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Superintendent Board Meeting Report - May 26, 2022

Good evening Trustees,

I open my report this evening with an update about board member questions regarding Open Enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year. Our Student Services department shared an update with me that Open Enrollment this year was impacted by the following variables:

  • COVID-19 created unknowns around overall enrollment and a focus on health and safety, which caused more caution in offering open enrollment seats. For example, under Assembly Bill 130, students were to be able to transition between in person learning and our new independent study program, and back, within 5 days of a request. We also had students choose to attend home school. Given this movement, there was an interest in holding seats, whenever possible, for students who wanted to return to their school of last attendance. The board directed that for the 2022-2023 school year, students be guaranteed the option to return to the school of last attendance, which also impacts enrollment and open enrollment for this school year as we had to hold their seats. This direction impacted our ability to offer the available seats to individuals on the waiting list. 
  • Open Enrollment has an impact on overall district enrollment. This school year, most seats available were in kindergarten, which tends to be because of the current unpredictability and decline of enrollment. Additionally, many students who apply for Open Enrollment come from Title I schools. In one scenario this year, 22 of the 31 students (70%) who applied for Open Enrollment kindergarten at Don Callejon Elementary were from Title I schools.  In another scenario, for the 21-22 school year, 8 of the 14 students (57%) who applied for kindergarten Open Enrollment at Ponderosa Elementary were from Braly Elementary. If Ponderosa would have accepted all students it would have significantly impacted Braly’s kindergarten enrollment.  

As the team shared with you at a recent board meeting, previously, Open Enrollment was managed at the site level and supported by Student Services. For the 2022-2023 school year, Open Enrollment has transitioned to the Enrollment Center where the enrollment manager now has increased oversight over the Open Enrollment waitlist and class sizes. Additionally, there are collaborative cross-departmental enrollment meetings at least every two weeks being held between the Enrollment Center, Human Resources, Business Services, Educational Services, and Family Child Education. This provides an opportunity to increase the district’s monitoring of enrollment and class size, and ensure adequate staffing in anticipation for next school year. It is anticipated that these changes will have a positive impact on consistent open enrollment practices for the district.  

Committee Work Continues

Committee work continues… 

Last week, both the Equity and Social Justice Committee and the LGBTQQIA+ Committee met. The Equity and Social Justice Committee reviewed the work accomplished, including professional learning to build common knowledge, identification of equity gaps in the district and introduction of equity tools. The group will pick up this work in the fall.  At the LGBTQQIA+ Committee meeting, we heard from Oakland Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District about their policy development work as well as successful strategies to promote more gender inclusive learning environments. Our interest is to learn from other districts as we consider both policy and practice matters that will result in more inclusive and affirming schools.

End of Year Celebrations and Showcases

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, many of our traditional annual events are held, as well as some new celebrations and showcases of student learning. Over the past two weeks, I have attended a number of activities across the district: 

Special Olympics at Braly - thank you to Braly Elementary teachers, and especially Ms. Liz Knirck for organizing. Thank you also to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, Braly principal Ms. Jennifer Laxton, staff, parents, and students who all supported and attended this exciting event. One special part of this event to highlight is how the school’s culture of inclusion shows up in this event. The 5th grade class buddies up with the school’s special olympic athletes to make sure everyone feels included on campus.

I attended two student work showcases at Wilcox HS, the student film festival and the student fashion show. Both events were well attended. I’d like to offer my congratulations to Ms. Adrienne Aubry and Ms. Mindy Trisko for supporting and developing students in their creative pursuits and producing these wonderful events showcasing their accomplishments. I’m so impressed with the creativity and design work demonstrated in this expedition, and the students’ exploration of their real-world applications. 

Last Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute Symposium for the middle school 49ers SLI program at Cabrillo. I want to thank all the teachers, students, parents, and partners who support this amazing program where students presented projects, reflections from their experience, and leadership skills they developed.  

I want to thank and congratulate New Valley High School multimedia teacher Mr. Johnny Reyna and his students. This past Friday the first annual New Valley Film Festival was held, with 32 projects showcased from three different areas of focus: NVHS and Our Nature, Commercials, and Short Films.  I was tremendously impressed with the quality of these films. There were so many people involved in supporting this event and I thank you - especially to our Santa Clara Schools Foundation for sponsoring the event’s dinner.

I was invited to attend the May SCCABE meeting with representatives from across the county who support our students of African descent. I want to thank our parents in attendance and heard their request for additional family liaison support for the parents. I want to announce that we have posted a position for an additional family liaison who will specifically focus on supporting our African descent students and their families.

Finally, several recognition events have happened since the last meeting. I want to thank those individuals who went above and beyond to host these events, which include:

CSEA’s Appreciation Event last week. It was nice to touch base with so many folks to connect and hear how things are going and what ideas they have for support for their respective positions. I am thankful for our classified staff for the difference they make each and every day as they support our schools, students, families, and their colleagues.

Yesterday afternoon, after being held virtually for two years due to COVID, we had our annual Employee Recognition Tea in-person. Thank you to UTSC for helping to sponsor this annual SCUSD tradition. I want to thank our 93 employees who received years of service honors, and 55 employees who we honored with their retirement. We also heard the announcements of our employees of the year: Classified Employee of the Year Linda Pfeifer Peterson Middle School Secretary, Certificated Employee of the Year Claudia Lopez, Westwood Special Education Teacher; Administrator of the Year Dr. Pam Galano, Wilson High School Principal. Finally, a huge thank you to the HR team — Nora, Regina, Glynis, Stacy, David, and Jose for coordinating the event. You are rock stars!

Today was our annual SCUSD STEAM Expo, in partnership with Mission College and Santa Clara Schools Foundation. This annual event is presented this year as a virtual showcase featuring kindergarten through community college student projects. This year we had almost 6,000 projects represented from across the district! Thank you to our expo planning team and to the hundreds of teachers who helped submit student projects. Projects done by individual students and groups of students help highlight learning that has taken place this year in the areas of STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. I visited command central this morning and want to thank the team working behind the scenes - Stephanie, Matt, Steve, and Joe for making sure that everything was running smoothly. As of 4 p.m., the virtual platform calculated:

  • Over 12,700 actions across all users, including clicks, messages, and posts, 
  • 488 Social shares, likes, comments, posts, messages, and answers to the game questions, 
  • 79 classes, led by teachers and staff, have participated in the event's activities.

Donations

I would like to recognize the many generous donations on tonight’s consent agenda: 

  • Santa Clara School's Foundation for their donation of $7,000 to our Family Child Education Department to support Summer Tech Titans and STEAM programs
  • Peterson Middle School PTA for their donation of $3,500 to Peterson Middle School for their library, after school activities, technology, health and safety, wellness, and school climate programs

Closing

As I close out this evening, I want to make a statement about this week’s egregious massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that claimed the lives of 19 children and 2 adults. Our hearts are broken as we join their families and community in their grief. 

Our reality is that school shootings happen disproportionately in the U.S. over any other modern country. This is unacceptable. Sandy Hook happened a decade ago. School violence should have been addressed by federal lawmakers years ago. How many more young, innocent students, teachers, and staff need to lose their lives before something is done? This is an ongoing national crisis. Our staff should not have to fear coming to their place of work, and families should not have to worry about whether they will see their children at the end of the school day or fear phone calls during the instructional day from their school districts. Now is the time to increase the pressure on all lawmakers and I encourage you to put your expectations in writing to your state and federal representatives. 

Meanwhile, school safety is our first priority and we will continue to make improvements to our facilities and protocols so that we do everything possible locally to provide the safest teaching and learning environments for our community. Our teachers and paraprofessionals are on the front line of making sure students feel safe at school and in classrooms every day, and school custodians and campus security staff monitor school grounds during the day. 

  • We have a strong student support services team with talented wellness coordinators, counselors, psychologists, and behaviorists, most of whom are on our school site and ready to support students and staff as needed. These individuals also write curriculum our staff teach from and run weekly group or 1:1 sessions with students to support their social emotional needs. In times of crisis like the Uvalde, Texas incident, many of them reach out to teachers to see who might need them in the classroom for extra support. We also have CareSolace available to all families and staff, and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for our staff. 
  • We want our staff and students as prepared as possible in the event the unthinkable happens on one of our campuses. 
    • Every site has a comprehensive safety plan that is updated yearly by a safety team and/or school site council. Schools have annual public meetings to review the plans and gain input from the community before final submission in March. These safety plans also outline steps to take for various incidents that might occur on campus, including but not limited bomb threats, earthquakes, fires, campus intruders, and plane crashes. These plans also include confidential details of an incident command system, which we collaborate on with the ICS4Schools organization. ICS4Schools is an organization run by former firefighters. It trains school sites on the Incident Command System (ICS), the roles within the system, where to best set up the command system on each campus, should it ever need to be implemented, and they observe fire and earthquake drills on sites to give feedback and accolades on their performance. 
    • We maintain strong and healthy relationships with our supporting police and fire departments and ICS4Schools and work with them to ensure our Run, Hide, Defend drills occur, that our campus’ are reviewed for safety measures and that our comprehensive safety plans are reviewed and vetted before final publish. 
    • In the event of a campus emergency, we enact our school safety plans. We secure students and staff, notify law enforcement who take over management of the incident, and notify families. The district will communicate with families through the primary phone and email address listed in their child’s school records and this is why it is so important that families keep their contact information current.
    • Some of this work has looked a little different due to COVID, such as virtual trainings and meetings, but when we have students and staff on campuses we are sure to have all safety measures in place.
  • We also ask that families be aware of the type of social media activity their students are engaged in, have candid conversations about things they may see on social media, and be prepared to report any concerning or potentially dangerous posting to local law enforcement and your school administration. Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource used by our schools and has complimentary resources for parents. 
  • We would also like to thank our voters for supporting bond measures that have provided us the funds to improve school security including the installation of security fencing around all of our schools, many of which were built decades ago to be open to neighborhood parks. The fencing project allows us to secure our schools by creating a single point of entry during school hours. With more than 30 schools and limited available contractors, it takes several years to install fencing across the district. We have been anxiously awaiting the completion of the project in our next step to provide even greater proactive measures on our campuses. Here is where we are in the project:
    • All elementary schools have perimeter fencing except for Bracher, Briarwood, and Westwood which are in progress right now. Fencing layouts at Briarwood, Bracher, and Westwood Elementary Schools have been designed and reviewed with each school. The three projects will be submitted to the Division of State Architect (DSA) by June 13. We anticipate the projects to be approved by DSA in late summer. Once approved, the Bond Office will bid the projects and the fencing should be installed prior to the students’ return from winter break.
    • All middle schools have perimeter fencing, except Cabrillo Middle School, which will complete this summer.
    • All high schools are complete.

SCUSD is committed to work across the state to find solutions and persuade lawmakers to take swift action to protect our schools from gun violence. I ask you to join me in this effort.

This concludes my report for this evening, thank you.