Blackford Elementary School

District News

Updated Wed, Jun 3rd

Emotions around the senseless death of George Floyd are many. Among them: Sadness, Impatience, Anger, Resolve. And it is especially difficult as we also face a pandemic and economic crisis. This is a critical time to reflect on what it means to champion equity, to meet the needs of the whole child, every child. 

Our Governing Board set a vision for our district to be "a model for innovative programs and instruction that engages, empowers, and inspires all children to feel safe and thrive."

We take that vision seriously, and the circumstances around George Floyd’s death are the latest reminder that there is still much more work to be done. 

We must reexamine our systems and policies and make the changes needed to advance equity. We must look again at how we can do more cultural appreciation of all who are represented in our system and be more intentional about ensuring our students see themselves reflected in the stories of heroes who made a difference in history. We want them to see themselves as part of that difference as well. And we must continue to be part of changing the implicit biases that have existed for too long in society. 

Situations like the death of George Floyd create frustration as we once again realize we are not learning the lessons of history. 

In Campbell Union School District, we take the charge of educating the youngest members of our community to heart. Together with our Campus Collaboratives and community partners, we work to clear obstacles to student learning—from curriculum and technology, to health and wellness and everything in between. We will continue to give our students a voice in their education, and continue helping them attain important skills so that they may live in a world that engages, empowers, and inspires all children to feel safe and thrive.

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally than its opposite. ~Nelson Mandela

Updated Fri, May 22nd

As we told you in last week’s update, school leaders are exploring ways to allow students to gather any belongings and have some sort of closure. A proposed schedule for this has or will come from your school administrator. Additionally, our teachers will be using the last few days for closure and planning. 

We all have worked especially hard this year, and responding to an unforeseen curve in these last few months has been particularly challenging. Our students and all who support them need a chance to close this year in a positive way—within our safety protocols. We also need to take time to examine what did and did not work so we can start the new school year on more solid footing.

For that reason, June 4 will be the last day for teacher-led instruction, and for June 5-11 teachers will support the school’s end-of-year plan and provide resources for students to continue self-directed learning.

We want students and staff to be able to say “so long” for the summer, and we want to celebrate our students’ accomplishments— especially our eighth-grade and fifth-grade students who will be transitioning into new schools. 

Please check with your school administrator for details about activities planned for your child’s school June 5-11. 

Updated Wed, May 20th

Much has been in the news regarding Governor Newsom’s proposed May revised budget and the significant funding reductions proposed for California’s schools. While the specifics of these cuts were just released, Campbell Union School District (CUSD) staff has been busy looking at the impacts it will have here.

“It’s going to be a very tough year,” said Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Nelly Yang. “We were informed of an overall 10% reduction to our Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), as well as cuts to preschool and afterschool funding, and that our June allocation will be deferred, which will impact our cash flow.”

Already faced with the challenges of declining enrollment, rising costs for special education services, and state-imposed increases to pension plan payments, the district had cut $4 million over the past two years, and had planned for additional adjustments for 2020-21. “Now we’ll have to carve much deeper,” Yang said. 

COVID Compounds Impacts

“We reduced expenses, kept vacant positions unfilled, and managed our finances very conservatively,” said Superintendent Shelly Viramontez. “This was all before we were all hit with the unprecedented impact of COVID-19.”

Schools operate within a staff-to-student ratio, so fewer students means fewer teachers and program staff. 

“When program enrollment decreases, the number of staff members needs to adjust accordingly,” she said. “And attrition alone will not get us to the massive reductions we need, so we will have to make some very hard staffing decisions very soon.”

The reductions are coming at a time when districts are planning to need more resources to ensure schools have all of the safety and hygiene equipment needed to bring students and staff back to campuses in the fall. 

For almost 20 years, the district has been able to offer programs beyond what the State funds for TK-8th grade education because its preschool and before and after school programs were self-funded through grants and fees. They even helped to support extras like school plays and counselors. 

Striving to Keep Programs Alive

“We know how valuable these expanded learning and early childhood education programs are, and we are trying to find a way to keep them,” Viramontez said. “We are doing everything we can to see how we might be able to break even on the programs, which is particularly challenging under the current public health childcare limitations of only 10 students in a class.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We are profoundly aware of the impacts these choices have on people’s lives. We also have to be able to run our core school-day operations. We will find a way to both hold tight to our core mission and make the many imposing budget decisions based on what is the overall best for student learning throughout our district.”

For more information about how Campbell Union School District is funded, please visit the  “Budget Primer” on the district’s budget web page.

Updated Wed, May 13th

Closing this unusual school year and planning for a new one have been daily topics of discussion for us. With the challenges and unknowns of the pandemic, questions abound. We are creating plans to prepare and respond to the needs of our community based on available information and guidelines from the County Public Health Department.

Ending the Year on a “Hi” Note

two youths waving to each otherStudents want to see their teachers and their friends, and our principals and staff are exploring ways to safely make that happen before the end of this school year.

We want students and staff to be able to say “so long” for the summer. We want to let students retrieve items they may have left at school and return library books and other instructional materials borrowed from the school. And we want to celebrate our students’ accomplishments, particularly our eighth-grade and fifth-grade students who will be transitioning into new schools.

Those ending-the-year activities will happen between June 4 and June 11. Each school is developing specific plans and will share details with families in the coming weeks.

Planning a New School Year

Our aim for the new school year is to bring back as many students and staff as we safely can.

Each week I meet with state and local leaders to identify needs, discuss options, and consider how our district can ensure that our students continue learning whether physically in a classroom or continuing distance learning. Our district’s leadership teams also meet several times each week to explore those same questions. Our top priorities remain: safety and learning.

The COVID-19 virus impact differs from county to county, which means some counties have different restrictions around sheltering in place. For that reason, some counties and school districts may reopen at different times and in different ways. For our district, we are planning for a couple of basic scenarios:

  • If schools must remain closed, we would continue distance learning for all students while seeking ways for students to develop positive relationships with new students in new grades.
  • If a modified reopening is allowed, we would offer a blend of distance learning and on-campus instruction that adheres to Public Health guidelines.

Obviously, there are many questions surrounding each of these options, and even the best plans may need to change as new details are known or restrictions are imposed. Our teams are devouring information from our international colleagues who have already opened their schools to learn from their experiences.

One thing is certain: the new school year will start in a new way.

Depending on social distancing restrictions, our usual back-to-school activities will look different. New student orientations, kindergarten “round up” meetings, and more will need to comply with Public Health guidelines. Please be assured that we are focused on making the experience as safe, smooth and as welcoming for students as possible.

As we have more information, we will share it with you through our usual channels: email, school and district news feeds, weekly e-newsletters, and our COVID-19 Resources web page.

Updated Wed, May 13th

The month of May is filled with special days of recognition: teacher appreciation week, principal day, nurses day, school cafeteria worker day, and others. In Campbell Union School District, we believe every employee is important and deserves recognition, so we celebrate ALL of our employees during one special week. This year, that week is May 25-29.

We so appreciate the work that each of our employees do to educate students to their highest potential—especially through the challenges of these past two months.

Teachers can do marvelous things to spark a love of learning in a child. They don’t do it alone. Behind every aspect of student learning, there is someone providing a service to keep them safe, fed, healthy, equipped, supervised, supported and connected.

We hope you will join us May 25-29 in acknowledging the important work that all of our school and district employees do for the more than 7,000 students in Campbell Union School District.

Updated Wed, May 13th

Thank you to the more than 1,300 families who participated in the Distance Learning Thoughtexchange survey in early May. We asked about your priorities for your student during distance learning, and you told us.

With more than 5,000 families in our district, the needs and circumstances vary greatly, but two priorities came through loud and clear:

  1. more real-time instruction and explanation from teachers (online); and
  2. more opportunity for students to interact with the teacher and each other as they learn.

We share that desire, and our teachers are working hard to become proficient in providing that kind of instruction in this new format. We will continue to review the results of your feedback and use it to inform our distance learning process through the end of this school year and into the coming months.

Updated Fri, May 1st

Click to view this week's video message from Superintendent Viramontez.

Topics include:
• summer and new school year planning;
• request for input from parents through Thoughtexchange; and
• access to community services on our COVID-19 resources page.

Updated Fri, May 1st

The pressures of daily life are challenging even under the best circumstances. Under the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, some children and adults may be feeling still greater anxiety and stress, and that can have long-lasting effects. To help, our Student Services team has created an extensive list of local resources—in English and Spanish—for families to find support for a wide range of needs: 

  • Mental Health Resources
  • Financial Resources 
  • Household Resources (utilities and more)
  • Food Resources

Find these resources and more on our COVID-19 resources web page.

Updated Wed, Apr 29th

“Safety and learning are our top priorities,” said Campbell Union School District Superintendent Shelly Viramontez. “Thanks to a long-established network of community partners—too many to list—we’ve been able to quickly connect students and their families to services and resources that are helping them stay safe and learn during the COVID-19 school closures.”

What started as a temporary, 3-week shut down on March 16th quickly evolved into a situation where more students and their families had greater needs than before. A multi-year grant from School Linked Services (SLS) supplements district funding of Community Liaisons. These school-based staffers were able to immediately start contacting families to determine their needs and connect them to district supports of computer devices and meals as well as local assistance, groceries, diaper kits, gas card donations, informing families of help with rent, cell phone service, internet connectivity, emergency dental services, and much more.

“It is not easy for large systems, like a school district, to make a rapid change because that change can affect so many people in the community,” Viramontez said. “We are fortunate to have a well-established system of support that has allowed us to reach out and respond quickly to our students’ basic needs so that our teachers could pivot and modify lessons that address students’ learning from a distance, both online and in printed packets.”

She added that the district has been able to do so much more than keep students learning and keep students fed, as the Governor specified. 

“An already long list of partners has grown in a few weeks,” she said. “Local businesses and individuals have said yes to our requests and are reaching out to ask how they can help. We are so grateful.”

 Pictured Above: Partners from the City of San Jose and Project HOPE helped more than 60 families sign up for 60 days of free internet service, and provided other information about community resources.

man waiting at table for chromebook checkoutPictured Left: The district has checked out nearly 3,000 computing devices for students to use, and is working with companies to secure more internet service in district “dead spots”.

two people holding full grocery bags

Pictured Right: A partnership with Home Church and a team of volunteers is providing 125 bags of groceries per week to district families. 

Updated Fri, Apr 24th

Please watch this weekly video update from Dr. Viramontez, in which she talks about:

  • End of week two of formal distance learning
  • Watch for a Thoughtexchange next week to help us get feedback and continue to improve 
  • Meals expanding to weekends through partnership with Santa Clara County and San Jose
  • Other resources, such as diaper kits, dental services and more.
  • Various scenarios for what school may be like in the new school year.

Please visit our COVID-19 web page for links to resources, ways to support wellness, and other information updates.