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MacDonald High School will Open for 9th Grade, Grandfathering Decided

Before we break out the turkey and mashed potatoes next week, the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees met to discuss opening MacDonald High School as well as Adult Ed concerns and voting maps.


MacDonald High School Decisions

At the meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18, the Board heard the recommendations from MacDonald Principal Dr. Vivian Rhone-Lay. She suggested that the high school open for the 2022 school year with 9th grade, adding a new grade each year as students progress to the next grade level.

Board Vice President Vickie Fairchild and Board Member Andy Ratermann were concerned about the school’s offerings like electives, band and athletics. Fairchild was worried about family buy-in, especially around sports. Ratermann said he wants to hear what they’re doing to navigate the challenges of opening with a smaller student body.


“These are growing pains. These problems with the lack of access to electives is only for at the beginning, the first 2 years,” said Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp. “Once we have a junior and senior class at MacDonald High School, we’re gonna have the same offerings that we have at our other schools and opportunities for our students.”

Dr. Kemp went on to say that freshmen don’t often take that many electives and many aren’t offered to them at other sites until they reach higher grade levels.

The 9th grade opening still passed unanimously.

When it comes to the Grandfathering Rule, “all 2022-2023 9th graders living within the MacDonald High School (MHS) boundary will attend MHS, unless the Grandfathering Rule applies or they are accepted on open enrollment.”

The Grandfathering Rule for MacDonald is as follows: “Parents of rising 9th graders who have another child who will be enrolled at Santa Clara or Wilcox high schools in 2022-23 may request that their rising 9th grader attend the same school as their sibling instead of MHS. Transportation will continue to be provided for grandfathered students through 2024-25. This recommendation is aligned with Agnew Elementary and Huerta Middle School.”

Fairchild was worried about kids going through open enrollment if they don’t wish to attend MacDonald. Ratermann said he didn’t think open enrollment shouldn’t be a problem as it’s been successful in the past.

Dr. Kemp says they are trying to offer families more flexibility by having this Grandfathering Rule in place.

The Grandfathering Rule passed unanimously.

There is a family information session scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022, as well as events in the last week of January that families can attend if they want more information.


Independence Network

Fairchild pulled an item from the consent calendar concerning the service provider agreement with San Andreas Regional Center (SARC).

In September, the Board heard about Independence Network’s lack of caregivers. Thankfully, since then, the adult education program has been able to work quickly with SARC to secure caregivers for some students and more students are expected to get caregivers. If not, they are looking into other ways, including family support in the classroom.

They are also hoping for a caregiver scholarship program to be started through a $70,000 donation from the Friends of the Independence Network — who are dissolving according to Carrie Casto, Principal of Adult Education.

“Any of the families that still need a caregiver and weren’t, for some reason, able to get them through SARC — although at this point we think they’re all gonna be able to get them through SARC — that way, that money is used for our existing students who need caregivers,” said Casto

They will not be pursuing licensing now since they have found a solution to their caregiver concerns.


Trustee Area Voting Maps

Most of the Board and the community who called in liked Scenario 2A, an updated version of Scenario 2 with changes suggested by the Board. While it does have the highest population variance across the trustee areas, it’s still within the legal limits according to Jonathan Salt, F3 Law.

“I have a lot of concerns about 2 and 2A,” said Board Member Dr. Michele Ryan regarding the high population variance. She said the other maps have lower variance and should be considered.

This will come back for Board decision on Dec. 9, said Board President Jodi Muirhead.

The Board asked Salt to bring more options for election sequencing since they were concerned about terms and Trustee Areas being potentially without a representative. Salt also said they will add an attendance overlay to the maps on the website.


Silicon Valley CTE (MetroED) Report

Alyssa Lynch, Superintendent of MetroED, gave a speedy report on the program. They have welcomed new staff and have been able to provide Chromebooks to all students in need through a grant.

They have new instructors this year in dental, electrical and sports medicine. Lynch shared that their MetroED Foundation is offering 17 scholarships. Additionally, enrollment went up this year.


Difference Makers

The Santa Clara Unified Difference Makers for the first quarter are Jose Pacheco Velasquez, Huerta Middle School Counselor, for Certificated Staff; James Gentry from Bracher Elementary School for Classified Staff; Mary Grizzle for Community Member; and Hughes Elementary Office and Health Team for Group or Organization.


Other Business

They ran out of time at the end of the meeting, so the union presidents and staff were not able to give reports. The report on COVID-19 Updates was also skipped but can be found on the agenda.

A highlight from the report is that the free Grapefruit COVID-19 testing location is now open for students, staff, and their families. It is located at Wilcox High School Performing Arts Center and is open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are finalizing hours for the upcoming breaks.

The Board approved the 2022 Refunding Lease Purchase that was discussed previously.

At the start of the meeting, they held a Board Study Session about the 2020 – 2021 District Student Data Review. There was a lot of information so they will schedule another time to go through it all, but they talked about attendance and wellness.

The Board approved the appointment of Tracy Bonde as the new Information Systems Manager and Danielle Ash as the Interim Vice-Principal at Buchser Middle School.

The Board agreed to place an agenda item about the lack of a music room at Cabrillo Middle School.

The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is on Thursday, Dec. 9.


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