GUSD: Last public powwow before school starts

Your hometown school board trustees. Trustee Tom Bundros was

The Gilroy Unified School District was knee-deep in updates
until 10:30 p.m. last night during it’s last summer board meeting
before students flood the classrooms Aug. 22. From illuminating
test results to increased academic performing index scores, dropout
rates to graduation rates, facilities upgrades to a fifth grade
architect, here’s a very modest snapshot at the ground board
members covered.
The Gilroy Unified School District was knee-deep in updates until 10:30 p.m. Thursday night during its last summer board meeting before students flood the classrooms Monday. From illuminating test results to increased academic performing index scores, dropout rates to graduation rates, facilities upgrades to a fifth-grade architect, here’s a very modest snapshot at the ground board members covered.


Something you don’t see every day? An 11-year-old participating in committee meetings for the development and design of the reconstruction phases at Rucker Elementary School.

When Rucker teacher Curt Kentschke brought architectural sketches to show and share with students, “Isaies was really fascinated,” he recalled.

Fifth-grader Isaies Carranza was eventually asked by Rucker Principal Jan Boehme to participate in reconstruction committee meetings.

“And he’s promised to come to more committee meetings,” said Boehme.

Carranza became an integral participant who “asked tough questions as to why elements were designed the way they were.”

The architect working with the Rucker project said he was impressed by Carranza’s drawing skills and ability to think in three dimensions. Carranza was honored Thursday night by the school board while an entourage of a dozen beaming family members took pictures from their seats.

“He used to play with Lincoln Logs when he was little, and he would get upset and knock them over when they wouldn’t stay straight,” said his mother, Julie Jauregui.

Carranza, who will be a sixth-grader at Brownell Middle School starting Monday, said he would like to be an architect when he grows up.


Gold stars for Kirsten Perez, director of Fiscal Services for GUSD, and Cheryl Galloway, GUSD energy education specialist, who pored over original calculations for city sewer impact fees and realized the district “owed significantly less” than what it had paid the year before. Their attention to detail saved the district some coin: Approximately $870,000.

“This is thanks to due diligence of staff,” said trustee Jaime Rosso, lauding Perez and Galloway. “This money would have otherwise been paid out most likely, and it was saved thanks to excellent work on the part of our staff.”


Board members approved the removal and replacement of the existing fire alarm panel at Rod Kelley Elementary School.

And even if they hadn’t approved it, “I intend to take it out and stick it in my office as a museum piece,” threatened James Bombacci, director of Facilities Planning and Management for GUSD. The voter-approved Measure P Bond will cover $9,700 to replace a “very archaic” fire alarm system that goes off intermittently on its own accord.


During his Measure P facilities update, Bombacci gave trustees a rundown on a number of school site projects; three of which are “on time and under budget” – music to trustees’ ears.

“Tied up in a bow,” remarked GUSD Board President Rhoda Bress.

This includes technical upgrades at Rod Kelley Elementary, renovations at the Gilroy Transportation Department and a made-over career technical education classroom at Gilroy High School, which will house the new biomedical science academy called Project Lead The Way. GHS Principal Marco Sanchez initiated the implementation of the rigorous program, kicking off this year.

To read more about PLTW, click here: Project Lead The Way

To read more about GUSD bus routes being cut in half this year, click here: Bus Routes


Slated to be finished by Aug. 12, the brand-new aquatics center at Christopher High School won’t open until Oct. 1. Bombacci cited de-watering issues and poor rock soil beneath the activities pool, which gave construction crews trouble. “They had to keep removing it and replace it with rock,” he explained, “it took quite awhile.” A series of eight concrete pours will take place for the next several weeks. Then comes plaster, water, the pouring of chemicals, and bam: The CHS swim and water polo teams can finally splash around on home turf. To read more about construction undertakings at CHS, click here: CHS construction


The California Department of Education released results from the 2011 Standardized Testing and Reporting program, revealing across-the-board growth in the projected Academic Performing Index for 13 out of 15 Gilroy schools, continued overall increases on mathematics and English language arts scores, coupled with fewer students performing at the “far below basic” and “below basic levels.”

“This is the kind of presentation that was always in my dreams,” said GUSD Board President Rhoda Bress, following a Power Point slideshow boasting positive figures. “When I first came on the board, there were a lot of excuses. This has been a huge leap for us this year.”

To read more about STAR and API results, click here: Test results

STACK O’ STATS: At a glance…

– Overall GUSD API: Improved from 777 to 793.

– State target: 800


Antonio Del Buono: 801; improved by 62 points

El Roble: 780; improved by 5 points

Eliot: 831; decreased by 5 points

Glen View: 796; increased by 22 points

Las Animas: 864; increased by 38 points

Luigi Aprea: 896; increased by 44 points

Rod Kelley: 826; increased by 57 points

Rucker: 810; increased by 23 points

Junior High

Ascencion Solorsano: 825; increased by 11 points

Brownell: 812; increased by 29 points

South Valley: 763; increased by 5 points

High School

Dr. T.J. Owens Early College Academy (GECA): 926; increased by 34 points

Mt. Madonna: 575; decreased by 5 points

Gilroy: 736; increased by 7 points

Christopher: 793; increased by 10 points

Honing in on Mt. Madonna’s low score, GUSD trustee Fred Tovar remarked, “The bigger picture for me here is Mt. Madonna, and how we’re below basic with Mt. Madonna. Something has to be done to turn that around.”

To this, GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores was quick to point out Mt. Madonna caters to the district’s most at-risk students.

“I would urge us not to compare Mt. Madonna to comprehensive high schools,” she said. “We could compare it to other alternative continuation high schools.”

She also was reminded Mt. Madonna was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which cited Mt. Madonna as “a model continuation high school.”

“There are times when I’ve wanted to say it’s not fair to compare them against other four year high schools,” said Flores.


The four-year “cohort” information collected about individual students is available for the first time for the 2009-10 graduating class. The previously calculated completion rate (known as CALPADS) did not account for students who transferred into or out of schools over four years and over-estimated the graduation rate. The new cohort rate takes student mobility into account.

To read more about dropout and graduation rates, click here: Dropouts and grads

2009-12 Cohort graduation report

GUSD: 79.4 percent

Santa Clara County: 78.3 percent

2009-12 Cohort dropout report

GUSD: 15.2 percent

Santa Clara County: 16.8 percent

2009-12 Graduation rates by high school

Dr. T.J. Owens Early College Academy (GECA): 100 percent

Gilroy High School: 86.9 percent; a .2 percent improvement

Mt. Madonna High: 77.6 percent; a 7.6 percent improvement

District total: 83.2 percent; a 1.8 percent improvement

County total: 84.7 percent; a 3.2 percent improvement

State total: 80.4 percent; a 1.8 percent improvement

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