At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Los Banos Unified School District Board of Trustees elected new officers, was given updates on state testing and heard reports on  school activities

The meeting began with Superintendent Mark Marshall administering the oath of office to trustees elected in 2022: Gene Lieb, Anthony Parriera, Marlene Smith and Dayna Valadao.

Then officers of the board were elected. Anthony Parriera was named President, Gene Lieb Vice President, Gary Munoz Clerk and Dr. Marshall as the Secretary to the Board.

Following this, Ray Martinez was recognized for his six years of service to the board and the students of the district.

Later in the meeting Dr. Sean Richey, the district’s Chief Academic Officer, reported that Los Banos schools are undergoing a series of MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing (during which students in various grades take standardized tests three times a year to evaluate growth) to replace CAASPP  (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) testing, which used to take place once a year.

The most recent test scores indicate a significant decline in academic performance in the  district and across the state, primarily the result of a decline in learning during COVID.

The high school graduation rate is eight per cent higher than the state of California; however, there is a high suspension rate, high chronic absenteeism and a concern that schools do not have systems in place that are “proactive” enough to combat these issues.

Jacinta Brown, Student Representative to the Board from Los Banos High School, reported that a first-ever joint Winter Formal dance is planned for both high schools in January at the Los Banos Fairgrounds with the theme “A Night in Vegas.”

Los Banos High, said Brown, has taken the initiative to hold UC (Universities of California) and CSU (California State Universities) workshops, where students were able to personally get help on their college applications and financial aid process.

Los Banos High was proud to announce 113 National Honor Society Members, consisting of sophomores, juniors and seniors who had a grade point average of 3.66 or higher.  David Herriera and Cloe Cotta were also commended for finishing amongst the top of their leagues in football and tennis.

In the California School Employees Association report, it was brought to light that 127 employees would still be working in schools during Christmas break,  including custodians and administrative staff.

It was noted when school resumes after the break there will be 47 different types of employees who share 11 different schedules to maintain the upkeep of all schools in the district for students and staff.

 With the expansion of schools, there has been a high demand for staff, and it was noted in the CSEA report that there are staffing problems. There is a shortage of staff and pressure on existing staff to keep up with facilities in all schools.

It was reported that two free COVID tests were given to each student in all the schools as a protective measure for the upcoming holidays.

Prishaa Vala