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Coronavirus Concerns Addressed, Substitutes May See Pay Raise

Update: Santa Clara County public schools are closed to students effective Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 3.


Original Story:

In a room where chairs were set up arm’s length apart and a print-out regarding cold and flu updates was passed out, coronavirus concerns were on many minds even though it wasn’t on the agenda.


At the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) Board of Trustees’ meeting on Thursday, March 12, Superintendent Stella Kemp took time to give an update on the District’s efforts surrounding the coronavirus.

“At this time, we don’t have any students or staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus at Santa Clara Unified,” confirmed Dr. Kemp.

While working with state and county officials, Dr. Kemp said that they are developing procedures in case someone at a school site shows coronavirus symptoms. She also said that they are developing plans, using their pandemic protocol, for what to do if a school needs to close for a few days for deep cleaning and if a school needs to close for weeks.

Dr. Kemp also outlined the plan to stem the spread of coronavirus to the community.

“Effective Monday, as a community-wide group of school districts we have determined that we will suspend nonessential visitors and volunteers to our campuses with the exception of those who are providing essential services,” said Dr. Kemp. “Also, beginning Monday, we are cancelling all nonessential student and staff travel until further notice. Student assemblies have been suspended…”

Additionally, all sports competitions have been suspended indefinitely, according to Dr. Kemp.

Board President Dr. Michele Ryan said she would like to hold a special meeting soon to gather community input on their plans.

Board Member Vickie Fairchild said she was concerned about the lack of transparency with the community and the Board. She said the Board could help dispel rumors if they had information in a timely matter.

Dr. Kemp said that they would have more information today after California Governor Gavin Newsom’s address.


Substitute Pay Rates

Santa Clara Unified unveiled its plan to encourage more substitutes to work with their schools. The plan includes higher pay — for example, a jump from $160 a day to $180 a day and long-term subs (17 – 79 days) would get $225 instead of the current $185. They also hope to address feedback at subs don’t feel welcome at school sites and, perhaps, find ways to reduce high use personal days.

The Board directed staff to look into ways to encourage subs to take on hard to fill classes.

A recommendation from staff will be brought for Board approval at a future meeting.


Enrollment Projection

Tom Williams of Enrollment Projection Consultants presented their enrollment projections for the District. According to Williams’ data, the latest kindergarten and birth totals in the Santa Clara and Sunnyvale parts of the District have declined by even more than were previously forecasted. Also, the kindergarten total in the North San Jose section unexpectedly declined as well.

He said that the declines we are seeing in SCUSD are not unlike the trends in other districts. If anything, he said, Santa Clara is faring better than other districts.

Another highlight of the extremely detailed report includes that, although over 12,000 new housing units are planned in the Santa Clara and Sunnyvale parts of the District in the next five years, most of those units would only start out averaging only three students in every 100 units. However, Williams said the amount of housing the cities and developers told him was coming sounded suspicious.


Climate Change Resolution

Students asked the District to consider supporting a resolution to address climate change.

After the students spoke passionately about their resolution, the Board gave suggestions to improve the resolution, including specific activities the District can do and be held accountable for.

Dr. Kemp along with the Superintendent’s Student Council developed the resolution, which will come back for Board action at a future meeting.


Other Business

The Board also discussed what they would like to see regarding a future Work Study Session on Students at Risk.

The Board approved the 2019-20 Second Interim Budget.

They also adopted a Resolution in support of the Schools and Local Communities First Funding Act of 2020.

Board Member Albert Gonzalez was absent.

The Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees’ next regularly scheduled meeting is on Thursday, March 26 at the District Office at 6:30 p.m.


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