Santa Clara Unified welcomed students back to school and on Thursday, Aug 11, they held their first Board of Trustees meeting with Interim Superintendent Dr. Gary Waddell.
2022-2023 State Budget
Though the State is increasing education funding, Santa Clara Unified as a Community Funded District, will probably not see any of it, said Chief Business Official Mark A. Schiel. Even for the State mandated TK program.
They are, however, receiving a couple of one-time grants. The Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant, which is for $14.1 million, and the Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Block Grant, which is for $8.7 million. Both of the grants have limited ways the District can spend them but Schiel and his team already have some ideas. Board will approve a plan for using the Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Block Grant at a future meeting.
For Special Education, the State approved an ongoing $500 million increase in funding – SCUSD is waiting for more information on how much it will receive to put towards their existing programs. There may be more funding on the way from the Federal level as well, according to Schiel.
There is now $4 billion in ongoing funding for before- and after-school programs. Schiel said they will develop a plan for these new programs and requirements. Board Clerk Bonnie Lieberman was hopeful about the new programs because many parents need help with childcare.
For the first time in decades, according to Scheil, the state increased transportation funding. They are waiting on more details and will bring back a plan annually for Board approval. The first plan should come to the Board in Spring 2023.
Jennifer Dericco, Director of Communications, detailed changes the District is implementing based on local health guidance. Recently there have been changes SCUSD needs to implement, for example, the decision tree has changed.
Now, unvaccinated staff and volunteers need to do weekly testing using an at-home antigen test. They will no longer be testing at the schools.
The definition of “close contact” has also changed. Now, The California Department of Public Health says a “close contact” is “someone who shared the same indoor airspace as a person who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours while the case was considered contagious.”
A parent called into the meeting to say the District’s health measures aren’t enough. She is worried for at-risk people and their families who aren’t being protected anymore.
PE Graduation Requirements
Santa Clara Unified is changing how high schoolers earn physical education/health units towards graduation. Currently, SCUSD high schoolers need 25 physical education credits. One-quarter of those units is a health class students take as an extra semester health/physical education course in the 11th grade.
Director of Secondary Education Matt Baldwin and staff are proposing to eliminate the extra semester health/physical education requirement in 11th grade. Instead, introducing a standalone full semester health class in the 9th grade which will include the new state mental health requirement.
Staff thinks students will generally benefit from this change because they will have more opportunities to take electives, AP classes, and CTE pathways in 11th grade. Board President Jodi Muirhead was excited about this and the ethnic studies class but is concerned that they are now squeezing a lot of classes into freshman year, especially when students want to take other electives.
“That 9th-grade year is a really tough one to fit everything in and now you’re throwing another class in there, especially for those kids who want to take a foreign language and art, they were already having problems and had to do a 7th period… now it seems like every almost student in 9th grade is gonna have to take a 7th period.”
Baldwin said they plan on watching how this new system unfolds and they will keep an eye on scheduling problems.
“It does just adjust it from a junior problem to an impacted 9th-grade problem,” said Baldwin. “So they might not be able to take an elective in 9th grade if it’s impacted in some way or if there’s a staffing capacity issue but they will have the opportunity to take it in their junior year now.” He says this can be seen as an opportunity in many ways.
They will transition to this model until 9th-grade health class is the norm for all. This will come back to the Board at a future meeting. This is expected to start in Fall 2023.
The Board appointed Dr. Nicole Tafoya as the new Vice-Principal at Cabrillo Middle School.
The next regular meeting is on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 6:30 p.m.