyed the tremendous school spirit at Millikan High School’s football game, and I was honored by the great turnout at one of my ongoing series of meetings with Pacific Islander parents here at the school district office.
Each of these vignettes and many more have combined to make for one of the most memorable back-to-school seasons in my 40 years in education.
Thank you to all who contribute to the important work of teaching and learning. Keep up the great work, and have a safe and successful school year.