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Welcome Back! Message from the Superintendent

August 16, 2017


Dear PVUSD Colleagues,


The beginning of a new school year, like the start of a new day, reminds us that the future holds endless possibilities and excitement. I hope that your summer was peaceful, as well as filled with explorations and good health because you deserve it.  It was an honor and pleasure meeting the grand majority of you as I visited classrooms, departments and attended events at your schools during my inaugural year as your Superintendent.  I look forward to continuing to build connections with you in the 2017-18 school year. I will continue to give you my unwavering commitment of leadership and dedication, in addition to a relentless focus on students, as we propel Pajaro Valley Unified School District towards even greater success. I wish everyone the greatest success as we welcome over 20,000 students to their educational journey of 2017-18. I know that our students are in the capable hands of our highly focused teachers and staff committed to making PVUSD the most innovative and successful school district in Santa Cruz County. 


Like all successful organizations, we are constantly reinventing ourselves to better serve our students, parents and community. We have awesome staff doing tremendous work.  Let's celebrate together by looking at a few highlights of the significant investments we are making to ensure our students have a world-class education. 


Advancing Academic Achievement:

Our top priority is to expand opportunities and access to high quality learning environments. This summer, thousands of students have engaged for the first time in:

  • Hands on Science Learning with the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
  • Coding training with Education Training Research (ETR)
  • Performing arts experiences with West Theatre and Tandy Beal Dance Company
  • Expanded credit recovery completion by 867 secondary students
  • Newly established Freshmen Bridge Program at Watsonville High to support students' transition to high school


For the upcoming school year, many innovative programs will be introduced to our schools:

  • Edward James Olmo's award winning Latino Film Institute Youth Cinema Project at Starlight Elementary and Cesar Chavez Middle schools
  • El Sistema of Santa Cruz is providing music instruction at Radcliff Elementary.
  • Paso a Paso: Creciendo Juntos (Step by Step: Growing Together) to support early literacy for preschool through 3rd grade as well as for all children and families in our community
  • College and Career Centers are being supported at all three comprehensive high schools; Aptos High School will be included for the first time this year
  • VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) program expansion to include music offerings at all middle schools 


Investing in Human Resources:

Since February, PVUSD has been engaged in recruitment efforts to ensure students are taught by high quality staff. In addition we are:

  • Continuing to on-board new staff
  • Launching a Human Resources site visitation with all new teachers to support a seamless transition into their teaching profession
  • Working diligently to reduce teacher vacancies to only 7 teacher vacancies as of the first day of school
  • Offering "Voice and Choice" Professional Development days to support building of teacher capacity;   Teachers will be able to select their topic for professional learning days.
  • Implementing four benefits committee approved additional medical plans for employees.


Improving Learning Environments with Maintenance and Facilities:

We are dedicated to continually improving the learning environment for students.  This year, our students will be welcomed into many modernized and renovated facilities.  The District completed 50 modernization projects at 27 schools this summer. Some highlights include:

  • Aptos High School: lighted walkway and updated 21st Century Library
  • Mar Vista: new portables and replacement of fire alarm system
  • Pajaro Middle School: new basketball court
  • Mintie White: updated façade and fencing
  • Rolling Hills: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) laboratory

We believe our learning environments extend beyond the classroom, therefore we have:

  • Placed hot spots for Wi-Fi access on long-ride buses to facilitate digital literacy and student learning with Chromebooks
  • Began a pilot program to find green fuel alternatives for buses
  • Installed GPS on all buses
  • Implemented Z-pass system on buses to increase efficacy and safety of student loading and unloading

Serving the Whole Child:

PVUSD values a holistic approach based on meaningful relationships to achieve student success.  To accomplish this goal, the following initiatives are moving forward:

  • Lead counselor position to facilitate mobilization of resources to support wrap around services
  • New Socio-Emotional Counselors at alternative secondary sites to support our most fragile students
  • Professional development for teachers and staff on mindfulness
  • Positive behavior training at all sites to support innovative disciplinary practices
  • Nutrition enhancement through salad bars at all highs schools
  • California Thursdays for fresh meal choices at all high schools
  • Harvest of the Month program expanded to K-12
  • New pre-school assessment clinic and full time administrator at Special Education site Duncan Holbert

We will ensure student success through providing high quality learning environments, expanding parent and community partnerships, and maintaining quality staff. We will continue to place students' learning at the center of all decisions.  Thank you for all that you do everyday for our students.


Posted by: Alicia Jimenez Published:8/16/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage