Atascadero students get back to work

Superintendent Tom Butler and Atascadero High Principal Bill Neely oversee construction of new science facilities, in Winter 2018. (photo by Camas Frank)

ATASCADERO — Students in the Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) returned from a  summer break on Aug. 14 with a few new faces among them and some learning tools being unrolled across the system.

Superintendent Tom Butler made it a point to spend the morning checking in with as many schools as he could on Wednesday morning, but he and the staff had already had a full start to the week, and a School Board meeting to attend, following a seasonal recess.

New this year at the Atascadero High School, Butler said, was a “Thinking Map,” learning aid, a process rolled out last year through the middle school grades which staff believes will help children think critically about goals and information provided them in the “real world.”

“What’s changed the most since our parents were kids is the technology,” Butler added, noting that his teachers, “excel at using technology in their lessons,” which he adds, allows more individualization of lesson planning in mathematics, and other subjects, geared towards student ability level while they’re in the classroom.

After many meeting hours and staff days spent on adhering to California Department of Education mandated reporting standards and their Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) over the 2018-19 school year, the main bullet points they’re giving parents are in prioritizing academic scholarship (leading to a college degree), “meaningful pathways to the trades,” and in Citizenship, Butler said.

“We’re focusing on raising the type of young people and citizens we’re going to want to stay in Atascadero as members of our community,” he said.

It was important too, he said, that they know how to think for themselves after leaving school.

New enrollment this year, “has been about normal,” he added, shying away from the word average when speaking of his students, and there has been less teacher turn- over this season than the spate of retirements which fueled change last August.

New in Fall 2019 work is expected to be completed on bond-funded new science classroom and shops at the high school.

The AUSD maintains a tab for parents on their website — www.atasusd.org/for-parents — with contact lists and schedules linked.

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