The Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District (2,104 student enrollment) serves a unique rural community of approximately 12,000 people in the Central San Joaquin Valley. It is a town where parents, teachers, administrators, and community members have committed themselves to a high standard of education for their children.
The community’s city government and the school district have cooperated to co-develop city parks in conjunction with school playgrounds, co-sponsored afterschool programs and participate on each other’s planning teams. Local citizens and businesses have donated tennis courts, trees, playground equipment, and even school supplies and clothing for needy students. The student population of the district is a mixture of children of farm workers and farmers, doctors, nurses, and hospital custodians, small and large business owners, factory workers, sales people, and teachers. The diversity is broad; however, as diverse as the backgrounds may be, the town’s citizens are singularly committed to the education of its children. The school district, in existence since 1874, takes pride in meeting the needs of all its students, and, as a result, the district enjoys the overwhelming support of its parents, teachers, staff and the community at large.
The district's schools foster a secure, friendly environment in which students experience a wide variety of learning activities through growing technology and STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, the visual and performing arts, physical education and wellness, and competitive athletics, as well as the new California standards, college and career readiness skills and 21st century learning. Parents, teachers, and administrators frequently work together on school issues and projects, including school structure, curriculum, school environment, and a variety of activities aimed at student success and maintaining the schools as a center of community events.
In 1996, the Kingsburg Joint Union Elementary District became the second charter school district in the state.
Since its inception, as the Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District, the district has experienced growth in ADA primarily from parents moving into the city for the sole purpose of having their children attend Kingsburg schools; increased test scores; expansion of programs, services, and offerings for students, and has seen an enhanced enthusiasm for “pushing the envelope.”
The following charter petition proposal is a reflection of the support expressed by the district’s employees and the citizens of Kingsburg. It also reflects the constant efforts of the district to prepare students to become productive citizens in the 21st century. The district’s mission is simple, “We will find a way for ALL students to learn,” is lived daily in taking to heart the challenge of preparing children to communicate effectively, work collaboratively, think creatively and critically, gather, use, and produce information; make informed, responsible decisions; become life-long learners, and enthusiastically embrace challenges and responsibilities. Placed in the context of creating professional learning communities, these over-riding concepts are encouraged by the support of parents and families, drawing its standards from the traditional small-town atmosphere so cherished by the citizens of Kingsburg. Indicators of this support include:
- 100% of the parents sign the Parent/Student/Charter District Compact
- 100% of the credentialed employees in the district support working in the charter district
- 100% of the classified employees support working in the charter district
It was held by all stakeholders in the initial charter petition, and continues to be held today, that being a charter would set the school district apart and make it even more special in the educational community. The innovative and effective education programs, which include music and art as well as career technology and STEM implementation has contributed to KECSD students receiving the two highest performance levels on all state indicators as per the California School Dashboard. The charter fosters innovation in the area of literacy development and technology. The opportunity to have more flexibility with programs and staffing, combined with open enrollment were powerful motivators in meeting the needs of students and parents in the rural backdrop of Kingsburg. Open enrollment has been a signature practice of the charter since its inception. Parents and students are welcome from all districts, and students that reside in Kingsburg have the opportunity to transfer any other district without going through the transfer process. Our academic program must be superior, effective and innovative for all students in order for our enrollment to increase and meet the needs of more families. The charter allows us to affect the lives of more families and students. In this community, parents truly feel they are ultimately responsible for the education of their children. Through this charter, the district becomes partners in the education of their students. The individual responsibilities of each group – parents, district, and students – are enumerated in the Charter District/Parent/ Student Compact, making it everyone’s job to ensure student growth and achievement. Each year, this compact represents 100% parent and student participation.
Kingsburg is structured as a community aligned school system instead of a neighborhood school system. All of the students move through the grade levels as one unit. This allows each grade level to provide the most effective education program because of the unity formed with each stakeholder in the district and community. For families that want an alternative type of education program, students may attend Central Valley Home School. It is the desire of the community (frequently reiterated in annual parent surveys) to maintain its TK-8 continuity structure. By mandated necessity, as seen by the community, the structure of the district’s schools dictates that if one school is a charter, the expectation is that all schools have charter status, thus virtually requiring the need that if there is going to be a charter, then it must be an all-charter district.
Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District has demonstrated what a “stand alone” district can accomplish as a charter. Through our flexibility, implementation of researched-based programs and change has allowed us to ensure the highest quality of education and educational opportunities are quickly put in place for our students. The community and staff has embraced the charter status and developed into a community-wide professional learning community that proudly stands together for each member of the community. One example of this commitment is exemplified by the development of Island Community Day School. Instead of sending students to county programs, Kingsburg wants to keep its students to rehabilitate them through restorative justice and maintenance of their academic programs.
The district’s status as an all-charter district has become a core value in both our school system and the community at large. Another way to look at the district’s involvement as a charter may be to note that no child who has started kindergarten in this school district has ever known or experienced a school system that is not a charter system. From our mindset to our conversations to even the visual representations on the side of our school buses, we proclaim Kingsburg Elementary Charter School District as a source of pride from who we are and what we have become. Being a charter district represents a clear and encouraging call to a ‘can-do’ spirit and willingness to pursue what is best for children.
We will find a way for ALL students to learn.