JOSHUA TREE — The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education held a special joint meeting with the Copper Mountain Community College Board of Trustees Tuesday night. Board members discussed multiple future projects, including attempts to grow the CMC athletic department, online classes and the English as a second language class that was offered to adults at Yucca Valley Elementary School this year.
Copper Mountain College Executive Dean of Academic Affairs Tony DiSalvo and Morongo Unified Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Amy Woods launched the adult ESL class at Yucca Valley Elementary School this year with the help of school Principal Celeste Wahlberg.
“Tony and I had this idea that we would create a service for the community,” Woods said. “We have a lot of not fluent English speakers and when you can’t speak the language, you can’t access education, you can’t access any community services and a lot of times you can’t access employment.”
As part of the program, the elementary school provided tutoring for students who accompany their parents to the class and childcare for the younger children. DiSalvo, who ran other adult ESL classes at Copper Mountain College in the past, said that the program at Yucca Valley Elementary was much more successful because of its location and also because of the childcare provided.
“We had over 40 participants,” Woods said. “We had to divide them into two sessions. I’ve had emails from people asking if we’re going to run it in Twentynine.”
CMC, which provides the textbooks and instructor for the class, will be sending a counselor to meet the students next week and to offer them a tour of the college campus. DiSalvo and Woods are already planning to offer another adult ESL class on the east end of the Basin next year.
“That’s the best thing honesty,” said MUSD board member Karalee Hargrove after hearing about the program’s success. “It’s incredible.”
The board also discussed the future of athletics at CMC. Some MUSD members expressed concern that the lack of athletics offerings at the college might deter some local students from attending.
“Roughly 80 of the 400 students (who graduate from local high schools) do choose to go to other community colleges right after graduating and many of those choose to do so because of sports,” said CMC Superintendent Daren Otten.
College trustee Greg Gilbert said they are looking to add more programs, specifically with sports that can use their existing facilities. The school is working toward cross country and volleyball programs, but it still needs to look at funding and work toward Title 9 compliance.
“Yes, sports like cross country are significantly less expensive but the travel expenses are still something that we have to consider,” Otten said. “We’re still in a learning process of what it means to be a school with athletics but we recognize there is a demand.”
Closing up the meeting, the boards talked about some future goals, including the possibility of adding a student showcase in all of their board meetings and holding more joint staff development activities.
Woods said the boards will continue to talk to see what programs they can grow or add before the 2020-21 school year.