Full Text of Board of Education President Boulghourjian’s State of Schools Address

Pasadena Board of Education President Toy Boulghourjian delivered the following State of Schools Address on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 in the gymnasium of Washington STEAM Magnet Academy.

Published : Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | 5:41 AM

“Good evening and welcome. My name is Roy Boulghourjian and I am the Board of Education representative for District 2. As Board President, it is my honor to deliver the State of the Schools address this evening. My colleagues on the Board of Education will also update you on the state of our schools and district, our progress in achieving goals, the financial state of our district and our goals for the current school year.

I would like to thank the Washington STEAM Magnet Academy community for hosting this event tonight.

In the past few weeks, I have been meeting and discussing our schools with my good friend Mr. Avram Gold, who did a thorough study of our schools and I learned a lot from him. Thank you Avram for all your hard work and dedication to this project. You provided us a wealth of beneficial information and ideas, and like you said, exciting education is being delivered in our schools but many people do not know about it, and will not know about it unless they “look for it” and “want to find it”. The misconception usually is that Pasadena Public Schools are not good enough and not even a consideration for many parents. That is why Forty-five percent of Pasadena’s total student population attend private or charter schools.

Some might think that because Pasadena has a large number of English Learners, foster home students, and socio-economically disadvantaged families and special needs kids, not enough attention is being directed into the high-achieving student classes.

We want to clarify that PUSD believes ALL students have special needs, especially high-achievers from high-expectation, affluent parents. In all of our schools, “smarter” and more privileged students are just as important as the disadvantaged students. Smart kids DO get attention, and plenty of it. We have AP classes, pathway courses, academies and IB opportunities, and many more that are truly impressive.

Pasadena Unified schools are rapidly moving towards becoming the first choice in education for families seeking academic excellence, innovation, and diversity in both programs and students. We see this among families who have returned to PUSD for our dual language immersion, STEM, arts, and high school programs. Our schools are stronger and our students are achieving and gaining admission to elite colleges and universities. Beginning with the strategic plan adopted in 2010, the Pasadena Unified School District has focused on building excellent academic programs and preparing our students for success in college and careers.
It is no secret that PUSD is facing a significant budget crisis this year with a $5.7 million in the current year, and another $13 million over the next two years. The budget gap is caused by several factors:

  • Rapidly rising pension and health care costs
  • Enrollment, while steady in the last few years, continues to decline, although we’ve seen it rise this year at Eliot Arts Magnet.

To ensure that our schools continue to improve, we need to make sure that our systems, our planning and our budget are all in total alignment.

It is time for us to seize control of our own fiscal future and to strengthen the fiscal planning side of our district.

This Fall, school teams and district divisions will explore data on student achievement, conduct root cause analysis and engage you, our stakeholders, in identifying strategies that support the instructional core based on the three priorities that the Board of Education recently identified:

1. Continuous improvement in academics and operations

2. Increasing socioeconomic integration that promotes stronger academic, cognitive, and social-emotional benefits for all students

3. Reducing the budget deficit for long term sustainability
In education, we tend to layer one initiative on top of the other, without funding each one properly. This slows down our overall progress. Breaking out of these layers is going to require sustained, strategic action and this community’s will to address deep-rooted issues.

Under California’s system of funding schools, the Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, sets aside dollars for the students who need the most support. The Pasadena Unified LCAP in 2016-17 streamlined goals from 10 in the previous year to five goals that focused on academic progress, high quality staff, school climates and environments, the engagement of families to support student achievement, and efficient systems. The Pasadena Unified LCAP is aligned to our district’s strategic plan, and its strategies and actions are focused on preparing students to graduate ready to be successful in college and careers.

I will now report to you about Facilities and the progress made in delivering learning and athletic facilities for students to learn and thrive.

Tonight, we are in a new multipurpose gymnasium that opened last year that has delivered first-class learning and athletic opportunities for Washington students. Through a joint-use agreement with the City of Pasadena, this facility is also bringing recreational amenities that promote healthy lifestyles for the community to enjoy.

  • The $10.4 million 17,800 square foot sports complex includes a gymnasium with basketball and volleyball courts, a fitness room, dance room and weight room, locker rooms, concession stand, and offices. The project also includes outdoor basketball courts.

Since it was approved by voters in 2008, the $350 million Measure TT bond program has delivered high quality learning and recreational facilities for thousands of PUSD students.

In 2016-2017, PUSD completed projects funded by Measure TT include:

  • Altadena Elementary School Modernization
  • Eliot Middle School Auditorium
  • Field Elementary School Modernization
  • Madison Elementary School Student Drop-Off and Curb Cut
  • Marshall Fundamental New Sports Complex
  • McKinley ES New Science Building, Cafeteria and Gym
  • Roosevelt Elementary School’s Student Drop-Off
  • Sierra Madre MS New Campus

Last year, after a thorough and state-mandated audit, independent auditors awarded the Measure TT program the highest possible rating for the fiscal year ending June 2016. We feel completely vindicated by this and we are thinking about applying for a new Bond measure soon. The Board will be voting on it in the coming weeks. We will keep you all posted with any developments.

My colleagues will now cover the progress in areas around academic, quality staff, and engaging families.

Thank you.”

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