State of the Schools

The Glendale Educational Foundation and the school district’s Fourth Annual State of the Schools Breakfast was held early Thursday morning at the Pacific Edison complex in Glendale. It was a time to look back on the district’s accomplishments over the past year and explore what the future holds. The Walt Disney Company sponsored the event.

Four years ago the Educational Foundation began the breakfast fundraiser as a way to introduce the community to the public school district and honor those who work diligently to maintain its high standards.

District Superintendent Michael Escalante said he would never have believed how much the foundation had grown. He thanked president John Sadd and all of the organization’s members for their continued support of Glendale schools.

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell was on hand to praise the district’s growth. He spoke on how important accountability was for students, districts and educators.

“At Glendale you clearly are moving in the right direction,” O’Connell said. “In 2002, your district’s score [Academic Progress Index test score] was 734; this year it is 818. That is really awesome.”

He congratulated the district for meeting the needs of students from a diverse population.

“As a community if we work hard, smart and together the best is yet to come,” added O’Connell.

Senator Jack Scott also praised the district, making reference to its diversity.

“I want to say a special word about Glendale. It is typical of urban schools,” he said.

Scott added that with the challenges of diversity, including many English Language Learners, Glendale’s district continues to improve. He attributed the district’s success to its leaders, like former and current superintendents Jim Brown and Escalante, but added that many share in the success.

“It is the work of many dedicated teachers and the school board that you all work together and have created a school system you can be proud of,” Scott said. “I want to thank Disney for stepping up to the plate.”

Then he challenged businesses in the community to support area schools adding that the future state budget does not look good and the educational system will need help.

Presentations were made on the rising test scores, highlighting programs that help students who struggle in school.

Escalante spoke of the $8 million challenge the district faced when he was first hired five years ago. The downturn then was due primarily to declining enrollment.

“Since that time, the board has courageously addressed this [issue]. They have maintained teachers’ salaries, which are very competitive. They had the courage, even during the toughest of times, not to serve teachers lay off notices. They have maintained health benefits for employees and their families and have improved programs for students. They have done all of this without a $700 billion bail out,” he said.

Community leader Karen Whyte, teacher Mark Ouweleen and Clark Magnet High School Principal Doug Dall were honored with the Educational Excellence Award.

Whyte, a graduate from Crescenta Valley High School, thanked the district where she had attended schools her entire academic career.

“This is a lovely honor,” Whyte said.

Dall made an emotional and eloquent thank you speech. He spoke of being at the memorial service of counselor Ron Grace, who lost his life in the recent Metro crash.

Dall said a woman came to the service who, although a regular Metro passenger, had not made the trip that Friday of the crash. She said she talked to Grace every day and knew all about his work and family, yet never knew his name. She felt guilty for that and for surviving. Dall said he, and other colleagues, were quiet for a moment and then began to counsel her. He told her to honor Grace’s memory and that her life was better for knowing him.

Dall said that this type of counseling and being available for others is what teachers do every day for students.

The breakfast closed with an example of why the district is so strong: the Crescenta Valley High School Marching Band entered the room and filled it with music.

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