By Laura E Zolnoski
Templeton Superintendent of Schools Joe Koski celebrated his one-year anniversary with the district in February 2012. He came to the Central Coast from the Nuview School District, which is located in the San Diego area, where he had been for 24 years. Koski visited Templeton before applying and fell in love with the community and people. He says, “I have felt welcomed in Templeton. It is a great place to be.”
Koski’s vision for the Templeton Unified School District is to “build on success that Templeton has enjoyed, with a focus on core academics and a transition to 21st century technological needs.” Koski places an emphasis on collaborative learning, where students demonstrate what they have learned through presentations and projects (in addition to finals and state testing).
“Templeton has committed and talented employees,” he says, “and highly motivated community members. We have a strong track record of success, and these are our biggest strengths in the face of challenges that the state budget system has presented.”
The Templeton School District, along with all other California public schools, are receiving the same amount of money from the state than they were in 2003 – yet they are living with 2012 expenses. To put it in perspective, the price of a gallon of gas hit a “record high” in 2003 – that price was $1.72 per gallon. Despite this, school employees are “doing the best they can do be innovative and provide well-rounded programs for our students.”
Koski and the Board of Trustees have to make tough decisions about what is desired versus what is affordable, but they have managed to keep K-12 music and art programs, and the high school also has nineteen AP classes – more than most other districts, despite cuts. “We are finding ways to expand during this tough time – we are being more efficient, and using the dollars that we do have, wisely to create more attractive programs.” State testing scores have remained high.
One of Koski’s ultimate goals is for the Templeton District to become wireless. He would love to see students utilizing the technology available out of the classroom, such as iPads, Skype, and FaceTime, to enhance their learning experience. “We can use these programs to connect around the world, which would benefit everybody,” he says. He also hopes to incorporate digital textbooks into the classroom in the future.
More immediate plans to expand lay within Templeton High School’s Biotechnology and Endeavour programs. Koski explained, “We are developing a program called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in which students will be able to go through high school in a way that is similar to having a college ‘major.’ The certification from these programs will appear on their high school diploma.”
Templeton High School is also working on a partnership program with Cuesta College. Students who participate in this will be able to take classes at Cuesta for “dual credits” – that is, credits that apply to their high school diploma as well as an AA. “If students take enough of these courses, they can have their AA by the time they graduate, or be well on their way. These programs will help put Templeton students ahead of the curve when it comes time to apply for college,” Koski says.
“My goal is for everything to be better tomorrow than it was yesterday,” says Koski, “and Templeton’s yesterdays were pretty spectacular.”