The Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) continues to contend with declining funds due to a decrease in enrollment, but district leaders rolled up their sleeves to find ways to improve the district’s funding. Over the next five years, Fairsite students and their parents will have added enrichment thanks to the Central Valley Foundation Grant of $2.5 million.

Dr. Karen Schauer, superintendent of GJUESD, said in the 2018 through 2019 school year, the district lost more than $600,000 in funding so the district must look for supplemental funding sources.

“We received a five-year $2.5 million grant for pre-kindergarten and English language learners,” Schauer said. “The grant will strengthen and expand pre-kindergarten efforts at the Fairsite School Readiness Center, provide research-based parent engagement activities and support successful pre-K student transition to the elementary schools and middle school. Donna Whitlock, director of educational services, was the key grant development leader with much staff teamwork to successfully receive this funding through the Central Valley Foundation.”

With this grant, the district plans on hiring an early childhood educational coordinator, a site director, a bilingual pre-K teacher, a family literacy instructor, community outreach coordinators, assistants and office assistant. The additional staff will work on improving English Learners’ oral language skills and social/emotional development.

Parents will have the opportunity to also receive instructions on how to best prepare their student learners. The district plans on finding better ways to communicate with parents to build stronger relationships with staff, teachers and families. Supporting parents plays a critical role in developing successful students and, while working with parents, the district hopes to gain important insights on how to best serve young students’ educational needs.

According to Schauer, the district will expand opportunities for pre-school children by moving the TK cut-off date from Dec. 1 to Feb. 1.

District staff and trustees met on May 15 to discuss strategies for the entire district, including special education programs. When school starts in August, all sites will have a resource specialist for math, language arts and discipline. Classes will be pared down from 28 students to just 20.

Trustees discussed problem areas for the district at each school, including truancy and high suspension rates. Trustee John Gordon commented on the problems.

“It’s not just a Greer problem or a McCaffrey problem, it’s a problem for all of us,” Gordon said. “We need to find out how we can help.”

Claudia Del Toro-Anguiano, director of curriculum, said the district plans to focus on what is working and have teachers and administration share their best practices district wide. This will include having administrative staffers spend time in each classroom.