SBCUSD: More Funding, Help For Students
By Dianne Anderson
Keeping up with academics is hard enough for parents post-COVID, but the trek to get free backpacks in three-digit heat last week was grueling.
About 2,4000 came by bus, on foot and for those fortunate to have reliable transportation, by cars, to get their free $35 valued giveaways at one of several events in the Inland Empire.
Terrance Stone hosted two free events at 604 West 4th Street, and said the number of parents showing up in that level of broiling heat shows a high level of basic need. It provided a little money relief for parents.
“It was hot, and because of that, it was held from 9:00 to noon. We didn’t mess around, we got them through there. We had people giving out free tablets, cell phone services, and homeless resources,” said Stone, founder and CEO of Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy.
Over the past two years, he sees many of the same problems are unresolved, especially as resources shifted to health during the pandemic.
“During the COVID era, we were giving backpacks and turkeys. When we came out of COVID, we’re looking and everybody is still here — homeless, mental health. It never left, just changed focus.”
On the academic side, Board member Danny Tillman said more COVID-19 money has come down for students and staff this school year, even as Local Control Funding Formula saw a reduction.
But now, the big task is getting through the specific procurement process to spend all the federal money so it doesn’t have to be sent back to the government.
“This is the last year to spend COVID-19 funding from the Fed, about $100 Million needs to be spent. We bought all new furniture for all the schools. Everybody, students and staff should get a new device,” he said.
The focus is on new desks, furniture and updating technology for students and staff, and are also new trucks and vans for student transportation. Of the purchases, the vehicles, furniture, desks, chairs, Smart TVs for all classrooms are the biggest expenditures.
The district also received another $100 Million for all schools to administer an afterschool program through ELOG (Extended Learning Opportunity Grant), part of ongoing funding to support Sunrise programs in the morning for students to come in early, and CAPS after-school learning program.
Mental health is a priority. Black and Brown students have seen an increased need for services. As a solution, Tillman said they are pushing for Wellness Centers, areas within schools to accommodate students, and partnering with the Department of Behavioral Health Services. There is increased attention to mental health with additional counselors at elementary schools.
In the year ahead, he said the most challenging area of education is dealing with learning loss from COVID-19, which still needs work.
“The first year back after we were out of school was the toughest year we’ve ever seen. Things are steadily getting better and we’re steadily making progress,” he said.
Right now, Black students are pulling the lowest grades of all in the district and the state.
“We have a new superintendent, that’s his target. We have charter schools in the district performing better than other schools in the state,” he said, adding that parents have options if they feel their child is not getting what they need.
“K-6 is the most formative years for students. In some of the schools in my district, a lot of African American students aren’t doing well, we are making that a priority,” he said.
Chachi Wright, president of the San Bernadino branch of NAACP, said that addressing grades for Black students is an uphill battle, both administratively and in getting help for students.
He said the emphasis must be getting students at least back to grade levels prior to COVID, which was a major setback for the community.
“This is the last opportunity to make an investment about what we need to do to correctly move forward without us having a way to figure out some new approach, or overall structuring,” he said. “Our children are suffering.”
When he heard about Blackinschool.org, a statewide coalition advocating for education equity for California’s Black students, he signed on as part of the local branch NAACP to help forward their strategies.
Part of that group’s goal is to make sure Black parents are informed of legislation to benefit Black students, and create a network, connecting parents with opportunities for their students.
Wright said Assemblywoman Akilah Weber had a strong piece of legislation (AB 2774) that would have provided $400 million to support Black student achievement, however, it didn’t pass Gov. Newsom’s desk.
But he said Black In School with aligned support groups will keep pressing for changes contained in that original language of the legislation.
“We are aggressively trying to push that we need support and intentional effort from our legislators up in Capitol Hill because it’s not an easy fix from the outside the walls of Jericho,” he said.
Wright, a math major and graduate of Morehouse College, grew up in the area, back when there were lots of extracurricular activities, programs and resources available for students that needed help and tutoring.
Statewide and locally, Black students are lagging far behind.
He said that statistically helping those in need makes the most sense. When the lowest performers do well, all other groups do better.
“If we’re not being intentional we’re being neglectful. It’s a deliberate act if we are not trying to do something specifically to cater to the lowest performing demographic,” he said.
For new school start and end times, see https://www.sbcusd.com
For after-school program information,
For more on Black In School, see https://www.blackinschool.org/
To see how SBCUSD district grades are doing, see the California School Dashboard,