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Alisal Shines in Pace Study

Alisal USD shines in PACE study

A study of the Alisal Union School District found its exemplary community engagement practices  and collaboration with parents resulted in an outstanding response to students’ needs when the pandemic hit. 

In “Crisis Response in California School Districts: Leadership, Partnership, and Community” by Policy Analysis for California Education, researchers found incredible resourcefulness and resilience in the districts they studied, including Alisal Union School District, after the pandemic-induced shutdown: meal distribution was an immediate priority for all districts, with many districts expanding their efforts over time to ensure families were secure for all three daily meals, over the weekends, and during vacations—and most districts provided these meals to all members of the family. Early in the pandemic, all seven districts profiled in the study similarly invested heavily in ensuring students had access to technology: purchasing and distributing laptops and hotspots, establishing technology support hotlines and resources, and in some cases, working with private partners to tackle the “digital divide.” 

Several districts relied on existing relationships in order to move quickly to provide the services the families needed. The example of Alisal Union School District and its efforts to build honest dialogues with families was so compelling PACE researchers dedicated a section to highlight its efforts — the only District in the study to receive said treatment. 

“The AUSD story demonstrates that community development and educational improvement can be realized with a partnership of community activists, parents, educators, and district leadership. While the partnership does not avoid contentious debates, it does elevate parents’ voices—parents from a traditionally invisible demographic—and draws its strength from a local community that takes pride in its culture and prioritizes educational opportunity for its children,” the study reads. (P. 54).

“The District is extremely pleased to have its efforts recognized by such a distinguished team of researchers,” Superintendent Jim Koenig said. “District administrators have worked hard to build relationships with the community because they know that’s the right thing to do. When parents feel comfortable approaching Alisal administrators, they feel comfortable in their schools and their children feel safe. And children learn best when they feel safe.” 

The PACE study also reaffirms conclusions reached by the Monterey County Grand Jury Report: “Excellence in Action: Monterey County’s Educational Response to COVID-19” which concluded that “Educators and classified staff in Monterey County are to be commended for their initiative and flexibility in meeting the challenges of COVID-19. From the MCOE Superintendent to the newest part-time classroom aide, county educational employees went beyond their job descriptions in meeting the needs of students and their families during the pandemic.” 

Both reports conclude community services must be strengthened to help schools provide socioemotional support for students and families. 

To read more about the PACE study, click here.

For the Monterey County Grand Jury Report, click here

Posted Aug. 29, 2022