Irvine schools consistently rank among the nation’s best — despite a little-known fact: The Irvine Unified School District is one of the lowest-funded districts in the state.
That’s right. Due to state funding formulas Irvine receives less per student than nearly every district in California.
“Irvine has always been a community deeply committed to education,” IUSD Supt. Terry Walker said. “Our reputation for excellence continues to draw families to us and further enhance our momentum.”
That shared commitment is the district’s secret weapon.
It creates partnerships at every level of the community to leverage the district’s limited resources. And it fosters academic success. Just look at these achievements:
- 82% of IUSD grads attend college
- IUSD students consistently outscore the county and state in SATs
- Designated California Distinguished Schools or Gold Ribbon Schools 70 times
- Education Cities named IUSD one of the top 5 districts in the nation for student achievement
So how does a district with so little state funding continually rise to the top in achievement?
Walker pointed to three key factors for IUSD’s long track record of achievements:
1. Great teachers and unusually strong community support
“We feel so incredibly fortunate to not only have talented and dedicated teachers and administrators and engaged students and parents, but to also have community partnerships that increase and leverage our limited resources,” Walker said.
As just one example, Irvine voters passed Measure E in June 2016 to ensure that all students, not just those in newer neighborhoods, have access to modern learning environments and technology. The measure is enabling the district to make critical upgrades at older schools, replicating the award-winning designs of its newest schools.
2. A community master plan that designs villages around schools
Through Irvine’s Master Plan, the city’s villages were built around IUSD schools. Walker said this unique approach established the city’s schools as the heart of the community, creating an environment in which parents — and other residents — support education and share both a tremendous sense of pride and high academic expectations.
3. Enrichment programs taught by specialist teachers
Several years ago, the Irvine community joined forces to protect enrichment programs in art, music and science in grades four through six. Walker called these programs a cornerstone of the district’s curriculum and pointed to emerging research showing the lifelong benefits these important lessons provide.
Learn more: iusd.org
3 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT SUPERINTENDENT TERRY WALKER
Favorite Childhood Memory: When my whole family traveled all around the U.S. for two months in a camper.
Favorite Book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I read the whole series to my children and that one is filled with unexpected twists and surprises.
Most Embarrassing Moment: In 5th grade I became our representative in a district- wide spelling bee. I was ready, but I was so nervous that I inadvertently added “-ed” to the very first word.