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Board president marks achievements as school year closes

I am proud to serve as the board president to the Claremont Unified School District and, as the 2011-2012 school year comes to a close, I reflect on the many accomplishments that have occurred in the district over this school year.

Our first priority is always our students. Under the guidance of our Past President Dr. Beth Bingham and our Superintendent Dr. Gloria Johnston, we developed and adopted a strategic plan that will guide the district’s focus on individual student success for the next several years.

We completed a full rewrite of the Local Education Agency Plan, which is a blueprint for ongoing student achievement that is submitted to the California Department of Education. All schools rewrote their Single Plan for Student Achievement to detail specific improvement goals that focus on the unique needs of students.

Benchmark exams were implemented to monitor individual student success and allow for immediate intervention for those students at risk of falling behind. With the implementation of Professional Learning Communities at each school, teachers are collaborating in teams to develop specific strategies to improve student learning. This collaboration has also encouraged greater communication among schools as ideas are shared and used throughout the district.

With financial support from the Claremont Educational Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, the theatre renovation committee, the booster committees and many others, we were able to maintain and improve our commitment to the arts, thereby allowing our students greater access to technology, and continue to offer the extracurricular activities we believe are so important to a well-rounded education.

Over the years, all of our schools have received special recognition as outstanding schools of California. In 2012, Sumner was once again named a California Distinguished School, and San Antonio High School was named a Model Continuation School for a second time. The district received the Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Top Performer award.

Our students received many awards and recognitions throughout the year for athletics, the arts and academic pursuits. A few outstanding achievements includes: our girls high school soccer team winning the CIF Division III Championship; the continued success of our International Baccalaureate Program, which has placed in the top third of all high schools in the United States based on the number of successful full diploma candidates; and our high school chamber singers were awarded a gold medal and the distinction of being ranked among the top 5 percent of high school choirs in the entire world.

I am very proud of all of our achievements, and I am well aware that the success of the district comes from the people employed by the district, as well as our outstanding student body. I believe our administrators are the top in the state.

In this time of fiscal tightening, district departments are understaffed, and employees work long hours while constantly pushing for excellence. Our teachers are the most caring and committed group of individuals I have ever met. They are under the constant stress of doing more with less. They, too, work long hours and come to our classrooms every day with the monumental task of teaching and caring for our children.

Our talented classified employees, including the groundskeepers, office managers, custodians and all support staff, play a critical role in running our schools and keeping our children safe. Claremont is a wonderful place to live and our schools play a vital role in the success of our city.

So the next time you see one of our dedicated teachers, administrators or support staff, remember that their job is to prepare and protect our most precious resource, our children. Take a minute to thank them for the contributions that they have made to our schools and in helping to make our city a great place for all of us to live and raise our families.

–Jeff Stark, Claremont Unified School District Board of Education

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