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NEW SCHOOL HOURS FOR 2018-19 standard dismissal time/early dismissal time

Brookside Elementary School 8:10-2:30/1:10 : Blosser Lane Elementary School 8:00-2:40/1:20

Sherwood Elementary School 8:30-2:30/1:30 : Baechtel Grove Middle School 8:10-2:57/1:30

Willits High School & Sanhedrin Alternative  8:00-3:00/1:40

The Willits Unified School District serves 1550 students in grades TK–12 from the City of Willits and surrounding areas. Committed to the small campus environment our district is composed of four traditional schools: Brookside Elementary (TK-2), Blosser Lane Elementary (3-5), Baechtel Grove Middle School (6-8), and Willits High School (9-12). In addition to our traditional schools our alternative programs offer students a variety of choices within our district’s governance: Sherwood Elementary (K-8) and Sanhedrin Vocational Alternative High School (9-12). 


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Dear Parent/Guardian,

With the new school year right around the corner, it’s a good time to review where we are and where we’re going. Last year we made some important changes, and they’re helping students and staff be more successful. This year, we build on those successes. 

In our elementary schools, test scores are up. I believe it’s because we’re giving our teachers the curriculum and training they need to help our students. If you think of curriculum as the tools and compare training to a user manual, you can see why we need both. Not only have we implemented new curriculum in language arts and math, we’ve invested in significant teacher training, including bringing nationally recognized author and speech pathologist Trish Martin here to share the principles outlined in her book: Unlocking the Reading Code: Rewiring the Brain to Accelerate Learning.

In our middle school, we had the best year in memory in terms of campus climate and school culture. We had an all-time low of discipline incidents and suspensions, and we saw programs like band and art skyrocket. We’re following the successful plan started at the elementary school level and implementing new curriculum in ELA and Math this year. The new ELA curriculum dovetails right into the high school curriculum. The new Math curriculum is direct instruction and not group work oriented. It is our goal that our students will have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful.

Our alternative K-8 school, Sherwood, has doubled in size and has a waiting list. It continues to benefit from a wonderful partnership between faculty and student families.

At our high schools, things are also looking up. We had a fantastic year at Willits High School with the lowest number of failed courses and the highest number of students on honor roll. We also saw a 40 percent increase in students who achieved vocational certification and more students enrolled in Advance Placement and elective coursework. At Sanhedrin, we had the highest graduation rate we’ve seen in years and for the first time, our graduates were vocationally certified.

Finally, having opened our adult school after a ten-year absence, we were able to help 15 people earn their high school diplomas after just one semester.

These successes are just the beginning. This year, we’ll continue to make changes that support our students and staff, including bus transportation to and from school, food service policies, and student safety.

On the transportation front, we’re changing our bus schedules in accordance with the wishes of our Willits Unified (WUSD) families. According to last year’s survey, 86 percent were in favor of this change, which will allow us to separate the elementary school students from the middle and high school students, reduce traffic congestion at our school sites, increase convenience for families with students at more than one school, and facilitate opportunities for teachers to meet as a whole faculty. All this, and it won’t cost any more or require additional drivers. For the 2018-19 school year, Blosser Lane and the high schools will start at 8:00 am, while Brookside and Baechtel Grove will start at 8:10 am. Detailed bus schedules are posted on our websites.

Another great change is the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) that will allow us to provide school meals free of charge to all WUSD students, regardless of income status or any other criteria. The federal/state passed a bill that allows school districts to decide whether to provide meals at no cost on a school-by-school basis (based on percentages of low-income students) or district-wide. In Willits, 70 percent of our students meet the low-income threshold, so although the increased CEP funding won’t quite cover the cost of providing no-cost meals district-wide, we think all students need good nutrition, so we’re going for it. The more students participate, the more we get reimbursed, so we are encouraging all students to enjoy breakfast and lunch at school.

In addition, our students need to be safe at school. To that end, we’re partnering with the City of Willits to have a police officer serve as a full-time school resource officer (SRO) during the school year. We’re not bringing on an SRO in response to any particular problems, but rather as a proactive measure. We know that in the event of a school shooting, it often takes law enforcement about three minutes to respond. If you have an SRO on campus, that time is cut to less than a minute. I prefer having a trained officer at our school(s) that can go into the classrooms and teach students about safety, be a positive presence for them and help WUSD increase attendance by doing home visits. This is community policing at its best. Officer Curtis Labus understands teens (his son is one) and is interested as serving as a liaison rather than an enforcer.  

I’m really looking forward to this school year. WUSD will continue to improve our facilities and invest in our employees so our students can get the excellent education they deserve. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at the district office. 

Mark Westerburg

Superintendent of Schools


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