School district outlines goals: academies, restorative justice, Common Core

Signature Academies in each of the school zones, restorative practices training and refining Common Core curriculum are a few of Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s top goals for the school year.

Trustees voted 6-0 to approve a list of five general behavior, creativity and academic goals for the district Tuesday night. Trustee Walt Davenport was absent.

Trustee Katrina Foley spoke in favor of the priorities during the meeting, saying that the list is “something that’s attainable and can be measured.”

District officials and board members spent several days over the summer reviewing priorities from last year and evaluating future goals.


“It’s not about earning a score,” Supt. Fred Navarro said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s about ongoing growth and continual improvement.”

Last year, the district planned to provide restorative justice training to principals and teachers at each of the schools. Restorative justice is the practice of working with students to identify why they are misbehaving instead of only suspending them.

It’s a goal that wasn’t fully attained because of the amount of time spent on Common Core training, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

This year, the district tweaked the language of the goal a bit, instead planning to provide restorative practices training to staff and implement the Positive Behavior Interventions and Support program.


However, the intent of the program is the same, said Director of Student Services Phil D’Agostino.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Support is a form of restorative justice that gives administrators tools to understand specific students’ behavior.

Like restorative justice, it forces students to understand the repercussions of their actions and work to make amends for wrongdoing.

Before he made recommendations to the board during the summer, D’Agostino spoke with administrators at various schools to determine which disciplinary practices they’ve found most useful.

He found that about 86% of school administration already use restorative practices in some form.

D’Agostino likened the process of preparing for restorative practices on the district level to setting up the board game Stratego.

“We were setting up the game last year and getting all the pieces together,” he said. “It has us at the starting gate now, ready to move forward.”

The creation of Signature Academies, previously called Flagship Programs, in each of the four school zones continues to be a priority for the district this year.


So far, each zone — Estancia, Costa Mesa, Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar — have selected a signature academic and arts subject offered from elementary school through high school.

Next, the district will look at the timeline and how to implement each of the programs over the next several years.

“We hope to tap into kids’ talents with these programs,” Navarro said. “The best employees are the most creative employees.”

Newport-Mesa will also continue to implement Common Core curriculum in the classrooms this year with the goal of preparing students for college entrance and career technical programs.

“Looking at it holistically, it’s about creating a rigorous instructional program for all kids,” Navarro said.