District decisions

The RBUSD board meeting on Jan. 25 discussed updates

Highlighting Washington Elementary School’s Library Program, Washington Principal Andrea Bittick marked the start of the Jan. 25 RBUSD board meeting with a presentation recognizing their librarian, Mrs. Campisi, and the effort she puts into the school’s library and student interests.

Bittick featured the collection of diverse authors, multicultural books and the intriguing visuals around the library that Campisi creates.

“A lot of students shared that they love how she decorates the library and overall just her demeanor and welcoming type of attitude,” Bittick said.

Afterward, Assistant Superintendents Nicole Wesley and Susan Wildes and Deputy Superintendent Annette Alpern shared a presentation about Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and the expansion of TK classes.

The presentation included the history of TK in Redondo Beach, the facilities needed, legal requirements, the curriculum, enrollment projections and staffing.

“The goal of transitional kindergarten is to prepare each student to successfully meet or exceed the challenging standards of California’s kindergarten program at the conclusion of their kindergarten year,” Wildes said.

The board meeting also discussed events at RUHS, such as Winter Formal. According to Student Board Member Charles Steerman, Winter Formal is predicted to be postponed until mid-March 2022.

“We’ve postponed our Winter Formal event to a time when COVID-19 has died down and when we believe it will be safe for students to attend,” Steerman said.

Steerman explained that ASB is busy with other events at the school as well, including the upcoming spirit rally taking place in early March, a second UCLA blood drive during mid-March and preparing for semester two’s club rush.

During the Superintendent’s report, Dr. Steven Keller mentioned RBUSD’s shift to number six in the best school districts of the greater Los Angeles region ranking on niche.com.  He also shared good news regarding the reduced number of COVID cases seen in the district-wide COVID Dashboard and the increasing attendance rates among students and staff alike.

Alpern briefly compared the average daily attendance (ADA) rates of December during the 2019-2020 school year and December during the 2021-2022 school year. She highlighted the greater than 10 percent attendance drop that occurred on the day before winter break of 2021 as well as the close-to-eight percent absence rate district-wide due to a threatening social media post made nationwide on the 17th.

According to Alpern, RBUSD received a shipment of two palettes of N95 respirators last week and hundreds of them have been delivered to school sites. RBUSD also received 25,000 KN95 masks, which were delivered to the RU health office and made available late afternoon Wednesday, January 26. RBUSD has 70,000 general medical masks, as well.

Alpern also took part in the process of bringing COVID testing to Redondo Beach.  COVID testing at Beach Cities Health District is available Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the weekend testing at RUHS will be around for just one more weekend, this weekend.

Dr. Wesley then spoke about a significant hire for RUHS’ football program. Former Seahawk and retired Buffalo Bills Linebacker Keith Ellison is now the head coach of the RUHS football team, taking over Matt Ballard’s position that he held for 10 years.

“[Ellison] is coming back to coach the team. He has a clear vision and passion, and he’s ready to lead his alma mater,” Wesley said.

John Nemeth, current Vice President for the Redondo Beach Educational Foundation (RBEF), gave updates on how things are going with the foundation as well as upcoming events. Nemeth shared that investor drive dollars raised through the end of December 31, 2021 totaled $729,500.

“As we are an ongoing fundraising organization, we will continue to do fundraising throughout the year. So keep your eyes open for additional events and activities that we’ll be doing,” Nemeth said.

They have ‘plans in the works’ to provide RBEF Summer Session Classes and Seahawk Sports camps as well.

Nemeth also announces RBEF’s support of an Esports development team available to RBUSD middle and high school students. Tournaments will happen on April 6, according to Nemeth.

Finally, RBEF will be partnering with the BeachLife Festival from May 13 through 15.

“We got a lot of great publicity last year.  It’s a really great way to continue to fundraise for RBEF and then pass those dollars along to the district,” Nemeth said.

The district also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with the local CSEA association. They represent the district’s classified staff (i.e. instructional aides, administrative assistants, campus supervisors, child nutrition services and more). CSEA asked that the district pay time and a half for all classified employees who worked last year on June 18, 2021, because President Biden deemed Juneteenth a holiday the day prior. 

The district had 157 classified employees who worked that day. Instead of time and a half, the district reached an agreement that gave the impacted employees a holiday during this coming spring break, instead of them having to take a vacation day or unpaid day. By approving the MOU, the board also agreed that moving forward, Juneteenth would be a holiday that is observed by classified staff in the district. This does not impact teachers or students because school is already out by then.

Later, the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SoCal ROC) stood  prominently in the final conversations among the board members, and they agendized items regarding Board Policy 6178 while involving SoCal ROC, as well.

To conclude, board member Dan Elder commented on Assembly Bill 1614 proposed by Assemblymember Muratsuchi.  This bill would raise base level educational funding, according to Elder.  

“This is one we’ll want to follow and potentially discuss as something we might advocate for in the future. There will probably be a need for us to do some advocacy and outreach to our community to inform them how critical these budget issues are.  It’s critical that we’re involved in this budget discussion early and often,” Elder said.