The fate of the Agnews campus schools was decided at Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 10. Additionally, conversation about facility usage fees made a return.
Agnews Construction Timeline
In the face of Agnews construction delays — the original opening date for the elementary and middle schools was set as August 2020, but a host of setbacks has made the original goal unattainable — the plan of action for opening the schools found a democratic finale.
“The only constant in our building process has been change,” said Board Member Mark Richardson.
Since the last meeting regarding the delays, Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp, several Board Members and District staff conducted community meetings and a post-meeting survey. The survey asked participants if they were in favor of opening in 2020 in a temporary campus to the tune of $6 million or to postpone the opening to August 2021.
From the 85 participants in the survey, 66 participants — over 77 percent — said they were in favor of delaying until 2021, while 15 said they wanted a temporary village.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout of the two meetings I went to,” said Board President Dr. Michele Ryan. “I remember, as someone who would have been very willing to send my kids to a temporary village, to hear from the community themselves about, ‘Why are you even asking us? $6 million? Forget it.’ It was very impactful to hear their response directly.”
The School Board unanimously approved the construction timeline plan for the Agnews schools, meaning the elementary and middle schools will open in August 2021.
Many of the Board also mentioned that, with the delay decided, they want to keep flexibility in mind and consider opening up the schools with additional grades since the delayed opening means that more permanent buildings may be completed. The original plan was to open up the elementary school with Kindergarten through 2nd grade and open the middle school with 6th grade.
“That was actually one of the key things that the parents brought up to use during the feedback sessions was around the scaling of the grade levels,” said Dr. Kemp. “We will go back and asses the community to determine whether we should open the elementary as K-5 and open 6th and 7th grade at the middle school.”
“Now, we have another year to plan,” said Dr. Kemp. “Ideally, I think that it would be beneficial for us to delay making [a decision on which grades to open with] and then come back with a recommendation on how we would open up the schools and the grade level configurations.”
Larry Adams, SCSUD Bond Projects Director, did share that progress is being made on the first Agnews elementary school building.
Facility Usage Fees
Though not on the Board’s agenda, the District’s field usage fee schedule was once again brought up. Representatives from Briarwood Little League, a Santa Clara nonprofit baseball program that uses SCUSD fields, came and spoke out against the fees now being imposed on them.
Members of the public stated that the fact they the District was charging their all-volunteer nonprofit was “mind blowing,” “gross,” and “disappointing.”
“I fully support the School District utilizing its facilities to generate revenue,” said Mario Samora, President of Briarwood Little League. “I’m not ok, not even a little bit ok, with generating revenue off of the backs of the very kids that your district serves.”
“There should be no fees charged. Period,” said Samora.
Because it wasn’t on the agenda, the Board wasn’t able to take action or comment on the topic, but Dr. Kemp said she and staff have met with both Briarwood and Westside little leagues and plan to meet with them again soon. She also reiterated that no one is being charged the usage fees until things get sorted out.
Additionally, a report on the facility usage fees is being put together to be presented to the Board at a future meeting.
The Board passed a resolution affirming the month of October as Hindu American Appreciation and Awareness Month. The resolution was originally brought forward by Board Member Albert Gonzalez.
From their last meeting, the Board approved the College and Career Access Pathways Dual Enrollment Partnership Agreement between Mission College and SCUSD.
Coming up, there is a Work Study Session on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in the District Office Board Room and the School Board meets again for a regular meeting on Oct. 24 at 6:30 PM in the District Office Board Room.