Classrooms, community and connectedness were the central themes of the Santa Ana Unified School District’s State of the District breakfast on Thursday.
Actually, SAUSD hosted two State of the District breakfasts, one for community partners at 7 a.m. and a second presentation for parents at 9:15 a.m. Dr. Stefanie Phillips, who was named superintendent of Orange County’s largest school system over the summer, delivered the keynote address for each in the gymnasium at Godinez Fundamental High School.
In her 35-minute presentation to 200 or so community partners, Phillips shared student success stories and highlighted district programs and resources designed to provide more personalized learning experiences, including dual-language immersion, career pathways, STEM education and visual and performing arts.
Santa Ana Unified, which is the seventh largest school district in the state, serves about 53,000 students in grades K through 12, and Phillips noted that more than 60 percent of its students are English learners.
“One of the goals of schools is to redesignate English learners into English-proficient students,” the superintendent said, “and we do that at least twice as well as some of our neighboring districts.”
Moving forward, a top priority will be to build districtwide connectedness. Specifically, Phillips plans to intensify efforts to bring parents, teachers, staff and community partners together to support the core mission of providing a high quality education for all students.
As an example, she cited collaboration that’s already occurring between the district, Santa Ana College, Cal State Fullerton and UCI. SAUSD graduates are eligible for free tuition and a laptop if they attend Santa Ana College as full-time students. In addition, a program called Santa Ana ¡Adelante! provides guaranteed admission to CSUF or UCI for students who complete the necessary coursework while enrolled at Santa Ana College.
In recent years, Santa Ana Unified has increased opportunities for parent and community engagement, soliciting feedback that has led to programmatic and operational changes. For example, Phillips said, the district added two additional days of instruction to its academic calendar, bringing the school year to 182 days. SAUSD has also increased access to libraries, expanded digital resources, augmented after-school programs and added summer enrichment opportunities.
As a result, she said, the district has seen higher graduation rates, an increase in algebra readiness, promising early literacy indicators, burgeoning biliteracy rates and growth on state and local assessments.
“We’ve added a lot in the last two years, and we’re going to continue that work because we think it’s the right investment,” Phillips said. “But what I want you to hear is, we’re expanding, we’re exploding and we’re including more and more voices in the mix.”
For more information on the Santa Ana Unified School District, visit www.sausd.us.