Ready for it or not, school is about to go back in session Sept. 4.
A few notable back-to-school developments and trends to look out for this year include a few revitalized facilities, schools embracing the use of technology to connect students, teachers and parents, and endless amounts of fundraising efforts and creative methods of conquering the devastating results of budget cuts that continue to plague the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).
TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM
This school year, Point Loma and Ocean Beach schools are using the latest in technological advances to enhance the educational experience and learning environment in 21st-century classrooms.
• The SDUSD continues to roll out its Proposition S-funded i21 Interactive Classroom Initiative, a program that employs modern technology — like interactive whiteboards, audio-visual cabinets and netbook computers for each student — in every classroom in the district to create an engaging learning environment for all students.
“The Point Loma Cluster has always been an early adopter of this initiative. Several years ago, we realized it was going to be an integral part of the next generation of learning,” said Matt Spathas, president of the Point Loma Cluster Schools Foundation. “Our cluster schools have done a great job embracing not only the devices, but ways that technology is going to alter, change or transform the learning environment.”
• Schools are able to facilitate information quickly and easily through the use of web-based tools, like Dana Middle School’s use of ParentConnection and StudentConnection, which enhances communication among parents, teachers and students by providing access to student schedules, attendance data, homework assignments and report cards online.
• Correia Middle, Loma Portal Elementary and Ocean Beach Elementary schools are also in tune with the latest in educational technology, offering live online references and homework help through the San Diego Public Library and QuestionPoint chat sessions, which are available on the schools’ websites.
• For parents to stay informed about all or a few of the schools in the Point Loma Cluster, sign up for the cluster’s e-blasts, which provide real-time information about the goings on in the district and in community schools.
“We’ve done a good job in communicating and sharing information clusterwide,” said Spathas. “It’s been fun to see the e-blast system grow from back in the day from 3,000 emails when we started to 7,000 [now]. We’re probably the most networked cluster in San Diego.”
FUNDRAISING TO COUNTER CUTS
With school funding reduced for six years in a row in California, local schools learn to get creative in their fundraising efforts. From silent auctions and galas to grant applications and giving campaigns, local schools, PTAs, foundations and area businesses are finding new ways to fund classroom supplies, student amenities and educational programs to enrich students’ educational experiences.
• Point Loma-based children’s hair salon Pigtails and Crewcuts will donate
5 percent of every full haircut in August and September to the school of the client’s choice. Last year, the salon gave $800 to local schools, and the salon hopes to double that number this year.
• Another Point Loma-based business, Tops Valet Services, is giving up to 15 percent of a client’s paid monthly invoice for dry cleaning and alteration services back to Correia Middle School.
• In addition to the school’s year-round giving campaign, Dana Middle School will host a Scholastic book fair in September and a Jog-A-Thon in October to help students benefit from hard-earned funds in the same school year.
• Sunset View Elementary School’s foundation, Kids First at Sunset View, has recently launched a new website, www.kidsfirstatsunsetview.org, to make it easier for those in the community to learn about and get involved in its annual giving campaign, fundraising events, corporate sponsorships and volunteer efforts.
DEVELOPMENT IN THE FACE OF CUTS
Despite a shrinking district budget, a couple of newly constructed or revamped facilities are enhancing local schools this year because of the passage of Proposition S — a $2.1 billion bond measure program — in 2008.
• Construction to replace outdated roofs on multiple buildings at the Dana Middle School campus will begin in the spring.
• Students and faculty at Loma Portal Elementary will benefit from upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning in the school’s library this year.
• A portion of Point Loma High School (PLHS) Building 900 is being remodeled into a Motion Picture Industries Program Facility.
• Construction to convert an old wood shop area into a new music center at PLHS was completed just in time for the start of school.
• A new 3,190-square-foot weight room and exercise facility at PLHS was completed in May. The construction was funded by Prop S funds, and the exercise equipment was funded by the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions grant.
For a full listing of Prop S-funded school facilities projects, visit fpcprojects.sandi.net.
School offices are open and ready to enroll students. Classes start Sept. 4. For more district information, visit www.-sandi.net. For information about schools in the Point Loma Cluster, visit www.pointlomacluster.com, or call (619) 725-7131.