Superintendent Message – Board Meeting December 16, 2019

  • Welcome to our final Board Meeting of 2019. Tonight we thank Mr. Pike and Mr. Tarantino for their year of service as president and vice-president and Dr. Salkeld will be sharing the First Interim Budget report.
  • Let’s begin with student and staff achievements:
  • Just last Friday evening at the San Diego Airport, there was a reception for students and their parents in recognition of a unique collaboration and project between the San Diego International Airport’s Arts Program, a local South Bay nonprofit A Reason to Survive (ARTS), and Sweetwater students over the last three months. The project is called DesignAHEAD and it’s been an incredible opportunity to create, install, and exhibit works of art and design in the airport terminals. At the heart of the program experience is “design thinking,” a design method that uses empathy to consider how places, spaces, and experiences can be made better for all to enjoy, access, and feel included in the world around them. The focal theme for DesignAHEAD is making a positive impact on the experience for all visitors at the airport.
  • Our students applied to be a part of the project – 10 students were selected from 6 schools – CVH, HH, MVH, OLH, ORH, SUHI . The Airport team encouraged students to consider the range of ways that design can be used to improve the customer experience in the terminals. Students also found ways to incorporate ideas of sustainability into their designs in alignment with the airport’s interest in environmental stewardship.
  • Throughout the project, our students had the opportunity to work with teaching artists and were able to use the creative workshops at A Reason to Survive located in National City. They also received mentorship and inspiration from working professionals in creative industries relevant to the kinds of projects being worked on and, ultimately exhibited.
  • The exhibition is now open through April in Terminal 2. We hope if you visit the airport, you stop and look at the students’ prototypes of various designs. Kudos to all the students. The students and ARTS will be recognized at our January Board meeting.
  • Fall Sports have ended with the following accomplishments: CPH – Div. V Football Runner’s Up; CIF Football Second Team Offense: Jackson Daley – ELH; CIF Football Second Team Defense: Maximus Susi – ELH, Anthony Gilpin – OLH – CIF Football Coach of the Year – Chris Livesay, CPH; CIF Volleyball First Team: Madison Bogle, Lauren Clifton – ELH; CIF Boys Cross Country First Team: Jose Galvan – SUHI, Jimmy Byland – HH; CIF Girls Tennis First Team: Thelma Sepulveda – SYH, Arianne Pepa – ORH, Niki Shabazi – ELH; CIF Field Hockey Second Team: Regina Luna – BVH, Gianna Picone – ELH.
  • Other Scholar Athlete achievements include: SYH 9th grader Mikey Williams broke the CIF Basketball Scoring Record with 77 pts in a single game; ELH Max Susi was selected as the South Team’s MVP in the North vs. South All-Star Football Classic.
  • HH Cheer Squad won CIF Section Champions for Div. I Small School Cheer!
  • OLH teacher Anna Savino has been nominated for Life Changer of the Year! Good Luck!
  • Congratulations to ELM AP Chris Adams and CPH AP Becky Bravo. They both successfully defended their doctoral dissertations – way to go Dr. Adams and Dr. Bravo!
  • On December 7th, CPH hosted the 5th Annual Building and Construction Trades Fair. Special thanks and appreciation to CTE Teacher Cesar Gamez who organized and invited several partners. A couple hundred students participated and were able to talk with many trade/construction programs, apprenticeships, and other training opportunities possible!
  • SOH Culinary Arts Dept. and HH Architectural Engineering and Design Dept. joined forces and entered the Gingerbread City Gala-Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego’s Annual competition. Congratulations to Ms. Rubio and Ms. Martinez
  • It was nice to see a “Get to Know Sweetwater District Student Board Representative Ethan Collier” in the November issue of Our Hometown! Ethan was asked about the advice he would give to other students who aspire to follow in his footsteps…Ethan said, “My advice would be to always stay true to yourself and aspire to be great in YOUR way. Everyone has a calling in life, we just have to find it.”
  • I finished my Listening Tour last week. I appreciate all the staff who were able to stop by to share ideas, concerns, and questions, as well as areas that staff wanted to brag about and wanted me to know.  There were some common themes I heard across the district – maybe not at every school, but enough times to mention. Those themes include Special Education concerns and ideas and facilities at some of our older campuses. The ideas I did hear demonstrate that collectively we have the capacity and the will to improve our systems and how we do things in Sweetwater when we continue to work together. I thank each person who made time to visit.


  • I want to share some great news about the California Dashboard. The Dashboard contains reports that display the performance of districts, schools, and student groups on a set of state and local measures. These reports help schools and districts identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas in need of improvement. The Dashboard went live last week; here are the results:




  • The district has moved out of Differentiated Assistance because of improvement by three student groups: Foster Youth, Homeless Youth and Students with Disabilities.  This graphic tells that story.  (Before we get too excited, we still have a lot of work to do with these student groups as you’ll see below)

great news about the California Dashboard

Graduation rate increased slightly overall to 86.5%; higher than state average.

College and Career Indicator increased to 48% (+3%)
The areas that saw the greatest gains were CTE Pathway (+80%) and College Course Credits (+600% – small N, however)

English Language Arts saw several student groups make large gains:
Foster Youth (+40 points)
Homeless Youth (16 points)
American Indian (+18 points)

CSI and TSI schools for 19-20 is still unofficial and ramifications will be made known shortly.

Two schools who were designated CSI because of their all student performance have moved out of that designation:
Community Day School
Mar Vista Academy (moved to TSI based on SWD)

And, Hilltop Middle moved out of TSI based on the improvement of their Students with Disabilities

Two schools who were TSI made some improvement, but appear to still be within TSI status
Castle Park Middle (SWD)
Southwest High (SWD)

These kinds of improvements only happen when staff focus on common goals in a systematic and purposeful way. We can all be proud of our strengths and areas of improvement for the 2018-19 school year!

Areas for Improvement

Chronic Absenteeism increased by 1%
Homeless and Foster Youth remain very high compared to state average
Students with Disabilities are absent twice the District average.

Suspension Rate climbs from 4.3 to 4.4 to 4.8 last three years
African Americans suspended at 9%
Foster Youth suspended at 13%

English Learner Progress Indicator – Medium
This new metric does not have a color yet.  48% of our Els increased by one level on the ELPAC – same for state.

Mathematics – Math average is 54 Below standards – no change from 2018
The following three groups are on Red
Foster Youth
Homeless Youth
Students with Disabilities

Let’s acknowledge we have work to do and let’s commit to work together on these areas for improvement going forward!


  • I want to end tonight’s message with an announcement that four of our schools (only 10 statewide) have been “chosen to participate in a new pilot program that brings mental health resources to their campuses, providing immediate access to treatment and training designed to provide help as close as possible to where it’s needed.” (Union Tribune, Dec. 3, 2019)
  • In collaboration with the state Department of Education, three nonprofits and Blue Shield has started a 5-year, $10 M effort to extend one-on-one therapy, teacher mental health training and other resources to our district, Oceanside USD, and Alameda County. The pilot has already begun and therapists are meeting with students daily at ELH, SYH, ORH, CPM. One of the therapists, Tayler Trotter, was assigned to work with ORH, which just happens to be her alma mater. She said the most noticeable change at ORH is the effect that social media has had on students. The therapists receive school referrals from anxiety to anger management. The hope is that making therapy easier to access might result in significant gains at critical moments in a student’s educational experience. We are grateful Sweetwater is part of this most critical and needed pilot!