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School Boundary Debates Continue, District Looks into Centralizing Enrollment

School boundaries saw plenty of discussion at Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) School Board Meeting on April 25. No decisions were made, but upcoming meetings will see more presentations and discussions about the Don Callejon School and Agnews Campus boundaries.

 

Don Callejon School Boundaries

The School Board will have to make an important decision very soon — they will have to decide if Don Callejon will be a K-5 or a K-8 school as it is currently.

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Melissa Le, a kindergarten teacher, said that she feels that trust has been lost with the community because there was an understanding that the school would be a K-8, but recent communications made it seem that may not be true.

“When I saw the email that we’re not really sure if Don Callejon is going to be K-8 or K-5, I was shocked,” said Le. “A lot of teachers have anxiety again… Every day I talk to parents who lost a little trust because they thought it was going to be K-8.”

School Board President Michele Ryan acknowledged data showing that families want the school to be a K-8, but expressed concerns on how families will actually behave if the school is made a K-8 with smaller middle school offerings.

“When you have a smaller school, you have less opportunity to have those advanced classes,” said Ryan. “I’m wrestling with that. With what people actually do and what they say they might do and worrying about making decisions based on what they say they might do when we have some evidence about what they actually do.”

Board Member Vickie Fairchild said that the Board should have a discussion about what classes are going to be offered to keep students at Don Callejon through middle school.

The topic of the existing Don Callejon portables was revisited. A previous Board had voted to remove the portables at Don Callejon, but the current Board and members of the public showed interest in keeping the portables.

The Don Callejon Task Force has been preparing data and a recommendation that will be presented to the School Board. According to the presentation attached to the agenda, the Task Force will recommend that Don Callejon be configured as a “true” K-8 school — instead of K-5 and 6-8 programs — beginning with the 2020-21 school year. The topic will come back at their next meeting on May 9.

 

Agnews Campus Boundaries

The conversation quickly transitioned into Agnews Campus boundaries. As it seems, a huge part of the boundary decision is whether or not Don Callejon is a K-8. Because Agnews Campus will include elementary, middle, and high schools, the status of Don Callejon is pivotal.

Andrew Lucia, Assistant Superintendent of School Support and District Development, brought two specific scenarios to the School Board: one scenario with a K-5 Don Callejon and another scenario if it is a K-8.

Board Member Andrew Ratermann wanted staff to prepare a third option — a scenario where Don Callejon is a K-8 school but with slightly different boundaries so that there may be more buffer to accommodate future high demand for the new Agnews high school. Most Board Members disagreed.

“It’s time for us to decide,” said Board Member Jim Canova. “We need to have these two options brought back to us. We need to vote on May 9th and get this done.”

Ratermann’s motion for an additional scenario failed — only Board Member Albert Gonzalez voted with him.

 

Looking for Enrollment Solutions

A committee was tasked with looking into creating a District Centralized Enrollment Center. This would mean that the process of enrolling students with SCUSD could be completely streamlined.

With the current process, according to SCUSD secretaries on this committee, they are doing tremendous amounts of overtime so they can do enrollment processes, like reviewing proof of residency.

The committee gave a presentation to the School Board along with the recommendation to open a Centralized Enrollment Center in January 2020. The topic will come back for School Board action.

 

Phonics Curriculum Pilot Complete

The School Board heard a presentation about the findings of a recently completed phonics pilot program. The presenters recommended that the Board adopt the Units of Study in Phonics for Kindergarten and first grade students in SCUSD. This topic will return for action at the May 9 School Board Meeting.

 

Other Business

Kevin Keegan, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, came back to the School Board with a plan to implement an HR reorganization. However, the School Board suggested that the decision wait for new Superintendent. Ryan said she hopes that once the new Superintendent is hired, they can review the HR reorganization within the month. Keegan said the delay would be “uncomfortable,” but not “the end of the world.”

Also, the Board proclaimed May 6 as National Nurses’ Day, May 8 as the Day of the Teacher, and the week of May 19 – 25 as Classified School Employees Week. Additionally, they affirmed May as Mental Health Awareness Month, as well as National Foster Care Awareness Month.

Superintendent Stan Rose was not at the meeting. The School Board’s next meeting is Thursday, May 9.

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