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Special Education Improvements on the Way

The Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) School Board Members gathered on Thursday, Feb. 13 to get some business done before holiday break.

 

Special Education

Director of Special Education Katharine Alaniz presented her department’s mid-year review.

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In Alaniz’s time at the District so far, she identified some areas for development including improving behavioral support District-wide. Alaniz also said she wants to increase PreK instructional time from 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours to match general ed.

“We want to make it equitable for our students and so we’re going to move towards 3.5 hours,” said Alaniz. “Our youngest is where we need to put the most bang for our buck, not that all our students aren’t important, but we need to get them while they’re younger.”

She also wants to look into co-teaching as well as building communication structures across sites, among other goals.

Community members and Board Members thanked Alaniz for her honest report and also asked staff to take some additional concerns into consideration, including looking into the IEP process.

 

Schools and Local Communities First Funding Act

The Board is considering a resolution to support the Schools and Local Communities First Funding Act (SCF), which would change the method and frequency of property tax assessment on commercial property in California. SCP is currently vying for placement on the November 2020 ballot.

At their last meeting, the Board heard a presentation from Santa Clara County Assessor Lawrence Stone about SCP. Stone didn’t have many favorable things to say, but at this meeting, it was the other side’s turn.

Jessica Vollmer with Working Partnerships USA said that SCF would reclaim $12 billion annually statewide in property taxes. She explained that 60 percent of the new property taxes would stay locally for services while 40 percent would be distributed to public education across the state.

According to Vollmer, the new property taxes would come from only 6 percent of California’s wealthiest businesses. The act is intended to close the loopholes in Prop 13 and help make big businesses “pay their fair share.” The current act doesn’t include small businesses (less than 50 employees) and residential properties.

However, Board Member Andy Ratermann pointed out that many businesses in the Bay Area lease their space from commercial landlords and Board Member Albert Gonzalez added that SCUSD relies heavily on commercial property tax. Vollmer said that there are protections built in for small businesses that lease commercial property.

Many speakers also supported the act and asked the Board to endorse it.

“It’s time to level that playing field and close that loophole,” said community member Karen Sauer.

The item will come back for action at the Board’s next meeting.

 

Difference Makers

The Board unveiled their new recognition program, Difference Makers. It recognizes those who support the District’s core values. Difference Makers will be nominated to a selection committee on a quarterly basis.

At this meeting, they recognized Teachers Supporting Teachers, the District’s maintenance team and Santa Clara Schools Foundation.

 

Other Business

Community members asked the Board to reconsider naming the new high school at the old Agnews site after Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They said they were surprised and disappointed that the Board named the high school after Kathleen MacDonald, instead of the Naming Committee’s recommendation of RBG. Board President Dr. Michele Ryan said she would talk with Superintendent Stella Kemp to see what they could do.

The Board passed two resolutions naming the month of February as Black History Month as well as American Heart Month.

The Board approved hiring Johanna Gonzalez as the new Enrollment Center Manager.

The SCUSD School Board meets next on March 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the District Office Board Room.

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