Those who took part in community meetings with local school officials, have called for expanded language and cultural programs, bilingual instructional assistants and more counselors, according to a report released by True North Organizing Network, Building Healthy Communities and Del Norte Unified School District last week.

The report summarizes two series of public meetings the district and two nonprofits held this year. DNUSD is preparing to bring its draft Local Control Accountability Plan before the Board of Trustees on May 23. The community will have another chance to comment at a public hearing June 6 before trustees vote on the final LCAP June 27.

According to school officials, the LCAP will cover the years 2019-2023. The plan outlines how the district plans to spend additional dollars it receives to serve English language learners, foster students, homeless students and low income students.

This funding accounts for 12 percent of the district's overall budget, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Jeff Napier. In the 2018-2019 school year, Del Norte received $5.5 million in additional dollars. For the next three years, the district expects an additional $200,000 to $250,000, according to Steve Godla, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction

In addition to holding two series of public meetings, three in the autumn and three in the spring, district officials heard from representatives of committees representing parents, English language learners and foster students along with teachers, administrators and classified staff.

During the first series of community meetings, held in December at Community Day School, Margaret Keating School in Klamath, Smith River School and Bess Maxwell School in Crescent City, 76 parents, students and community members provided input.

In early April, 104 parents, students and community members spoke at Community Day School, Margaret Keating School, Smith River School and Joe Hamilton Elementary School.

In the fall, the most mentioned topic at the community meetings was increased communication between the district and parents, according to the report.

Community members noted transportation is a barrier to student and family engagement, particularly for those in Smith River and Klamath, and the greatest barriers to student achievement is whether basic needs of the student are being met such as shelter, food, clothing, and a safe and stable home environment, according to True North's report.

Families also wanted more behavioral supports for their students and acknowledged that having "consistent and stable adults" in their children's lives made them feel safe and connected at school.

In the spring, people were asked to provide input on programs district officials were proposing to either expand upon or implement, commenting on what they liked and what they would add or change.

According to True North's report, the district listened to parents by proposing to increase its communication with parents, something the community appreciated. The community also responded favorably the current Yurok and Tolowa language programs and called for extending them to more sites and adding more languages, according to the report.

There were also suggestions for the creation of "multi-cultural classes" and more instructional assistants at all campuses, including those who are bilingual, according to the report. The community also suggested more experiential learning programs and field trips, transportation to extracurricular activities for students in outlying areas and mental health programs for students such as peer support groups, anti-bullying clubs and prevention workshops.

Meanwhile, district proposals that received the lowest level of support included instruction, software subscriptions and professional development aimed at the historically underserved and under performing students, according to the report. New teacher recruitment and training received low levels of support from the community as did continuing an attendance support team, which includes a probation officer.

Community members also responded less favorably to contributing LCAP dollars to the district's deferred maintenance fund and hiring a full time equivalent school resource officer, according to the report.

Parents and other community members also had suggestions for the district officials when it comes to engaging with families. This includes tips on helping their student with homework as well as enhancing health and wellness at home, incentives for better attendance and district communication being available in the family's native language.

Parents also suggested it would be helpful if teachers gave them an expectation as to what their child should know by the end of the school year, according to the report.

The Del Norte Unified School District Board of Trustees is next expected to meet at 4:30 p.m. on May 23 in the district office, 301 W. Washington Blvd., Crescent City. For more information about the LCAP, visit https://www.dnusd.org.

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