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Superintendent Board Meeting Report - November 18, 2021

November 18, 2021

Good evening Trustees,

COVID-19 Update

The board and community will hear a COVID-19 update report later on tonight’s agenda. 

Superintendent’s School Climate and Culture Advisory Committee

Following the last board meeting, I am moving forward with the establishment of a Superintendent’s School Climate and Culture Advisory Committee. 

The purpose of the advisory committee is to foster an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for all students in Santa Clara Unified School District. Facilitated by our Title IX Coordinator, Lisa Strom, the advisory committee welcomes SCUSD staff, students, parents, guardians, caregivers, and community members to participate in discussions and make recommendations to the superintendent related to school climate and culture. Currently, we are working out the organization of the committee, which may include working groups. The whole committee, which launches in January will initially meet via Zoom at least quarterly, with working groups meeting more frequently between each committee meeting.

The primary goal is to work collaboratively with our stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and develop solutions to physical, emotional, and social barriers affecting SCUSD school climate and culture, for example all gender access to bathrooms, equitable dress codes, and bullying and cyberbullying. An announcement will be included in tomorrow’s District Update and include a link to a survey that will collect comments and participation interest. I look forward to sharing updates with the board and community as these important discussions move forward.

Equity and Social Justice Committee (ESJC)

Last night, the student, parent, staff and community members of the Equity and Social Justice Committee held their third meeting. We heard from guest presenter Dr. Shelley Holt to learn more about what educational equity means, challenges to equity, and actions that create equity. They broke into small group discussions and reviewed the four tenets of equity work:  stay engaged, expect discomfort, speak your truth, and expect and accept non-closure. Dr. Holt asked the group to engage in personal reflection and readings as part of their research and virtual learning opportunities. They will continue this work next month before launching into planning for stakeholder listening sessions in the spring.

CUDOS Partnership

Building from the successful collaboration to address the district challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CUDOS (CSEA, UTSC, District Office, and SCUMA) labor management partnership met on Wednesday, November 10th, to hold the first in a series of meetings that will focus on addressing key challenges and needs in special education. A total of 29 district employees worked together, including teachers, behavior team members, paraeducators, site and district administrators representing SCUMA, Special Education Director Kathy Alaniz, Superintendent Stella M. Kemp, UTSC President Phanom “Amber” Wacht, CSEA President Lynn Villarreal. 

The CUDOS group identified special education program strengths, and candidly discussed the top challenges facing our special education students and staff. They also began to brainstorm potential solutions that will be further developed in the next meeting. The productive start was encouraging and the team will continue to meet regularly to address these pressing issues.

As this collaboration moves forward, the progress and outcomes will be shared. We are confident that working together we can rise to this challenge and create a stronger and more effective Special Education program for our students. 

Firehouse Run

As a reminder, our annual Firehouse Run for Education is taking place December 5-12th. The Firehouse Run, organized by the Santa Clara Firefighters Foundation, raises funds to support our students by donating all proceeds to our Santa Clara Schools Foundation. This year’s event will be virtual again and we encourage staff, students, families, and community to register if they haven’t already. School site and district teams are forming so join your site’s team when you register, or start a team if you don’t see one formed yet. Sign up at

Community Activities

It’s been three weeks since our last board meeting, and I’ve attended a number of community events and meetings. Some virtual, some in person. On November 1, I met with representatives from County Commissioner Otto Lee’s office regarding a housing study that they are conducting for the county. That same day, I attended the PTA council meeting with Principal Rhone-Lay, who shared information about MacDonald High School. On November 2nd, I attended an orientation for our new site principals and their site leadership teams to learn about our CUDOS partnership work and the role of the SLT in promoting the partnership work. We’ve had a few CVRA forums since the last board meeting, including a virtual meeting this week. This week, I attended the SF2 board and general membership meeting where we planned for the upcoming meeting at CSBA AEC, and discussed the impact of universal TK on community funded school districts. One exciting community event, if you’ll call it that, was attending the 49ers game this past Monday. It was so wonderful to experience the power of the community support for  the home team who ‘beat LA’. Go 9ers!


This week, the October Superintendent Round Tables were held. As always, I ask folks to share who needs a “shout out”.  Here’s what was shared:

  • Monica Martinez, secretary at Santa Clara High School. Works so diligently to get sub coverage.
  • Gail Barry, new nursing assistant at SCHS. She is always smiling even though she is experiencing baptism by fire. 
  • Leslie Galvert, lead BCBA. Putting out so much extra effort to provide training to her BCs and paras.
  • Sara Caraveli - for her fabulous tech skills.
  • Gina Lau - AP payroll technician. Helps me out with any issues. So prompt with emails. She is very patient with our department
  • Peterson’s admin team - Chandra, Krista, Angela - are the unsung heroes at our school. They are working extremely hard and deserve some recognition. Always positive outlook.
  • Mary Auday, the clerk at Bowers ES. Mary is an amazing person. She knows all the families who attend Bowers and if a new family moves into the Bowers attendance area, she meets them at 7:30 am at the school on their first day of attendance.  
  • Kim Wakefield, Principal at Haman ES. She makes time for everyone, always has time to listen and is very supportive. I appreciate her as a leader.
  • Karin Kimiecik, District Nurse. She is even keeled all the time and very supportive.
  • Katie Fernandez with the preschool team. She is the first person who interacts with students and their families. I would describe her as magical.

As usual, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the donations on our board’s consent agenda tonight. Thank you to: 

  • Alice Gunnerson Living Trust for donating $400,000 to SCUSD high schools for their music departments
    • Alice Gunnerson passed away in February this year. She served the district for 32 years before retiring from the Human Resources department. Named classified employee of the year in 1977, Alice was a loyal employee and made many lifelong friends from her SCUSD family. Reading her obituary, Alice was a woman of many interests and talents, one of them being music. Thank you to Ms. Gunnerson and her family for this generous gift to our music programs!
  • Braly Elementary PTA for donating $17,500 to the school for Starting Arts enrichment classes
  • Zanker Road Resource Management for donating $10,000 to George Mayne Elementary for environmental projects including field trips and assemblies
  • Santa Clara High School Athletic Boosters for donating $5,000 to their school for athletics
  • Haman Elementary PTA for donating $3,000 to the school for technology

Other recent partner gifts we would like to recognize are: 

  • $12,000 gift from UTSC to sponsor this year's Family Resource Center holiday gift giving to support 120 families
  • $11,000 gift from UTSC to sponsor a new "clothing closet" for our Family Resource Center to support 110 families
  • $4,000 to from CSEA Chapter 350 to also sponsor the Family Resource Center clothing closet and food pantry through the school year 
  • $1,000 from CSEA Chapter 350 to sponsor thanksgiving meals for Family Resource Center-supported homeless and foster youth to support approximately 66 students


November is a month where we take time to pause and reflect on the past year, to consider the things for which we are grateful. Tonight I want to  express my personal gratitude. 

Thank you to our parents and guardians for having faith in Santa Clara Unified and for sending us your beautiful children. Your children come with strong values, respect, tolerance, and appreciation. Thank you for your commitment to ensuring both their success and our success.

Thank you to those who engage through strong community service and partnerships. Your support for our district and our schools brings opportunities that take us beyond our means. Groups such as but not limited to our PTAs, DAC, our mayors and city council members, and city departments — Public Safety, Planning and Development, and Parks and Rec. Thank you to our Schools Foundation, the 49ers Foundation, the Rotary Club of Santa Clara, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, to our business partners and trade associations for contributions of time, money, and in-kind donations that not only go to support academic goals in schools but often go directly to our socioeconomically disadvantaged students and families, as well as to sponsoring health and wellness events for staff — Lockheed Martin Space, Huawei USA, Intel, Roche, Nvidia, Globalfoundries, KLA, Mission College, UTSC, CSEA Chapter 350, Strawn Construction, Swinerton, LPA Design, Fugro, BKF Engineers, and Ernst and Young. Just since July, we have been blessed with community support with over 90 hours of time in service of our students and their families, and more than $111,000 in grants, gifts to the district, and donations that were directly given to socioeconomically disadvantaged families through our Family Resource Center. 

Thank you to our school professionals for the commitment that you make every day to the students of SCUSD. I thank you for your dedication to educational and organizational excellence. I thank you for striving to meet every expectation that we’ve set for our district. Thank you for your ongoing professionalism and cooperation. The last few school years, disrupted by the pandemic, have been exceptionally challenging. Yet, you’ve stepped up in every single way, pushing your own learning and thinking, and becoming creative in the ways you approach and carry out your work. Whether you are a teacher, support staff, or manager… we truly have the very best of the best educators here in SCUSD!

Everyone, thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

This concludes my report for this evening.