Since in-person classes have been moved online for the rest of the school year, Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees prepared to enter spring break with some important decisions and a handful of housekeeping items.
Grading Decision & Seniors
During Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp’s report at Thursday’s virtual meeting, she confirmed that the District will be following the recommendation of the County Superintendent and move to a credit, no credit grading system.
“This is the least bad of all the suboptimal grading options we have for work this semester,” said Dr. Kemp. She continued to say that more communication will be coming.
Assistant Superintendent Kathie Kanavel reported that the District sent out a survey to their secondary teachers asking what to consider in implementing the credit, no credit system. As of the meeting they got back about 250 responses, which will be reviewed.
Dr. Kemp announced the formation of an Ad Hoc Superintendent Advisory Committee that has been tasked with looking into education considerations for reopening schools.
She also acknowledged her concern for the District’s high school seniors. “I know schools are thinking of ways to make the end of the year special, even if it’s vastly different,” said Dr. Kemp. “And we are collectively committed to honoring our students in the best and most memorable ways that we can.”
A Graduation Committee has been formed and will be surveying the Class of 2020 and their families and staff to collect ideas for “events,” according to Dr. Kemp. The survey launches next week, and the plans will be made by the end of the month.
In other news, Chief Business Official Eric Dill reported that at Monday’s meal distribution they shattered previous records and gave out 31,000 meals — even in the rain. He also reiterated that meals are continuing through spring break.
Looking forward, he and his team will be looking into the District’s budget with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind. Additionally, construction timelines — especially of the new schools — have been impacted. More specific details are to come.
After spring break, Kanavel said that support staff will be increasing student instructional support outside of their regular distance learning classroom, namely for special education and literacy intervention.
Kanavel said that summer school is still happening — they have a Plan A and a Plan B. Plan B would be distance learning summer school. And, regarding planning for next year, they are still trying to prepare by digitizing many of the usual processes.
Additionally, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Keegan reported that no SCUSD employees have reported COVID-19 illness.
Most of the 16 unagendized public comments were from teachers who expressed their concerns with how the District is handling distance learning. Some specific concerns included lack of communication, lack of collaboration, lack of recognition for teachers who are on the front lines and low morale.
Additionally, during her report, UTSC President Amber Wacht expressed concerns over the District’s labor management process. She accused the District of not including the union and its teachers on major decisions and not communicating or cooperating with UTSC.
The Board thanked those who submitted public comment and thanked Wacht for her report; during Kanavel’s report, she told the Board that the District is sending out a survey to teachers on Friday, April 10. Among other professional development questions, the survey will ask teachers about their successes and challenges that they are facing regarding distance learning.
After Board approval, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Keegan announced the hiring of Karen Allard as the new Director of Professional Development, Matthew Baldwin as the new Director of Secondary Curriculum and Jennifer Laxton as the next Principal of Braly Elementary School.
The Board also approved the updated job descriptions for Coordinator of EL & Supplemental Programs and the new job description for Coordinator of STEAM.
When voting on the Personnel Items Summary from the March 26 Board Meeting, Board Member voted no, but the item passed 6-1.
A new contract for $70,133.33 between SCUSD and SchoolMint Inc., an online enrollment platform, was approved unanimously by the Board.
The meeting was closed in the memory of Mike Olenak who was a teacher at Buchser Middle School.
The Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees meets next on Thursday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m.