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Santa Clara Unified: New Art Plan is First of Its Kind

The Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees gets a first look at a plan for a rich and inclusive arts education for all students. They also discuss the last year’s budget and vaccines.


Strategic Arts Plan

Santa Clara Unified has been on a journey to provide an equitable, comprehensive, and innovative Arts Education. Last year, the Strategic Arts Committee began meeting to create their very first Strategic Arts Plan “that charts a course for arts education districtwide,” according to the report they presented to the Board on Thursday, Sept. 14.


The Strategic Arts Committee was chaired by Superintendent Dr. Gary Waddell and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Kathie Kanavel. They and over 40 educators came together to create the Plan’s 5 focus areas: curriculum and instruction, facilities and resources, leadership and qualified personnel, professional learning and student opportunities.

“This transformative plan will guide our work and will enrich future generations of students, preparing them to be well-rounded, reflective, and creative throughout their lives,” said Dr. Waddell in the report.

As they deploy this plan from 2023 through 2028, they will create an Arts Advisory Committee to monitor the plan’s execution. This committee will be made up of teachers, support staff, administrators, parents/caregivers, and community members.

The Board was excited about the Arts Plan. Many Board Members hoped to see more arts, music and dance being offered to their students.


Public Health

Flu season is here and so are flu vaccines. Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Chief Business Official Mark A. Schiel said the new COVID-19 vaccine is also almost ready to be distributed to protect against the Omicron variant. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine. You can get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at once.

In compliance with AB367, which calls for menstrual equity for all, Schiel shared that free menstrual products are now available at all middle and high school bathrooms. However, Board President Vickie Fairchild pointed out that some people start menstruating in elementary school so they should consider expanding this program. Schiel responded that they are exploring implementing that.

Lastly, CDPH encourages participation in the International Walk to School Day on Oct. 4. Many elementary schools are holding Safe Routes to Schools events that day.



The 2022-2023 fiscal year ended in June and now it’s time for the Board to take a look at the 2022-2023 unaudited actuals. Schiel showed that the District had $382 million in revenues and of that, $28 million in one-time funds mostly attributed to COVID-19-related needs. Schiel also reported $371 million in expenses and of that, $24 million of that was primarily one-time COVID-19-related spending.

Property taxes got a nice bump this year with a net increase of $22 million. That’s an 8.4% increase from last year which is on the higher end of what they expected.

When it comes to the reserves, the District was still able to set aside their minimum 3%. Also, in the face of possible State funding reductions, they put away $2.2 million in a fund to cover those costs, just in case. Additionally, they have money set aside for future technology replacements and textbook adoptions.

Next, in December 2023, the rest of the 2023-2024 Budget will be updated with the 2023-2024 First Interim Report.


Other Business

Cabrillo Middle School finally has a new Vice Principal. The Board appointed Dr. Jasmina Topalovic to the position.

Thanks to the LGBTQQIA Committee, AR 5145.3 Nondiscrimination / Harassment, was brought to the Board. This Administrative Regulation seeks to “prevent unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, retaliation, and bullying, of students…”

Fairchild adjourned the meeting in memory of Barbara Semenoff who worked at Santa Clara Unified since 1965 as a school psychologist and later became the Special Ed Administrator.

The Santa Clara Unified Board meets next on Thursday, Sept. 28. Meetings are live-streamed on the District’s YouTube page and agendas are posted on their website.


1 Comment
  1. Jim 10 months ago

    In this day and age, try educating high school students to read (a book, preferably, or ten at a minimum), write (with a pencil to start with) and do math (adding and subtracting without a calculator) first. After they can do those simple functions, artistic creativity can be considered – after they can do those simple functions.

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