A record crowd of Central Unified School District supporters celebrated the district’s successes Wednesday evening at a foundation fundraising dinner that was highlighted by a State of the District address delivered by Superintendent Andy Alvarado.

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portrait of Andrew Alvarado

Central Unified Superintendent Andy Alvarado

Those successes are almost too numerous too count, said Alvarado, who called out many of the district’s award-winning students and championship teams.

He noted that the Central High Wood Ensemble has been invited to perform after auditioning for the 2020-21 Chicago International Music Festival. It’s highly selective and quite an honor, he said, since only four high school groups and a showcase high school ensemble are chosen to perform on the Armour Stage of the Chicago Symphony Center.

‘Building on the Best’

This year’s district theme is “Building on the Best,” Alvarado said.

“This was a little bit of a spin on all the building that is currently taking place within the district, with the construction of our new elementary school, Tilley Elementary School, and our new high school that has broken ground,” he said, pointing to a photo displayed on large screens of concrete footings being poured at the high school site Wednesday morning.

“But more so, we discussed building on the great things that are happening here in Central Unified School District, in the areas that are supported by our foundation.”

Foundation Helps With ‘Extras’

The fundraising dinner for the Foundation for Central Schools at Holland Park West sold out. Alvarado said that is a strong indication the community thinks the district is doing a good job.

The foundation and its partners have raised more than $1 million for its four “pillars” — academic, agriculture, athletics, and arts — and for a variety of programs, including the Holiday Joy food drive, the summer library program, and the Janessa Ramirez Scholarship Program for graduating seniors heading to college.

Central enjoys strong support from its employees, who donate more than $30,000 yearly for classroom grants, new teachers grants, and the four pillars, said foundation chairman Joe Doyland.

He gave a shout-out to the Assemi family and Granville Homes for underwriting the district’s Coats for Kids program for over a decade. The program provides warm coats or jackets to students who wouldn’t have one otherwise in the cold winter months. Darius Assemi, president and CEO of Granville Homes, is the publisher of GV Wire.

District Makes Progress Toward Goals

Alvarado outlined the district’s academic successes and goals, which include:

  • Over the past five years, 13% more students met the English language arts standards and 11% more students met the mathematics standards.
  • A pilot program of reading labs at some elementary schools last year showed marked improvement in reading scores at those schools, so the program was expanded to all the district’s elementary and middle schools.
  • The district set a goal in its Attention 2 Attendance program to increase the attendance rate by 2% and reduce chronic absenteeism by 1%. Increasing the attendance rate by just 1% would yield another $1.4 million in state revenues.

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