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Agnews Campus Meets Construction Delays

The District’s Board Members have a lot to think about after getting some not-so-good news regarding the Agnews Campus at the Santa Clara Unified School District’s Aug. 22 meeting.


Agnews Construction Delays

There are significant construction delays for the elementary and middle schools at the Agnews Campus. Eric Dill, the District’s Chief Business Official, citied a very wet winter, labor issues and hurdles with the state as some reasons for the delay. Dill said that, if there are no other delays, the schools’ initial permanent buildings would not be ready until the end of September 2020.


“I will say that [we] are committed to opening a school in August 2020, that’s what we’ve been saying all along,” said Dill. “We had promised to open a school, but we do want to have a discussion on what our options could be to do that”

The Board weighed in on alternatives, including delaying the schools’ opening until 2021, opening up temporary schools onsite or offsite, and keeping students at their current schools and then moving them to the Agnews schools once they are ready later that school year. The Board Members all concurred that each option causes disruption to students.

Shehnaz Wadhwania, Agnews Elementary School Principal, and Dawnel Sonntag, Agnews Middle School Principal, gave their thoughts.

“The bigger disruption is to the building of the community,” Sonntag told the Board. “Students are resilient when it comes to the structures of physical buildings. They’re not very resilient when it comes to the building of community. And if we are able to take the students who are supposed to start with us and build the community, it doesn’t matter [where we are] — the community building is what’s important.”

Sonntag conceded that the lack of collaboration spaces and technology may make a difference instructionally, but still thought community building was more important.

Wadhwania agreed, adding that having the children starting in temporary classrooms and then moving into the permanent structures could be a good learning experience for the students.

“We would want them to walk into a palace, but they need to see that life can put you in situations where you can adapt,” said Wadhwania, adding that she and Sonntag “are raring to go.”

The Board was appreciative of the principals’ input and directed staff to gather more information on all the options and perhaps survey the community on their thoughts. The topic will return to the Sept. 26 School Board meeting.


Parade of Champions

A resolution to support the Santa Clara Parade of Champions on Sept. 28, made a return after being voted down at a previous meeting — this time with a makeover.

Vice President of the School Board, Jodi Muirhead, shared her disappointment that the wording of the resolution had been changed since she had last seen it and said it didn’t reflect what she had hoped. Muirhead is also on the Board for the Parade, as is School Board Member Andrew Ratermann.

School Board President Dr. Michele Ryan explained that she and Dr. Kemp, reviewed and changed the wording of the resolution based on the Board’s conversation the last time the resolution came before them.

Board Member Vickie Fairchild said that she was concerned with the resolution’s original language, which included language about facilities and directing staff, and that the situation is uncomfortable.

“The only reason this is coming before the Board, is because two of our wonderful Board Members are on the Board of the Parade of Champions, so there is a little bit of conflict there,” said Fairchild. “This is a City event.”

“It sounds like nobody likes this resolution the way it’s written for various reasons, so my suggestion is, pass on it,” said Board Member Mark Richardson. “The parade will be a success or not regardless of what the school district thinks of the parade.”

With a 5-2 vote — Fairchild and Richardson voting no — the Board passed a motion to have the resolution return to their next meeting on Sept. 12 for action.


Other Business

At the beginning of the meeting, the Board honored Wilcox High School student Kacey Le, who was elected to the office of Reporter in California Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

The Board approved the adoption of AP Economics, AP Physics and Expository Reading and Writing (ERWC) Instructional Materials that were discussed at the last meeting.

Also from their last meeting, the Board adopted a resolution to grant easement to the City Of San Jose at the Agnews K-12 Campus — 3534, 3556 and 3588 Zanker Rd., San Jose. The easement is for public road access and access for constructing, reconstructing, installing, operating, maintaining, repairing and/or replacing public utility systems and appurtenances. The easement is a result of an adjustment of the right-of-way line to accommodate an additional lane in a portion of Zanker Road, curbs, sidewalks and utility improvements.

The Board heard a presentation by Prospect Studio San Francisco detailing the development and design process of the District’s new Strategic Plan.

With their consent items, the Board passed a resolution for Red Ribbon Week, which will be Oct. 23 – 31, and they passed an affirmation recognizing September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The Santa Clara Unified School District School Board will meet again on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m.


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