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Welcome Back, Students!

Very soon, our classrooms will be filled with more than 175,000 students that are served by 47 elementary, high school and unified school districts. In recent years, schools have sustained significant reductions in funding. But economic consequences never replace our enthusiasm and desire for students to learn.

Most of our schools begin class on August 22, but a few start as early as August 1.

A new state law requires children in grades 7th through 12th be vaccinated for Pertussis or what is more commonly known as Whooping Cough. If your child isn't yet vaccinated, contact your physician or visit the Kern County Public Health Department.

We want our students to stay healthy and not miss school. Students have a lot to learn. Each day a student misses class is learning lost that is difficult to make up.

Every day is a good time to celebrate student achievement and school success.

Each year, California names a few select schools as Distinguished Schools. This year, only 94 out of California's more than 5,700 schools received this honor. Six of these 94 distinguished schools were Kern County schools.

We applaud these schools and know that educators in all Kern County schools work hard to maximize your children's Education. I know that working as a team - students, teachers, parents and schools - even more children will be successful.

More of our students need to attend college or master an in-demand job skill after high school. Last year, we launched u-PLANit to help students plan for careers or attend college.

uPLANit is a video-based web site that allows students to learn about hundreds of careers. The web site offers help in applying for college financial aid. It also hosts many colleges. Make time to check out uPLANit with your children at www.uplanit.org.

Speaking of college, if your child is in high school, mark your calendar to attend Kern County College Night on September 12 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Rabobank Arena. College Night offers financial aid seminars in English and Spanish. Students and parents can meet with representatives from more than 60 colleges and universities from within and outside California. We hope to see you there.

The new school year has its share of challenges. But challenges will never interfere with our commitment to make more of our children successful first in school and later in life.

Have a good year.

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