Grateful for their patience and support through what she calls “extraordinary challenges, South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education President Michele Kipke emailed a letter to district families recently grateful for the patience and support as student continue to gain knowledge through distance learning.
She praised the leadership of the district office, the five campuses in the district and for the “passion and creativity” of its teachers, especially following the announcement that they would physically be closed through the end of school year.
“We now know that it was the right decision to close our school before the directive to shelter-at-home, creating challenges for families in the moment but potentially saving hundreds of students, teachers, support staff, and administrators from being exposed to coronavirus while at school,” wrote Kipke in her correspondence. “And within just two short weeks, with limited infrastructure in place to support distance learning, our District administrators developed a new framework for online learning. Teachers quickly adopted this framework and designed new teaching and learning platforms.”
Kipke noted that the district’s technology team distributed more than 1,000 Chromebooks to students. “All of this has allowed our students to continue their studies while our schools are closed,” she wrote.
The SPUSD food service team now serves more than 800 daily breakfast and lunch meals to students-in-need. “We are so grateful to the many faculty and staff who have stepped up in so ways that may not be obvious but are essential to help our school family of nearly 5,000 students,” noted Kipke. “We are so very proud of these efforts.”
The Board of Education president shared that the South Pasadena Unified School District now faces considerable financial uncertainty due to COVID-19, explaining: “The economy is facing a rapid downturn and the school board and our district leaders have been informed by state and county officials to anticipate and prepare for substantial reductions to school funding in California.”
As a result, she said the State of California is expecting to make funding reductions to school districts in May for the current fiscal year (2019-2020) and also for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. “This is a rare and dramatic change in the budget development process for public education,” she wrote. “State leaders are also planning to make additional funding reductions to the education budget in August 2020, following the revised state tax-filing deadline from April to July. Severe cuts to our state funding will present a very challenging road ahead for South Pasadena Unified, as well as all other school districts across California.”
She assured families in her letter “that in times like these the Board of Education is fiercely advocating for our schools and our students, through activism and extensive engagement with state leaders, public education organizations, and our District administration.”
Kipke reminded the community that South Pasadena is known for its outstanding schools and its unwavering support of students. “Together, we will weather this storm and be stronger and more united than ever before,” she insisted.