Santa Clara Unified rang in 2024 with a gold star on their audit but with some unhappy youth sports groups as they passed new facility rental fees.
In a routine audit, Santa Clara Unified got a clean bill of health from its independent external auditor. According to Nathan Edelman from Eide Baily LLP, there were no audit exceptions. They didn’t find anything that needed adjustments to make financial statements correct, which is what you want, said Edelman. Another compliment was that the numbers initially prepared by management were validated and no changes were necessary. Additionally, no internal control deficiency was found.
One small blip was regarding independent study, but Edelman assured the Board that the finding wasn’t alarming or abnormal. The finding was about the dates on certain agreements but the District already has a corrective action plan incoming. Edelman was confident that it won’t be an issue next year.
Facility Fees Finale
Last meeting, the Board of Trustees delayed passing facility fees for Group 1.5 after a few external youth sports groups begged for continued free use of the District’s facilities. The Board instructed Michal Healy, Director of Facility Development and Planning, to meet with the groups to hear their concerns and come to an agreement.
Fast forward to Thursday, Jan. 11 and Healy was able to meet with most of the concerned parties individually. However, according to a couple youth sports groups, they wanted to have a “meeting of the minds” or a large meeting with all concerned groups and asked for the Board to delay the fees further. Board President Vickie Fairchild, who directed Healy to meet with the groups, said Healy already fulfilled their agreement to meet with them.
The original proposal was to phase the new fees in for Group 1.5 over two years, so they have time to adjust. They are being asked to pay just 10% of the cost to rent their facilities. Starting June 1, the groups would pay half of that fee and then the full fee the next year. As a compromise, Board Member Jodi Muirhead put forth a motion to phase it out over three years: 25% the first year, then 50%, and then 100% of that 10% fee. That motion passed 5-2.
New from the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA, despite County wastewater data showing higher levels of COVID-19, guidance for workers got laxer. According to Mark A. Schiel, Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Chief Business Official, these changes better align with CDPH’s guidance for the general public.
Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are now only required to isolate themselves from work during their infectious period. For symptomatic COVID-19 cases, the infectious period is a minimum of 24 hours from the day of symptom onset. They can return to work if they don’t have a fever (without fever-reducing medication) and their symptoms are mild and improving. For an asymptomatic COVID-19 case, Cal/OSHA claims there is “no infectious period for the purpose of isolation and exclusion from work,” said Schiel. Surprisingly, the employee can stay at work unless symptoms develop. Those who test positive must mask for 10 days.
Another change is that if an employee is a close contact they are not required to test or mask. The District is still required to send close contact notices to employees and provide free tests. The District still has to monitor and report outbreaks. However, they did decide that general group exposure notices were no longer necessary and were confusing anyway.
“We encourage students and staff to stay up to date on vaccinations,” said Schiel. “Encourage students and staff to stay home and test when sick and report all positive cases to school offices and supervisors. We encourage students and staff to wear a mask around others if they have symptoms, test positive, or were exposed to positive cases…”
Board Clerk Bonnie Lieberman was concerned about high-risk individuals being exposed to those who are knowingly infected with COVID-19. Schiel simply responded that infected people must mask.
Due to declining enrollment, the District is creating a Boundary Study Committee that will keep a watchful eye on enrollment data. If the Boundary Study Committee believes there needs to be potential adjustments to school attendance boundaries, then they will gather community input. Then, the committee will share information and recommendations with the Board. Lieberman and Board Member Dr. Michele Ryan will be the Board representatives on this committee.
The Board approved appointing Antoinette Ronquillo as the Contracts Manager in the Bond Projects Department.