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School is in Session: Updates from the Santa Clara Unified Board of Trustees

While Santa Clara Unified is finding its rhythm this school year, the Board of Trustees met to hear updates on how everyone is settling in.


Local Health Updates

As of their meeting on Thursday, Aug. 25, the CDC has transitioned the community’s COVID-19 transmission level from high to medium, said Interim Superintendent Dr. Gary Waddell. The is still recommending indoor masking. The District is continuing to focus on at-home testing for COVID-19 and providing tests if needed.

Monkey Pox, now called MPX, is low risk in a school setting, said Dr. Waddell, and the County doesn’t think Districts need to change any school activities to mitigate MPX.



Water Conservation

Board Member Andy Ratermann requested updates on the District’s water conservation efforts. Last year, the Board passed a resolution to be more environmentally friendly and conserve water. The Board was impressed by Director Facility Development and Planning Michal Healy’s Thursday meeting report. Healy was quick to pass the praise to Facilities Grounds Manager Peter Auth.

Healy says they are seeing a reduction of 45% in water usage on average at school sites. About five schools could use some help to at least reach the County’s goal of a 15% reduction (reduction based on water usage in 2019-2020).

“I’m amazed; a 45% decrease district-wide,” exclaimed President Jodi Muirhead.

They have achieved water reduction goals by focusing on creating new environmentally conscious school sites and updating existing sites to be more environmentally friendly and water conscious.

Auth’s team has installed smart irrigation controllers at most school sites and updated lots of the landscaping to be more water conscious – for example, removing turf and installing drought-tolerant plants. They have also reduced the watering days and times.

Healy says they want to figure out how much water they’ve been saving and will update the SCUSD Water Conservation and Sustainability website with the data.

Upcoming projects include replacing old plumbing and getting new separated water meters.


Fiscal Reserve Policy

Earlier in the week, the Policy Committee met regarding the Board’s Fiscal Reserve Policy. After the meeting, Board Clerk Bonnie Lieberman said they recommend rescinding the approval of the policy and sending it back to the Policy Committee so they can have discussions with labor partners.

According to Dr. Waddell and Lieberman, the unions were not able to be involved in the process. The policy committee’s meetings weren’t agenized –– and didn’t have to be, according to District lawyers –– and didn’t have an opportunity for public comment.

This passed unanimously, after concerns from Board Member Dr. Michele Ryan were answered.


Other Business

In his report, Interim Superintendent Dr. Waddell thanked the Enrollment Center for keeping up with enrollment in these first few weeks of school. They have been working with families to collect the required documents and support them.

The Board approved designating September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The next regular Board of Trustees meeting is on Thursday, Sept. 8.


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