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Gonzalez responds to school board evaluation

Madera Unified School Superintendent Ed Gonzalez has recently come under heavy criticism from MUSD trustees in their formal evaluation of his performance as the school district’s educational leader.

Through his attorney, Barry Bennett, Gonzalez has made his response to the school board’s assessment available to the Tribune.

What follows is a condensed version of what Gonzalez sees as his most significant accomplishments as Madera Unified’s superintendent.

Improved graduation rate: The high school graduation rate is at an all-time high for all students.

Dropout rate: The high school dropout rate is at its lowest point in the district’s history.

UC-ready graduates: The percentage of students who are prepared to enroll at a University of California campus has increased by 9.2 percent over last year.

Post-secondary enrollment: The percentage of students enrolling in a post-secondary education program is up 4.4 percent for all students and up 9 percent for English language learners.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: Although the CAASPP scores for 2015/16 showed small improvement in English language arts and minimal improvement in math, this new assessment was given on computers. We are deploying more technology to teachers and students to better familiarize them with the content and format of the next assessment. We are confident in improved results for the 2016/17 school year.

Student expulsions: Student expulsions have fallen to their lowest levels in at least 20 years.

Primary literacy: Reading teachers with advance certification have been deployed to work with all 1st graders in order to bring them up to their appropriate grade level in reading. By May 2016, 55.6 percent of the K-2 students were at grade level.

Visual and performing arts: The Visual & Performing Arts program has expanded in all areas of the district.

Co-curricular programs: Madera South’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program enjoyed the most successful year in the district’s 88-year FFA history in 2015/16.

The “Mad-town Robotics” team is a perennial presence at the World Championship of Robotics every April.

Technology: MUSD is in the fourth year of rolling out a technology refreshment plan. The district presently has 15,000 mobile devices in operation. By 2018/19, it will have 20,000 in operation.

Athletics: For the last two seasons, we have had the most successful athletic seasons in at least 30 years. The following teams have won Valley Championships:

  • 2013/14 — Madera South High School boys cross country.

  • 2014/15 — Madera South High School boys cross country; Madera South High School girls soccer; Madera High School girls soccer.

The Madera South High School Stallion boys cross country teams have won the Central Section title nine (9) consecutive years, a true dynasty. They have also had four straight Top Five State finishes.

Career Technical Education (CTE): In September 2014, I was invited by German Ambassador to the United States, Peter Ammon, to join a select group of Americans to tour Germany’s vocational education program. I was one of 12 Americans on the tour—the only K-12 educator and the only representative from West of the Mississippi River. My interest in CTE preceded this trip, as I had already created a new position, the director of college and pathways in our high schools, and Madera’s CTE efforts are known throughout California.

Madera Adult School: Madera Adult School was moved in the Fall of 2016 from the Furman High School campus to provide room for the burgeoning student enrollment at Madera South High School. MUSD leased a building on West Cleveland Avenue and joined forces with Workforce Investment Corporation, to create California’s first “One-shop” where Adult School and Workforce are together in the same facility.

District partnerships: Madera Unified partners with various entities to provide science-based field trip experiences for elementary students. We currently send all 2nd graders to the Fossil Discovery Center, all 5th graders to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and all 6th graders to the San Joaquin River Conservancy.

Labor: In August 2013, the district had been at impasse with the teachers’ union, MUTA, for five months. Teachers were picketing and preparations were being made for a strike vote. Three weeks later, MUTA had signed a one-year contract. The following year, in 2014/15, MUTA teachers ratified the district’s first two-year contract with a 99 percent approval, a state record for a district represented by the California Teachers Association. In 2016/17, MUTA teachers again ratified a two-year contract, this time with a 99.89 percent approval, eclipsing the previous state record. Since 1913, Madera Unified’s three other unions — CSEA, CMBA, and Madera Adult Ed teachers — all ratified their respective contracts without animosity.

Parent engagement: In early 2014, the position of director of community services was created. We opened two parent resource centers and offered our parents and families classes to assist them in learning English, navigating the complexities of our educational system, and learning how to access the governing process.

Facilities: In the summer of 2014, district staff organized a campaign to pass Measure G, a $70 million bond to build the district’s third high school. Despite the off-season timing, failure of securing union leadership to support the effort, and opposition from two sitting board members and six of the nine candidates running for the board, Measure G passed with 58.5 percent of the vote.

Overcrowded schools continued to be a problem. Thirty-eight percent of all elementary classrooms were portable classrooms. In November 2015, the board directed the superintendent to create a 10-year facilities master plan. With staff input, staff produced a 12-year facilities master plan, and in January 2016, unveiled it to the board. After several community meetings and additional board input, the first phase of the 12-year facilities master plan was adopted in October 2016. This plan provided a detailed chronology of the new construction of seven schools, totaling more than $650 million in construction at today’s dollars. In addition, the plan detailed the exact funding sources for all projects so that the district would avoid any long-term debt.

A list of completed facilities projects includes:

  • Outdoor athletic lights at Madera South High School’s baseball, softball, and track areas.

  • Outdoor athletic lights at Madera High’s varsity baseball and varsity softball fields.

  • Maintenance Room/weight room at Madera South High School.

  • Parking Lot at Sierra Vista Elementary School.

  • Staff and student bathrooms at Monroe Elementary School.

  • Cal-SAFE building, the district’s third, for parenting and pregnant students.

  • HVAC upgrade at Madera High School and other schools.

Modernization of a West Cleveland Avenue property to accommodate the move of Madera Adult School, now inhabiting the same building as the Workforce Investment Corporation.

Projects that are planned include: Nine-land, all-weather track, artificial turf field, and a snack bar/restroom at Madera South High School. Virginia Lee Rose Elementary School. New High School. School-based Health Clinic at Madera South High School. Modernization of Industrial Arts Building at Madera High School to accommodate three new Career Technical Education programs: 1) Heavy truck; 2) Automobile, and 3) Construction. Three new middle schools, one of which will be a concurrent enrollment technology school.

Superintendent’s Community Involvement: Madera Rotary. Association of Mexican-American Educators (AMAE) Madera Chapter. Girl Scouts of Central California South — Board member. Valley Cultural Coalition — Board member. Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corporation — Board member. Tri-Agency Committee (Madera Unified, County of Madera, City of Madera)

Notable Staff Recognitions: Tim Deniz (Madera South High School—Ag Teacher) — Industrial Arts Teacher of the Year, 2016. Judy Shaubach (Madera High School — P.E. teacher) — CIF Coach of the Year, 2016. Dr. Marcheta Williams (director of visual & performing arts) — CMEA Administrator of the Year, 2016. Marty Bitter (Director of Athletics) — Nominee for CIF State Athletic Board, 2016.


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