The first habit from Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is to “Be Proactive”. The recent passing of Covey prompted me to take the time to read his book and learn from this man. As I read through his first habit about being proactive, I see many examples of this habit already at work in our school district. To be proactive means to take the initiative, to exert our freedom to choose, to rise above our circumstances and make things happen. The opposite mindset is to become reactive, to be the victim of our circumstances, to wait until we are forced to take action, which is often too late.
Milpitas Unified School District is a proactive organization. It is part of the DNA of this district and it is paying off in specific, concrete, and measureable ways. We are committed to creating a 21st Century learning environment for all students within the next three years. This means we will have a wireless network covering all of our campuses by October 2012. We are providing the use of free Google tools for every staff member and student in our district. The business community is asking us to integrate the 4 C’s into our schools so we are making communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking guiding principles as we redesign our schools. This integration of the 4 C’s into our schools is taking shape in various pilot programs, especially in our elementary schools.
We have launched two full K-6 blended learning schools at Randall and Weller Elementary Schools this fall. Blended learning means that students are getting the best of direct instruction from teachers and the opportunity for student-centered, self-paced learning using the best educational software on the market. Teachers are working in teams, collaborating about student learning, and students are actively engaged in their learning. With technology providing customized instruction to each student, our teachers will be able to hone in on the unique learning needs of every student. We expect to see significant gains in student achievement with this new model.
All of this new technology requires funding and the passage of Measure E in June 2012 is the key. We are pleased to share with the community the results of the issuance of $55 million dollars of bonds as authorized under Measure E. As part of this issuance, the district went through a bond rating process this summer and our ratings improved with both Moody’s (A1 to Aa2) and Standard and Poor’s (A to A+). The dominant reason cited by both rating organizations was the healthy balance sheets and strength of our financial reserves. We recently closed bond sales on the market with an overall interest rate of 3.65% over the life of these bonds. Our proactive budgeting over the years is being recognized and appreciated by the financial community.
We have $25 million dollars of projects in design right now. This proactive bond program is designed so that our current students reap the benefit as soon as possible and we avoid the cost of inflation down the road. You will see the beginnings of construction at Russell Middle School, Pomeroy Elementary, and Milpitas High by spring 2013. Then in the summer of 2013, we will have projects in motion at all thirteen campuses in our district. On behalf of the students and staff of our district, we appreciate the political and financial support of our community.
To all our MUSD families, welcome back to school and we look forward to another outstanding year of preparing your children for the future!
Occasional thoughts on the progress of our district.