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School Board: Lucerne Valley USD Charter Schools Give Updates

Representatives from two charter schools that operate with the oversight of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District gave updates during the June 14 meeting of the district’s governing board.
Ken Larson, principal of the Hesperia-based Alta Vista, said that the charter school is making a tremendous difference in students’ lives. Upon enrolling at Alta Vista, the average student had a 1.4 grade point average. After attending the school, the average GPA has risen to 2.9. Alta Vista students are also more likely to attend school, become more engaged in class, and graduate from high school. “We’re bringing them up to grade level,” Larson said.
Students who come to Alta Vista often face several of a number of challenges including an unstable home life, truancy and teen pregnancy. Some have been expelled or suspended from their previous schools and may have been placed in foster families, or even homeless. To change students’ life stories, Alta Vista offers flexible schedules, provides one-on-one attention, designs personalized lessons and provides a safe environment. The school also offers an array of extra-curricular activities such as sports and clubs, small group instruction and college and career readiness assistance.
“We tell them, ‘You need to leave school with a purpose and a plan,’” Larson said.
Alta Vista has a 3-year accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is aiming at receiving a full six-year accreditation, he added.
Sky Mountain Charter School Chief Operation Officer Jodi Jones also gave an update at the board meeting. Sky Mountain, a WASC-accredited TK-12 independent study school, operates schools in several California counties with the San Bernardino County-based program headquartered in Redlands. Last month Jones, who joined Sky Mountain Charter School six months ago, met with parents at a town hall-style meeting. During the event, Jones and other school administrators invited parents to learn more about the school system, the state’s Local Control and Accountability Plan and other factors pertinent to their childrens’ education.
Sky Mountain, which is managed by the Placerville-based Innovative Education Management, has recently seen an “uptick” in enrollment and now has 1,800 students, according to Jones.
Both Sky Mountain and Learn4Life charter schools, along with Elite Academic Academy, receive oversight by the Lucerne Valley Unified School District.


Also during the meeting, Adele McClain provided a presentation on the Lucerne Valley Adult Education program. Currently Adult Ed has 32 students.
“Having 32 students is a good number,” she said. “We’ll only grow from there.”
Adult Ed offers an array of classes for adults including a computer enrichment and English/Spanish course.


Keri Gasper, who founded and served as president of the Lucerne Valley Elementary School Booster Club, was recognized for her dedication to the Lucerne Valley USD. She has served as organizer of Booster Club fundraisers and events, and the club has provided field trips for students. The club sponsors the annual end-of-year carnival.


Superintendent Livingston also provided an update on the Local Control and Accountability Plan. School districts in California must identify needs, with shareholder input, in its LCAP. Livingston expects the LVUSD to submit its 2018-19 LCAP early, perhaps this week.
In the LCAP, the district states its plans on maintaining many of the current programs while expanding the AVID program and FFA, adding music classes, an intervention teacher and counseling support. The district also plans on adding a comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lab at the elementary school and additional administrative support at the middle/high school.
And planning on success is paying off.
According to Lexia data, Lucerne Valley Elementary has seen significant improvement since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The number of students below grade level has decreased by 29%, and 39% — compared to just 7% last year — are above grade level. Other improvements are seen in STAR reading and math data, according to Livingston’s report.


During the “discussion/action” portion of Thursday’s meeting, the school board approved the following:
• A memorandum of understanding between the LVUSD and Victor Valley College regarding Career Technology Education courses such as auto, restaurant, graphics, and 3D modeling for the academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
• A resolution regarding the Education Protection Account which comes from revenues derived from the incremental increases in taxes as stipulated in Proposition 30, which California voters approved in 2012, and Proposition 55, which voters approved four years later.
• The formation of an ad hoc committee to review Superintendent Peter Livingston’s contract.
• An Internship Credential Program between the LVUSD and Brandman University.
• The modification of a memorandum of understanding between the school district and the Riverside County Superintendent of School for participation in the Center for Teacher Innovation Induction Program. The program allows teachers to reflect on their practices which will promote their success and the success of their students.
• A variable term waiver for English Learner instruction for Kelli Papiernik to teach Manufacturing and Product Development CTE courses for grades 9 through 12 for the 2018-19 school year.
• A variable term waiver for English Learning instruction for Kimberly Evans to teach Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation CTE courses.
• An agreement with the school district and School Services of California.
• An agreement with the school district, the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and the Foster Youth Transportation Services.
• An MOU between the district and the local chapter of the California School Employees Association to increase hours for a custodian at Lucerne Valley Elementary School.
• Geotechnical observation and testing for a district solar energy construction program by TGR Geotechnical, Inc. and a construction inspection of the project by PF Vision, Inc.
• A fee adjustment for legal services with Parker and Covert law firm.
• A renewal of an agreement with Shaw HR Consulting.
Also, the board decided to cancel its regular meeting in July unless a special need arises. The 2018-19 school year begins on August 9.
Longtime school board member Tom Courtney recommended the board approve its annual membership to the California School Boards Association and Education Legal Alliance. The board voted in favor, 4-0. (Board vice-president Carmen Fox was absent.)