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Santa Clara Unified: LCAP, Budget, and Buchser Gym Naming

With all the excitement that comes with the end of the school year, it’s not just students who have to complete their work to get to the finish line. The Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees also had to finish their work before being released to enjoy graduations and end-of-year celebrations. They covered a lot of ground including the Local Control and Accountability Plan and the budget.


Local Control and Accountability Plan

It’s time for the annual update of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The LCAP is how Santa Clara Unified shares what programs and services the District is investing in with state funds, said Brad Stam, Chief Academic and Innovation Officer. The LCAP focuses primarily on unduplicated students which includes emerging bilingual English learners, students from socioeconomically disadvantaged households, foster youth, and homeless youth.

The first part of the presentation focused on the 2023-2024 year and the full report is online but they shared some highlights at the Thursday, May 23 meeting. Incredibly, the Family Resource Center served 1,361 families. Also, they surpassed their target for English language grades.


The District didn’t quite meet its goals in areas like math and “college and career readiness” but still had growth. Unfortunately, they saw a decline in graduates meeting UC/CSU requirements. They also have a long way to go to work on suspension rates.

This marks the end of the 2021 – 2024 LCAP. They have already introduced a new phonics program, new Math Pathways, and more to continue to close the gap. Stam said the new 2024 – 2027 LCAP recommits to strategies that are bearing fruit.

To develop the 2024 – 2027 LCAP, they went back to work with the District Advisory Committee and did an survey. Some feedback highlighted small group instruction and “visibility and celebration of students’ cultures on campus and in the curriculum.” The draft is available online.

They’ve also updated the LCAP goals:

  • Goal 1: All students will make measurable annual progress toward mastering California Standards and toward graduation. We will raise student achievement overall and accelerate achievement of historically underserved student groups to narrow opportunity gaps.
  • Goal 2: All students will equitably receive the social-emotional and behavioral support they need to graduate as resilient, future-ready, lifelong learners who think critically, solve problems collaboratively, and are prepared to thrive in a global society.
  • Goal 3: SCUSD will partner with students and families, and with labor, business and community members to create and expand opportunities for students to graduate as resilient, future ready, lifelong learners who think critically, solve problems collaboratively and are prepared to thrive in a global society.
  • Goal 4: By May 2026, New Valley Continuation High School will have created and fully implemented a college and career readiness program in order to increase the percent of English Learners, Homeless Youth, Economically Disadvantaged students, Students with Disabilities and Hispanic/Latino students “prepared” for college and career.

In short, Goal 1 is about academic excellence and equity, Goal 2 is about student wellness, Goal 3 focuses on partnership, and Goal 4 is required by the State just for New Valley.

One new action is to “Increase student, staff and family intercultural awareness and understanding through a diverse range of staff, student and family engagement activities, cultural events and on visible representations of cultural diversity on campuses.” This will be an interesting action to create a metric for and staff says they are looking into survey tools to measure this.

The 2024 – 2027 LCAP will come back to Board action on June 13 and has to be submitted to the County Office of Education by June 30. The Board was not happy that this timeline left no wiggle room for input from the Board or the public. However, 44 kindergarten teachers did reach out a month ago regarding Goal 1.3 which says, “Provide small group in class Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 early literacy support to students with highest need.” These teachers emphasized the need for paraeducators for the kindergarten program but this was not included in the LCAP.

“A para for all kindergarten classrooms, even for just a few hours a day, would lead to greater outcomes for our students because it allows them to access the content and social-emotional skills necessary to be successful in our district,” said Anne Marie Sierra during public comment.

Board President Vickie Fairchild is concerned about the behavior of elementary students. She said it was too late to change the LCAP and that “this is just a rubber stamp process at this point.”


2024 – 2025 Budget

Mark Schiel, Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Chief Business Official, presented the proposed 2024 – 2025 budget which will come back to the next meeting for adoption. For revenue, Santa Clara Unified is projected to see a $12.4 million increase in property taxes. Local revenues are projected to decrease by $4.5 million. Overall, it is a small increase in revenue compared to 2023 – 2024.

District expenditures are expected to decrease by $4 million. Employee benefits are increasing by $4.8 million but books and supplies are decreasing by $8.6 million. Services and operations are projected to decrease by $4.2 million.

Looking at multiyear projections, the District is expected to be in deficit spending in four of the next five years. However, they’ll likely recover and get out of it by the fifth year based on current assumptions. Reserves may dwindle more than they hoped as well, hitting 31% in 2027 – 2028 but then start to bounce back after that.


Buchser Gym Naming

The old Santa Clara High School gymnasium, now located at Buchser Middle School, is being renamed in honor of Dean Giles. For 40 years, Giles worked as a physical education teacher, basketball coach and athletic director. Santa Clara High School alumni Jim Pruitt submitted the request to rename the gym after his basketball coach and the application had 132 supporters.

Giles’ daughter Kathleen Watson said he made sports inclusive for her and other female athletes. Because of his efforts, she and her friends were allowed to play full-court basketball and tennis with the boys’ teams.

“That is the kind of progressive and inclusive mindset my dad brought to teaching and coaching every day of his life,” said Watson who went on to play varsity tennis at San Jose State University.

Pruitt said that Giles, who is still living and is 97 years old, doesn’t know they are doing any of this.


Student Senate


The 2023 – 2024 Student Senators are saying goodbye and ushering in a new generation of the Student Senate. The Board honored Student Trustee Luis Valdes, from Mission Early College High School and Senators Jovana Bierman, from MacDonald High School; Ren Brown, from Santa Clara High School; Shiv Dagar, from Wilcox High School; and Andrew Chandra, from Wilson High School.

These Senators spent the first semester focused on fentanyl awareness and naloxone access and then they shifted focus to vaping and mental health awareness and support. This was a big passion for them, said Bierman.

The 2024-2025 Student Senators will introduce themselves in August: Ali Al Tameemi, from New Valley High School; Ovyanah Sample, from MacDonald High School; Danna Rengifo Cabezas, from Mission Early College High School; Ren Brown, from Santa Clara High School; Paolo Mallari, from Wilcox High School; and Bee Lumos, from Wilson High School. Upcoming, the Student Senate will convene and elect a new Student Trustee.


Difference Makers

This quarter’s Difference Makers were also recognized. Superintendent Dr. Gary Waddell named Mike Stieren, Vice Principal of Wilcox High School, in the administrator category. They honored Mary Kidonakis from Ponderosa Elementary School for the certificated staff member category. Hai Vu from the District Print Shop was chosen as the classified staff member honoree. This quarter’s community member was Elisha Gargiulo from the Washington Open Elementary School community. Khadeejah Khan from Santa Clara High School was the Difference Maker in the student category. The kitchen team at Huerta Middle School and MacDonald High School were also honored.


Other Business

The Board approved an amendment to the Superintendent’s employee agreement. The amendment extends Dr. Waddell’s contract by one year to June 30, 2028. He also received a merit bonus of $23,205 (7% of his base salary) and his 2024-2025 base salary was set to $338,130 (a 2% increase). The bonus and base salary raise were laid out in his employment agreement.

Chandra Henry was appointed as the new Coordinator of Arts & Instructional Resources.

As they have in previous years, the Board approved the facility use fee waiver request for the Santa Clara Parade of Champions.

Dr. Waddell also briefly announced a resource portal on controversial issues for teachers and families that will be launching soon. He said the portal will have resources on academic freedom, relevant board policy, freedom of expression and speech, hate-motivated speech, and action elimination.

The Santa Clara Unified Board meets next on Thursday, June 13 and the last meeting of the school year is on Thursday, June 27. Meetings are live-streamed on the District’s YouTube page, and agendas are posted on their website.


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