By unanimous approval, at the March 22 Board Meeting, the Santa Clara Unified School District Board agreed to submit a resolution to state and federal elected officials demanding they take immediate action to enact “meaningful gun control legislation to prevent even one more child from being hurt by gunfire.”
The Board demands that new legislation apply background checks not only for purchase of assault rifles or bump stocks, but to a comprehensive list of all firearms, including curios and relics, and to place a ban on semi-automatic firearms, high-capacity magazines, armor-piercing ammunition, bump stocks, and any other equipment, alteration or modification that would increase a firearm’s capacity for ammunition or rate of fire.
The Board also demands waiting periods and mandated safety training and asks lawmakers to consider raising the age a person can legally buy a gun.
During the Board’s previous meeting, on March 8, Superintendent Dr. Stanley Rose outlined some of the recent steps taken to address school safety. Letters were sent out to staff and the community outlining what the Board will do in the case of a shooting.
Board Members have spoken with Santa Clara Police and Fire Chiefs. The School Board met with a representative of Sandy Hook Promise and requested training in their methods from an employee who trains school administrators, at no charge to the school. In addition, Michael Healy, the district’s Director of Facility Development and Planning, has been tasked with examining perimeters of all district schools to see what, if anything, can be done to increase campus safety. This is projected to be completed in some time in April.
Board Moves Closer to Broadcasting Meetings
The Board also discussed options to broadcast their twice-monthly meetings to the public to meet accessibility requirements set by the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education.
In the past, the district website included audio files of the meetings. Those files no longer exist on the website, but they haven’t been taken down, the district’s Public Relations Officer Jennifer Dericco said. They have been moved to the new district website.
“Moving to a new website was part of our remediation plan and in moving, we also had to come up with an OCR-approved plan for new content,” Dericco said.
The question is, how to do it.
Video livestream could potentially elongate Board meetings. Board Member Jim Canova pointed out that he had noticed that in county board meetings, board members seemed to get very talkative when on camera. Board Member Dr. Michelle Ryan agreed.
“You run into all kinds of issues when you start to put more information because then you’re gonna have to debate whether you capture it accurately, did you get everyone’s point. I think that’s a minefield we don’t want to go into,” said Ryan.
Despite two Board Members requesting financial quotes for video and audio, there seemed to be a general consensus in favor of having transcriptions of audio recordings. Dericco will return to the Board with quotes on the financial costs of having transcriptions of audio recordings of meetings as well as whether there would also need to be multi-lingual versions of the transcriptions.
Expanding Computer Science Curriculum
This year, middle school students at Peterson and Don Callejon will get a chance to learn coding.
The program, called Adopt-an-Engineer, is a partnership between a teacher from Don Callejon, a teacher from Peterson and Cisco Systems engineers to design a unit for 7th grade science. An engineer will come into the classroom to teach part of the software design process. This program will be piloted this spring with the intention of eventually expanding to other schools.
There is also a plan to get more girls into the computer science classes at the middle school level by changing the name of the computer science curriculum to Computer Science Discoveries and Design. The word “design” is thought to encourage more females to enter the class.
At this time, computer science learning in the middle schools is inconsistent. Buchser middle school has a year-long graphic design and robotics course and a semester-long computer science and discovery course. Cabrillo Middle School has a similar program called computer science/robotics. Peterson Middle School has two levels of tech literacy courses. Don Callejon School is currently lacking computer science electives. The hope is to get a consistent curriculum under one title in all district middle schools.