San Marcos Unified School District

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  • The San Marcos Promise - Building A Community Vision for Higher Education

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 9/4/2015

    With the first week of school almost behind us, I would like to bring to your attention the exciting work of The San Marcos Promise. Since 2009, our PACE Promise has provided 464 scholarships to SMUSD graduates to pursue their educational goals at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM).  


    In that time, our PACE Scholars have demonstrated higher graduation rates than the CSUSM average, which illustrates the tremendous work you do to prepare students for higher education.


    The San Marcos Promise looks to expand on the success of the PACE Promise by focusing on three main goals:

    • Building financial sustainability for the PACE Promise and launching new four-year scholarships
    • Developing two-year scholarships to pursue Associates Degrees and Career Technical Education Certificates
    • Expand opportunities to engage students district-wide in college/career exploration and enrichment

     

    A great example of how the Promise is expanding educational opportunities for students is the recent partnership with the University of Connecticut (UConn).  Next fall, five SMUSD students will have the opportunity to attend UConn in Hartford, CT with a scholarship valued at $21,000 per year up to four years - an $84,000 total award!  This unprecedented agreement sets the stage to expand our Promise to universities across California and throughout the nation.


    The San Marcos Promise is a non-profit 501(c)3 foundation operating solely on charitable contributions and will not be able to achieve its vision without wide support from our local community, specifically our SMUSD teachers and support staff. 


    I challenge you to find a way to engage with the Promise and help to build a community vision for higher education. Whether you choose to make a donation, sign up for the newsletter, or volunteer, your contribution is priceless.

     

    I believe in this initiative and have seen, first hand, that the promise lives inside each member of our school community.  The San Marcos Promise will be the catalyst to inspire our communities to prioritize higher education and ensure access for all.

     

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D.

     

     
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  • Making Every Day Count: Promoting Student Success with Good Attendance

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 9/1/2015

    Dear San Marcos Families,

     

    Now that we have had the excitement of seeing our children through the first day of school, I would like to keep that momentum going by encouraging our families to make school attendance a priority. Today is the beginning of Attendance Awareness Month, and we need to ensure that all of our students are regularly attending class so that they have an equal opportunity to learn.

     

    The San Marcos Unified School District has been recognized for outstanding student achievement and closing the achievement gap. However, the best teachers and curriculum will not prepare our students for college and their careers if they are not in class.

     

    You can make a difference and set the example for your child by showing them that attendance matters to you. It can be as simple as setting homework and bedtime routines that will provide an adequate amount of rest for your children, as well as getting them to school on time every day. If there are barriers preventing your children from attending class, please speak to your school principal about available resources. We have provided more information and helpful tips for parents on the district website, and I invite you to review them by clicking here.

     

    I challenge you to think about what else you can do within your own family and school community to encourage attendance, as well as to make every day count during this school year.

     

    Regards,

     

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D.

     

    Attendance Awareness Month

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  • Double Peak School

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 7/21/2015

    As a community, we have observed, with great excitement as the walls of Double Peak have started to come together and resemble what will be an extraordinary K-8 school in San Marcos Unified School District.

     

    There have been unforeseen circumstances in the negotiations to purchase a small parcel of the land necessary to complete the required road improvements, which forced the Governing Board to take official action to acquire the land by eminent domain. Our attempt at good faith bargaining with the property owner, in conjunction with the legal proceedings of condemning the property, has delayed the contractor’s ability to begin the road improvements, which are required by the City. It is estimated that these improvements will not be completed until the end of May 2016. I concur that these offsite road improvements are vital to ensuring the safety of our students and community and must be completed prior to the school opening. Therefore, Double Peak School will open in August of 2016. For the 2015-16 school year, students living within the Double Peak School boundaries will remain at Discovery and San Elijo Elementary and will become Double Peak School students in the 2016-17 school year.

     

    All intra-district and inter-district transfers will remain approved and families will not have to complete transfer paperwork again for the 2016-17 school year. Families with either an intra or inter district transfer will have one of two options for the 2015-16 school year:

    1. Their student can attend Discovery Elementary, San Elijo Elementary, or San Elijo Middle School for the whole 2015-16 school year - or -

    2. They can return to their original home school and begin at Double Peak School in the 2016-17 school year

     

    All families with an approved intra or inter district transfer must inform Laura Andrade in the Student Services Department, by Wednesday, August 5, 2015, if their student will remain at their current home school for the 2015-16 school year or transfer to either Discovery, San Elijo Elementary, or San Elijo Middle. Ms. Andrade can be contacted at 760-752-1220.

     

    Throughout this past year, I have seen the wonderful and collaborative efforts of Double Peak School families and the administration form the core values that will guide the curriculum of this school. Principal Baum will continue to be the pillar for this community – strengthening connections by holding Double Peak School events and staying connected with students and families during the 2015-16 school year.

     

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D.

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  • Delayed Opening for Double Peak School

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 2/2/2015

     

     

     

    Dear San Marcos Families,

    From the initial concept, I have been excited about the myriad of opportunities our new K8, Double Peak School, will provide for our growing district.  We have envisioned an environment that will foster connections between all of the grade levels, develop students who are confident leaders and provide unique, engaging experiences, while easing overcrowding in our current schools.

    Building a strong sense of community has been our district’s priority from the beginning.  The collaboration between parents and Double Peak’s principal, Steven Baum, to create a vision and core values for our newest school has been wonderful and productive.  The positive feedback and growing excitement leads us to believe that we have done an excellent job of not only keeping everyone well informed about the progress of Double Peak School, but also mindfully incorporating the ideas and needs of our community. 

    That type of collaborative conversation is now needed to help the district make a decision regarding Double Peak’s opening.

    As of today, the Double Peak School facility will not be ready to open in August 2015.  Moving forward, the district would like to engage the Double Peak School community in a discussion around options for a delayed opening.   This community meeting will be held on:

     

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 6:30pm

    San Elijo Middle School, Multi-Purpose Room

    1600 Schoolhouse Way, San Marcos, CA 92078

    It is important for our community to consider the benefits of our options, as well as to participate in the solution.  We look forward to a constructive discussion that ensures the best interests of our students.

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D. 
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  • Keeping our children healthy through flu season

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 1/14/2015

     

     

     

    Dear San Marcos Families,

    I hope the long winter break provided quality time with your loved ones, and brought you renewed energy to commence 2015 with excitement and purpose.  To ensure that, as a district, we are providing a safe and healthy environment for all children to learn, I would like to make you aware that influenza (flu) activity is increasing in San Diego County.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that this may be a severe flu season.

    Fortunately, I have been advised that it is not too late to receive the flu vaccine. While the CDC had indicated that this year's seasonal flu vaccine is not as good a match for the circulating influenza strain compared to previous years, San Diego County Public Health Services has stated that partial protection is better than no protection. The vaccine is safe and effective, and can help prevent severe complications and hospitalization due to influenza.

    In addition to the vaccine, there are a number of things that you can do to help prevent the spread of influenza and influenza-like illness caused by other viruses and bacteria circulating in the community: 

    • Promote good respiratory etiquette. It is recommended that ill persons cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, or to cough into their elbows.
    • Encourage good hand hygiene, which means hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds (tell younger children this is about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
      • If soap and water is not available, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol may be used.
    • Surfaces that are touched often should be routinely cleaned using the general cleaning products already in use and following the manufacturer's instructions.
      • These surfaces may include desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, any hands-on learning objects, faucet handles, and phones.
    • If your child is ill, please keep him or her home until at least 24 hours after his/her fever is gone (without the use of medicine).

    If you would like additional information, please visit the County’s Flu and You webpage (www.countynewscenter.com/flu-and-you).

    As we move forward through the remainder of the school year, let us ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our children healthy and focused.  

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D. 
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  • Welcome to the New School Year!

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 8/26/2014

     

     

     

    Welcome to the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year! I hope you were able to enjoy the summer weather and spend quality time with friends and relatives. 

    The first day of school has always been my personal favorite, as it brings a sense of excitement, hope and the promise of a bright academic year.  Being out at our school sites yesterday, I was able to observe the positive impact that our continued dedication provides to our students and community.

    I would like to share the good news that the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools has approved our Local Control Accountability plan.  Our district’s culture of collaboration was never more evident than during this process that included community input and feedback, taskforce leadership, Governing Board approval, and a commitment to our school community that we will provide an unparalleled educational experience.  You can view both the approval letter and the plan online.

    As we continue the transition to our state’s new standards, it is important for our community to support both our teacher’s efforts and our children’s understanding of the new material.  Parents can help provide that support by understanding the methodology behind the new pathways.  If you were unable to attend the parent meetings given at San Elijo, San Marcos, and Woodland Park Middle School, you can view “Transitioning to California’s New Mathematics Standards” presentation onlineWe have also provided a link for you to submit any questions.    

    I would also like to encourage all of our elementary parents to attend their child’s Back to School night.  Tracy Garcia, Director of Elementary Education, has put together a helpful video explaining our implementation of Common Core State Standards and the changes parents will see in student work and assessments.

    I look forward to another successful school year and sharing in our efforts to inspire a student’s future.

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D.

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  • Thank you for another great school year!

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 6/4/2014

    Dear Parents and Community Members, 

    As the school year comes to a close, I would like to reflect and acknowledge the accomplishments of our wonderful school community. 

    This year included such highlights as the recognition of Carrillo and Discovery Elementary as California Distinguished Schools.  San Marcos Unified earned high marks from Ed Trust West, ranking as the seventh district in California and the best out of six in San Diego County on the education offered to Latino, African American, and low income students. 

    I particularly enjoyed a comment made by Lenie Wolf, a data and policy analyst with Ed Trust West, “We visited San Marcos and one thing that they are really clear about is holding all kids to high expectations.”  

    Our high graduation rate, exceeding the statewide goal of 90 percent, and low drop out rate, below 5%, illustrates this point nicely.   It was gratifying to see the numbers reflect researchers’ observations that San Marcos Unified teachers have rallied around instruction techniques that require all students to participate in class conversations. 

    Collaboration is not just a word that we thought would be a nice addition to our Mission Statement.  It is our culture.  From classrooms to conference rooms to living rooms, our efforts to ensure that our children are college and career ready are only successful because of the remarkable work of our community.

    It is the very nature of our inherit collaboration that makes our administrators, staff, faculty, parents, and students proud to be part of the San Marcos Unified School District.  From elementary school children in awe of their future home to residents of Lake San Marcos, we saw the pride of our community earlier this year as we opened the doors to the newly completed San Marcos High School. 

    We felt Grizzly Pride as Mission Hills High School’s Football team became San Diego CIF Open Division Champions, only to be followed by the tremendous success of the girls’ basketball team.  San Marcos High School’s Girls Lacrosse team won their first CIF championship since 1987, and the robotics teams from both high schools competed fiercely at a national level.  However, there is not a better example of how our community banded together than the recent fires.

    From the very beginning of what could have been a chaotic situation, our staff and parents responded immediately to help release students from classrooms, monitor traffic, and support our children in every way possible.  Our Transportation Department worked tirelessly to evacuate schools within, as well as outside, of our district, and stationed themselves in various areas to assist where they were needed.

    There was an outpouring of community support as individuals and businesses dropped off food and water to the evacuation center at Mission Hills High School.  We saw an overabundance of volunteers, and heard time and again how grateful everyone was to be part of such a wonderful district.  The strong sense of social responsibility that our culture has built was more than apparent as high school students contacted the district through social media to find out how they could help.

    Our community recently came together at the Thank You San Marcos event in appreciation to our incredible first responders, as well as the other agencies that provided safety, support, and updates during the recent fires.  From the standing ovations during the recognition ceremony, it’s apparent that we are indeed collectively greater than the sum of our parts.  I consider myself very fortunate to work along side such a remarkable group of people.   

    Thank you for another great school year and enjoy your summer!

    Kevin D. Holt, Ed.D.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Thoughts on the Common Core State Standards

    Posted by Kevin Holt at 4/7/2014
    Dear Parents and Community Members,
     
    Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful spring break with your loved ones.  As our transition into the Common Core State Standards continues, I have a few thoughts that I wish to share with all of you.

    Our focus on Common Core Standards has aligned our district with California’s clear and inspiring vision for public education, as well as put us closer to our goal for all students to graduate prepared for college and careers in the global economy.  

    Common Core moves away from the idea of selecting the “one correct answer” provided to authentic learning where students are asked to:

    • Think critically
    • Examine multiple perspectives and points of view
    • Practice reasoning
    • Form opinions
    • Develop positions on a wide range of topics
    • Reasonably argue and defend a position or opinion

    As this is the first time in history we have a common assessment nation-wide, this will allow districts and states from across the nation to compare student achievement.  It will also provide reassurance to families who need to relocate up and down the state or across the country.  They will know that what is being taught and assessed will be the same from district to district.  With the Internet and common learning targets, teachers can also collaborate across the nation, as grade levels in all public schools will be addressing common standards. 

    San Marcos Unified School District is committed to providing information and resources for all of our community members.  In this respect, there is a central, Common Core Resources page on the District website.  We will also post regular Common Core Updates, which will include articles, parent resources, and videos.
     
    I appreciate everything you do to prepare our children for a successful future, and look forward to the opportunities that a modern assessment and accountability system will create for teaching and learning.

    Regards,

    Kevin Holt, Ed.D. 

    Comments (-1)
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