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District Digest




Superintendent’s message

Dear Colleagues,

Already in October, this school year is moving along quickly.  I have been in many classrooms and am continually impressed with the quality of instruction that I am observing.  I am encouraging board members to join me on my class visits and they too have expressed how impressed they are with what they are seeing in the classroom.  Thank you for your efforts in providing the students of Tracy with an excellent educational experience.

The district is proceeding with the sale of our last school bonds to fund the work at North Elementary.  The great news is that with historically low interest rates for bonds, these new bonds will be paid-off in 10 years as opposed to the traditional 25-30 year length for school bonds.  A well-financed school bond has a repayment ration of $2 for every $1 dollar borrowed.  The repayment rate for the bonds the district just sold is $1.11 for every $1 borrowed.  This is potentially big news for TUSD as schools in the district that we may not think of as old such as Villalovoz, Jacobson, etc. will eventually need to be modernized.  Paying the loan off quickly would allow the district to approach the Tracy community and ask for their support of a new bond to fund needed modernization projects.

Last month, I had the opportunity to observe a group of teachers working on STEM units in professional development for two days.  This was not easy work but the teachers approached it with passion and commitment.  I was just amazed at the quality of work that they were producing.  Creating these STEM units are not easy so their ability to focus for the full two days was impressive.  

Recently, I attended a superintendent workshop where Michael Fine, Director of the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) presented his thoughts on the future of educational funding in our state.  FCMAT is the expert on school finance in California.  The news he shared was disturbing.  In his opinion, the economic slowdown started five months ago and will grow over the next 18 months.  He believes that eventually the economic decline will result in our state not being able to meet its financial obligations, which will likely lead the state to implementing budget deferrals as it did during the great recession a decade ago.  Deferrals means that the state does not send school districts the funds owed to them on time or even in the amount owed.  For example, during the great recession, the state cut school budgets by 20% and then deferred 40% of the remaining 80% money owed to districts for many months after it was due.  This put tremendous pressure on the cash flow of school districts.  Mr. Fine’s recommendation to the 58 superintendents in the room was for districts to reduce expenditures and to protect all available cash for the possible return of deferrals to the school financing environment.  TUSD will begin to prepare for the possible return of deferrals should the economic decline persist.

Last week, the district and CSEA reached a tentative agreement on salary and benefits that exactly matched what was offered to TEA and TSMA last March.  Assuming approval by CSEA members, I am glad that our classified employees will be receiving the salary increase that they deserve.  To have salary negotiations settled for the 2019-20 school year feels good.

Best wishes for a continued good school year.  If I can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Brian Stephens, Ed.D., Superintendent


Negotiations Update
TEA:  The District and TEA have begun contract negotiations for the year 2020-2021.  Negotiations have taken place regarding Articles VI and XII.  The articles which were opened by each team through the “sunshine” process are listed below.  The work at the table has been collaborative with positive dialog.

Article #/Title 



VI, Hours 


VII, Duties 


XII, Class Size/Teacher Aide Time 


XIII, Salaries (Compensation) 

XIV, Fringe Benefits 

Tammy Jalique, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources

Special Education

Meetings have been held with District Office Special Education staff, psychologists, and SLP staff to discuss current action items and matters of concern within the department.  A committee will be convened in the near future to review current implementation of RSP inclusion at the Middle School and High School levels.
Tammy Jalique, Interim Director of Special Education


North School Modernization Update
After approving three general obligation bonds in a decade, Tracy Unified School District has now completed all of the major renovation projects authorized by those bonds except for North School. We have been working on a timeline that would have required the Kindergarten through 5th grade students to move at the beginning of Winter Break from the North campus to IGCG while demolition and construction were to occur. Unfortunately, the review of the plans by the Division of the State Architect in Sacramento are taking longer than we anticipated. 

The construction planning committee announced to the North staff at the end of last school year that if the plans were not returned from the State Architect by the end of September, we would delay the move until the end of the school year. Because that timeline has come and gone, we officially announced to the staff on Tuesday that the project will be delayed.

This delay will allow for us to receive approved plans from the State Architect, solicit bids from interested contractors, make revisions as necessary to match ensure the bond funds adequately cover the costs, and, finally, to move the students and staff at the end of the school year.   
Casey Goodall, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent of Business Services


Future Administrators Workshop 
On Thursday, September 18, 2019 the first Future Administrators Workshop took place at the District office. Nineteen future administrators participated, with many more showing interest and planning to attend future meetings. Future administrators include current teachers and counselors in the District. The topic of discussion was school site leadership; facilitated by Dr. Rob Pecot (Director of Student Services), Jason Noll (Principal at Tracy High), AnaBelle Lee (Assistant Principal at West High), and Virginia Nyberg (Assistant Principal at Freiler). The workshop centered on the principles and characteristics of leaders, real life examples of leadership at school sites, and what the future leaders wanted to get from the program as well as why they were interested in being a school site leader. These workshops will take place monthly on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. The next session will center on administration relations with Human Resources and student and teacher discipline. All interested participants should not hesitate to contact Dr. Pecot, at

Anti-Bullying District Committee 
On September 17, 2019, the Anti-Bullying Committee met and discussed the details for the upcoming Red Carpet Event and to hear feedback regarding the anti-vaping assemblies that was presented to 6th and 9th grade students. The Red Carpet event is scheduled for November 13, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. Doors will be opening to the public and the participants at 5:30 p.m. Anti-bullying posters were due to Student Services on September 20, 2019. During the meeting the previous program itinerary was reviewed. Performances for this year’s event will be made by Central Elementary, George Kelly Elementary, West High School, and various student speakers from high schools. The anti-vaping assemblies were deemed successful. The students were reported to be very responsive and acknowledged becoming aware of the dangers vaping could lead to. The committee concluded anti-vaping assemblies should be done annually and possibly include more grades in the future.

Diversity and Equity Committee 
On September 17, 2019, the Diversity and Equity Committee hosted a panel of student speakers to discuss equity district-wide. The students were not given the discussion questions prior to the meeting and were free to express their feelings and opinions from a personal point of view. The questions included their experiences in Tracy Unified; how they felt about diversity and equity as a whole, vaping, and changes they would like to see occur in Tracy Unified. The students were well spoken and extremely positive about Tracy Unified. The students also expressed how much support they had received from many TUSD staff members, noting the diverse composition of current staff. The students appreciated that academic standards district- wide were high, and that the staff was very involved and compassionate. Students felt vaping was a generational issue. According to the students, if they could change anything, they would eliminate some of the student’s negative attitudes and provide more resources for students who may need mental health assistance district-wide. Overall, it was a great outcome and really shows that TUSD is supporting and challenging our students to lead them towards a successful path. Thank you to Tracy High School Assistant Principal, Mr. Hawkins for bringing in the guest student speakers!!
Robert Pecot, Ed.D., Director of Student Services and Curriculum

PreK-12 STEM Moving Into Grades 6-12
In October 2018, TUSD received a $4 million, 5-year grant from the US Department of Education to create and implement PreK-12 core instruction in STEM, with a focus on engineering and computer science, for all students in TUSD. Starting in the Fall of 2019, students in PreK to grade 5 have been engaged in STEM through their new units of study. Now it’s time to expand integrated STEM into grades 6 through 12. 

The TUSD 6-12 STEM Planning Committee has already begun the work to give input and make recommendations to the PreK-12STEM Pathway Leadership Council about the next steps of this systemic reform. TUSD is continuing to recruit teacher-leaders in grades 6-12 from all content areas to be part of this work, especially teachers of ELA, CTE, Math, and History-Social Science. 

What might reading and writing look like in the study of STEM? What career education in the humanities? What kinds of creative design challenges would engage and empower middle and high school students today? 

The committee members need you! We encourage teachers in grades 6-12 with experience in Rigorous Curriculum Design in ELA or Math, integrated instructional in any content areas, disciplinary literacy work, NGSS implementation, interest in STEM, creativity in curriculum development, and/or general enthusiasm for student-centered teaching to join this planning committee. Teachers can “apply” (show their interest) at this link. [
For more information about STEM in TUSD, go to and follow PreK12STEM on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Debra Schneider, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Media Services and Curriculum

Mathematics~ Responsive Revisions Underway
Our revision teams have already begun enhancing and refining our Mathematics Rigorous Curriculum Designed Units. Grades 1-5 teams have already met and Kindergarten and Sixth grade teams will begin their revision work shortly.
Our revision goals for 2019-2020 include:

  • Improved explanations of strategies and suggested lessons in pacing section of the unit planners.
  • Fluency Using Numbers (FUN) and mathematical literacy activities & routines. (Number Talks, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Clothesline Math, etc.) embedded in the planners. FUN is a part of core mathematics instruction. 
  • Additional learning opportunities in the Common Core Math Unit Folders.
  • Alignment of the CAASP/SBAC Interim Block Assessments and Focused Block Assessments (NEW this September!) These will be annotated in the Assessment section of the planners and in the pacing section, as well. 
  • Further aligned and refined question stems in our 2020-2021 pre and post assessments. 

As always, should you have any questions or suggestions, please email your comments to or send them to me at Professional Learning & Curriculum. Thank you!     Deborah Coker M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction Specialist       

Job Embedded Learning Opportunities 
Is there a specific strategy, routine, or content area that you, your grade level team, or your site would like to explore further? Support is a phone call or email away! Whether you would like support specific to your classroom; your team would like a PLC collaboration partner during prep or after school; or your site would like a math, ELA/STEM workshop tailored to your school, we are here to support you! From the Mathematics Literacy Movement with Number Talks and FUN, to the STEM/ELA integrated Units that are designed to engage every student with rigorous, relevant, engaging instruction, we are seeing amazing lessons with intentional opportunities for students to think and work. It has been so exciting to travel throughout the district, collaborating with Tracy educators as we collectively build our skills to meet the needs of every student using these culturally responsive practices. Just a few of our workshops this month have included: Student Discourse with Number Talks; Scaffolding Values (blending coins, place value, whole numbers, fractions, and decimals); Opportunities for Daily Writing (Integrated Text deconstruction, student discourse, Science, and Social Studies); 5E Lesson design (focused on building inquiry within STEM); sense-making notebooks (to support critical thinking in STEM through writing); Fluency Using Numbers (aka FUN ~ Intentional sequence of fact sets, scaffolded games with dice/cards/manipulatives, and fluency routines); and Math Support Days (On site demos of FUN games & Number Talks in classrooms & collaboration during preps). For additional information contact: Melissa Beattie, Deborah Coker, Jennifer Kassel, Del Pabalan, and/or Heather Reyburn, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist TOSAs

California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS):
The California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) is an anonymous statewide survey that evaluates student resiliency, protective factors, risk behaviors and school climate across the state. It provides important insight regarding the connection between emotional health behaviors, perception of safety and academic performance among all student populations. School districts provide the CHKS survey to all students in grades 5, 7, 9, and 11 on a bi-annual basis. The window to administer the CHKS is October 1 – 31, 2019. The CHKS is a web-based questionnaire, which requires students have access to a computer. It takes between 25-35 minutes to complete per student.

The CHKS is enacted through the Tobacco Use Prevention Education consortium with the San Joaquin County Office of Education. It requires that parents of 5th grade students who allow their child to participate must submit an active opt-in consent. Parents of students in grades 7, 9, and 11 who do not wish for their child to participate in the CHKS will need to submit a passive opt-out consent. Directions for the instructions to opt out of the CHKS survey may be found on all school site websites and the district website. The District sent an All Call to 5th grade parents during the week of September 23 and September 30, 2019, with a reminder to submit active consent forms to their child’s school site in order to participate in the survey.  For students in grades 7, 9, and 11, the District sent an All Call to parents during the week of September 23 and September 30, 2019, with instructions on how to opt their child out of participating in the survey. 

The San Joaquin County Office of Education provides TUSD with the CHKS URL link. The Office of Prevention Services provided site principals with the web link to disseminate to teachers who will be administering the survey. Results of the CHKS will be available in the Spring of 2020. 

Red Ribbon Week:
In 1988, the Family Partnership, formerly the National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth, sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Week. Wearing Red Ribbons became the symbol of their commitment to raising awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. National Red Ribbon Week continues to serve as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. The following is the TUSD implementation plan for the National Red Ribbon Week (RRW) for all site RRW Coordinators:
•    Coordinate the following details at your school site:
                 -Visit to access theme, planning guide and materials 

  • There are no additional district funds for RRW materials or swag

If you have any questions regarding TUSD’s plan for implementing the National Red Ribbon Week, during the 2019-2020 school year, please contact the Office of Prevention Services at (209) 830-3218, or email Dr. Deidre Hill-Valdivia at

Panorama Education Software Survey Window
TUSD is in Year 3 of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) District Core Curriculum utilizing Second Step, which will include grades 6-8 this school year. TUSD is in Year 2 of SEL Second Step Progress Monitoring utilizing Panorama Education Software. The Panorama Education Software provides a web-based questionnaire survey that requires students and teachers to have access to a computer. A parent consent form is not required for students to participate in this survey. The TUSD fall survey window is October 7–18, 2019. 

Teachers of students in grades K-2 will complete a teacher perception survey for their students. Teachers of students in grades 3-8 will proctor and administer the survey for their students. Results collected from the fall student survey may be useful to share with parents and guardians during the Parent Conference meetings scheduled for October 21, 2019. 

Below is survey information specific to grade level and SEL competencies: 

For Students in 3rd-8th Grade (3 Topics Total, Estimated Length: ~15 minutes):
•    Student SEL Competencies
          -Social Awareness
          -Growth Mindset
          -Emotion Regulation

For Teachers to Report on K-2nd Grade students (3 Topics Total, Estimated Length: ~1 minute per student):
•    Teacher Perception Survey
          -Emotion Regulation
          -Social Awareness
Deidre Hill-Valdivia, Ed.D., Coordinator of Prevention Services 

Congressman Josh Harder to Visit Melville Jacobson Elementary School for Principal for a Day Event
Congressman Josh Harder will visit Melville Jacobson Elementary School on Thursday, October 10, 2019. This is a collaboration between the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and their national principals affiliates, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to host National Principals Month. The month-long celebration always takes place in October, and provides a unique opportunity for elected officials across the nation to recognize principals and school leaders for their hard work and dedication in driving student growth.
In celebration of National Principal’s Month and National Principal Shadowing Week, ACSA is spearheading an opportunity for Congressional members to experience firsthand the role of our nation’s school leaders as Principal for a Day. During the month of October with a special emphasis on October 7-11, 2019, principals from across California will be hosting representatives and congressional staff in their schools to help provide a perspective of the day in the life of a principal.

ACSA’s Principal for a Day event is an opportunity for “each congressional member to have the opportunity to visit classrooms to witness the teaching and learning dynamics between students and teachers, perform selected administrative tasks, engage with students and staff, and get updated on current issues affecting public education. Most importantly, this activity provides opportunities for principals and other administrators to build, refine and strengthen relationships with their congressional representative.” 

This is truly a unique opportunity that can provide a new perspective on the challenges principals face on the ground, and the real-life impact legislation and education policy has on the students they serve. 
Sheila Harrison, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent of Educational Services

New Focused Interim Assessments!
The Smarter Balanced Assessment System (SBAC) has three components: the summative assessments, designed for accountability purposes; interim assessments, designed to support teaching and learning throughout the year; and the Digital Library, designed to support classroom-based formative assessment processes.  

The interim assessments are available for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics in grades 3–8 and high school and are available to all California local educational agencies (LEAs) to support teaching and learning throughout the school year. Interim assessments are optional resources that provide teachers with actionable information about student progress, and are designed to be given at locally-determined points during the school year. The interim assessments can help teachers, students, and parents gauge student progress toward college and career readiness, and identify strengths and areas for remediation in relation to the Common Core State Standards.

There are 3 types of interim assessments for ELA and Math: Interim Comprehensive Assessments, Interim Assessment Block and the new Focused Interim Blocks. The new Focused Blocks are designed to measure smaller bundles of content to give teachers better understanding of students’ knowledge and academic performance and provide teachers with precise next steps for instruction. For more information on Interim Assessments, visit the CDE website or

visual of interim assessments

EADMS Update

•    ELA Assessment Guides and Explanation charts by grade can be found on the portal in the Common Core ELA or STEM links. These documents outline which assessment are given and how they are entered in EADMS (raw score or rubric score).  EADMS math information can be found in the Common Core Math link on the portal in a document called EADMS Cut Points.  

•    Math, ELA and STEM ELA score sets are set up and ready for scores to be input.  K-5 ELA STEM (BES, CES, HES, KES, MES, NES, PCES, SWP & VES) sites will enter ELA scores in the score sets that begin with the word STEM. The naming of the score sets will remain the same for all other sites and grades.

•    Please enter assessment data scores as assessments are given and in accordance with the ELA/Math/STEM, pacing guides provided by Professional Learning. 

•    ELA/Math/STEM ELA data will be pulled and analyzed 3 times this year.  The dates for the data pulls are 10/14/19, 2/14/2020 and 5/22/2020.

•    For questions regarding ELA or STEM, please contact Debra Schneider.  For questions regarding Math, please contact Melissa Beattie.  For questions about EADMS, please contact Tania Salinas, Dana Smith or Rocio Ochoa.
Tania Salinas, Director of Assessment and Accountability