Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell gave her annual State of the District this Friday morning. Typically part of the Foundation’s Superintendent’s Breakfast, this year’s event was a virtual message given to the district via YouTube.
Mike Fennacy, chairperson for the Foundation for Clovis Schools and partner at Darden Architects, began the presentation by welcoming everyone. In his introduction, Fennacy also announced that the Foundation received over $84,000 from Granville Homes for their Students of Promise Scholarships.
After Fennacy, O’Farrell began her message by stating CUSD is currently the 14th largest district in the state and it is moving to become the 13th. Also adding that CUSD is one of the highest performing districts of all large districts.
O’Farrell continued by mentioning a new high school and intermediate school that will serve the south east part of Clovis Unified. The new high school will ease overcrowding at Clovis and Clovis East high schools. These schools are planned to open by 2025, but are dependent on the passing of Measure A.
Next, O’Farrell addressed the closing of schools due to COVID-19 and how that was one of the hardest decisions made by the district.
Zoom online learning counted for almost 14,000,000 minutes of learning and students were loaned 21,000 laptops for their use during distance learning. Also, 12,000 meals were given out daily to students around the district.
Due to the shut down, O’Farrell stated teachers are being pushed outside of their comfort zones and that even though they feel as if this was their first year on the job they are still pushing through the challenges.
“There is no doubt that we are experiencing challenges and that we must rely on our strong core values and educational principals,” O’Farrell said. “We are like a ship in a storm focused on surviving the rough waters of the moment, while also looking far enough ahead to make sure that when the storm clouds clear we have not been tossed out too far from course.”
She went on to mention that Measure A is gravely needed and that is why she recommended it be put on the ballot again even though it had failed in March. O’Farrell reiterated that the measure is needed so that schools don’t become overcrowded and fall into despair.
Also mentioned by O’Farrell, was the appreciation of Fresno County’s approval of the CUSD’s waiver for school reopening. Because of it, it is possible for many of the elementary schools to begin in-person classes. Intermediate and high school students will also have a chance to return to in-person classes, but in a hybrid model.
A video was shown demonstrating how students will be socially distant and what protocols the students and staff will be taking to keep safe for in-person learning.
O’Farrell concluded the presentation by stating that local neighborhood schools best serve local communities. She encouraged the community to continue and watch for updates and information from the district’s response to the current pandemic.
“We are founded on a philosophy of teamwork and trust and a belief that our schools belong to our community,” O’Farrell said. “There will be a post covid world and so long as we continue to remember who we are and what Clovis unified has stood for since its founding in 1960 we will emerge stronger and brighter than ever before.”