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Superintendent Board Meeting Report - May 12, 2022

Good evening Trustees,

Happy belated Mother’s Day to you all. 

Enrollment and Staffing Update

I want to open my report tonight by providing an update on enrollment and staffing. With declining enrollment throughout the state and our district, and the resulting changes in the number of teachers at each school site, we understand that people are anxious, especially if they are the ones slated to move school sites or positions. 

Our goal is to provide our staff as much predictability as possible, as early as possible. Fluctuating and declining enrollment over several months presents a number of challenges to meeting that goal. We are trying to get the enrollment and staffing numbers as settled as possible before we break for summer and as finalized as possible by the first day that teachers are due to return for the 2022-2023 school year in August. We are trying to predict and move staff now for the likely scenarios in the fall so that we do not need to move staff later. If we overstaff now, we know that some people will need to move later, which causes its own uncertainty and anxiety.

At a recent board meeting, you heard a report from our Enrollment Center who, together with Human Resources, closely monitors the enrollment and staffing for the 2022-2023 school year. Enrollment fluctuates throughout the spring and summer. In the spring we see early enrollments and then more movement in the summer when current families typically move and disenroll their students, and new families move in. Historical enrollment trends tell us to expect a 5% decline in enrollment. If more students materialize than enrollment trends predict, teachers will be added to school sites to ensure we meet the approved staffing ratios. 

As we work toward the goal of settling our numbers as much as possible, here is what is coming up next in our process: Our second round of open enrollment closes on May 20 and our schools are working to finalize the projected number of current students who plan to return next year based on the “Intent to Return” forms families have been asked to complete. From there, the team will work quickly to settle our enrollment and staffing numbers as much as possible for the 2022-2023 school year. Dr. Gonzalez will also be meeting with principals and our UTSC president during this time.

ELD Program Planning

As many of you may know, in Spring 2021, the SCUSD EL Master Plan was approved by the board. This plan outlines the district design for an equity based educational program for our multilingual learners. During the needs assessment for the EL Master Plan, our data indicated that our multilingual learners have achievement gaps that we have not been successful in closing for many years.  This past fall, the district received an extensive Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) review in the area of English Learner programs. The FPM reviewers, in concurrence with our own needs assessment, identified three (3) major corrective actions that must be addressed in order to better support our multilingual learners. As a requirement to resolve the FPM findings, we must begin work in these areas immediately.

These three actions are:

  • a restructuring of our secondary designated ELD course offerings for students identified as ELs
  • professional development on designated and integrated ELD, and 
  • ELD curriculum chosen from the state approved list

The EL Steering Committee, composed of teachers, administrators, ELSATs, and paraeducators first came together on October 12 with the goal of creating an implementation plan for the Master Plan, informed by best practice around the district. Because of the FPM findings, the committee shifted in February 2022 to providing input on the steps needed to address the required corrective actions. 

Due to FPM implementation timeline requirements, the Ed Services and Professional Learning departments began to plan for 2022-23 and quickly realized that while we have the internal expertise, we do not currently have the internal capacity to provide the extensive level of professional learning needed, and need to partner with external experts to help build that capacity. On April 26, Ed Services shared a preliminary plan with the EL Steering Committee and received feedback. The plan is specific to elementary, middle and high school and also outlines a designated ELD curriculum pilot for grades 4-12, to begin this fall. 

We have solicited ELD professional learning proposals from highly regarded, nationally recognized experts, including WestEd, SIOP, and Kate Kinsella’s associate Theresa Hancock. We look forward to bringing the revised plan to the Steering Committee on May 24. The plan includes initial training in June and July with the Instructional Coaches and EL Steering Committee members. We also plan to bring contracts forward for our ELD partnerships to the Board in June so that we can prepare effectively for August district-wide professional learning.

Upcoming Recognition Events

At the last meeting, we shared a number of recognition events happening the month of May. One not mentioned is School Communication Day, which is tomorrow. I want to recognize our communications team - Jenn, Phillipa and Marcus for supporting all of us and to all staff throughout the district for all you do to connect our communities to teaching and learning in SCUSD.

Also a reminder to the that we have our Employee Recognition Tea on May 25th, 3:00 PM at the Delta Hotel. Invitations have gone out from HR. We also celebrate and honor retirements, years of service, and announce our classified, teacher, and administrator of the year at our annual Employee Recognition Tea. 

Community Activities 

I have also been spending a lot of time listening and learning from the work of many committees who are working on critical initiatives in the district.

  • The Superintendent’s Student Council was held on April 29th. Students reported on recent and upcoming activities happening at their schools. I am working with Matt Baldwin to work with our student leaders to review this program and find ways to refine and enhance student input for important school level issues.
  • The LGBTQQIA+ Committee met this week to review similar policies from other school districts and further discussions about recommendations for SCUSD policies, and to identify other areas for discussion and action. 
  • Our English Learner Steering Committee most recently met on April 26th to discuss planning for ELD professional learning for next year. As with our other CUDOS partnership committees, membership includes voices from our classified, certificated, and management staff. We are committed to a robust professional learning program next year, aligned to district priorities. 
  • The Superintendent’s School Culture and Climate Committee met last week. Over the last two sessions, the committee has been working on identifying priority areas of concern related to school climate and culture. At the last meeting, the committee participated in activities to begin the process of identifying 2-3 priority areas of focus for the 2022-2023 school year.
  • May 5th, I attended the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce Business Awards and Officer Installation. One of our own, Christine Lutke, Hughes Elementary School Secretary, received the chamber award for “best administrative assistant”. Congrats, Christine!

Student Learning Showcases

I’ve been enjoying visiting with students, families, and staff at a variety of spring events.

Last week I attended the Don Callejon K-8 School STEAM Expo. There were many research projects around real-world issues, especially environmental science and climate. As part of their presentations, students included a technology component by coding interactive displays like you find in many museums. When you pushed buttons on different points of the project’s display board, Chromebooks attached to the display played different videos and audios to provide the viewer more information. Other projects that stood out included a group of students who coded “choose your own adventure” games and a student who created an artful social justice display and gave an inspirational, articulate presentation. This young woman, who also serves on our Equity and Social Justice Committee, spoke about the impact she and others can make in the lives of black and African American students right now. She is truly a role model for her peers.

On Friday evening, I also briefly attended the Wilcox High School Art Expo. There was a variety of highly talented and creative work. The students are also hosting their first annual film festival tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in their theater. And, earlier today, our partners at the Ford Automotive presented the school’s automotive program students with a car donation to the program that was previously approved by the board.

Coming up on May 26 is our virtual 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 encourage you and the community to join us online — anyone can register to attend through our virtual expo platform at www.santaclarausd.org/steamexpo

Donations

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

  • Washington Open PFG’s donation of $7,000 to Washington Open for field trips
  • SCHS Athletic Boosters’ donation of $10,500 to Santa Clara High for badminton, track and field, and volleyball administration
  • Liberty Lodge’s donation of $1,500 to Bowers for their garden

Special Education Staffing

Tonight we will hear an update from our Special Education team regarding the staffing levels for our Mod/Severe program. I want to acknowledge that Mr. Raterman sent in an agenda item request for the next board meeting to get more information about other areas within the Special education program staffing. Our team is already preparing this information to bring back to the Board at the next meeting. 

Closing

In closing, I want to acknowledge that some people are upset about public comments being made about me. I appreciate the sentiment and want to remind all of us that we are lucky to be able to live in a country where individuals have the right to free speech. 

As the leader of this organization, I hear all comments and appreciate the feedback from everyone. I know all of us can get caught up in the heat of the moment when things are said including language that is divisive. 

I just want you to know that I recognize we say things in the heat of the moment, but deep inside I know that you care as much about the students we serve as I do. So, I have never taken anything personally because I know that we can be brought together by the unity of knowing that we all care about our students.

This closes my report for this evening, thank you.