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PART TWO: NARRATIVE
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT OR ELIGIBLE CHARTER SCHOOL (ENROLLMENT, DEMOGRAPHICS, STRENGTHS, CHALLENGES, ETC.) AND THE EXACT NEED(S) OR ISSUE(S) SIA FUNDING WILL ADDRESS AS OUTLINED IN YOUR 3 YEAR PLAN AND AS IT RELATES TO THE TWO PURPOSES STATED IN THE LAW (MEETING STUDENTS’ MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS AND REDUCING DISPARITIES AND INCREASING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT).
Kids Unlimited Academy (KUA) is a public charter school in the Medford School District. KUA serves 470 students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. This is the 7th year our charter school has been open. KUA has contracted with Kids Unlimited of Oregon (KU) to provide teachers and staff for KUA. All references herein to KU’s teachers/staff are to those provided by KU to KUA. Kids Unlimited of Oregon has been a non-profit for 23 years in the Rogue Valley. KU offers after school programs in Title 1 schools in the Rogue Valley including camps and sport programs during the year. Students at KUA also have the opportunity to participate in those programs. KUA offers an extended day program and our students have additional instructional hours each year compared to other districts.
We accomplish this through a longer school day Monday-Friday (no early release days each week). Additionally, KUA offers many enrichment activities including: art, music, PE, Title 1 interventions for all students and opportunities for hands-on learning. Our afterschool programs include many unique classes such as: Tae Kwon Do, ceramics, culinary classes, Project Lead the Way, music, drama, dance, Ballet Folklorico, German, Spanish, gardening and more. Our families choose KUA due to our family-like atmosphere, small class sizes, our unique made-from-scratch food program, many bilingual staff, and our wrap-around services. KUA began in 2013 with grades 1st-3rd and has gradually added a grade level each school year. In 2018-2019 KUA had its first “graduating” 8th grade cohort. The poverty rate of our student population is consistently high enough that KUA qualifies for CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) which allows 100% free breakfast and lunch for all students in the district.
The 435 (numbers from the 2018-19 school year enrollment) students enrolled in at KUA are broken down into the following subgroup populations :
- >95% Economically Disadvantaged
- 51% Ever English Learners
- 13% Students with Disabilities
- 6% Talented and Gifted
- <1% American Indian/Alaskan Native
- <1% Pacific Islander
- <1% Black
- 70% Hispanic
- 25% White
- 3% Multiracial
- 33% Migrant students (numbers came from SOESD)
- 39% Bilingual/Bicultural Staff
- 85% Regular Attenders
Our school has experienced a significant increase in challenging behaviors across our K-8 program during the last few years. Our PBIS team has worked to develop consistency across the school as our program has continued to grow with time. We have worked to add behavior and mental health supports including staff training but we still struggle to meet the needs of these students. KUA has 3 full time staff who are devoted solely to behavioral support. While these supports help students in immediate need, they do not teach students the preventative skills they need to cope with stressors in their lives. In October 2018 we began partnering with a local care provider to provide medical and mental health services to students and KUA SIA Plan – April 2020 – page 2 families on campus. However, despite these supports our students continue to struggle with socio-emotional difficulties. The impact on the classroom is evident on a daily basis and this impacts the learning outcomes for all students.
Our overall achievement based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment for language arts and math show improvement over the years. In 2018-2019 our English Language Arts scores decreased by 5%, while our Mathematics scores increased by 5%. While we outperform many Title 1 schools around the state, our averages are below the State of Oregon averages. Of all of our student categories, our lowest performing sub groups are our students experiencing disabilities (Special Education), Ever English Learners, and migrant students. Attendance rates have shown improvement over the last few years, but we still have 15% of students who are not attending school regularly.
THE EXACT NEED(S) OR ISSUE(S) FUNDING WILL ADDRESS AS OUTLINE IN YOUR 3-YEAR PLAN
After synthesizing and analyzing all of the staff and community input gathered through this process, 5 key areas emerged that we want to increase supports for:
- Student Academic Achievement
- Behavior and Mental Health
- Mission and Vision Outreach
- Staff Development
- Social Media and Communication
With these funds we will address the following needs and issues:
- Improving our core work with students to build a strong foundation of learners at KUA
- Enhancing our behavioral and mental health programs to support the social, emotions, and physical well-being of our community
- Development of a clear mission, vision, and culture that emphasizes the belief that ALL students are capable of success
- Invest in our teachers by providing high quality professional development that will benefit our diverse student population
- Improve school communication systems to better inform KUA families and the community through relevant and timely communication
PART THREE: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND INPUT
OVERVIEW OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT – DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH
OVERVIEW : ENSURE RESPONSE INCLUDES: WHO YOU ENGAGED, FREQUENCY/OCCURRENCE, HOW YOU ENSURE ENGAGEMENT OF STAFF AND EACH OF THE FOCAL STUDENT GROUPS AND THEIR FAMILIES, KEY INFORMATION COLLECTED, WHO PARTNERED WITH IN THE ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS .
Community Engagement built KUA. Poor and Latino teenagers who had been marginalized by public schooling, grew up and had children of their own. These children go to Kids Unlimited Academy. From our food program to our after school enrichment program, our success depends on engagement.
The demographics of each and every KUA stakeholder group mirrors the demographics of the school. Prior to the news that Oregon would be inviting school’s to engage their community in a decision making process to establish spending priorities, KUA’s Parent Teacher Collaborative, Site Council, Migrant PAC and School Improvement Team and staff were representative of our student body’s diversity.
As soon as Kids Unlimited Academy learned that we would have the freedom to establish our own priorities, independent from the Medford School District, we made applying for the SIA funds a priority. With the Student Investment Account Engagement Toolkit and the support of the KUA School Board and KUA’s Chief Executive Officer, KUA’s Principal and Assistant Principal began the work of creating a 2019-2020 roadmap of engagement.
We decided to begin our journey by engaging with our staff. We wrote the 5 areas for input in large print on sticky poster paper. After presenting the SIA information we utilized a think/pair/share strategy. Folks formed groups and circulated from poster to poster, adding what they felt should be our priorities under each area. It was an old school approach that we replicated with our various parent groups as well as our Site Council. The posters were put on display in our large meeting room so that our all meeting participants during the course of the year would be KUA SIA Plan – April 2020 – page 4 reminded and encouraged to revisit the input from all stakeholders This feedback was shared with our KUA school board several times and the completed draft SIA plan was shared in February 2020. An online survey was also emailed to our staff, families, middle school students, community stakeholders, and Kids Unlimited school board members in mid-March 2020.
SELF ASSESSMENT OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
SELF ASSESSMENT: SHARE A SELF-ASSESSMENT ABOUT THE QUALITY AND NATURE OF YOUR ENGAGEMENT OF FOCAL STUDENTS, FAMILIES AND THE STAFF MORE BROADLY. IF THE GOAL IS MEANINGFUL, AUTHENTIC AND ONGOING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, WHERE ARE YOU AT IN THAT PROCESS? WHAT BARRIERS, IF ANY, WERE EXPERIENCED AND HOW MIGHT YOU ANTICIPATE AND RESOLVE THESE ISSUES IN FUTURE ENGAGEMENT?
Honesty and Humility is our approach. The tone and tenor of our parent meetings involves food, warmth, childcare, humor, relevancy and bilingual support. We have a loyal following of families who expect no less than authentic engagement. At our September Open House we create a centralized area where food is offered and tables are manned by a diverse selection of community outreach agencies: DHS, Medical Clinics, our Public Libraries, etc. This year we added a Student Investment Act table where parents could speak informally to a staff member about the input we would be discussing and gathering in the upcoming months. At our first parent input meeting we had bilingual staff members circulating between the input topics, ensuring our non-Spanish speaking parents and Spanish speaking parents would have the ability to share and engage with each other.
Staying ahead of the needs of our families is a never ending goal of KUA. This year we not only embarked upon the work of gathering input for the SIA application, we spent the year applying for grants and basically building a Pre-K program to serve the needs of our families.
To ensure we weren’t relying strictly on attendance, grades or behavior data, KUA decided to reach out to the Search Institute, a private research group. We wanted to learn about our students. In order to establish “meeting students behavioral and mental health needs” as a priority, we decided to put in place the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets Survey. We asked and received permission from our students and their families to participate and gather data. We ensured that KUA SIA Plan – April 2020 – page 5 the survey was conducted in a safe and secure atmosphere. The survey took place in the first week of December and in January we received the results. Did the results impact our priorities? No. Our student’s lowest developmental asset was “self image”. The results simply confirmed what we knew: we needed to make student mental health a priority. Our stakeholders agree that building safe and healthy relationships with self and others is a priority.
We see that we need to build a stronger relationship with Options for Southern Oregon, a non profit that provides an array of mental health programs in both Josephine and Jackson County. If KUA is going to go forward with our work to support the mental health of our families and children, we need to build bridges between as many providers as possible. Currently KUA has provided office space to La Clinica, a local care provider. Our mental health needs extend beyond what La Clinica can provide. Though we currently provide an office space for the Department of Human Services and we elicited their feedback in our engagement journey, silos still exist that prevent a seamless connection between Kua, our families, and services.
The barriers we faced during this process were (a.) working with a minimal administrative crew and (b.) expecting that our parent community, whose economic realities include working multiple jobs could be expected to find the time to engage in the SIA process.
(a.) The principal and assistant principal share an office with minimal administrative support. Somehow we managed to work through the SIA process with the support of the regular ODE Webinars. Additionally, two KUA teachers are also Southern Oregon University administrative candidates and supported this work while at the same time accruing practicum hours.
(b.) Over 75% of our families are Latino with 35% being employed in migrant occupations. Face to face family dinner/meetings became our dominant approach, as we learned that online surveys simply don’t engage our Spanish speaking families.
WHAT RELATIONSHIPS/PARTNERSHIPS WILL YOU CULTIVATE TO IMPROVE FUTURE ENGAGEMENT?
We will continue to strengthen our relationship with La Clinica to build bilingual KUA SIA Plan – April 2020 – page 6 mental health services and resources for our families. We will work to cultivate a relationship with Options of Southern Oregon, who built an outreach facility within blocks of Kids Unlimited Academy.
Building a bridge between Southern Oregon University’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion would be an important next step in impacting our student’s self image – self identity. Reaching out to SOU’s Konoway Nika Tillicum Academics and Cultural Support Program would benefit our students in grades 6-8. There is no reason why KUA can’t have the same mentoring program found in Bulldogs to Raiders – a mentoring program established between SOU and Talent Middle School. KUA held a Indigenous People’s Day this year, with the help of SOU’s Native Liaison Instructor Brent Florendo and the staff saw first hand the impact such a celebration had on the student body and highlighted our student’s innate hunger to celebrate and recognize their individual cultures.
Building a bridge with SOU’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion would provide the mentoring our teachers need to ensure their curricular choices meet our student’s cultural needs.
WHAT RESOURCES WOULD ENHANCE YOUR ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS? HOW CAN ODE SUPPORT?
✓ Ensure that communication around expectations and outcomes gives KUA plenty of time to thoroughly execute the state’s expectations.
✓ Understanding many public schools were able to keep staff employed during the shutdown, KUA laid off the majority of support personnel. Two major funding streams – a major auction and a large basketball tournament – were cancelled. Before embarking on our SIA plan, KUA will require time to rebuild and regroup once school starts up again, hopefully in August.
✓ Refine ODE support webinars to focus on like-schools, not just Charter/non-charter schools. KUA is a school with high poverty/diversity and would truly benefit from ODE sponsored webinars to gain strategies around inclusion and equity, etc. Not all Charter Schools are alike. KUA SIA Plan – April 2020
✓ Targeted Assistance in building strategies to support curriculum and strategies around English Language Learners, culturally inclusiveness, and equity and inclusion strategies to build student esteem and academic efficacy.
✓ ODE can influence the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators to invite Charter Schools, who serve the underserved, such as KUA, to statewide inservices.
✓ Use the influence of ODE to encourage local colleges to include schools of poverty and diversity, when placing practicum students whose goal is to serve, whether in education or social services, etc.
WHO WAS ENGAGED?
✓ Students of color
✓ Students with disabilities
✓ Students who are emerging bilinguals
✓ Student navigating poverty, homelessness, and foster care
✓ Families of early learners ✓ Families of students of color
✓ Families of students with disabilities
✓ Families of students are are emerging bilinguals
✓ Families of students navigating poverty, homelessness, and foster care
✓ Licensed staff (administrators, teachers, etc.) ✓ Classified staff (paraprofessionals, office support,cafeteria staff, etc.)
✓ Community based organizations (non profits, civil rights organizations, community service groups, culturally specific organizations, etc.) KUA SIA Plan – April 2020 – page 8
✓ Tribal Members (adults and youth)
✓ School Volunteers (school board members, PTC, Site Council, Migrant PAC group, Title I Parent group, classroom volunteers, etc.)
✓ Business Community
✓ KUA Donors
HOW DID YOU ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY?
✓ Evening Dinner meetings with Child Care provided
✓ In-person forums
✓ On-Line Surveys
✓ Roundtable discussions
✓ Email Messages
✓ Remind Messages
✓ Social Media
✓ School Board Meetings