Central District Far From ‘Excellence’ » Holtville Tribune

The Central Union High School District website states that we, as a district, are “committed to excellence.” The CUHSD Mission Statement states, “We each take responsibility for the high expectations of students who learn essential skills and develop abilities and knowledge by working collaboratively with our school community and providing a safe learning environment .”

Members of the El Centro High School Teachers Association are calling on the CUHSD Board of Directors, CUHSD administration, and site administrators to review these promises made to the community.

In an email dated March 16, 2020, addressed to “Everyone” and members of the CUHSD Board of Directors at that time, Dr. Ward Andrus said, “The safety of students and staff is our first priority. priority. From the time this email was sent, and all students returned to campus on the first day of school on August 9, 2021, a total of 511 days have passed. We expected to return to safe and clean campuses. Five hundred and eleven days should be enough for the work to prepare our campuses for our safe return to be completed. Unfortunately, we discovered that was not the case.

We waited patiently for our concerns to be addressed during the first few weeks of school as we welcomed students and did our best to feel normal amid the ongoing pandemic. In September, the ECSTA President and Association Members invited Board Members to dinner to discuss issues of concern that directly impact the health and safety of students and staff on campus. of our schools. ECSTA representatives said they worked in unsafe conditions due to unclean campuses.

As of (Tuesday) November 9, 2021, it was:

84 days since ECSTA management first contacted Dr. Andrus regarding the need to create a Memorandum of Understanding to address changes in working conditions and safety issues for students and staff .

81 days since Dr. Andrus received the first draft of the proposed MOU.

67 days since ECSTA management first met with Dr. Andrus about the proposed MOU.

63 days since ECSTA executive board members met with two board members to discuss health and safety issues.

62 days since ECSTA Executive Board members met with CUHSD Board Chairman to discuss health and safety issues.

57 days since ECSTA executive board members met with the last two board members to discuss health and safety issues.

603 days since Dr Andrus informed us all that “the safety of students and staff is our first priority”.

Despite all these meetings and efforts, no action has been taken to actively address concerns and remedy health and safety issues. Students and staff continue to learn and work under unacceptable conditions.

Recently, during the CUHSD Board meeting on October 12, 2021, several teachers and the President of ECSTA asked to prioritize the safety of students and staff, the cleanliness of campuses, the transparency in communications and notifications (per AB685) of possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus, and proactive behavior in these areas of concern. The President of ECSTA has repeatedly expressed at Board meetings the urgent need to address changes in working conditions and urged the Superintendent and Board members to work towards an agreement or a memorandum of understanding. Progress has recently been made, but from the start the need for a memorandum of understanding was questioned and the work done to reach common ground was one-sided; ECSTA’s efforts were ignored. ECSTA leaders have repeatedly spoken with the Board of Trustees, CUHSD administration, and site administration regarding the urgent and unacceptable campus conditions, which include classrooms, restrooms, locker rooms , dirty gymnasiums and general facilities. Even during society’s best times, this is unacceptable; in the midst of a global pandemic, this is heinous.

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Site cleanliness and student safety have been compromised, and in the past 93 days the only thing that has been done to improve this is that an outside agency has been hired to investigate the issue that staff say exists. . The agency that investigated the issue, we hope, has made a recommendation to the superintendent and council members. We hope that action can finally be taken. The cleanliness of our facilities can no longer be ignored or explained away. We don’t need excuses; we need action. We need to clean our dirty toilets. You have to empty the trash cans. We need the sticky mousetraps which are filled with cockroaches removed. We need black widow spiders and cobwebs taken care of. We need the mold in the gymnasium removed and the locker rooms addressed and removed.

In previous MOUs created to deal with the pandemic and changes in working conditions, some agreed upon items were not addressed until after this MOU expired; in essence, the district violated the terms of the agreement. Just recently, CUHSD hired health technicians and finally satisfied this part of the expired MOU. ECSTA realizes that by doing one thing, the superintendent will tell the board and the public that “much progress” has been made. For a district Committed to Excellence, fixing a problem does not even reach the level of mediocrity. We are far from “Excellence”.

ECSTA teachers, counselors and other support staff expect and help students strive for excellence in our classrooms and extracurricular activities. ECSTA members expect excellence from their colleagues and site administrators. We ask that the CUHSD Board of Directors expect and receive excellence from those it has entrusted to the leadership of this District. We ask that decisions be made that make us believe that “the safety of students and staff is our first priority”. Doing the bare minimum and passing the buck for everything else is not acceptable. But such has been our lot for 93 calendar days. It’s been 93 calendar days since the first day of school. CUHSD has had 93 calendar days to take care of the cleanliness of our campuses to ensure the health and safety of students.

It’s a sad day in our community where teachers have to negotiate non-negotiable things: student and staff safety, cleanliness, and compliance with the law and mandates. Parents entrust their children to us, confident that they will be safe and have the opportunity to learn in clean environments. Our district fails every student and every adult who walks through these halls.

CUHSD Board and Administration, we need you to strive for the same “Excellence” that your teachers and staff strive for daily, every hour and minute by minute. And since today is when the midterm grades are due, I’ll end with this: You get an F notice in many courses: Sanitary conditions, response time to our concerns, notification of COVID in our proximity, and the cleanliness of our workspaces.

Gabino Dueñas is president of the El Centro High School Teachers Association and a teacher at Southwest High.

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