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One-Time Funds Change Up Santa Clara Unified Budget, Indoor Masking Voluntary  

New funding for specific Santa Clara Unified School District programs alters the District’s budget. In COVID-19 updates, due to changes in County guidance, indoor masking at K-12 schools is strongly recommended but not required.

 

Updated Budget Report

As required, Business Official Mark Schiel presented changes to the budget in the Second Interim Report at the Board of Trustees Meeting on Thursday, March 10.

Since the First Interim Report, they received some one-time funds that needed to be incorporated. They received $1.2 million for Special Education funding, $963,000 for Career Technical Education (CTE) funding, $297,000 for the Universal Preschool Grant, and $759,000 for A-G Grants. These are restricted one-time funds and must be used for their predetermined purpose, so the District added the corresponding expenses to the budget. Because of this, on-the-books it does look like there is an increase in expenses, but that is mostly due to the restricted one-time funds. They also got $149,000 in an STRS employer refund.

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Schiel also described savings in salaries and benefits – due to late hiring and unfilled positions – and savings from Silicon Valley JPA for Special Ed transportation – however rising fuel costs could impact this. There is also a decrease of needed contributions to Adult Education and Family Child Education so savings are captured there.

There will also be an increase in services and operating because of a state-required recycling program.

The District’s deficit is looking slightly better than anticipated at $18 million, down by $2.6 million forecasted. However, President Jodi Muirhead and Vice President Vickie Fairchild didn’t like an added presentation slide comparing the cost of choices laid before them at a previous meeting regarding class sizes. They said it was misleading since they are overstaffed and no matter what class size choice they made, they are not laying off any elementary school teachers, clarified Fairchild. Some teachers, according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jose Gonzalez, would be reallocated to the substitute pool if enrollment doesn’t increase and they would save money on substitutes. Right now, it seems like four teachers will be “without a classroom.”

When it comes to multi-year projections, Schiel said they are being conservative on property tax. For expenses, they foresee an increase of $4.2 million due to “step and column” changes, meaning District staff receiving salary increases based on their movement on the salary schedule.

In some positive news regarding employer contributions, Schiel said they may not see increases in CalSTRS and will see a small increase in CalPERS, and then it may decrease.

Additionally, there is an upcoming $4 million textbook adoption and the November election will likely cost $200,000.

It is still unknown how COVID-19 ripples will change the budget and inflation worries Schiel. And, of course, the obvious rise in gas prices also affects the District. Schiel is also concerned about unfunded demands from the government the District must fulfill with or without funding.

On June 9, the Board will see the 2022 – 2023 Budget which they can approve on June 23. In September, Schiel will have the Unaudited Actuals Report.

 

COVID-19 Update

Last meeting, the Board decided to allow staff to change the Santa Clara Unified COVID-19 Safety Plan to align with CDPH guidance. At this meeting, Schiel said the state-wide indoor masking guidance for K-12 schools ends on March 12 and it will now be strongly recommended to wear masks but not required.

“While personal choice is the emphasis, please note that both the state and county guidance still strongly recommend wearing a mask indoors,” said the District in an announcement. “And we encourage you to take this into consideration.”

Dr. Gonzalez reported that their substitute openings are down to 95, which is around what they are more used to seeing, compared to the 155 spots back in January.

Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Brad Stam reported that attendance is at 96% and their Independent Study program has seen a drop after the February break – 93 elementary students, 37 middle school, and 49 high school.

Fairchild said she’s been asked when volunteers will be allowed back in the classroom. Dr. Kemp says their stance hasn’t changed yet. Volunteers can still help in other ways but not in the classroom unless it’s “essential to the program.” Dr. Kemp said she is meeting with the principals and can gauge how they feel about changing this. In the meantime, Fairchild says there needs to be consistency on what is considered essential.

Dr. Kemp said a mid-year COVID-19 update will be presented at the special March 15 meeting.

 

Difference Makers

This quarter’s Difference Makers are Dana LoVecchio, a teacher at Montague Elementary School and member of the Equity and Social Justice Committee; Jamie Eke, Behavior Analyst; Officer Spencer Chen of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety; and Girl Scout Troop 62645, led by Kathleen McCune and Anneke Sharp, from Pomeroy Elementary School.

 

Other News

Public comment was filled with callers concerned about equity and staffing at Scott Lane Elementary School. Callers said their Dual Language Immersion Program and class sizes will be affected by staffing changes. Dr. Kemp said they will work with the principal and continue to monitor enrollment.

The Board ratified the appointment of Maita Cruz as the new Program Specialist for Special Education. They also approved the updated job description for Teacher Librarian.

Dr. Kemp gave a brief update on the Cabrillo Middle School music room. She said they are likely to move forward with the committee’s recommendation to use two portables for the 2022-2023 music program. Because they can move the temporary staff lounge elsewhere, they can now use that space for instrument storage. Dr. Kemp said they are exploring possible funding for mid-term options. YAC negotiations with the City of Santa Clara are still ongoing.

Muirhead adjourned in memory of Don Bordenave, a beloved former Santa Clara Unified Board Member and community member. There is a special meeting on Tuesday, March 15 and the next regular meeting is on Thursday, March 24.

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