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PUSD board discusses 'significant' enrollment drop on first day of school

Also: A farewell to retiring assistant, new Amador vice principal, polling places at schools

Remote learning started recently at Pleasanton Unified School District but saw lower numbers of enrollment than last year, staff reported at the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday.

Exactly 14,500 total students were enrolled in PUSD on the first day of instruction, Aug. 11 -- about 400 fewer students than the first day of school in 2019, according to the district.

Student services director Kathleen Rief said, "The largest number of students that have left or are no longer enrolled, are at the elementary level."

"There's about a roughly 250 students difference from the second week of school last year to this year," Rief added, which she attributed mostly to families' child care needs.

The district had 5,928 elementary students enrolled on the first day this year, compared to 6,191 students for the first day of the 2019-20 school year.

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"I know that TK and kindergarten, there are child care facilities operating in person and so we've seen some drops there," Rief added. "I think parents have shifted to go to child care that's in-person rather than enroll in online programs. I think if we are able to shift back to some sort of hybrid scenario at some point, that we would see enrollment come back, because those are programs that parents pay for, too."

Assistant superintendent of student support services Ed Diolazo said, "We have a pretty significant drop in our enrollment numbers on the first day of school, and it's even more telling at the secondary level."

PUSD had 8,672 students enrolled at the secondary level for the first day of classes -- 3,447 middle-schoolers and 5,125 high-schoolers.

According to Rief, as far as actual attendance goes, "Anecdotally, overall, a large percentage of our students are participating, logging in" and doing well with synchronous learning.

Diolazo said "students are expected to participate with a visual check in," and though there may be some confusion about technological barriers to completing that requirement, auditory or chat features may suffice for purposes of documenting attendance.

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If students are habitually late, teachers may follow up and recommend low-level interventions to address absences and disengagement from classes.

"It's all about trying to get kids in class, getting their instruction and also making sure that they are engaged," Diolazo said.

The state has given the district a grace period on attendance until Sept. 1 "to really start reviewing," according to Rief, who said state officials "knew that there was going to be changes going on" with distance learning.

During the board's discussion, Superintendent David Haglund said attendance during remote learning has become a new way to gauge a student's engagement.

"When we think about attendance in this new environment that we're in, attendance is not about trying to prove that people were here. It's really about trying to track those that we're missing and going out and collecting them," Haglund said.

Trustee Joan Laursen called the drop of 400 students enrolled this year "significant" but not as bad as she predicted, and wondered if some families "really aren't in our district anymore and they just haven't informed us."

"There were just so many folks who were just not sure what they were planning to do and where they were going to be, and there were just a lot of things up in the air," Laursen said.

"Of course, I'd like to see those numbers go up, but they just weren't as bad as I was expecting," she added.

In other business

* The district cabinet bid farewell on Thursday to Roseanne Pryor, the recently retired administrative assistant for Superintendent David Haglund.

Pryor, who worked at PUSD for 10 years and announced her retirement earlier this summer, thanked her colleagues "for the opportunity to work here" and called it "a bittersweet time for me."

"There's a lot of people that I won't be able to say goodbye to and that saddens me," Pryor said, referring to the district's 15 sites that are mostly empty while students shelter at home.

Haglund called Pryor an "invaluable" part of the district, and said, "We're going to miss you but I trust that you're going to be nearby and engaged as we go forward."

"I'd heard about Pleasanton for 20 years and never thought I'd be working here, so it's been my complete and awesome privilege to work for you," Pryor said.

Pryor said she plans to spend time in retirement with family, especially her grandson. Her last day with the district is this Tuesday (Sept. 1).

* Prior to the public session, the Board of Trustees unanimously ratified the appointment of a new Amador Valley High School vice principal, and three other district positions.

Melanie Harris was named vice principal at AVHS; Harris thanked the cabinet via webcam and said she "can't wait to work with Amador Valley students," then quickly added: "Go Dons."

Harris most recently worked as coordinator of independent studies for Acalanes Unified High School District in Contra Costa County, according to PUSD.

The trustees also approved the promotion of Seewing Yee to coordinator of innovation and distance learning, as well as the hiring of two more coordinators of technology services and maintenance and transportation.

Yee thanked the board for the opportunity and said he was "looking forward to collaborating" with his new coworkers. His new position is centered around distance learning, in which all PUSD students are currently participating, and is funded "from the federal government for this purpose," according to district spokesperson Patrick Gannon.

The board also accepted the resignation of former senior director of special education Mary Jude Doerpinghaus, who was recently replaced by Ken Goeken. Doerpinghaus' last official day on the job was Aug. 23.

* The district and California School Employees Association finalized a related memorandum of understanding (MOU) that evening to supply district employees on site during the pandemic with $486,000 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE). General funds and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund will pay for the PPE.

* The trustees also authorized the use of district facilities for polling stations in the Nov. 3 general election. With local schools closed until the county falls off the state's county monitoring list, the resolution states "the civic importance of citizen access to polling places necessitates permitting Alameda County officials to use district facilities for election purposes."

Per the agreement, "Alameda County must provide adequate security to manage and control the election activities and must provide for sanitization services immediately after use of the district-owned facilities."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly conflated enrollment and attendance data from the PUSD board's discussion. District staff said enrollment on the first day of school was about 400 students fewer than one year before. The Pleasanton Weekly regrets the error.

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PUSD board discusses 'significant' enrollment drop on first day of school

Also: A farewell to retiring assistant, new Amador vice principal, polling places at schools

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 4:49 pm
Updated: Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 8:14 am

Remote learning started recently at Pleasanton Unified School District but saw lower numbers of enrollment than last year, staff reported at the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday.

Exactly 14,500 total students were enrolled in PUSD on the first day of instruction, Aug. 11 -- about 400 fewer students than the first day of school in 2019, according to the district.

Student services director Kathleen Rief said, "The largest number of students that have left or are no longer enrolled, are at the elementary level."

"There's about a roughly 250 students difference from the second week of school last year to this year," Rief added, which she attributed mostly to families' child care needs.

The district had 5,928 elementary students enrolled on the first day this year, compared to 6,191 students for the first day of the 2019-20 school year.

"I know that TK and kindergarten, there are child care facilities operating in person and so we've seen some drops there," Rief added. "I think parents have shifted to go to child care that's in-person rather than enroll in online programs. I think if we are able to shift back to some sort of hybrid scenario at some point, that we would see enrollment come back, because those are programs that parents pay for, too."

Assistant superintendent of student support services Ed Diolazo said, "We have a pretty significant drop in our enrollment numbers on the first day of school, and it's even more telling at the secondary level."

PUSD had 8,672 students enrolled at the secondary level for the first day of classes -- 3,447 middle-schoolers and 5,125 high-schoolers.

According to Rief, as far as actual attendance goes, "Anecdotally, overall, a large percentage of our students are participating, logging in" and doing well with synchronous learning.

Diolazo said "students are expected to participate with a visual check in," and though there may be some confusion about technological barriers to completing that requirement, auditory or chat features may suffice for purposes of documenting attendance.

If students are habitually late, teachers may follow up and recommend low-level interventions to address absences and disengagement from classes.

"It's all about trying to get kids in class, getting their instruction and also making sure that they are engaged," Diolazo said.

The state has given the district a grace period on attendance until Sept. 1 "to really start reviewing," according to Rief, who said state officials "knew that there was going to be changes going on" with distance learning.

During the board's discussion, Superintendent David Haglund said attendance during remote learning has become a new way to gauge a student's engagement.

"When we think about attendance in this new environment that we're in, attendance is not about trying to prove that people were here. It's really about trying to track those that we're missing and going out and collecting them," Haglund said.

Trustee Joan Laursen called the drop of 400 students enrolled this year "significant" but not as bad as she predicted, and wondered if some families "really aren't in our district anymore and they just haven't informed us."

"There were just so many folks who were just not sure what they were planning to do and where they were going to be, and there were just a lot of things up in the air," Laursen said.

"Of course, I'd like to see those numbers go up, but they just weren't as bad as I was expecting," she added.

In other business

* The district cabinet bid farewell on Thursday to Roseanne Pryor, the recently retired administrative assistant for Superintendent David Haglund.

Pryor, who worked at PUSD for 10 years and announced her retirement earlier this summer, thanked her colleagues "for the opportunity to work here" and called it "a bittersweet time for me."

"There's a lot of people that I won't be able to say goodbye to and that saddens me," Pryor said, referring to the district's 15 sites that are mostly empty while students shelter at home.

Haglund called Pryor an "invaluable" part of the district, and said, "We're going to miss you but I trust that you're going to be nearby and engaged as we go forward."

"I'd heard about Pleasanton for 20 years and never thought I'd be working here, so it's been my complete and awesome privilege to work for you," Pryor said.

Pryor said she plans to spend time in retirement with family, especially her grandson. Her last day with the district is this Tuesday (Sept. 1).

* Prior to the public session, the Board of Trustees unanimously ratified the appointment of a new Amador Valley High School vice principal, and three other district positions.

Melanie Harris was named vice principal at AVHS; Harris thanked the cabinet via webcam and said she "can't wait to work with Amador Valley students," then quickly added: "Go Dons."

Harris most recently worked as coordinator of independent studies for Acalanes Unified High School District in Contra Costa County, according to PUSD.

The trustees also approved the promotion of Seewing Yee to coordinator of innovation and distance learning, as well as the hiring of two more coordinators of technology services and maintenance and transportation.

Yee thanked the board for the opportunity and said he was "looking forward to collaborating" with his new coworkers. His new position is centered around distance learning, in which all PUSD students are currently participating, and is funded "from the federal government for this purpose," according to district spokesperson Patrick Gannon.

The board also accepted the resignation of former senior director of special education Mary Jude Doerpinghaus, who was recently replaced by Ken Goeken. Doerpinghaus' last official day on the job was Aug. 23.

* The district and California School Employees Association finalized a related memorandum of understanding (MOU) that evening to supply district employees on site during the pandemic with $486,000 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE). General funds and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund will pay for the PPE.

* The trustees also authorized the use of district facilities for polling stations in the Nov. 3 general election. With local schools closed until the county falls off the state's county monitoring list, the resolution states "the civic importance of citizen access to polling places necessitates permitting Alameda County officials to use district facilities for election purposes."

Per the agreement, "Alameda County must provide adequate security to manage and control the election activities and must provide for sanitization services immediately after use of the district-owned facilities."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly conflated enrollment and attendance data from the PUSD board's discussion. District staff said enrollment on the first day of school was about 400 students fewer than one year before. The Pleasanton Weekly regrets the error.

Comments

LanceM
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2020 at 10:49 am
LanceM, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 10:49 am

The writing isn't very clear to me. Were 600 students actually absent? Is it some combination of absentee and less students (article says 400 less students)? How many students are normally (or last year) absent the first day? I don't see how you compare and say there are less kids in attendance this year than last year without knowing how many students were enrolled each year but I don't see the numbers. How many had technical issues? How many teachers made errors on attendance due to new policies? And somehow PUSD goes through the entire enrollment process yet students that didn't enroll are still in classes (they were in PUSD last year).

"A total of 14,500 secondary students logged on Aug. 11" - aren't there about 14,500 students in the district? How did we get 14,500 secondary students?


Pton quilter
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 31, 2020 at 5:52 pm
Pton quilter, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 5:52 pm

The guidelines for attendance coming from the state require the teacher check a person is logged in at the beginning and end of class in order to correctly calculate the number of minutes the person is in attendance (which drives how the school district gets paid). In many cases a child may log in at the beginning of class, then walk away from their computer and not participate in class, many times forgetting to log off when the class is over. This is considered to be an absence, since the whole idea of being in class relies on class participation in the discussion and answering questions during the time frame.

Between this type of situation and technical issues (such as inability to log in, slow response time, signing in via phone without a picture and failing to talk while in class. or the teacher being unable to do this tracking as in PE where they are away from their computers), the attendance folks are showing higher than average absences. Each absence has to be tracked down for each class and be determined if it is in truth an absence or some other problem. The school district is still establishing the final practical guidelines on what an online attendance is and is not.

I know this because I have a friend who is an attendance secretary and is currently slammed with issues trying to work this out with her school. Throw into this mix the usual personality issues when dealing with multiple people doing something completely unknown and you can see that problems are erupting like crazy. Eventually there will be a set of practical processes to follow, but the teachers are not there yet.

Good point to ponder: the schools are being open about the issues and situations causing difficulties, so down the road we can expect this number to dramatically fall as everyone becomes adept at online teaching.


Jake Water
Registered user
Birdland
on Aug 31, 2020 at 9:48 pm
Jake Water, Birdland
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 9:48 pm

Let’s get the kids back into the classroom immediately and perhaps the schools can salvage this train wreck going forward. I know first hand this is a bad idea and the teachers are not prepared for it, nor are the parents. Both students and their families are going to suffer the outcome of an unnecessary order. The students are the victim of a political strategy to address the election. Stop pretending this was a good idea.


Jeremy Walsh
Registered user
another community
on Sep 2, 2020 at 8:16 am
Jeremy Walsh, another community
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2020 at 8:16 am

Thank you for your questions, LanceM. We've updated our article after further examination. The previous version incorrectly conflated enrollment and attendance data from the PUSD board's discussion. District staff said enrollment on the first day of school was about 400 students fewer than one year before. We regret the error.


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