Chaffey District Engages Parents, Community In Shaping The Future
Ontario, CA – Nearly 200 parents and community leaders gathered Monday night to hear the Chaffey Joint Union High School District’s plans to advance its groundbreaking work in academic achievement, campus safety and preparing students for college and careers.
Rancho Cucamonga High School played host to Chaffey’s Family and Community Engagement Forum, which offered an opportunity for parents and stakeholders from throughout the state’s second largest high school district to learn about – and help guide – the future of their schools.
“We’re redefining what family and community engagement means,” said Dr. Mathew Holton, Superintendent of the 24,000-student Chaffey District. “The information we get back tonight will help us shape where we’re going. It’s also a great opportunity for all the schools in the District to come together, in one place, to see that we’re part of a unified front in making a difference for every one of our communities.”
The evening featured a presentation by Holton on the District’s progress in achieving its vision that every student graduates ready for college and career, notably the District’s completion rates in A-G coursework needed for admission into the University of California and California State systems. During the past decade, the percentage of Chaffey District students successfully completing A-G requirements jumped from 24.6% to 63.6% – a 39 percentage-point increase and more than 20 points higher than the statewide average (43.4%).
The improvement comes despite a significant increase in the percentage of Chaffey students classified as low income – from 35.1% a decade ago to 61.3% today.
That caught the attention of Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, one of the forum’s attendees.
“We have to get back to helping all students,” Warren said. “Here, no one’s making excuses. ‘Large number of low-income students? It doesn’t matter. We’re going to help.’ I really like that.”
Other attendees praised the District for its efforts in promoting career pathways and preparing students for real-world challenges and opportunities. Asked what skills they would like students to walk away with, parents and stakeholders focused on critical thinking, communications and presentation, civic engagement and employability skills such as showing up to work on time and task completion.
All of this is changing the way schools need to approach their work. In addition to Monday’s Family Engagement event, the Chaffey District regularly surveys parents and students about their hopes and expectations.
That research shows that among parents of incoming freshman students, 98% expect that their children will graduate from high school prepared for college and ready for careers. That same number – 98% – expect the District to provide a safe and caring learning environment. Accordingly, the Chaffey District this year hired a director of campus security and has taken a variety of steps to address the mental health stresses today’s generation of students are more likely to experience. These include hiring additional mental health support staff and providing training to help faculty and staff be more on the alert for warning signs of a student in trouble.
“We have to understand that the world today is different, that students are different,” Holton said. “We’re owning this, and putting whatever resources are necessary into helping our students succeed.”
About the Chaffey Joint Union High School District
With about 24,000 students, the Chaffey District is the second largest high school district in California. In addition to its eight comprehensive high schools, Chaffey has a continuation high school, an online high school, a community day school, an adult school and alternative programs.