SUPE'S ON March 2019 - Spring Edition


By Grant Bennett

As you know, in our continued quest to provide the very best for all students here at Perris Union High School District (PUHSD) and at the Californa Military Institute (CMI), Measure W was placed on the ballot this past November. Also, you likely know, it passed by a very narrow margin of 55.89%, when 55% was the “magic number” needed to win a general obligation bond election. To break that down further, because I’m a Math guy, that means we won by only 411 votes! Whatever the number, as your Superintendent, I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to all of you that helped to pass Measure W on behalf of our students and community.

With the support from our community in passing Measure W, we can ensure our students who enroll in college are prepared to succeed, and those who enter the workforce receive the career training and technical skills they need to compete for high paying jobs. We do this by ensuring our schools are not overcrowded so that our students have access to all the classes they need. Simply put, overcrowded schools are not good for students. I’m not just talking about parking and traffic, though that is a huge concern, but overcrowded schools limit educational and extracurricular opportunities for students. Paloma Valley is extremely over capacity and Heritage is nearing capacity. Furthermore, if you drive around Menifee, you see how many more houses are being built. This is why Measure W was so important to our community. The ability to build a new high school for Menifee will drastically reduce overcrowding. Completing the construction at Perris High and building a gymnasium for CMI is also significant for PUHSD students, teachers and staff. You can read more about these projects as well as the Paloma classroom and stadium project later in this edition with Candace Reines’ facilities construction update.

Thank you again for your support and I hope you are as proud as I am to see our progress as we build Liberty High School, complete the construction at Perris High School, and finally add a gymnasium to the CMI campus!


By Candace Reines, Deputy Superintendent


Paloma Valley High School Classroom Addition and Stadium Improvement Project

The Paloma Valley High School (PVHS) Classroom Addition and Stadium Improvement Project is currently ongoing at the PVHS campus. This project will add a 10 classroom building next to the J buildings on this campus. In addition, Paloma will receive a concession and restroom building, as well as a new entrance to the stadium. Current construction activities include the completion of the foundations and footings for the classroom building as well as the underground utilities of the restroom and concession building at the stadium. The recent storms that have passed through our area has made staying on schedule challenging, but the construction crews have worked through the night on a few occasions, to beat the rain and stay on schedule. This project is under construction at Paloma and is scheduled to open for students in August of this year.

Beginning of steel structure for the new concession and restroom building
Classroom components being put in place
Classroom components being put in place

Liberty High School Project

Probably the most anticipated project in PUHSD is the Liberty High School Project. This project includes the complete construction of PUHSD’s newest campus. This campus is located on the southeast portion of our District near the intersection of Scott Road and Leon Road. With our community’s passage of Measure W, this project has been able to move forward into construction. On February 9th the Liberty High School Groundbreaking Event took place and over 100 people braved the cold and rain to attend this event. This speaks to the importance of this project to our community as well as our District. The PUHSD Facilities team has worked with the project development team to move forward on construction which officially began on February 21st with the start of earthwork and grading on the Liberty High site. The project will open for students in August of 2021.

CMI Gymnasium and Expanded Student Drop-off and Circulation Project

The planning and design for this project is complete and plans have been submitted to the Division of the State Architect for their review and approval. This process is anticipated to be completed by late Spring and the project will be out to bid shortly thereafter. This exciting addition to CMI will provide a gymnasium that includes an ASB classroom. The District is also working closely with the City of Perris to widen A Street in front of the school. We will also complete the expansion and reconfiguration of the on-site parking facilities and student drop-off areas.

Perris High School Completion Phase

After extensive planning sessions with Perris High School staff, the plans for the final phase of improvements at Perris High are complete. This final phase will include a new administrative facility, a new on-campus Performing Arts Complex with a variety of classrooms/performance spaces, a new learning commons (library), a new agricultural mechanics facility, new tennis courts, new PE facilities, and improvements to the existing weight room and wrestling room. The plans are being prepared to be submitted to the Division of the State Architect by the end of this school year with the expectation they will be approved before or near the end of 2019. Once final approvals are obtained the project will be ready to bid for construction.


By Dr. Charles Newman, Assistant Superintendent

Educational Services: A Focus on Professional Learning Communities

Professional Learning Communities a “Mindset” and not an initiative.

As we begin the second semester, Cabinet members have started the process of visiting school sites to see first hand the power of Professional Learning Communities throughout the District. We believe the PLC process is one of the most powerful practices to support student achievement as it validates the important role that teacher teams have in supporting student learning. This belief is confirmed in John Hattie’s visible learning research that cites PLC as having the greatest impact on student learning which he highlights as “teacher collective efficacy” with an effect size of 1.67. It is important to note that the PLC process is not a program or initiative, but a mindset that focuses our efforts on the “Three Big Ideas” that ensure continual improvement of educational outcomes for students.

A Laser Like Focus on LEARNING!

The fundamental purpose of our work is to ensure students learn. When teams embrace this fundamental purpose, it guides all conversations, our actions, and efforts toward ensuring high levels of learning for all kids. This focus also creates a clear vision of what we must become and the collective commitments we must embrace to support all students.

A Collaborative Culture Focused on Learning for All!

Most of the issues we face to improve student outcomes are complex and aren’t solved by simple quick fix solutions. The adaptive nature of this work requires teachers working together collectively in teams to focus their efforts on identifying more effective ways to ensure all students are experiencing success. Ultimately, “A PLC is composed of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals for which members are mutually accountable.” (Dufour, Dufour & Eaker, 2010)

A Focus on Results!

We will measure the effectiveness of all programs, practices, and procedures based on results instead of comfort or personal preferences. The focus on results will guide each team to develop and monitor measurable SMART goals to support high levels of learning for all students.


The Importance of Good Attendance

Across the country, more than 8 million students are missing so many days of school that they are academically at risk. Students who miss more than 10 percent or more days of school are now considered “chronically absent.” Until a few years ago schools focused only on truancy and unexcused absences. Research has now shown us that missing 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason—both excused and unexcused- has a dramatic and negative impact on a student’s ability to thrive and succeed.

At PUHSD we understand that students have to occasionally miss school. We recognize that students get sick. Sadly, we understand that families lose loved ones. We know that doctors’ appointments happen. These are all valid reasons for your child to miss class. At the same time, we also know that students often miss school when they don’t need to. We believe that every day out of school is an opportunity your child misses to push ahead. Each absence is a missed opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive.

We are grateful for the opportunity to educate your child. We understand that each student’s education is the result of a partnership between parents and the school system. We work to provide a meaningful educational experience each and every day for your student. Please join us in urging them to make it to school everyday because every day counts!

Pinacate Middle School Mentoring Program

At the PUHSD we understand that middle school can be one of the most challenging times in a young person’s life. It is called middle school because it literally marks that transition or bridge between childhood in elementary school and becoming a young adult in high school. Given the difficulties of this transition, PUHSD is investing in our middle schoolers and is implementing the Best Version of You Academy to promote leadership skills amongst our male students.

The BVO-YOU Academy is an after school mentorship program that will be taking place every Wednesday beginning on February 13th. It is coordinated by Mr. Oliver Petty, who mentors youth through BVO-YOU, while also delivering motivational assemblies to local youth. Mr. Petty will work closely with our counselors to help students work on their specific behavioral and social emotional needs.

The goals of the mentorship program are to foster leadership, healthy relationships, and goals for future success. They do so through their weekly sessions, field trips, and activities that aim to teach the students life skills that can accompany them throughout their lives. Field trips include college tours that expose the youth to new environments and the possibilities that they may have viewed as unattainable prior to this experience. Some of the activities include a business proposal competition with the winner awarded a cash prize and the opening of a bank account to teach the students financial literacy.

We are excited to commence this partnership and provide a meaningful experience for our youth. We understand that middle school is far more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. We recognize that school is also a place to nurture positive habits that will lead to future success.

English Learner Program

In order to support the continual growth of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) mindset districtwide, the District sent over 40 teachers to the PLC at Work Conference in Phoenix, Arizona over the February break. Additionally, Mike Mattos, one of the nation's leading consultants and trainers of PLCs, worked with site level teams on March 7th to develop their capacity to facilitate effective PLCs and lay the foundation for building a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) on all campuses. This training will support one of the District’s top priorities which is building effective teacher teams and building capacity for school sites to function as PLCs.

It’s beginning to look a lot like testing. Our teachers and English Learners (EL) are gearing up for the 2019 administration of the English Learner Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC). We are in the process of training over 70 teachers from multiple content areas on the calibration of the ELPAC speaking rubrics. By having our own teachers participate as proctors, we are able to better understand the linguistic needs of our EL students and ensure they receive the best testing environment possible.

What can I do to support my EL students on this important assessment if I’m not an ELD teacher?

Integrate the ELD Standards into your current lessons. Just choose a few!

  1. Listening
  2. Speaking
  3. Reading
  4. Writing

View the ELPAC Practice Test. Think about how you could implement similar tasks in your current assignments and activities.

Reach out to your site EL Teacher Lead for additional support.


By Kirk Skorpanich, Assistant Superintendent


Our employees are awesome and truly care about our students. I believe that this is evident at every single school in our district. Each year, we get to recognize those employees who personify the very best qualities of 1,000 employees. We allow each site to identify our employees of the year. From this group, we select our district-wide employees of the year. These individuals, then represent PUHSD, as the Riverside County Office of Education selects the countywide Employees of the Year. Over the past ten years, seven of our employees have been recognized as Riverside County Employees of the Year and I know that this year’s group is equally amazing!!!

Bill Bartholome, Teacher of the Year

Mr. Bartholome is an outstanding teacher and instructional leader. In the classroom, he connects with all kinds of students and is equally great at working with highly motivated students in Algebra 2 as he is at working with reluctant learners in Algebra 1 Support. His calm personality lowers kids affective filters so that they can focus on learning math. He has been a champion of finding and trying new instructional strategies in his classroom and in supporting his colleagues to do the same. According to his principal, Ms. Thomasian, “A little over a year ago when discussing the large number of Algebra 1 failures, he said, ‘What we're doing isn't working and I want to help us find what will.’ This indicated to me personally Bill's drive to help every student understand math. It also showed me that he didn't just care about the kids in his class, but in every math class at Paloma.” He routinely uses words like "team" when talking about his colleagues. It is in his role as an instructional lead that he really shines. He comes along side his peers and works with them to examine instructional practices. He is relentless in hunting tools that will help all teachers to teach and all students to learn.

Melanie Woodard, Teacher of the Year

Ms. Woodard is an AVID and Social Studies teacher at Perris High School. She is kind and brightens the lives of our students every single day. According to Mr. Santos, her principal, Ms. Woodard is an exceptional teacher who is student-centered and goes the extra mile to connect with students. She is an advocate for students' success and involves herself in ways to improve the culture of the school. She establishes great relationships with all of those that come in contact with her and empowers students and other staff members to be better. In addition to being an awesome teacher, Ms. Woodard is actively involved in the Perris Secondary Educators Association (PSEA) and has been instrumental in helping to maintain an outstanding working relationship between PSEA and PUHSD.

Victor Murillo, Counselor of the Year

Mr. Murillo is a counselor at CMI. He is responsible for the academic placement and progress of over 500 students. He listens, respects, and honors all students, parents, and staff. Mr. Murillo has distinguished himself as a student advocate for the students who live in poverty and whose parents never went to college. He's not afraid to tell students they need to work hard, and he's not afraid to challenge his colleagues to do more for it demonstrates King Skills in identifying underlying conditions affecting students' behavior that negatively impact academics. He is a sympathetic and understanding listener. Mr. Murillo has a firm grasp of facts, understanding that there are times external factors negatively impact students socially and academically. His greatest strength is his ability to build relationships within a highly diverse community. His interpersonal relationships with peers, students, parent committee members, and fellow administrators are exceptional. He is helping ensure that CMI has a 100% graduation rate! As an Airman, he was a recipient of the Army Achievement Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal and Humanitarian Medal. He supported humanitarian missions in Rwanda, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Most recently, when the Camp Fires destroyed California communities, Mr. Murillo was on the ground working to provide shelter to thousands of displaced residents.

Charles Tippie, Certificated Administrator of the Year

Mr. Tippie is our Director of Learning Support Services, which means he oversees the districts assessment and accountability program, as well as services for English Learners. However, he is so much more than his title. He has an incredible dedication to the Educational Administration Profession. He is an extremely hard worker and has a high standard for his work as well as his team. Mr. Tippie is extremely adept and invaluable when it comes to State Testing he led the district in transition to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The amount of planning, training and implementation for the SBAC could have been daunting for the District, but Mr. Tippie is the consummate planner and had solutions at every step. Mr. Tippie is also responsible for coordinating our annual district-wide professional development. He ensures that over 1,000 employees in the Perris Union High School District are provided high-quality professional development that specifically relates to how they provide services to our students. Although he does not work directly with students, Mr. Tippie has a positive impact on students in our District every single day!

Bevy Escobar, Site Support Employee of the Year

Ms. Escobar has been the District nurse in PUHSD for over three years. It is amazing how many medical questions arise on a daily basis, but whatever the situation, Ms. Escobar knows how to treat it, handle it, or deal with it. She just knows her stuff! All nurses need to know medicine, but in addition to medicine, district nurses need to understand how to treat students medical needs, as well as school law, and school practices/procedures. Ms. Escobar has been instrumental in rewriting our policies and procedures for our District to help make our students safer. She also makes sure that our health technicians and schools are operating within the law and utilizing best practices. At the end of the day, Ms. Escobar is a nurse through and through. She is a nurse in the sense that she has a genuine nurturing and selfless spirit. She cares about the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all our students!

Joseph Williams, Classified Administrator of the Year

Mr. Williams is a rock star! He began his career within the (PUHSD) as an English teacher at PVHS. As Executive Director of Information Technology, he may no longer be in the classroom; however, he is still a teacher at heart. He possesses the unique ability to understand technology from both a technical and an educational perspective. Among his many responsibilities, he oversees Scholar+ a nationally-acclaimed program within the PUHSD, where every single student receives his or her own Chromebook. The bigger part of Scholar+ is the infrastructure, training, and support that are needed to ensure that all students and staff have access to the technology they need to ensure turn high-quality instruction and 21st-century learning skills. Mr. Williams has also been instrumental in the development of maker-spaces throughout the District, where students have the opportunity of developing Hands-On experiences that directly impact their real-world learning. Mr. Bennett said, “Mr. Williams is not resting on his laurels nor relying only on his past accomplishments.” He continues to strive to do what is best for staff, students, and families. Mr. Williams consistently advocates for PUHSD to continue advancements in educational technology, opening up even more opportunities for students. He looks at existing structures with a critical eye, questioning if these systems will make sense for students tomorrow. He pushes his colleagues to prepare students for the world they will grow in, when immersed in technology. He promotes new models of instruction, such as a hybrid and flipped learning, to capitalize on instructional time and the tools we have available. The PUHSD is very fortunate to have him on our team and working for the benefit of the students within our District.”

Xochitl Trujillo, Confidential Employee of the Year

Mrs. Trujillo has worked for the PUHSD since September 1999 and has held varying positions, each as a promotion, and taking on more responsibilities. She has worked as a Paraeducator, Senior Clerk, Secretary II, Professional Development Technician, and the last two years as the Administrative Assistant in the Technology department. She is always warm, welcoming, and professional. She has a myriad of responsibilities in her job and she's integral in how things get done in the Technology department. According to our superintendent, “Our District strives to provide sizzling customer service to staff, students, and parents, and Xochitl exceeds the expectation on a daily basis. Her patience, kindness, and ability to listen to and meet the needs of our teachers and staff is admirable. She frequently receives phone calls and emails from teachers regarding technology needs. She responds quickly with thorough information to ensure that they have a positive experience and are able to meet the needs of our students.”

Slobodan Stevanovic, Classified Employee of the Year

Mr. Stevanovic (or fondly “Sloba”) is a Programmer Analyst with the Technology department. Sloba has been instrumental in helping oversee the Scholar+ program by guaranteeing that all 10,000 students within the PUHSD have a working Chromebook. He also helps to manage all of their accounts. In addition to being a technology guru, Sloba exemplifies our District philosophy that everyone is an educator. On his own, he has gone to several school sites to assist students and use the maker-spaces where students can demonstrate their learning in creative ways. He also works with students during our summer maker camps. Additionally, he has presented at Edcamps and during our district-wide professional development. Sloba is a wonderful example of the best of PUHSD. According to Mr. Bennett, “He is such a kind and caring person that is respected throughout the District. His customer service is excellent and his drive to do what's right is outstanding.” In fact, the technology department has a mantra that they use for customer service that is “What would Sloba do?”

Paloma Valley High School Algebra Team, PLC Team of the Year

This year, we added a brand new category: Professional Learning Community (PLC) Team of the Year! In very simple terms, a Professional Learning Community is a group of professional educators within the school community who collaboratively engage in the ongoing exploration of three crucial questions:

  1. What do we want each student to learn?
  2. How will we know when each student has learned it?
  3. How will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?

The team works relentlessly to ensure students are meeting or exceeding expectations. Most importantly, the team adjusts pedagogy and/or interventions to the needs of the students. Our Algebra team at PVHS exemplifies the very best qualities of PLCs. Together, they help ensure that all students at PVHS meet the rigorous expectations of Algebra.

Congratulations to all of our Employees of the Year. They all contribute both directly and indirectly towards ensuring that the students in the Perris Union High School District and the California Military Institute are meeting, or exceeding, expectations. They are one of the reasons we have one of the highest graduation rates in all of Riverside County. They truly are awesome!


By Joseph Williams, Executive Director

Canvas Learning Management System (LMS)

When PUHSD rolled out Scholar+, the need for a Learning Management System (LMS) was paramount. At that time, our focus group selected Haiku LMS as the best fit and that LMS has served educators and students well.

Over the years, new LMS platforms came to market and those platforms that were already on the market made vast improvements. A few years ago Haiku LMS was purchased by PowerSchool. PowerSchool also has other platforms such as a Student Information System and their own LMS. PowerSchool has kept Haiku updated and the LMS features PUHSD educators rely on have been functional.

Last school year, site level Educational Technology Councils (ETC) were having regular discussions on other LMS platforms that were fully featured and contained other benefits such as integrating with Infinite Campus. The topic became an agenda item at the District ETC and a focus group was set up to evaluate various LMS platforms. The focus group brought their findings to ETC and made the recommendation that PUHSD look into switching to Canvas LMS. After a review of the various technical requirements and methods of integrating Canvas LMS, the tech department worked the process for the contract and for school board approval.

Our new Learning Management System is officially here and trainings all around the campuses of PUHSD have begun. Canvas will replace PowerSchool, but until June 30, both LMS’s will be available to teachers and students. Teachers are looking forward to its use with its integration of Google Drive and many apps like Flipgrid, Newsela, and Turnitin that are built into the Canvas site itself. Several teachers in the District have also mentioned how they love the “Canvas for Teacher” mobile app that helps them grade assignments more effectively and efficiently. Students also seem to be adjusting very well to the new program. We feel that in due time, everyone will become experts and will be able to showcase their courses on Canvas. Lastly, did we mention that all 114 California Community Colleges and many universities use Canvas as their official LMS? It is great that our students will already be accustomed to this application they learned about here at PUHSD and will be able to quickly adapt and use their skills in college. We will be rolling out the parent version of Canvas next school year when it becomes our one and only official learning management system.

Educational Technology Council (ETC)

Our teachers and IT technicians are working closer and closer together at PUHSD. In the classroom, they are collaborating to provide students with world-class resources using technology. This collaboration continues at the monthly ETC meetings. At a typical ETC meeting, members can work through and collaborate on instructional technology issues. Even though attendance is voluntary, members regularly attend and contribute. We would like to thank all those who have been providing input at ETC meetings. If you would like to be a part of ETC, the meetings are held on the 2nd Tuesday of every month in the District Office Board Room from 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm.

Computer Science Updates

PUHSD is in our 3rd year with the Inland Empire Code Consortium, the largest alliance of school districts in California to partner with the non-profit Code.org. One goal of this consortium is to increase participation in computer science courses by previously underrepresented students. In December, the Consortium took part in the Computer Science for All summit (CSforAll) sponsored by RCOE. As part of this event, PUHSD rededicated our efforts to expand access to computer science for all students.

At the February school board meeting, there was an information item on board policy that given certain conditions computer science could count toward math credit for graduation.

Here is the item:

Three courses in mathematics (Education Code 51225.3)

At least one mathematics course, or a combination of the two mathematics courses, shall meet or exceed state academic content standards for Algebra I or Mathematics I. Completion of such coursework prior to grade 9 shall satisfy the Algebra 1 or Mathematics 1 requirement, but shall not exempt a student from the requirement to complete two mathematics courses in grades 9-12. (Education Code 51224.5)

Students may be awarded up to one mathematics course credit for successful completion of an approved computer science course that is classified as a "category c" course based on the "a-g" course requirements for college admission. (Education Code 51225.3, 51225.35)

Another recent development that helps our District's commitment for all students to have access to computer science classes is that the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems currently accept some computer science courses to fulfill freshman minimum admission requirements in category “c” (mathematics), “d” (laboratory science), or “g” (college preparatory elective).

These are exciting developments for our students who could be taking computer science to meet a high school graduation requirement for math, or taking a computer science to meet a category “c” or category “d” requirement.

Digital Citizenship and Smart Alerts, Self Harm Alerts, or Possible Student Situations

Digital Citizenship

PUHSD has made great strides to help students remain safe online. Common Sense, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of digital media and technology, has recognized PUHSD as a Common Sense Certified School District. The District has demonstrated its commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing its students to use the immense power of digital media to explore, create, connect, and learn, while limiting the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyberbullying.

Smart Alerts, Self Harm Alerts, or Possible Student Situations

Part of helping students remain safe online is using tools on the backend that report out student activities on district devices and platforms. PUHSD uses a number of tools that allow the District to keep students safe. Some of those tools are as follows: All student devices are provisioned in the PUHSD Google Domain; District wifi has an on-site web filter; student chromebooks have an extension filter that cannot be removed; teachers have an in-class dashboard to see what students are doing on the Chromebook during class time; many of the tools listed above provide smart-alerts on web browsing activity; and PUHSD has a platform that reports “Incidents”, “Questionable Content”, and “Possible Student Situations”. This platform identifies inappropriate words and images in Gmail (student email), Google Drive, Google Docs and more. Trained professionals then apply consistent, school and District approved policies for positive intervention including alerting school officials if there is an imminent threat to a student. These alerts have allowed admin to get our students the help that they need. We are proud of the efforts and outcomes from school counselors and administrators who received these alerts and acted upon them, making a difference in the lives of our students.

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