The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Santa Clara Education Desk: Dec. 18, 2013

The Dec. 12 Santa Clara Unified School Board meeting was another five-hour event. But, facing an agenda with a dozen action items, 10 planning/discussion items, an 18-item consent calendar, and four special reports, it was predictable. Even so, all the planning or discussion items were continued to a future meeting.

However, despite the mountain of business facing the board, Trustee Christopher Stampolis pulled several items from the consent calendar – donations to schools – pointing out that the donation forms weren’t the same. This offered an opportunity for Trustee Ina Bendis to remind everyone about the “unfortunate” allegations of irregularities in Cabrillo PTSA funds. An audit found nothing improper or irregular.

SCUSD Budget $2.5 Million in the Black

There is good news in the Santa Clara Unified School District’s midyear financial report, the district’s Superintendent of Business Services Mark Allgire told the board. First, the district revenues are $2.5 million over expenses. The second is that the district will be receiving the $200 per student state money allocated for professional development in the current state education budget. This was in question because SCUSD continues to be a basic aid school.

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“In Santa Clara’s case, local property taxes, or community funding, exceeds the new, increased LCFF [Local Control Funding Formula] funding level,” he wrote in his budget report. “Just as was the case with revenue limits, the District remains a locally funded district, or Basic Aid. In fact, it is projected that property taxes will continue to exceed the State’s calculated LCFF funding level for the foreseeable future. There is a time, given certain circumstances, when the LCFF formula could generate more revenue for the District than the Basic Aid property tax method.”

“SCUSD will probably become revenue-limited in five years,” Allgire said at the board meeting. “The faster the enrollment growth, the sooner those [funding ratio] numbers cross.”

See the charts accompanying the column for more SCUSD budget information.

SCUSD Board Officers Re-Elected,

Trustee Christine Koltermann was re-elected as President, by a 5-2 vote, with Stampolis and Bendis opposing her reelection. Trustee Albert Gonzalez was reelected as VP, his third time around in this position. The board Vice President typically is next in line for SCUSD Board President.

Presidents normally serve two terms. However, Stampolis proposed a change in procedure whereby the executive positions rotate every year instead of, effectively, every two years. Thus, instead of having to serve typically four years before taking an executive position – and six before becoming board president – SCUSD trustees could theoretically be in line for an executive slot in half that time.

Why does being board president matter? While only having one vote, like every other trustee, the president runs the meetings. More importantly, the president controls the agenda – which, in effect controls what’s discussed at meetings.

Marathon Expulsion Hearing Provokes Continued Comment

At the Dec. 12 meeting, several parents spoke about a public expulsion hearing for a middle school student that took place on Dec. 2.

Expulsion hearings are held in closed session unless the student’s parents specifically request a public hearing. The student in question had, for the second time, brought a weapon – a knife – to school. This follows a history that includes at least one other assault on another student and an altercation with a teacher over prohibited cell phone activity. The student will attend the district’s Community Day School, a program with attendance or behavior problems – something the student preferred anyway.

The hearing ran 6.5 hours – typically such decisions take no more than half an hour of discussion. Most of that time consumed by questioning of district employees by Bendis and Stampolis, as well as Bendis’ lecturing board members, teachers and district administration on the student’s possible medical and psychiatric conditions, according to several in attendance. A lawyer was also present, via telephone, for the entire meeting. The WEEKLY has requested the meeting recording, which is a public record.

The expulsion vote was 5-2, with Bendis and Stampolis voting against expulsion. Speakers criticized what they saw as selective application of district policies, saying that it set the wrong example for parents, teachers, and administrators who endeavor to teach all students that actions have consequences and that rules are to be respected by all, equally.

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