There were many thanks and compliments to give during the June 9 Los Banos Unified School Board meeting as well as updates on programs benefitting students in the district. 

Renee Leonard, principal of Los Banos Elementary, shared progress of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program that was initiated in Miano, Westside and Los Banos Elementary Schools in August 2021.  

Every week for 45 minutes to an hour, Leonard explained, all grades participated in a STEM lab where students took notes, expanded their vocabulary, engaged in discussion and created projects such as windmills, rockets, LED bugs and egg car crashes. Videos showed students’ excitement at their successful projects. 

“This STEM program will give students the foundational skills for junior high and high school STEM programs,” Leonard said.

Leonard added that the program will be available during the summer at Los Banos Elementary and Miano Elementary School and invited board members to visit their STEM labs next school year. 

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sean Richey shared the goals the district plans to achieve with LCFF funds, which will be brought back for approval. Goals included raising the rate of college and career readiness for English learners and student with disabilities by 15 percent by 2024, provide systems of support for social emotional behavior and academic learning, and maintain a secure environment that facilitates the learning process. 

School Superintendent Dr. Mark Marshall mentioned plans to revisit safety protocols amidst the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting. Ray Martinez seconded this in his board member report: “Any type of violence that comes to the district, we are looking to be prepared for it… and have the whole district well-equipped in those areas.”

Board members gave positive reports on various school events they attended, such as Los Banos Elementary’s carnival-themed open house, Creekside Junior High’s rendition of Cats, Tom Faria’s choral concert, the wax museum at Los Banos High School, multiple high school graduations, and scholarship ceremonies. 

Board President Anthony Parreira mentioned going to 7 graduations and/or completion ceremonies, shaking a total of about 1,200 hands.

“It’s what you learn after you know everything that counts,” Perreira said, referring to high school graduates. 

The board thanked scholarship fund donors for their contributions and commended the people that made these events successful. It was mentioned by many that parents were thrilled to be back to participate and celebrate with their children. 

Much praise was given throughout the meeting to the retiring Los Banos Unified Assistant Superintendent, Paula Mastrangelo, who worked for the District for 38 years. Retiring Principal of Westside Elementary, Joe McCollough, was also given an award for 25 years of exemplary service. 

Leann West, Vice President of California School Employees’ Association (CSEA), presented the district’s “Appreciating Classified Employees” program, in which 6 district administrators were invited to work alongside classified school employees, “shadowing” them for a day. Participating in the Classified Employee Shadow program allowed administrators to recognize classified employees’ contributions and better understand their essential work. 

The meeting officially concluded the 2021-22 school year, but it also marked a new beginning for the school district as they organized ways to improve students’ education and liveliness in the upcoming year.