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Superintendent Arellano outlines RUSD 2025 plan for Highland (click to read)

By Hector Hernandez, Jr. 

Highland Community News

January 25, 2019

As part of an effort to strengthen relationships between the Redlands Unified School District (RUSD) and the communities it serves, RUSD Superintendent Mauricio Arellano shared the district’s RUSD 2025 plan with Highland stakeholders during the Highland Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon on Jan. 22. He also took the opportunity to ask the Highland community for input through the district’s Thought Exchange app.

To outline the district plan Arellano explained the mindset behind each of the plan’s five commitment statements, each drafted to reflect the desires and concerns expressed by parents, teachers, staff and students during Arellano’s first year with the district.

According to Arellano, from the 1,500 adult comments and 1,500 student comments collected “enhanced learning through innovation” was the community’s greatest desire while “safe and secure school learning environments” was second.

To reinforce student learning with technological innovation, the district has begun to introduce advanced platforms such as interactive textbooks, virtual reality and career-based curriculum into the classrooms.

Some of these developments have also exercised the district’s aim to bolster collaborative community and parent partnerships such as those that have developed Garner Holt Productions animatronics labs at Franklin Elementary and Victoria Elementary and introduced an Esri-supported GIS program at Beattie Middle School.

“When I first arrived in September it was interesting to see frayed relationships with local organizations such as the police departments and almost a non-relationship with the city of Highland, the community of Mentone and Loma Linda,” Arellano said. We want to build these relationships with cities, police departments and companies. We have the biggest animatronics company here in Redlands and we had zero relationship with them and yet they have skills and knowledge our students can definitely benefit from. It took one phone call and Garner Holt was right on it.”

The plan also calls for “equality through equity” which Arellano described as “making sure all kids move forward.”

“Those kids who come with less need more and we have to do something different,” he added, sharing the district will now be focusing resources on the five schools that have historically had lower performance than the rest of the district — Victoria Elementary, Lugonia Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Mentone Elementary and Clement Middle School.

For safety, the district has reduced public access to the school campuses, established safety committee at each campus and brought police officers back onto the high school campuses.

“I understand these changes are not necessarily convenient for parents but convenience was not our priority. Safety is our priority,” he said.

“We put resource officers on campus not because we want a gun on campus but because we want to be proactive. We want reconnaissance and to hear about things going on at the schools before they resolve themselves on campus. And, yes, it is good to have an immediate responder on campus should something happen, which we are not prone to.”