A Message from Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent
Dear Parents, Guardians and Students,
Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the Gilroy Unified School District team for my tenth year as Superintendent. We are making great strides in many areas for our students. Our more than 1,000 employees are deeply committed to increasing the rigor and quality of our educational programs so that students can achieve at the highest possible levels academically.
State and local test results continue to indicate that we are moving in the right direction as a district. After eight years of consistent district-wide gains in proficiency on the Academic Performance Index (API), our students began using a new testing tool called the California Assessment of Student Performance (CAASPP). CAASPP results for 2015 showed that students in GUSD outperformed their statewide peers in mathematics, while falling just one percentage point short of them in English Language Arts.
The GUSD graduation rate for the 2014-15 cohort was 88.8 percent, an increase of more than 8 percentage points over the last five years. The GUSD dropout rate for the 2014-15 was 7.5 percent, declining significantly from 12.9 percent five years ago. This data demonstrates that our efforts to ensure students are engaged and actively participating in school have been successful and resulted in both positive gains in our graduation rates and a significant decline in dropout rates.
These successes are the direct result of a number of initiatives in the district. Over the last several years, our primary focus has been to prepare teachers for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. A three-year plan was developed to train and familiarize teachers with the standards as they were phased in. Staff development days were Common Core focused and intended to introduce staff to effective instructional strategies. During the last school year, Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) were assigned to each level to support teachers through modeling, coaching and curriculum development at each of our school sites. We also emphasized school climate and attendance, launched a new lunch program to focus on healthier, locally grown options for students and completed our Facilities Master Plan and district-wide facilities needs assessment.
This year, our focus will remain on raising academic achievement for all students by continuing to offer high-quality academic programs that provide parents and students with a range of educational options
Implementation of the Sobrato Early Academic Language program will expand to three more of our elementary schools this year, following a successful introduction at Eliot and Glen View. Signature district programs including the Dual Immersion program, GATE program, Biomedical Science Academy and the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy will continue to offer unique educational opportunities for students to explore their particular interests.
Our schools have also been the recipients of a number of prestigious honors and awards over the last several years. This past year, the Golden Bell Award was bestowed upon our successful Dual Immersion program located at Las Animas and Rod Kelley elementary schools, South Valley Middle School and Gilroy High School. Las Animas Elementary also received the California Association of Bilingual Educators’ Seal of Excellence for their Dual Immersion program. Eight of our schools have been selected for the highest recognition by the State, the California Gold Ribbon Award (formerly the California Distinguished Schools Award): Las Animas Elementary School, Luigi Aprea Elementary School, Rod Kelley Elementary School, Brownell Middle School, Solorsano Middle School, Christopher High School, Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA) and Gilroy High School. Four schools were awarded the SJ 2020 Vision Award in 2012 by the Santa Clara County Office of Education: Luigi Aprea, Brownell Middle School, Solorsano Middle School and South Valley Middle School. All of our elementary schools received the prestigious Santa Clara County School Boards Association Hoffmann Award in 2012.
The school district’s enrollment has steadily grown in recent years due to the many new housing developments in Gilroy, with a total enrollment of almost 12,000 students. At the end of the last school year on June 7, the voters of Gilroy generously approved Measure E to build a new elementary school to address the projected growth in enrollment, renovate our two oldest schools (South Valley and Brownell) and make critical technology, safety and infrastructure improvements.
I look forward to meeting you as I visit school sites and attend events throughout the upcoming school year. I wish you a successful and productive school year!