The Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees convened on Thursday, Sept. 26 to discuss an array of topics, including facilities fees, naming the Agnews schools and more.
More Facilities Fees Information to Come
Two similar agenda items came before the Board regarding the District’s new facility fees.
Ever since the new fee schedule was implemented, representatives from community groups have been coming to almost every school board meeting with concerns about paying for using facilities that they used to use for free.
One agenda item was a request by Board Members Andrew Ratermann and Vickie Fairchild to have the Board discuss the fees at their next meeting. The other agenda item was a request by Board President Dr. Michele Ryan to have staff, instead, prepare a report on the fees and present it to the Board at a future meeting — whenever the report was ready.
“A lot of people have been upset,” said Ratermann. “I think our staff is doing a great job. I’m not complaining about what they’re doing. They’re trying to implement our wishes. I think we need to look at what our wishes are and what our policies should be.”
“I think the timing is all wrong,” said Board Member Mark Richardson. “Staff has worked very hard going from people paying nothing to people paying something. That’s always a brutal occurrence to have to have that discussion. I think, to bring this before the Board now would undermine them completely.”
Richardson also brought up that the Board should be careful about entering into subsidizing territory.
According to Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp, the report should be ready for the Board by their November Board meeting or the December meeting at the latest. Fairchild said waiting for the report would not be responsive to the community. She said she was concerned about losing programs in the meantime. However, Dr. Kemp said they have suspended the fee collection until they have ironed out the issues that have been brought up.
“We have been working with each individual group regarding if there is a fee being charged and we are holding off on the fee collection until this gets resolved,” said Dr. Kemp. “We are not penalizing any group from accessing our facilities while we’re in this process.”
The first request for a discussion was voted down 3-3 with Board Vice President Jodi Muirhead being absent.
The second request for a report was passed 5-1 with Muirhead absent and Richardson voting no. Dr. Kemp said that they will try to expedite the report and the Board will hear the report whenever the report is ready.
Naming the Agnews Schools
The Board heard more about the Ad Hoc Committee that will be in charge of collecting community input on potential names for the three Agnews schools.
The committee is composed of a range of stakeholders of the new schools’ community, including district staff, community representatives, parents/guardians and students. Committee members include Dr. Kemp, Agnews Elementary School Principal Shehnaz Wadhwania and Agnews Middle School Principal Dawnel Sonntag.
The survey for new names is open and can be accessed on the District’s website. According to Dr. Kemp, they already have about 50 names — including Hogwarts — and they expect more suggestions.
The Ad Hoc Committee’s first meeting will be on Oct. 9. Dr. Kemp said that the names would come to the Board for discussion in November, and then the final three names per school will be voted on by the Board in December.
Assistant Superintendent Kathie Kanavel gave a report on the District’s 2019 summer programs.
Through the high school summer programs, the District served 801 students in the first summer semester and 786 students in the second — they earned 7147 high school credits throughout the summer. For the middle school summer program, they served 248 students in the first semester and 254 students in the second — the middle school culinary class was very popular, according to Kanavel. Also, the District served 288 preschool through postsecondary students through the Extended School Year summer program. The EL/Migrant Summer Academy served 150 K-8 students and 100 high schoolers.
The 2019 summer programs cost the District about $1,875,000 from a variety of funding sources.
For summer 2020, the District plans on adding the A-Learn Math program for third through eighth grade students and Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program for students through fifth grade.
Fairchild said she heard negative feedback regarding the summer special education programs. Kanavel said that they were working on solutions to the concerns and will aim to do better in 2020.
The Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to designate the week of Oct. 23 – 31 Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week as part of the Santa Clara Unified District Council PTA’s annual substance prevention efforts.
This was the first meeting for the District’s new student representatives: Sydney Silva from Santa Clara High School, Vincent Kloes from Wilcox High School, and Chazel O’Neal from Mission Early College High School.
Kanavel also provided more information about a proposed dual enrollment partnership with Mission College. If approved, Mission College will offer community college pathway courses exclusively to SCUSD students at the college or the District campuses. Upon approval by appropriate governing boards, the District will coordinate with the Mission College staff to prepare for the first group of students in the Winter/Spring 2020 terms.
The Board has a work study session on Monday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. and then they meet again on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. for a regular board meeting.