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CSBA honors district’s exemplary programs

The Chula Vista Elementary School District received two Golden Bell awards from the California School Boards Association (CSBA). The honors were presented at the association’s recent annual seminar in San Diego.

CVESD was recognized in the area of Visual and Performing Arts for its Community Opus program, a partnership with the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory to restore arts instruction to the elementary school day. CVESD also won a Golden Bell in the area of Wellness for its Growing Healthy Children initiative, a multi-faceted response to reduce the number of schoolchildren who are overweight/obese. The Golden Bell Awards promote excellence in education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices of school boards and county offices of education.

“The successes of our programs are a testament to the collaboration of teachers, parents, administrators, students and community partners,” said Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “Each played a role in ensuring that we provide opportunities to educate the whole child, that we nurture students who are healthy, creative, and innovative. These honors really celebrate everyone involved.”

In June, the Board of Education decided to invest $5 million annually to employ additional teachers starting this school year with a focus on VAPA, which in turn provided classroom teachers with release time for collaboration. The Board’s decision is a result of a years-long partnership in music education with the youth symphony. Community Opus has received a host of honors, including recognition from the prestigious Yale School of Music, support from VH1 Save the Music Foundation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.

“After many years of limited access to arts education in our schools, our District made a commitment to lead all of San Diego County in the restoration of music and arts education for all students,” Escobedo said.

The Growing Healthy Children initiative began as a response to startling data about students in Chula Vista Elementary School District who were overweight or obese. In 2010, the District first measured the height and weight of more than 24,000 students, combined that data with age and gender, and calculated students’ Body Mass Index (BMI). Nearly 40% of students measured were overweight/obese—which prompted a multi-faceted response involving the Board of Education, students, families, healthcare professionals, and city and county leaders. The resulting four-year effort stemmed the rising tide of childhood obesity.

“We know that the positive changes we have documented in our students cannot be attributed to a single factor, but multiple influences and efforts that align with the goal of creating healthy school environments and healthy and safe communities,” Escobedo said. “When we took our initial BMI data and layered in environmental factors, such as a school’s proximity to fast-food restaurants and access/or lack of access to parks, we all realized the problem, and the solutions didn’t stop at the schoolhouse doors.”

CVESD also received a $1,000 sponsorship award for its wellness program, thanks to Kaiser Permanente.

Photo Caption:

HEARING BELLS: (L-R) Heather Cruz, CVESD Coordinator of PhysicalEducation, Health, & Wellness, Board Member Francisco Tamayo, Board Member Marissa Bejarano, Board Member Glendora M. Tremper, Board Member Leslie Ray Bunker, VAPA Coordinator Lauren Shelton, and Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. celebrate the District’s CSBA honors.

San Diego Youth Symphony