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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Latest on School Reopening Plans, New SBUSD Chief & More -- with School Board Prez Laura Capps

Updated: May 28, 2020

The current pandemic contingency plan for the Santa Barbara Unified School District foresees a mid-August "hybrid" reopening of schools, with some students in classrooms and others engaged in remote learning, school board president Laura Capps said Wednesday.

"It’s a moving target," Capps said in an interview. "We have to be flexible. We have to know that you put a plan in place and it’s likely going to change, it will change, so we have to have multiple plans and back up plans.

"Right now it seems as though it will be a hybrid approach - meaning school will open on August 18 but not all kids will be back in the classroom," she added. "And again we’re talking on May 27, (so) this is probably going to change a few times...I just want to be sure we’re being smart and methodical, but also flexible."

The morning after. Capps checked in with Newsmakers the morning after she and her four board colleagues voted unanimously to hire L.A. Unified School District executive Hilda Maldonado as the new superintendent in Santa Barbara.

One reason the board selected Maldonado is the thoughtful and thorough answers she gave in her job interviews to questions of how she would plan for and address the uncertainties of the coronavirus in preparing for a new school year, Capps said.

In L.A., Maldonado has been in the forefront of the school district's Covid-19 response, working on projects that have ranged from organizing large-scale food distributions to connecting the 40 percent of students who were unwired to Wifi services so they could do remote learning from home.

"She's ready to roll on day one," said Capps, who lead the search that resulted in Maldonado's hiring. "She's really impressive on the pandemic front."

Capps also offered some behind-the-scenes looks at the board's pre-hiring interviews and conversations with Maldonado on several other issues, including her deep background in multi-language learning, research and practice, a pathway the district increasingly is pursuing in its effort to lessen the racial and cultural Achievement Gap on test and school performance.

"The benefits are clear of this kind of education," she said. "All of the science shows that the implications for everyone are beneficial, not just for the English learners but for English speakers, across the board, social and emotionally, in math.

"There’s academic rigor, there’s innovation, there are programs that are working," she said, adding that Maldonado "has been in that mix, in that field of study, practically implementing it, but also learning about for a long time, for decades."

In the interview, Capps also spoke about the district's financial situation, relations with the teachers' union, whether or not she will run for re-election, her unsuccessful campaign for supervisor -- and how it feels to hire someone for three years at a big salary without ever having sat in the same room with them.

Meet the new superintendent: Capps also issued this special invitation: "On Friday (May 29) at 10 a.m.,  the community will have a chance to hear more from the incoming Superintendent Hilda Maldonado, when she will join students for a public Q and A session over ZOOM. All are welcome.

You can watch the Newsmakers interview with Laura Capps by clicking below. The podcast version is here.


Image: Laura Capps and Oscar (Josh Molina).

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