Grant Bennett, Superintendent
The Road Less Traveled
The challenges of closing schools on campus and in classroom instruction has been difficult to say the least. When the Governor closed schools in March our entire education community was sent spiraling out of control. We had to pivot and change what we had been doing for years. Teachers were never trained to teach in a Distance Learning environment and students had never experienced on-line learning and instruction. It has been a steep learning curve for everyone in the education system. We were told by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, to hold the students harmless for any assignments made after March 13, 2020 for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. They didn't want the students to be held accountable for new work after March 13th and a student's grades could not go down for work assigned after March 13th. Any assignments made after March 13th could only help improve a students grade. It was understandable that there was a severe drop in student motivation as the semester went on. Closing the schools for all activities was a crushing blow to the student body. All sports had their seasons canceled, band could not play, ASB was shut down, Agriculture students lost the opportunity to compete at local fairs, Robotics events were shut down, Proms were canceled, as well as all on campus activities. As the 2019-20 school year neared conclusion, we knew that we were not going to be able to conduct a traditional graduation ceremony. Once again we pivoted and began work on a virtual graduation ceremony, but our community asked for more. It was then we added a drive thru graduation to our plans. While not exactly what everyone expects in a graduation, our schools did an awesome job of organizing and pulling off some outstanding graduations. We received many compliments from families on how they enjoyed the drive thru ceremonies, because they were able to be so much closer to the actual ceremony and take some wonderful pictures. Everyone took a deep breath as the 2019-20 school year came to a close.
After taking a couple weeks to recover from the end of the school year, we began planning for 2020-21. We knew we couldn’t wait for direction from the Governor or the Superintendent of Public Instruction. We began planning for different scenarios for the new school year. Would we still be doing Distance Learning, or would we be in a Hybrid format, or would we be back to Traditional format, or even a combination of the three formats. Once we were given the direction that school would begin in the Distance Learning model, we doubled down on our efforts to make it as successful as possible. We are fortunate that the Perris Union High School District (PUHSD) has been a 1:1 take home district for seven years, so our students have been using a Chromebook for an extended period of time. We worked with our certificated and classified unions to adjust the start of the school year, allowing us to train our staff in the use of technology as a teaching and learning tool. Just like anytime there is change, some staff were more proficient in the use of technology in the classroom than others. It has been a challenge for many of our students, since this school year does not have the “Do No Harm” policy tied to it. Students are expected to complete assignments to earn a grade. We continue to offer professional development to further assist our staff to meet the needs of the students we serve.
Heritage High School Quad
Heritage High School Hallway
We have begun to allow student athletes back for conditioning purposes, under strict guidelines. We know that there are many students who are struggling with isolation that this pandemic has brought upon them. We have counseling services available to assist, please contact your school for more details. As we continue with our Distance Learning model, plans are underway to bring students and staff back to our campuses. What it looks like when students and staff return is still in the planning stages. We want the students back as much as they want to be back on campus, but until it is deemed safe to come back we will stand pat with Distance Learning. We do not want to put anyone in harm's way. The health and safety of our students and staff will always be at the forefront of everything we do. We can get through this together.
Paloma Valley High School Gymnasium
Paloma Valley High School Football Field
Candace Reines, Deputy Superintendent
Implementation of the District’s broad-based Facilities Master Plan has continued in spite of the challenges brought on with COVID-19. We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on each of our exciting facilities projects within the PUHSD. None of these projects would be possible without the support we received from the community when they passed Measure T in 2012 and Measure W in 2018.
Liberty High School
As you are likely aware, the District began construction on its fourth comprehensive high school, Liberty High School, in February 2019. The school will open in August 2021 to 9th and 10th grade students. For the 2022-23 school year, the school will serve 9th-11th grade, and for the 2023-24 school year, all four grade levels will be present making 2024 the first graduating class!
Boundaries for Liberty High School were adopted by the Board of Trustees on February 12, 2020. The 215 Freeway will be the boundary to the west, Newport Road/Domenigoni Parkway to the north, and the existing District boundaries to the south and east. This action also modifies the boundaries for both Paloma Valley High School and Heritage High School. The boundaries were developed through careful review and analysis of past, current and projected enrollment patterns throughout the District, as well as in close consultation with the County of Riverside, City of Menifee, City of Perris and City of Murrieta planning departments to identify and analyze likely future enrollment trends due to projected development activity over the next ten years. Based on current long-range projections, the boundaries allow for each high school within the District to have a small amount of remaining student capacity relative to their respective maximum capacity in 10 years.
The District will also continue to utilize its existing “open enrollment policy” in which a student may choose to attend a school outside of his/her attendance area if space is available and if the student provides his/her transportation from home to the school of choice. This provides our families with the option to attend LIberty High School, or any high school within the District for that matter, based on programs offered at one school over another, or simply based on their personal preference.
Students who will be in the 10th grade when Liberty High School opens may choose to stay at either Paloma Valley High School or Heritage High School to finish high school, or they may attend Liberty High School. However, students selecting the option to stay at Paloma or Heritage will not be provided transportation even if they were previously eligible. Transportation will continue to be offered to students living 5 or more miles from the school within their previous attendance boundary if they are in 11th or 12th grade during the 2021-22 school year, and to those who are in 12th grade during the 2022-23 school year.
The complex construction of Liberty High School continues to proceed on schedule. Unlike many newly constructed high schools, Liberty will open with its full array of planned facilities. The carefully conceived design focuses upon the provision of exciting, varied and flexible teaching and learning spaces. Also included is a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center with seating for 500, an athletic stadium and an aquatics center. After many years in the pursuit of State funding for a portion of the project, our determined efforts will finally be rewarded through receipt of State funds in the first quarter of 2021. We can’t wait for August 2021 when we open Liberty High School, home of the Bison!
Exterior view of B5 (Arts) Building
Rear view of the Science (CASE) Building
Perris High School
The Perris High School campus transformation project has progressed through several years of phased implementation. The final phase of the school’s campus master plan is about to commence construction. This phase will include a 500 seat performing arts center, a new Learning Commons (Library), a new administrative and student support facility, an aquatic center, an Agricultural Mechanics facility, additional physical education/athletic facilities and a redesigned entrance to the campus with expanded parking facilities off of Nuevo Road.
An exciting milestone took place this summer, when our very own Superintendent, Mr. Grant Bennett kicked off the demolition of buildings at the front of the campus. Now that all the older buildings have been demolished, and crews have rerouted critical campus systems such as electrical, fire alarm, security and low voltage systems, construction will begin in early November.
Mr. Bennett operating demolition equipment
Demolition of the MPR and Kitchen Building
Rendering of the new Administration and Theater Buildings
Paloma Valley High School
Similar to Perris High School, a long range campus master plan has proceeded through phased implementation at Paloma Valley High School over the past several years. Included within the current phase that is now in design will be an aquatic center, a new Student Union facility (including a Culinary Arts Academy), relocation of the school’s administrative and student support functions to the front of the school (adjacent to Bradley), a new entrance to the school with an improved parking lot and circulation plan, and relocated Auto Shop and NJROTC facilities. Planning for these new additions are well underway with the plans for the aquatic center having been completed and submitted to the Division of State Architect (DSA) for approval. A construction schedule will be developed in the near future when DSA approval is received.
Conceptual rendering of the new Administration entrance
Conceptual rendering of the new Multipurpose/Culinary Building
Heritage High School
Plans for an aquatics center at Heritage High School have also been completed and submitted to the Division of State Architect (DSA) for approval. The Heritage facility will include adjoining team rooms as well as a campus operations center. A construction schedule will be developed following DSA approval.
California Military Institute
Exciting additional improvements to the campus at CMI are well underway! The much anticipated gymnasium facility is approximately 70% complete and is expected to be ready for use by students and staff when they return from Spring Break in April 2021. This facility will include a CIF regulation basketball court, boys and girls locker rooms including coaches offices, a large ASB/flexible classroom/lab and an exercise room with equipment. Additionally, the front of the campus is undergoing extensive improvements and upgrades through a coordinated project with the City of Perris. In front of the school, A Street has been widened and a traffic signal is being installed at Highland Vista. This will have a dedicated signalized crosswalk for CMI, making access to and from the campus much safer. On-site vehicle and pedestrian circulation have also been improved with the new drop off and circulation lane, as well as with the installation of additional on-site parking facilities.
New Drop Off and Circulation Lane
Exterior of the new Gymnasium Building
Interior of the new Gymnasium
Rendering of the new Gymnasium
Pinacate Middle School
A new shade structure was added to the Pinacate Middle School campus to provide additional shade in the outdoor lunch area. This matches the existing structure that was built in 2015 as part of the campus modernization project. This project was completed in August of this year and is awaiting students when they return to the campus.
Dr. Charles Newman, Assistant Superintendent
As we enter the fourth month of providing Distance Learning, I reflect upon the fact that I am so encouraged by the work of our students and staff members! Despite all of the challenges associated with change, along with teaching and learning in a new format, students and staff have risen to the challenge of Distance Learning. During this time of huge crisis, so many have risen to the challenge and have continued to provide high-quality learning opportunities for our students during these extraordinary times.
I want to thank all of our TOSAs and Instructional Coaches for the support they have provided in facilitating high-power professional learning opportunities to assist in setting teachers up for success. We are excited about the great feedback we have received from our teachers and other staff members, regarding the effectiveness of our professional development days throughout this school year.
I want to also express appreciation to our parents and students. We are so very fortunate to work within such a great community. One of our primary goals as a District, is to always keep the needs of our parents and students as a priority in the decision-making process and our department considers parent engagement as a vital part of the educational process. We will continue to support and develop avenues for parents to partner with us in this amazing work of educating our students.
In this issue of Supe's On we would like to update our staff members and families regarding the great work taking place in terms of supporting the social and emotional needs of our students. Additionally, we would like to highlight the work our staff has engaged in as we continue to build capacity in providing high-quality distance learning experiences for each student. Lastly, we would like to highlight our ongoing commitment to parent engagement and involvement as we navigate through our world’s current circumstances.
Our LCAP Goal #4 is to secure and strengthen home-school-community connections and communications and this will be our 6th year participating in the Parent Engagement Leadership Initiative (PELI) / Action Team for Partnerships (ATP) through RCOE. There is no doubt that family engagement will look a lot different this year, but we are confident that it will still hold its purpose through a virtual platform. We are aware that Distance Learning during the pandemic has presented major challenges for our families which is why our family engagement virtual journey will be focused on sharing online tools, resources, and provide clear two-way communication. This year we established a Districtwide PELI Goal for our ATP: To create informational video tutorials that provide support, resources, and clear communication to help families and students be successful during Distance Learning. The ATP at each of our school sites, which are made up of administrators, classroom teachers, counselors, support staff, community aides, students, and parents will be focusing on creating mini informational video tutorials that will help our families learn how to navigate the different educational online platforms used during Distance Learning.
A couple of video tutorials that have been made for our families are: How to Monitor Student Attendance and Progress, A Distance Learning Guide for Parents, Navigate Canvas and Google Classroom and How to Access Infinite Campus. Parents will be able to view these step by step informational videos in their own language and at their own pace. The best part is that parents will now be able to access the video tutorials in a centralized location that will be linked to our Distance Learning website under Parent Resources. Our goal is to make sure that our parents have a sufficient understanding of the wide array of information that is continuously sent to them. Building capacity in our parents is important to us as it improves their confidence regarding their role in helping and supporting their students at home to be successful and thrive.
Curriculum and Instruction
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across the country closed the doors for in person instruction forcing educators to shift their instructional delivery to 100% virtual classrooms. The shift literally happened overnight, forcing teachers to engage students in a whole new way. For many of us, this has felt like we were learning a brand new job with less than 24 hours’ notice. The new demands to teach using digital technology with continuity and rigor became the focus for all professional development opportunities within PUHSD.
As we prepared to start the 2020-21 school year, the professional development team came together to create meaningful learning experiences for teachers and students. The team began by attending a professional development workshop specifically designed to address Distance Learning. This opportunity helped shift our focus as we planned for the first days of school. Professional development became a model for classroom instruction. Sessions were provided using digital tools demonstrating engagement strategies and best practices in the new digital world. It has opened the doors to amazing collaboration amongst teams across the District. The new look to professional development has changed the face of learning during these crazy times. More teachers are providing opportunities to share ideas each month during the monthly district professional development days. Every month, 20 plus sessions are provided with various topics to support the needs of our teachers and students. These sessions continue to provide growth opportunities as we continue to get better and better with our instructional delivery.
Through these monthly professional development days, teachers have met the new demands of Distance Learning. They have provided students with access to curricular content online using digital platforms and creative lesson design. Teachers have created beautiful websites, hosted engaging video conferences, managed learning management systems, created learning communities, developed relationships, created classroom culture, and communicated with parents and colleagues in radically different ways. They have risen to the occasion and are making a difference each day with their students.
Pupil Services and Special Education
Perris Union High School District cares about your student’s overall well being.
We are very proud of the Perris Union High School District Mission Statement. It was crafted with purpose and declares the notion of “caring” in three places. It states that we strive to create a “caring environment.” It states that we continually develop a “caring staff” and ultimately that we will, “care for all students.” In this stressful period of COVID-19 please know that we not only care about the academic wellbeing of our students, but we also care about their social-emotional health and have gone to great lengths to support them.
We wanted to take a few moments to share some of the social-emotional supports that are in place for your child. Last March the District developed a mental health support center located on our district website. Through the end of the last school year, and over the summer, counselors posted a mental health tip of the day to support students. When students returned to their schools remotely in August each school held a welcome back orientation to help them reconnect and offer resources.
One of those resources, RippleEffects.com is an online counseling platform that provides trauma-informed, culturally responsive, personalized, and evidence-based tools for social-emotional support on literally hundreds of topics. The platform provides brain research, student testimonials, research based information, and it always urges students to reach out to a caring adult for support with whatever issue they are struggling with.
Our District is also proud of our partnership with CareSolace, a web-based care navigation system that enables fast, easy and convenient connection of students and families in need of mental health resources to qualified providers and resources. CareSolace works to ensure that communities have access to reliable, ethical and high quality health care services, regardless of income level.
In addition to the resources above, our team of counselors, psychologists, and educators are constantly developing and delivering social emotional lessons to students. This year students have received information on responsible digital citizenship, cyberbullying, and relaxation techniques. Over the weeks to come they will be provided information on resilience and coping with anxiety. As we all fight our way through the challenges of Distance Learning please rest assured that we truly care about your student and will work tirelessly to support them both academically and emotionally.
Kirk Skorpanich, Assistant Superintendent
The 100 emoji has become a ubiquitous text message with the usage meaning “keep it real” or “absolutely”. A 100 emoji can be used to express pride or general acceptance of an idea. Interestingly, the emoji has its roots in education. The emoji is intended to represent a 100 written on a school paper or exam indicating 100 out of 100 or a perfect score. It has also been connected to teachers who may write the mark to indicate that a student has performed very well.
It is an understatement the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted public education. It is no longer “business as usual”. Distance Learning has had a significant impact on students, families, and our staff. However, it has also demonstrated that the Perris Union High School District employees are some of the most amazing people in the world! Regardless of the circumstances, we have seen employees make an effort to control their attitudes, approach, and response for the benefit of our entire school community. Below is just a small example of our amazing staff. These individuals all deserve a 100 for their efforts!