AUSD Board receives report on SBAC Scores, and more

The grandeur of the AUSD Boardroom before trustees arrive. (photo by Camas Frank)

ATASCADERO — Systems, like people, take time to heal from trauma.

And like people some may never fully recover or have recurring and lingering after effects, but, as many a survivor knows, the only way forward is to keep doing what needs to get done.

At their first meeting since accepting the resignation of the former Atascadero Fine Arts Academy teacher currently facing 44 felony counts involving child pornography, the Atascadero Unified School District board pressed on with academics and the business of data analysis and staff development on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The agenda was less packed than their Oct. 2 meeting but an educational services item headed up by Assistant Superintendent E.J. Rossi lasted until nearly 10 p.m., with reports heard from the principals of Atascadero High School, Atascadero Middle School and San Benito Elementary School regarding their schools’ scoring on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) standardized Common Core State Standards-aligned tests, with focus areas on Student Achievement, English Language, the arts and mathematics. The system uses automated essay scoring.  

To start off, Rossi said, this meeting focused on the “Here’s what?” angle of data collection rather than on what to do next.

He was encouraged, he said, that schools in the Atascadero district have been holding pace since 2015 with score improvements compared to other districts in San Luis Obispo County. That’s an achievement he said, in that their professional development programs started at a later date than in other districts.

While not on the agenda, Paloma Creek High School got some attention in the routine reports of Superintendent Tom Butler and Trustee Donn Clickard, with Butler noting the school had passed the first step in an application with the California Education Department to become a “model school.” The State has scheduled an inspection for Dec. 6.

Clickard likewise reported attendance at the recent golf tournament held as a fundraiser for the Lighthouse program of the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation.  

Renamed this year in honor of the late community leader Wayne Cooper as the Wayne Cooper Memorial Lighthouse Atascadero Golf Tournament, the event is in its fifth year raising money for addiction counseling for high school students.

The event rechristening was a fitting tribute to the program co-founder, despite, Clickard said, Cooper’s widow reporting that he never actually played golf.

He added that he was so impressed by the talk delivered to event attendees by a Paloma Creek High School student that he suggested the Board consider taking on a student representative to alternate reports given by Atascadero High School’s student delegate to the Board.

In a talk with a reporter before the Oct. 16 Board meeting, Butler addressed other ongoing topics, noting that a meeting was scheduled in the following week to discuss the request made at the Oct. 2 meeting by the San Benito Elementary School PTA for an electronic marquee at the school.

“We’ll absolutely be sitting down with them, it’s such a great group,” he said. “We’re all on the same page that the needs of students and their parents matter, of course.”

He still wasn’t sure about the complexity of any infrastructure required for a permanent electronic installation, and how the interface would be managed.

In other PTA news, or in their case the Parent Teacher Student Association of the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy announced their Art-A-Thon will take place on Thursday, Oct. 25, starting at 1:30 p.m. The event involves outside teachers coming in for special one-day only classes and serves as an arts-based fundraiser for school activities.

In light of all the negative attention absorbed by the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy since September, Butler noted that the PTSA, the teachers specifically, and the staff have continued to, “do a great job in a very difficult situation.”


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