With nearly 5,600 students and more than 560 members of staff, the Hollister School District is no shrinking violet and neither is its top administrator, Superintendent Lisa Andrews.
In this interview, Andrews looks back at the district’s major achievements including a series of facility upgrades funded by Measure M and an increase in students’ math scores and offers the community a glimpse of what to look forward to in the coming school year.
What are some of the district’s accomplishments over the past year?
Andrews: We added five additional transitional kindergarten classes, which are now available at six out of seven elementary school sites. Twenty-three percent more students meet or exceed standards on the state test in mathematics and the Accelerated Achievement Academy was named a California Honor Roll School for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Staff that have daily contact with students have been trained in Capturing Kids Hearts, a process where student connectedness to others is strengthened by enhancing healthy bonds with teachers while more than 50 percent of staff have been trained in the Google suite of applications. We have also balanced our budget and are no longer deficit spending.
What can parents and families look forward to in the new school year?
Andrews: Implementation of Capturing Kids Hearts, which leads to fewer discipline referrals, improved attendance and higher student achievement. New materials in reading, writing and language arts that engage students and provide support no matter their proficiency level. Free access to Footsteps to Brilliance, a mobile application that provides phonics, vocabulary, reading and writing activities to students from birth to 3rd grade. Parent and family nights at school sites.
What campus improvements have been made?
Andrews: Rancho San Justo Middle School received a new administration building, restrooms and staff room. There were also upgrades to the fire and alarm system, plumbing, electrical system and landscaping. Sunnyslope Elementary upgrades included new plumbing, blacktop and electrical wiring, new classrooms and an administration building. Gabilan Hills and Hollister Dual Language Academy received new blacktop and RO Hardin received new carpet and paint for the older portable buildings.
What are your hopes for the new school year?
Andrews: I hope we continue our journey to inspire extraordinary achievement in staff and students by providing all staff members with the training they need to support increased student achievement and connectedness to school. The district will increase collaboration with San Benito High School to ensure students are prepared for high school and transition successfully and continue to work with the community to explore implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and art at schools. We hope to work with organizations to find ways to provide before and after school programs to families that commute to Silicon Valley every day. We will begin building a new school for more than 900 students at Santana Ranch, northeast of the Fairview Road and Sunnyslope Road intersection. The school will serve students from transitional kindergarten to 8th grade.