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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #23-42
May 22, 2023
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Celebrates Classified School Employees in Glendale

GLENDALE—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited Cerritos Elementary School in the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) on Monday, May 22, 2023, to celebrate and recognize the important contributions made by classified school employees in the district and around the state. Superintendent Thurmond spent time with GUSD classified school employees; GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian; GUSD Board President Nayiri Nahabedian; and GUSD school board members Shant Sahakian, Kathleen Cross, and Ingrid Gunnell.

“These amazing classified employees go above and beyond to make sure that kids have healthy meals and have someone to talk to during difficult times in their lives,” Superintendent Thurmond said. “We are especially grateful for their work on the front lines and supporting our nearly six million students, who count on them every day. Whether it’s serving healthy meals, driving the school bus, keeping campus safe and clean, or checking transcripts to make sure students are on pace to graduate, classified school employees are an important part of K–12 public education.”

In celebration of Classified School Employee Week, Superintendent Thurmond met with classified classroom aides in a Transitional Kindergarten (TK) class, Nutrition Services staff in the school cafeteria, and yard duty leaders on the playground.

State Superintendent Thurmond has long been a champion of high-quality early learning opportunities, including universal access to TK for all four-year-old children by the 2025–26 school year. The State Superintendent’s Transforming California Schools Initiative laid the foundation for universal access to preschool for three- and four-year-old children through a $300 million investment for planning and implementation grants for Universal PreKindergarten and Universal TK, and $250 million was invested in the Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program, which includes funds for professional development to help teachers, administrators, and paraeducators understand how to best introduce reading and prereading to our youngest learners and their families.

TK programs are expanding in California over the next few years, with more four-year-olds able to attend each year. Children who were born between September 2, 2018, and April 2, 2019, are eligible to register now in TK for the coming 2023–24 school year. The benefits of TK include higher achievement in math and reading throughout elementary school, increased likelihood of graduating from high school, and increased likelihood of earning a college degree.

TK is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that will be available for free to all four-year-old children, regardless of family income, at full implementation (in 2025–26). The program can be part-time or full day and includes social–emotional learning and play-based learning.

State Superintendent Thurmond has been traveling the state, leading teacher recruitment and efforts to boost enrollment in Universal TK. Superintendent Thurmond has hosted teacher recruitment fairs, launched a public service announcement, and helped teaching candidates access $20,000 scholarships. He has created a new one-stop information and referral system to connect candidates to scholarships, teacher credentialing programs, and school and district employers with current vacancies. Those interested in becoming an educator in California can email or call the hotline at 916-322-3051.

On May 9, State Superintendent Thurmond announced nine outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public school students as 2023 California Classified School Employees of the Year. The annual Classified School Employees of the Year program honors outstanding classified school employees in the following categories: Paraprofessional Services, Clerical and Administrative Services, Transportation Services, Food and Nutrition Services, Custodial and Maintenance Services, Security Services, Health and Student Services, Technical Services, and Skilled Trades Services. The 2023 award winners were chosen from 151 nominations statewide and will be honored by Superintendent Thurmond at a luncheon in Sacramento on May 23, 2023.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, May 22, 2023
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