Caldwell School District Update

Monthly newsletter from Superintendent Shalene French

September 2019

In this newsletter:

    • Positive start to a new school year
    • Property tax rate for Caldwell schools is dropping
    • How are we doing in reaching our goals?
    • Comparing apples to apples in school district performance
    • Breakfast and lunch remain free for all our students
    • What's happening in our schools? Click for our interactive online calendar of events!
    • Monthly report on the work of our school board

    Positive start to a new school year

    The 2019-20 School Year is off to a great start. Last month, I shared that our opening meeting would feature some special events and I've included some snapshots below.

    Caldwell School District tax rate drops

    Property tax rate for Caldwell schools is dropping

    For the first time in a decade, the property tax rate for Caldwell schools will drop. The district certified its levy with the county at $3.66 per $1,000 of taxable property value, down from $4.19 -- a 12.6% decrease. A taxpayer with $100,000 of taxable value would pay $53 less under the lower rate.

    The school district levy includes past bonds to build schools, the maintenance levy for buildings, a levy for insurance, and the district's supplemental levy.

    The rate drop is attributed to several factors:

    • Refinancing of bond debt to a lower interest rate

    • Paying off bonds

    • Add value to tax rolls from new homes and businesses

    • Increased property values in the district

    Big picture

    How are we doing in reaching our goals?

    Working with our community, the Caldwell Board of Trustees established a mission and vision, along with values and goals for our students and our district. This set the priorities and direction for what we do and what we want to accomplish.

    The state and federal government have set specific goals to measure our schools progress toward key indicators. The state annually reviews our progress in the areas of English language proficiency, math proficiency, academic growth in both those subjects, graduation rates, and student engagement. They report this information, and more, on a "Report Card" for parents and the public. Several of our schools were recognized as goal makers and Canyon Springs was a top performer in one of the categories.

    I encourage you to explore our schools' report cards.

    To measure our progress, we certainly look at what state and local tests tell us about progress toward math, English language arts, and science proficiency, academic growth in these subjects, and graduation rates. In Caldwell, we're focused on the whole child and that means looking at what our students are doing in their classrooms and outside of class to better support them in their learning and in meeting academic expectations.

    In this monthly newsletter, I will share with you reports from our classrooms focused on our District goals which are:

    Our students will develop critical thinking skills.

    Our students will be literate.

    Our students will value themselves, others, and their community.

    Our students will learn the value of social interactions and build positive relationships.

    Our students will learn in and contribute to safe and supportive schools.

    We will respect the voices of students, families, and community in the educational process.

    Below are three short reports, please take a look at the great things happening in our district aligned to our goals for students.

    Big picture

    Last month, the State Department of Education released a bushel of information on student performance in reading, math, and science for every school and district in Idaho.

    In the Caldwell School District, we carefully review student performance from state and District assessments to aid instruction and to ensure we reach our mission to empower the whole child to achieve personal goals and strengthen our communities.

    We also look to see how other districts are doing. However, it doesn't make sense for us to look at West Ada or Boise.

    Why? Because we're very different and the comparison does not yield insights into our progress.

    For example, more than 20% of our students are English learners compared to 10% in Boise and 4% in West Ada. It is also important to know that all state assessments are given in English and not translated into the student's first language. Caldwell continues to be recognized as a leader in moving students toward English language mastery, but state results may not reflect the achievements being made in Caldwell.

    Another difference is the percentage of students who arrive ready to benefit from Kindergarten. In Caldwell, 18% of kindergartners arrive ready for kindergarten according to the Idaho Reading Indicator. In West Ada, 68% are ready and in Boise, 53% are ready. Our youngest students arrive significantly behind their counterparts in Ada County. Nevertheless, Caldwell continues to be recognized as a leader in providing early learning opportunities such as our Caldwell Preschool Collaborative and offering full time Kindergarten for all students.

    We reviewed with the Board of Trustees last month a tool from the State Department of Education that allows us to compare how we're doing with districts that are similar to us ... or in other words a more apples-to-apples comparisons.

    This tool will be updated soon with data from 2019. I've included graphs from that tool for some key indicators that show how we compare when we look at student growth. We've included three charts below that show how we compare in growth. Please click on the chart and it will take you to the tool to learn more. I encourage you to explore the tool and always ask when you see scores reported: "Is this apples to apples?"

    Breakfast and lunch are free for all Caldwell School District students

    Our schools qualify for the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) which means that breakfast and lunch are free for students at all our schools. Menus are posted on Child Nutrition website.
    Read the School Board Report!

    The Board Report recaps what happened at the monthly school board meeting.

    Superintendent N. Shalene French

    Committed to Caldwell School District's mission, vision, and values to ensure equity and access for all students.