Each year the California School Boards Association selects a few dozen school districts from more than 1,000 school districts nationwide to receive their “Golden Bell” awards. This year Desert Sands received two of the coveted awards in a rare achievement.
Golden Bells are awarded by a panel of experts from school districts and district offices across the state. Winning two in a year is a rare occurrence, according to the California School Boards Association. “It’s practically unknown,” added Desert Sands spokeswoman Mary Perry.
The district received the awards for its early childhood literacy program and for the Desert Sands Leadership Academy, a community leadership program for teachers, staff and administrators.
School principals who graduated from Desert Sands Leadership Academy are implementing a new learning action plan at Kennedy Elementary School in Indio, which the district says will result in improved math test scores at every grade level. At Indio Middle School, the Leadership Academy team developed a wellness hub and a program for alternatives to suspension to improve student care.
In addition, the district sees its revised pre-kindergarten literacy program as the basis for a sustainable improvement in the results of English and language skills tests for students in higher grades. The rate of third graders meeting or exceeding state English standards rose seven percentage points from 47% to 54% when the district revised its literacy program between 2015-16 and 2018-19.
DSUSD Superintendent Scott Bailey said, “This recognition celebrates the leadership of the DSUSD Board of Education and the innovative spirit of the Desert Sands educational community.”
DSUSD will receive its awards at the CSBA’s annual education conference and exhibition on December 2nd in San Diego.
The district was last awarded a Golden Bell for its LTE network construction project in 2019. The LTE network was designed to provide equal access to broadband across the Coachella Valley and was found to be critical for distance learning while schools were closed due to the pandemic.
Jonathan Horwitz covers the training for The Desert Sun. Reach him at [email protected] or @Writes_Jonathan.