Documenter: Kiera Kaiser

Here’s what you need to know

  • Director Kristen McKenna presented a proposal requiring all graduates to complete a senior portfolio and an oral presentation. 

  • Chief Financial Officer Arelis Garcia gave an in-depth look at the funds that English learners were generating and how the district was spending them.

  • Coordinator Vivian Uchima was recognized for successful ELPAC (English Learners Proficiency Assessment for Californians) testing in August. 

  • The board approved the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Plan for providing supplemental instruction and support to students, including those identified as needing academic, social-emotional, and other supports.

The Scene

The Madera Unified School Board Meeting took place on May 25th, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting was held via Zoom. Upon entering the meeting there was information about the meeting’s start time, how to make a public comment, and how to use Zoom and all of its tools. Board members were in person, save for Trustee McIntyre, who was online and seemed to be having technical issues throughout the meeting. Trustee McIntyre was absent for a majority of the votes due to these tech issues. A video of the boardroom played to everyone online. All officials and staff looked to be wearing masks and distancing themselves.

Members of the Board:

Ray G. Seibert- Area 1 Representative (Area 1 Map)

Ed McIntyre- Area 2 Representative (Area 2 Map)

Ruben Mendoza- Area 3 Representative (Area 3 Map)

Joetta Fleak- Area 4 Representative (Area 4 Map) and President of the board

Lucy Salazar- Area 5 Representative (Area 5 Map)

Israel Cortes- Area 6 Representative (Area 6 Map)

Brent Fernandes- Area 7 Representative (Area 7 Map)

  • The meeting opened with Superintendent Lile reading the mission statement, then roll call. 

  • Nothing was reported from the closed session. 

Student Board Representatives Reports

  • Syan Chavira, a student from Madera South High School, started with updates from Madera South High school. 

  • Chavira reported that Madera South hosted the first Homecoming in their stadium on April 30th. During the week students voted for their homecoming candidates, and the football team had their Homecoming game. 

  • Madera South yearbooks have arrived. It includes journalistic articles about the pandemic, distance learning, essential student workers, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more. 

  • Senior Hunter Holgen finished up his California state VP position. He was awarded the Golden State degree and a Power of One award. 

  • Ileen Santos placed first at the California State Level in Child Development, and Genesis Holien placed third. This is the third year in a row Madera South produced the first-place recipient at the state level in Child Development. 

  • Leslie Madrid won both a state championship in speaking and was elected to state office, which is something no one had done in the chapter for 54 years. She will compete in Nationals this summer. 

  • Hosa had a successful community fundraiser in April, led by the Hosa vice president of community service, Esteban Ohasio Morelos. Over 6 boxes of children’s clothing, toys, and backpack items were donated by the Hosa members. Items were sent to the Madera Rescue Mission to help out children in need of personal items. 

  • Maders South hosted their prom, and over 250 students attended. All students got COVID tested within 72 hours of the event, and no one tested positive. 

  • The school hosted a Randy Durban Memorial Run, benefiting the Red Cross. Mr. Durban was a long-time Madera Unified and Madera South science teacher. MSHS staff got together at the school stadium to run the 5K. 

Jovanni Manzo gave the Torres High School Student Representative Report.

  • The school hosted the “This Is Our House” Disney Spirit week to kick off the last full month of school. The week was filled with dress-up days, lunchtime activities, and their very first rally. There was a Disney door decorating contest for the teachers, which featured characters and scenes from different Disney TV shows and movies. They also changed the bells to play Disney music. 

  • They also hosted a staff vs. student week. Each day at lunch there were lawn game activities, such as Connect-4, Giant Jenga, Cornhole, and Ladder Golf. There was also a teacher vs. student dodgeball game for each cohort. The teachers won. 

  • To celebrate May as Mental Health Awareness month, Torres High partnered with local organizations to host a Mental Health Awareness fair on campus at lunch. Representatives from Camerina Health, Kingsview Youth Empowerment program, as well as Fresno Nomi all shared the different resources available to students. 

  • The week of May 4th- May 10th was Salute To Education week in Madera Unified, and Torres High hosted Parent Appreciation Torres where parents were invited to see the campus for the first time. 

  • The winning T-Shirt for a contest earlier in the year was printed and distributed for the student body last week. 

  • This year a PBIS program was instituted for students that go above and beyond the Torres student characteristics. Students had the opportunity to redeem their points for treats from the student store. 

Student representatives were given recognition and awards in person. They said a few words each about the experience and gave thanks to those who helped them. 

Student board members were also given recognition, they served as trustees and created the first-ever Student Bill of Rights. Their names will be displayed on a perpetual plaque for others to see the first student trustees. Student board members were in-person, and gathered together in the front of the room for a picture, first with masks, then without. Then student trustees each gave thanks to board members and Superintendent Lile, then said a few words about the experience. 

Public Comments

Liz Robertson, a mom of 4 children all attending Madera Unified schools, wanted the board to hear how wonderful her year has been for her youngest daughter, and how her teacher showed “endless patience”. Her daughter, who previously disliked school, now can’t wait to work and loves her class. 

No other public comments were made. 

Education Services: Senior Portfolio and Senior Defense Proposal

Then began the Education Services section of the agenda. This was a proposal for the Graduate Profile. Director McKenna, Coordinator Tony, and Theron Cosgrave were called to present the first look at the Graduate Profile Defense and Portfolio. 

How do we ensure students at Madera Unified graduate at this level? What is our guarantee to our community? These are the questions they asked themselves when coming up with this proposal, stated Director McKenna. 

Five years ago the Board approved a Graduate Profile, this process brought in community members, teachers, stakeholders, and students, to adopt things that they thought students needed when they left us. Currently, they measure standards, graduation rates, GPAs. But, there is more that students need to be successful in life: 6 elements, McKenna states. Think, Adapt, Communicate, Collaborate, Produce and Contribute. What do these elements look like for the different grades? “We don’t want this to just be a poster that hangs in our classrooms, we need to bring it to life” The best way to move forward is to redo what the district knows as Mock Interview, and they are calling it the Graduate Profile Senior Defense and Portfolio. 

To ensure that the Graduate Profile reflects all of the district’s students, they recommend that the Board approve a requirement that all students demonstrate mastery of a Graduate Profile as a condition of graduation. They are asking that this starts with the class of 2025, next Fall’s 9th graders. The demonstration of Mastery would be made through a two-part process, a Senior Portfolio, and a Senior Defense. 

Reasons given why it’s essential to make mastery of the Graduate Profile a graduation requirement:

  1. It aligns with district mission for college and career readiness. 

  2. Creates accountability for students and the district.  

  3. Builds community partnership.

A team of teachers and district leaders has worked for a couple of years to come up with the shape and form that they want this Graduate Profile and Defense to look like. Leaning on best practices from around the country, they’ve landed on a two-part approach. This gives breadth and depth. All students would compile a portfolio of their best work from all their high school years. They would also be able to put resumes and letters of recommendation in this portfolio, things that employers would like to see. This would be a tool that would start in middle school, and students would continue to add to it and refine it throughout their time in high school. Then in 12th grade, it would be ready to show to the public formally. The Defense would be the opportunity to “stand and deliver” as Coordinator Tony put it. Students would pull a couple of pieces from their portfolios and talk about them in-depth, explaining how their education has taken them to this moment, and why they are ready for college and career. The student would be presenting to a small panel of educators and community members to provide feedback. The hope is that this would be a better version of the Mock Interviews. 

To prepare for this shift, district officials developed a timeline for this transition. Starting in the Fall, they are going to be asking some of the 11th and 12th-grade classes to prepare a portfolio, and some of the 11th and 12th-grade classes do the Senior Defense. The timeline included the plan for the next 4 years, all the ways the district would work towards full implementation. 

Students will be given student supports to achieve these requirements, and they have created some student support already. There are additional supports that the district will need to develop as well. Things like example portfolios and defenses and accommodations and modifications for students who need them. Students would either pass or need to redo it with additional coaching and help. 

There would be a percentage of how much work is required depending on the students, taking into account that not all students will have attended Madera Unified Schools for all 4 years of high school. 

This wouldn’t be something that just lives at the Senior level, all grade levels would play a role. Looking into full-district implementation, K-6 would be learning about the Graduate Profile and using the rubrics in their own classrooms. Seventh and 8th grade would be when students start collecting artifacts to put in their portfolios. What students collect in middle school may get replaced by something better in 10th grade, but the goal would be to have students start thinking about this early. In 8th grade, students would be participating in Jr. Defense. Samples have already been done with students, whom all did a graduate defense on video. Some students chose to do the in-person version, which McKenna states is the “pro-option”, in a room full of community members and educators. Students had to pick an element from the Graduate Profile and talk about their challenges and successes and share a piece of work. McKenna considered these trials to be very successful and stated that they gave good feedback. 

This meeting’s first look into the proposal was just info and reports, and they will bring it back in the two subsequent meetings as a board policy change as a first-read and second-read and approval. They then asked for feedback and questions from board members about the proposal. 

Trustee Fernandez asked what was going to be included in the portfolio. McKenna stated that they have some ideas about what it would look like, but they also want to trial it with teachers and students to see what’s best. They have the 6 elements, and they want the students to pick a piece of work that aligns with one of those things. The goal would be to get students to connect things that they’ve done throughout high school to different Graduate Profile requirements. They are proposing that their 6 artifacts would come from different coursework over a student’s career. In addition to these 6 self-chosen artifacts, a reflection piece about how the student has met these, a resume, a post-secondary plan, and letters of recommendation. These things are just a recommendation as of now because they want to see what the district’s educators hold most valuable. 

A question was asked about how these portfolios would be created, and McKenna responded that this would be a digital portfolio. She’s already talked to Director Helford about creating a google drive that would go onto all students accounts with all of the elements. 

Trustee Salazar asked, would students be able to incorporate work from outside of school? The answer given by McKenna said yes, students should be able to incorporate work that might not meet the criteria for the portfolio as they see fit. Maybe this includes lots of letters of recommendation, or an award they’ve received. McKenna said this will be very valuable to students as they enter college and career. 

A question was asked about whether or not knowledge about certain things would be included in the requirements for the Graduate Profile, like knowing the Constitution, writing in cursive, or typing because these are all things students should know. McKenna stated that the Graduate Profile wouldn’t include those things, because those are things that are embedded into the curriculum the district has. The things the Graduate Profile hopes to test are the job readiness and soft skills students will need entering into college and career. 

Fiscal Services: The Revenue and Expenditures for English Learners

In a March board meeting, the board requested a forensic accounting of the English Learner (EL) funds and the way that the money is generated. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Arelis Garcia was called up front to present this greater, in-depth, understanding of these things. Her presentation was a look at the revenue that EL generates and the expenditures for the services the district provides for them.

CFO Garcia explained that the state uses LCFF (a funding system, which stands for Local Control Funding Formula) which calculates funding in two different parts- the Base Grand and Supplemental and Concentration. The districts provide funding from the state monthly, and it comes in one check. Funding is calculated by grade level, as students in lower grades need fewer resources. The district also receives a small fund to keep the K-3 grades in a class average of 24 students to 1 teacher. The Supplemental and Concentration Funds the district receives depend on a duplicated count of each district. Madera Unified has a duplicated count of 90%, which means 90% of the students fall into one of these categories: low-income, ELs, or foster and homeless youth. For this reason, the district receives Supplemental and Concentration Funds. 

The services the district is required to give are services that students need to better their education, Garcia states. When the district provides services to these students (ELs, low-income, or foster and homeless youth), other students may also receive and benefit from those services. 

The requirement from the state for the Supplemental and Concentration funds is that the district uses the money to increase their actions and services to contribute towards improving the services for the students that generate the funds. The district can choose to implement these services school-wide or district-wide, and this is because they meet the criteria surrounding the percentage of students who are generating these funds. 

The way the district demonstrates they are increasing these services towards students is through LCAP, a survey given to students. Garcia states that in the next board meeting, Executive Director of Accountability and Communications Babatunde Ilori will bring the LCAP survey for the board’s review. In the next board meeting, Garcia will also present the proposed budget for next year. The presentation will have all the services the district will be providing for the next three years, and members of the community, as well as the board, will be able to look at what the district is proposing to help students get a better education. 

The information from the LCAP survey goes to the Madera County Superintendent of Schools, where they look at the budget and the info provided from the survey to make sure the district is meeting all the requirements given by the state to use these funds. 

From there, Garcia began to present a slideshow of the numbers. 

The student population for 2021 was 19,941. That number is the enrollment count for the district. From that count, 18,147 of those students are unduplicated students. “That means that 9 out of 10 students are either low-income, English learners, homeless, or foster youth,” Garcia states. 

The funds that are generated by the district are about $30 million in Supplemental funds, and $29.7 million for Concentration, which is about $60 million between the two. 

Among the 18,147 students that are unduplicated in the district, 11,937 of those students (almost 90%) of them are low-income. English learners who are also low-income account for 5,503 of those students, and the number of students that are only English learners (not low-income) is 154. 1 in 4 students are English learners, Garcia reports, and the majority of those students are also low-income.

The 154 students that are English learners only are the ones generating the Supplemental and Concentration funds. They generate a total of $462,000 on average. 

Garcia then showed a list of the expenditures accounting for all the funds, not limited to only Supplemental and Concentration funds. Garcia located all the budgets from the district allocated to the population of English learners. The number of English learners doesn’t count all of the students needing funds, however, because even though a student might have been reclassified as something other than an English learner the district still has to provide services to better those student’s education. There were about 11,300 additional students that are English learners but are now reclassified in the district. 

A total of $24 million is allocated to serve the population of English learners. 

In more detail, there 409 elementary teachers, and every teacher K-6 is required 45 minutes every day to provide English learning development, which is accounted for in Garcia’s report. The average teacher salary is about 90,000 dollars. Teachers spend an average of 12.5% of every day teaching English learning development. The district requires that all the secretary attendance staff is bilingual, so they can provide the services that the community needs. There are also 31 teachers dedicated to English learners. The whole budget for elementary coaches, Secondary Academic coaches, Child Welfare and Attendance Liaisons, and student advocates is not included in this report, Garcia reports. There are office technicians and bilingual clerks in school and also at the district level. 

Then Garcia gave a list of services:

Dual Language Immersion Programs

Teachers Residents program

Migrant Education

Newcomers Program

Technology and programs used to monitor provided to teachers to help students were also reported by Garcia. 

Garcia reported that there is a team of 8 translators. There is a coordinator for teacher residents and a coordinator for English learners. There is also a document tracking service that helps with translation when translators are not available. 

Student and family supports:

Resource centers for providing services to the Spanish-speaking community. Director Hernandez reported to Garcia that the percentage of parents helped by his team is about 85%. 

There is also a service for parents, which gives them information on how to support their students, it’s a 6-week course. 

There are also programs used to communicate and track students. There is a lot of mailing every time the district needs to communicate with parents and families (for things like grades and mass-mailing to the community). The district spends around $100,000 on that. 

Trustee Cortez asked how the district was tracking the return on investment for the programs the district is investing in. “Especially because our EL population, the vast majority of them, are not even meeting the minimum standards.”-Trustee Cortez. Superintendent Lile responded that the board asked for an accounting of expenditures because the worry was that the district wasn’t spending “anywhere near the money that the students generated”. Superintendent Lile said that they could do another deep dive into analytics on exactly how successful the return investment is, but that wasn’t the task presented to Garcia. 

Trustee Salazar asked about how the libraries in the district were doing in incorporating dual language books, realizing that this was not something Garcia would have the answer to but wanting to comment on it. 

The meeting moved onto the Superintendents time. “Tonight we regret that we can’t yet celebrate making it to the yellow tier as a county”. The district is still planning on hosting in-person graduation. They ask that the community be patient for just a little longer. Lile said he wanted to reiterate that the district is planning on offering either full-day instruction 5 days a week or independent study in the next school year. They will be using some of the tools learned during distance learning, but will not be offering distance learning as an option. 

Lile wanted to also acknowledge “the incredibly good work” by the district’s Coordinator of Assessment, Vivian Uchima. Vivian and her team were very careful about student and staff safety, working to gather data on student achievement. The ELPAC (English Language Proficiency Assessments for Californians), is meant to identify English learners. It was administered in person, in August. 717 students required testing and 90% of those students were successfully tested. There were a lot of districts that weren’t able to do “anything near this level of efficacy”, Lile states. 

Superintendent Lile then introduced new members of the administrative team for the Fall of 2021. 


  • Old business- There was then a second reading and requested approval of board Policies and Regulations- Complete 3000 Series. Deputy Superintendent Shadon Schwart was present to answer any questions the board might have about this item as it was explained in detail at a previous meeting. No trustees had any questions. Trustee Salazar approved the motion, and Trustee Hernandes seconded it. There were 5 yes’s, 0 no’s, 0 abstentions, and 2 absent. 

  • New business- Request Approval to appoint Clerk Fleak as the first alternate at the Madera Arts Authority Joint Powers committee and appoint a second alternate. The impending vacancy of an Area 7 Trustee will also leave the board without a first alternate representative to the Madera County Arts Authority Joint Power authority. President Fleak, as the second alternate, is willing to step up to the first alternate, which creates a need for a new second alternate. Trustee Cortez asked if the board would be able to recommend/assign another alternate once the new trustee is appointed. The response was that this could be decided anytime, but it was requested by the board, specifically Trustee Siebert, to have this decision added to the agenda. The board decided to appoint Trustee Fleak as the first alternate and Trustee Salazar as a second alternate (until the new trustee is appointed, then they will discuss it again at that time). This decision was decided with 5 yes’s, 0 no’s, 0 abstained, and 2 absent. 

  • The first reading of core textbook adoption for AP Comparative Government & Politics and AP Microeconomics- there to answer any questions was the Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Director, Selma Gonzalez. Clerk Sieberg asked if the materials would be available in the next few weeks, Gonzalez responded that there would be viewings in-person and virtually. 

  • Request Approval of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Plan for providing supplemental instruction and support to students, including those identified as needing academic, social-emotional, and other supports. Superintendent Lile introduced Assistant Superintendent Sisil to the board. It’s a state grand, also known as ELO. It’s a 12-month grant, and the district will get a little over $16 million. There are seven priorities: extending instructional learning time, accelerating progress to close learning gaps, integrating student supports to address other warriors to learning, community learning hubs, how the district is going to support the student coming back from school closer with deficient credits, additional academic services, and additional training for staff. The district needed feedback as per grant requirements, and they talked to teachers and parents. 30% of parents prioritized extending instructional learning time, 26% of parents prioritized accelerating progress to close learning gaps. 25% of staff prioritized additional training for staff, 20% of staff prioritized accelerating progress to close learning gaps. CFO Garcia was called up to discuss the specifics of the budget of this grant plan. Trustee Salazar asked how they were going to add time to the instructional learning time. The response was that it would be dependent on grade level. In elementary they have after-school programs, and they would focus on expanding services like that for students. They are also going to work on bringing in more one-on-one tutoring. The same would be for middle school. In secondary, where there are credits to take into account, they would be expanding 0 period, as well as 7th and even 8th periods. They would be identifying these students as credit-deficient and extending the school day for them. Gonzalez expressed that it’s important for the district to assess what a student knows then help with what they don’t, rather than assuming that the student knows nothing. The grant plan was then put up for vote. Trustee Sieberg moved the approval and it was seconded by Trustee Salazar. There were 5 yes’s, 0 no’s, 0 abstained, and 2 absent.

  • The first reading of the 2021/2022 Annual Service Agreements was presented by CFO Garcia. Every year they bring all the bender contracts that the district is going to be using in the next year. The first reading includes all the contracts the district is going to be renewing or adding to the list. Trustee Salazar said she would like to see the actual budgets, what has been spent, and the difference, in the future budgets. Garcia said she would provide that. 

The next Regular Board Meeting will be held on June 8th, 2021 over Zoom.

The meeting adjourned at 10:40 p.m.

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