The Coast News Group
The Carlsbad High School choir ended the State of the District event by singing Pharell Williams’ “Happy” a capella. Photo by Ellen Wright
The Carlsbad High School choir ended the State of the District event by singing Pharell Williams’ “Happy” a capella. Photo by Ellen Wright

State of the District highlights progress in Carlsbad schools

CARLSBAD—The Carlsbad Unified School District hosted the annual State of the District Tuesday to update community leaders, business owners and parents on the school district’s progress.

Superintendent Suzette Lovely said Carlsbad High School was ranked within the top five percent of American public schools among 19,400 schools by the U.S.  News. She said Sage Creek High School wasn’t considered because there was no senior class.

Sage Creek opened its doors to students in fall 2013 and was constructed for $2 million less than planned.

Lovely highlighted the district’s high graduation rate with 94.9 percent of students graduating. About two percent more students graduated in June 2013 then the previous year.

The dropout rate decreased from 3.4 percent to 3.2 percent.

The district’s Academic Performance Level is also the third highest in the county with 876 out of 1,000.

Lovely said Pacific Rim Elementary School was rated an impressive 972.

As far as the district’s goals, class size reduction is among a top priority according to Lovely.

“Every time you hire a new teacher to lower class size, that’s about $80,000. It’s not an inexpensive proposition while we recognize, though, it’s important,” Lovely said. “We’re one of the highest performing school districts in the county and even the state, and one of the lowest funded so that’s always a challenge.”

The district hired 23 new teachers over the last year.

Jerry Brown has set a funding formula to decrease Kindergarten through third grade class sizes to 24 students per teacher by 2020, Lovely said.

Another accomplishment Lovely shared was board approval of refinancing the $198 million bond measure, which was approved as Proposition P in 2006. CUSD Deputy Superintendent Suzanne O’Connell proposed the refinancing of the term of the loan and saved taxpayers $1 million, according to Lovely.

Officials from MiraCosta and Cal State University San Marcos attended the event because both schools have recently made alliances with the district.

Mary Benard, vice president of Instructional Services at MiraCosta College approached the district with a deal that MiraCosta would offer classes out of Sage Creek High School and in exchange, Carlsbad students could take any MiraCosta class tuition free.

From fall 2013 to summer 2014, 132 students took more rigorous courses at MiraCosta and saved a total of $18,000, according to Lovely.

CSUSM also agreed to guarantee admission in 2017 to all Carlsbad students who meet high school graduation requirements.

Another program that has been implemented is an elementary level keyboard course.

“We hear from businesses a lot, ‘thumbsy clumsy.’” Lovely said. “Students don’t know how to type, so our board approved a keyboarding program for elementary school.”

Mayor Matt Hall, Assembly member Rocky Chávez, Fire Chief Michael Davis and many other community and business leaders attended the event at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort.