December 16, 2021
Dear Elk Grove Unified Parents and Families,
At a recent leadership conference on learning, I was asked to talk about Elk Grove Unified. For context, I shared how we are the largest school district in Northern California with more than 63,000 students covering more than 320 square miles, supported by 6,538 employees who are represented by seven labor groups. Despite COVID-19, our students and families maintain a 96 percent student attendance rate representing 67 schools and made sure to note that next year, we look forward to opening our 43rd elementary school, Miwok Village Elementary. To provide the scope of our impact as one of the areas largest employers, I added that we are stewards of a $760.2 million dollar budget.
Our numbers are certainly impressive, yet I wanted to bring particular attention to how our five years of relationship building, starting in 2015, became the bedrock of how we collectively and safely navigated 21 months of constant change, anxiety and uncertainty. During the past two years, I’ve seen tears, worked with colleagues through heartbreak and also felt disappointment. But no matter how complex or complicated everything became, we all stayed the course and stayed connected to each other with one common goal of educating our children as best possible given the circumstances.
As I look forward, I am extremely grateful and proud of the many new learning models we built as a team. At the start of the pandemic, we created a robust selection of enrichment programs to support students and families at home. We developed and improved a new technologically based learning model for full distance learning, pivoted to a concurrent learning model, and then integrated in-person learning amidst some of the most restrictive public health protocols. As we began to recover, we pulled out all the stops on extended learning and successfully served 15,859 students through a variety of summer learning models—more than double the number of students served in 2020 (6,855) and 2019 (5,692). This fall, we also built out our existing independent study program and continue to develop more extended learning opportunities for students with tutoring programs.
Our family and community engagement programs continue to thrive along with our English Learner Language program, our Special Education program, our Family and Community Engagement programs and our Educational Equity programs. We are contracting with and working alongside numerous community partners to address specific student population needs and in the new year, our Board will consider the adoption of a revised graduation requirement policy that aims to significantly improve the array of new and rigorous opportunities our graduates can now engage in to demonstrate their preparedness for college, career and life. More improvements will be forthcoming as we continue to assess and evaluate our educational programs, student wellness and school climate.
In addition to improvements and innovations, we also have more growth ahead of us. With that growth comes fiscal responsibility and as a large local employer, we want to help current and prospective employees thrive by offering stable employment and competitive total compensation along with staying fiscally solvent forward looking. We will continue to support our employees with training and professional development while keeping safety top of mind and we are committed to our stance on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We aim to build and create a renewed sense of belonging while remembering to invite people to join together in projects and initiatives.
I respect the dedication of our employees and look forward to many employee recognition events and celebrations of achievement in the future. When I took a brief walk through the halls of the Education Center yesterday, I was tickled at seeing the love and creativity every department has shared by participating in the Holiday Door Decorating Contest, which is also a fundraiser for the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation. Even more beautiful was the growing feeling of camaraderie, that sense of holiday spirit and the smiles, grins, laughter and appreciation for each other’s talent. As I stated earlier, relationship building is paramount for getting through the tough times and it will carry us further during the best of times.
To conclude, just as we recognize the value of relationships, we want to welcome and invite all people to help us build a more inclusive school environment. Sometimes our process can be daunting and slow, but our promise to provide high quality instruction for your children is very important to us.
During this time, I ask that we all remain mindful during festivities with friends and family gatherings as there can be many among us who are silently suffering and in need of assistance. If you know of an individual or family who needs some gentle support, please don’t hesitate to contact your school or our Student Support and Health Services department to lend a hand.
Please stay involved in your child’s educational experience at whichever level you are able to and willing to commit to–I am certain that they appreciate your attention and do notice the effort and care.
Happy and Safe Holidays,
Christopher R. Hoffman
Elk Grove Unified School District