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Snowline Board Discusses Dropouts, Mental Health & Catching Up

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On January 28, the Snowline Joint Unified School District held their second board meeting of the year.  During the meeting, important discussions were had on whether the current learning environment is negatively impacting students.

Among the issues discussed was whether schools across Snowline had noticed any increase in dropout rates among traditional or nontraditional schooling.  Chad Brooks, Principal at Eagle Summit Day School, said, “For nontraditional schools, I haven’t seen an increase in dropout rates.  Rather, the reverse of that.  We have more students coming to try and graduate from our programs due to struggles at other programs.”

Dr. Willie Jones, Principal at Serrano High School, also had a somewhat positive take on the matter. “We seem to have no dropouts.  But, once again, it’s still quite early” to be able to give a definitive answer.

Mental health was another topic discussed as board members processed recent news from the fifth-largest school district in the nation located in Las Vegas and their struggles with a surge in student suicides since schools closed.  John Garner is the Principal at Wrightwood Elementary School.  He says that students’ emotional state has been the top priority since March.  The school counselor, Dionne Burns, has continued to work with approximately 12 students in-person.  “Parents are so grateful for that support that she is giving those kids, and it makes a difference in their outlook not just towards school, but towards life itself and dealing with the pandemic and the lack of socialization.”

One of the more concerning issues addressed was how-to catch-up students that may have fallen behind academically.  Allan Miller is the Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning and Support Services.  He believes that the solution to this must be data-driven. “When the smoke clears on this pandemic, we have got to be able to grasp the quantifiable and qualifiable data points so that we can see exactly what that learning loss is.  And that’s going to be how we get into the damage control phase coming out.” “We can’t go in with an approach of repeating school years so that we catch everybody up on standards missed. We’ve got to really look at it from a perspective of acceleration.” 

Despite the obstacles that distance learning has brought, Serrano High School currently has 424 seniors on track to graduate. A number that Principal Jones says “is where it needs to be.” 

In February, the board will have two meetings. They will meet on the 9th, and the 23rd at 6 pm.  Board meetings are open to the public via the internet through the SJUSD website.

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