Cold Spring School Foundation is hosting a community open house next Thursday, March 31, with community tours at 9 am and 5 pm. We recently spoke with Holly Kane, a CSS parent and President of the CSS Foundation, who gave us an update on the school’s achievements and upcoming classroom additions; this is the first of a two-part series.
Q: How are Cold Spring School students doing academically and socially two years into the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Despite all they’ve endured, we are happy to say that the students of Cold Spring are thriving. Kids are growing both academically and socially. Every day they show us how resilient they are. It’s no surprise that the Cold Spring School District ranks #1 of 706 districts across the state (source: schooldigger.com). There’s an energy you can feel when you step onto the campus – and we encourage our community to come visit their neighborhood school.
Why do you think your students are doing so well?
In large part because the school staff and teachers didn’t skip a beat when the pandemic struck. They pivoted quickly and stepped up to make it work for each student. For the few months that we were remote in the spring of 2020, the staff and teachers went out of their way to take care of children at home by staying connected in creative ways. As many parents were tearing their hair out trying to juggle work with their kids at home, the teachers stepped in to provide that one-on-one connection that is the essence of the CSS environment. As parents we experienced that directly.
Early in the fall of 2020, our school was one of the first in California to return safely to in-person learning. That was no small feat. The determination by the CSS team to make sure our kids could come back to campus was incredible. Parents came together and volunteered to prepare classroom spaces outdoors. They donated desks, plexi-glass, and materials – and most importantly, their time. They didn’t shy away from solving a problem. As parents, we followed the lead of the team at Cold Spring. That’s the spirit of our school community. Through a natural disaster or a pandemic, we come together and jump over every hurdle. And now we are tackling the need for more indoor space for our kids to learn in small-sized classes.
Cold Spring School consistently shows some of the best test scores in the state. To what do you attribute that?
To answer this question, it’s helpful to share context that what makes Cold Spring unique is its small school community. We have just 194 students in grades kindergarten to sixth, compared to many others that are two to three times that size. Our average student teacher ratio is just 16:1. Our smallest class serves 14 students and our largest serves 24. Many families move into our district so that their child can experience a small public school with individualized teaching that is tailored to each student.
Integration, creativity, and innovation are the priority in what we call a ‘whole child approach’ to learning. That means that everyone is working together, whether it’s the art teacher combining lessons with the math or STEAM teacher.
Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between small class sizes and high-test scores. We’ve seen it firsthand. Kids have a better chance of thriving the more individualized their learning is. And beyond the scores and the recent #1 ranked elementary school district rating, by offering such a well-rounded education with art, music, PE, library, technology, theater, and STEAM, the CSS team is creating an enthusiasm for lifelong learning.
We’ve recently been covering the school’s quest to build more classrooms, and some members of the community have questioned the need for this project. Why does Cold Spring School need to build more classrooms?
Logically, smaller class sizes require more classroom spaces than you’d have in a typical school. To make this work, we’ve had to double up classes and use our library and auditorium for classrooms. That means the rest of the school can’t use those spaces for what they were designed for – performing arts, PE, and library skills. So, we need a few more classrooms as well as replacing some temporary portable buildings that desperately need it.
Also, the state is now requiring that all public schools offer a transitional kindergarten (TK) class for children the year before they enter kindergarten – which is a good thing. But that means we will be adding essentially an entire new grade of students who need a space from which to learn.
Adding a few more classrooms will allow us to continue the unique Cold Spring experience. People want to come to CSS because of all we offer. We have worked so hard for our students to experience academic success. We don’t want to risk losing that.
How will the new classrooms be paid for?
Existing public funds from the state can’t be used for capital projects, so we are determined to raise the money from generous individuals. We need to raise $600,000 and we are a quarter of the way there. On April 8, 2022 the Cold Spring School Foundation (CSSF) is hosting their annual spring benefit with 100% net proceeds towards this Classroom Expansion Project. All are welcome to join us that evening for dinner and dancing at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, or participate in our Silent Auction from home.
Why should the entire community, even those without kids at Cold Spring School, care about the future of the school?
Cold Spring School is everyone’s school. We invite members of the community to come visit their neighborhood school! Our campus brings vibrancy to the entire community, not just those who are directly connected to the school.
Most schools in our area are closed on the weekends, but we intentionally have an open campus so that all community members can enjoy it. We love the fact that our school is a public park. Our fields are used for soccer and are a space where dogs can run free. Included in our new building will be bathrooms that are open. Our playgrounds are used by all kids seven days a week.
Recently a neighbor without a child in the school reached out to us interested in taking a tour. He was so impressed with all we have to offer that he donated funds to help us continue to provide such a strong community resource.
We invite everyone to visit our campus. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to join our community open house on March 31, 2022 with tours at 9 am and 5 pm.