April has come to an end and there is a lot to report about the Los Banos Unified School District.

The district has invested significant resources in its current Academic Recovery Plan which allows the district to continue adding and improving upon programs for students. All of us in the district are confident that our students will continue to reap the benefits this school year.

The Dual Language Immersion Program had a great inaugural year. We are excited to announce that the program is expanding and five new classes are being added for the 2024-2025 school year.

We learned on April 26, that the school will receive $20,187,500 over five years as part of more than $1.2 billion in total funding awarded to 288 school districts and charter schools in the third cohort of the Community Schools Implementation Grants set for approval on the agenda of the California State Board of Education on May 8.

The California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) is the nation’s largest investment in the community schools model and is designed to transform educational outcomes for students through a whole child and whole family approach. This approach attempts to bring an array of services to the school site and the community to support students and improve the conditions for teaching and learning.

We worked collaboratively with parents, teachers, classified staff, and administrators to develop a common vision for implementing a whole-child approach to serving all students. The district will use these funds to invest in a Family Resource Center in the Los Banos community to provide services for families such as family therapy, substance abuse prevention workshops, educational workshops, job training, and more.

We also received the Social Behavior Incentive Program (SBHIP) grant with our partners Merced County Office of Education, the Central California Alliance for Health, Atwater Elementary School District and Behavioral Health Recovery Services. The collaborative will receive restricted funding in the amount of $2.2 million dollars for targeted intervention projects. 

On April 23, the Los Banos High School Creative Writing Club attended Fresno State’s Young Writers’ Conference. Two Tigers received awards, Teresa Ayala Martinez won the Facet Award for her short story, “Pure Joy (Or Nothing at All)” and Amelia Ortega won the MFA Award for her work of prose titled “Choking on Guilt.”

I am very pleased to announce Ingrid Langarica placed first in the California FFA Spanish Creed competition and will be representing Los Banos Junior High and the LBUSD and California at the National FFA convention in October. Camila Martinez competed as well in the Spanish Creed competition, and she came in fifth. It is very exciting to have another group of LBJH FFA students heading to Indianapolis in the fall for the FFA National Convention

On April 20, LBUSD music educators held the annual LBUSD Music Showcase at Pacheco High School. All elementary and secondary schools participated in this all-day event. The day was filled with amazing performances by all LBUSD students.

Students in elementary beginning band perform during the April 21 noon concert at Pacheco High School. There were performances at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4:30 p.m. from all schools in the district.

Our District Reclassification Ceremony was also held at Pacheco High School on April 27 and was a great success. Over 400 students were reclassified this year. The recognition ceremony began with Xipelbe Aztec dancers and ended with Mariachi Mexico. There were over 600 people in attendance to honor and celebrate our students.

Creekside Junior High held its annual staff versus students basketball game. During two separate rallies, staff, that included the principal, Tywan Lawrence, teachers, security and counselors, brought the heat against the seventh- and eighth-grade basketball players. The game included a half-time, half-court competition and a three-point competition with volunteers from the crowd.

Finally, on April 23, bus drivers were recognized in commemoration of National School Bus Driver Recognition Day.

Negotiations continued with our labor partners in April. On April 4, impasse was declared in our collective bargaining sessions with the Los Banos Teachers Association after completing the seventh session of negotiations. The District filed the request for an impasse with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). PERB Certified the filing on April 11.

Mediation began May 10. Another session is scheduled for May 24. The District is hopeful that this next step in the bargaining process will allow the District and LBTA to finalize negotiations. We also held a negotiation session with CSEA on April 16, and will meet again on May 16. We are hopeful that good faith bargaining will continue and that we will reach a deal with CSEA.

On April 11, the Los Banos Unified Board of Education members voted to purchase weapon detectors made by Evolv at the cost of $1,289,045.84. Evolv is different than a traditional metal detector, as it uses artificial intelligence to scan students for weapons prior to their entrance to campuses.

It is an added layer of school security. The Evolv system has been used successfully throughout the state and the nation.

Lastly, we are pleased to inform you that Pacheco High School held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony for its Science Wing on May 10 at 4 p.m.

As we work towards the end of another school year, I continue to be reminded of how incredible and resilient our LBUSD community is. Thanks for your continued support and thanks for another great month.

Dr. Mark Marshall

Superintendent, Los Banos School District