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These are challenging times for the Elk Grove Unified School District. It is hard to predict what may take place in the weeks and months ahead of us. Our EGUSD leaders – trustees, Superintendent Christopher Hoffman, district and school staff members, principals, and teachers are to be commended for their wonderful support of our students and their education. We also thank all of the students and their families for how well they have handled all the changes!

I asked Robert Pierce, the district’s deputy superintendent of business services and facilities, to let us know how things have changed in the past months. He is also our EGUSD Supergrad (Valley High, 1991). He was my long ago student when I was principal at James Rutter Middle School.

These are the questions I sent him and his responses for us:

1. What have been your greatest challenges in the past months in EGUSD?

“This has been, without a doubt, the most challenging time of my entire career.  The greatest challenge has been working with so many unknowns and through a crisis that has no playbook or established protocols.  So too, a significant challenge has been a theme of constant change since March. We have spent countless hours building plans, only to have to abruptly abandon those plans due to changes and start from scratch to build new plans, often needing to change course yet again.

“In addition to the stark realties surrounding COVID-19 and its effects on our personal and professional lives, we also faced a budget crisis, the likes of which none of us have experienced in our careers.

“The most frustrating aspect through all of this, for me personally, is that I consider myself a doer, someone who always finds a way to find the answers and solutions to achieve things.  In this pandemic there are very few, if any answers and we are working with so many unknowns with constant changes.  We have been working 24/7 since March and that challenge we take on with great pride. But what has been most difficult is not being able to completely address the fears, frustration and concerns that we all share. With that said, we will continue this critical work and do all that we can in the interest of our children and staff.  I know that as educators we will come out of this better than we were.  I share that with the utmost respect for people who have lost so much and most importantly loved ones during this tragedy.”

2. What have been your greatest surprises?  

“After COVID-19 I honestly don’t think anything will surprise me any more.  Sticking to the positive, although I certainly knew that EGUSD was full of the best employees a school district could ever hope for, our employees at all levels have simply been amazing and inspiring. I have always had deep pride in working for EGUSD, but I can honestly express more than ever, the deep honor and pride I have in working with so many incredible and dedicated people. There have been multiple times since March that I have literally been brought to tears of emotion, not tears of sorrow, but of honor, respect, admiration, appreciation and just sheer awe of the greatness and humanity in people and our employees. There are far too many examples to do service to each, but through these devastating times and insurmountable losses, our employees have simply been amazing.  I cannot thank them enough and have the utmost appreciation and respect for the employees that have done everything they can to make things work and provide our youth with all that they can.  It has been a beautiful and inspiring thing to witness and an honor to be part of it.  I wish there was something worthy that I could do to adequately express my sincere appreciation and gratification.”

 3. What have been your greatest successes in making everything work?

 “Any successes have to be attributed to teamwork, dedication to our craft and collaboration of all the staff.  One great example of this is the incredible work by our Food and Nutrition Services Department throughout the pandemic.  The quick work by the leadership and staff of the department allowed us to develop a plan that ensure children throughout our district were being fed each day even when schools were first closed in March. This took an extraordinary amount of quick planning and effort by staff to make the seemingly impossible, possible.  So too, the ability of our budget department to work feverishly to make significant changes to our massive and complex budget allowing the board to adopt their budget on June 30 based on the final state budget that wasn’t signed into law until June 26.  This is yet another extraordinary example of our many recent successes.  Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t commend all of our bargaining units for coming together to graciously work together to overcome these extraordinary challenges.”

Many thanks to Rob Pierce for helping us all to understand the great work of EGUSD folks to get through this crisis! We commend ALL of them!

NOTE to readers: EGUSD staff, trustees, parents, and students – let me know how your thoughts about these difficult months! You can contact me at elizabethpink@gmail.com.

BOOKS BY ELIZABETH PINKERTON

History Happened Here, Book 1 – River, Oaks, Gold

History Happened Here, Book 2 – Fields, Farms, Schools

We the People, a Story of Internment in America

All book proceeds go for student scholarships, and I thank the many purchasers who have made possible the 80 scholarships with each one $1,000. Make your check for books payable to Laguna Publishers and send to me at 9227 Lamprey Drive, Elk Grove, CA 95624.  Books are $20 apiece and California sales tax is included. Add $3 for shipping of one book; $5 for 2-3 books. Call me at (916) 685-0606 or email me at elizabethpink@gmail.com.  Books are also available at the Davis Ranch in Sloughhouse.