Franklin Elementary School students and staff are elated with the news that their campus has earned the prestigious California Distinguished School recognition.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond made the announcement on Wednesday that Franklin is one of 323 elementary schools across the state being honored under the 2020 California Distinguished Schools Award Program.

The program recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for closing the achievement gap and for achieving exceptional student performance.

Franklin has accomplished both under Principal Casie Killgore, who took on the role 11 years ago. From day one, she set a goal and made it known to all that Franklin was headed for the top state accolade.

“I am so lucky and blessed to be part of an amazing team of stakeholders who continue to work hard to make Franklin the success it is,” Killgore said. “We are like a large family who are dedicated to making our school better than the day before. As our expectations have risen, all schools stakeholders have stepped up and made Franklin the best-kept secret of a quality, all-around education in Santa Barbara.”

There were four other schools in Santa Barbara County that also received the award: Aliso School in Carpinteria, Kellogg School in Goleta, Santa Ynez Elementary, and Solvang Elementary.

Killgore said that Franklin – home to 680, pre-K through 6th-grade students – was specifically applauded for these key areas: differentiation in instruction in small groups; consistent instruction across grade levels; interventions for students who need extra support, and in many cases, extra challenges.

“It’s really about meeting everyone at their level and pushing forward in a positive climate and culture,” Killgore said.

Superintendent Cary Matsuoka said the award is well deserved.

“It’s a testament to the long and dedicated leadership of Casie Killgore and the commitment of the staff to serve every student at Franklin,” Matsuoka said. “It really says something about a school when all of the staff bring their own kids to their school. That’s truly a community school.”

Santa Barbara school board member Kate Ford has a particular appreciation of the achievement, having lead Peabody Charter School to the California Distinguished School Award during her tenure as principal there.

“I’m so proud of Ms. Kilgore and the entire Franklin Community. Earning this award is a very difficult and time-consuming feat, but Franklin aced it by creating a collaborative, supportive community of learners AND a NO EXCUSES student-centered culture,” Ford said. “Way to go, Eagles!”

Santa Barbara school board member Rose Muñoz pointed out that the efforts of staff and students at Franklin School have resulted in a dramatic and consistent rise in test scores, and a narrowing of the achievement gap often found in schools. “Their dedication has resulted in an outstanding sense of community and the future success of our students.”

Raul Ramirez, Assistant Superintendent of Santa Barbara Unified Elementary Instruction, said of the achievement: “This recognition is not only remarkable, but validating of the dedication the entire Franklin staff demonstrates on a daily basis under the leadership of Ms. Casie Killgore. Through high expectations and a profound commitment to putting students first, Franklin has long been a special place for the children and families they serve. Once again, congratulations on this important distinction.”

Details about the official statewide celebration to be held on February 10, 2020, are forthcoming. Additional information about the award can be found HERE.

The Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Elementary schools and secondary schools are recognized in alternate years; therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.

Every year, two of California’s Distinguished Schools Awardees are also eligible to be recognized as a National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools Awardee.

The 2020 California School Recognition Program Awards Ceremony will take place on Monday, February 10, 2020, at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

A list of past California Distinguished Schools in Santa Barbara County can be found here: