School district gets unexpected surprise

MUSD to get $180,000 for national ‘Common Core’ initiative

The Mammoth Unified School District would receive $180,000 from the state to help with establishing national standards of education, acting superintendent Lou Stewart announced last week.

The funds, an outgrowth of an effort by U.S. state governors, are to go toward bringing all schools up to speed on “what makes a student educated.”

Currently, Stewart said, each state has different standards, so that a high school graduate in one state might have achieved more than a student from another state.

The governors, Stewart said, were frustrated each state had different standards, particularly when students arriving in their states from other states had different achievement levels.

“In the last couple of years,” she said, “we’ve seen the development of ‘common core’ standards in reading, mathematics, science, and so on. Previously, each state had a different level of expectations. This brings us to a common way of thinking.”

Stewart said neither she nor anyone else at the school district counted on the state money, which allocates $170 per student, to be spent over the course of the next two years.

“We were pleasantly surprised that we were included in this,” she said.

Stewart said Mammoth has participated in meeting state standards since 1997, and compared to other states and school districts, Mammoth has consistently scored well.

“Our state standards,” she said, “have been pretty rigorous. We have been in a pretty good place—better than a lot of states.”

To meet the new, undefined “common core” standards, Steward said the school district would invest in new textbooks, teacher training and, perhaps most of all, in new technology.

For the teachers, she said, the funding may pay for site-based training, Internet-based webinars and/or coaching.

“We have to make this transition,” she said.

Meanwhile, the school district also will reap $217,000 over seven years as a consequence of Proposition 30, which passed in California in last November’s general election.

That funding is more open-ended, she said, and the district will work on a plan to distribute those funds as needed.