High school graduations were awaiting excited Santa Clara Unified School District students and staff. To make sure everyone could enjoy the celebrations, the Board of Trustees tried to end their Thursday, May 26 meeting “early” — it ended just shy of midnight. They pushed some agenda items to future meetings so they could put aside business and celebrate graduation season.
Special Education Staffing Ratios
It’s been a constant theme at meetings that Special Education teachers speak out about large class sizes, behavior problems and injuries. The Board and Special Education Director Kathy Alaniz have been going back and forth to figure out staffing ratios to help. The Board made it clear that they want to aim below the contracted class sizes.
At this recent meeting, Alaniz provided a report with staffing options and costs. She shared her preferences: 8 for preschool, 10 for elementary mild/moderate and 10 for secondary mild/moderate.
The Board agreed with Alaniz’s direction and gave her and staff their blessing. Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp said they will go with the direction and are working to fill positions and recruit. However, they are trying to fill over 60 positions.
“We may not get there in the Fall, but we will work to get there,” said Dr. Kemp.
Business Official Mark Schiel said the plan will be added to the final budget for the Board’s approval.
During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board and community asked Dr. Kemp to slow down the external communication about the Strategic Plan as the district dealt with more pressing problems. And while they were more discrete about it, Dr. Kemp said they have still been working on implementing the 2021- 2026 Strategic Plan.
Put into motion two years ago and approved by the Board last year, the staff shared their accomplishments in the eight priorities from the past school year and what they hope to accomplish in the future.
Some highlights include more constant and transparent communication, efforts towards diverse staffing, working on establishing a hiring pipeline with partners, English Language Learners program improvements and more. The plan showed themes of using data to track their progress, collecting feedback from stakeholders, and focusing on equity.
The Board thanked staff for the presentation and said they would like to hear more frequent updates.
Claudia Corpus was appointed as the new Principal at Scott Lane Elementary School and Anthony Alberts was appointed as the new Principal at Don Callejon K-8 School.
They also approved the request to fill the Professional Learning Specialist position. The appointment of the Director of Data, Assessment & Accountability was pulled from the agenda.
It was also the last meeting for the Student Board Representatives. Crystal Escalera from New Valley High School, Palak Parikh from Wilcox High School, Faith Manansala from Santa Clara High School, and Marcus Anchondo from Mission Early College High School gave their final reports.
There will be a Board of Trustees election in November. The Board approved holding the first election with their new Trustee Areas.
With many community groups feeling the burden of fees that now come with using facilities from Santa Clara Unified, the Board passed a request to waive the facility use fees for the 2022 Santa Clara Parade of Champions. Board Member Andy Ratermann and President Jodi Muirhead couldn’t vote since they are on the parade’s board and Board Member Dr. Michele Ryan abstained leaving the vote to pass with four yeses. Schiel said they will be talking more about the facility fee schedule in June.
The Board approved the Joint Powers Authority Agreement; essentially joining and creating Government Financial Services Joint Powers Authority as a founding member.
There was a special meeting on Tuesday, May 22 which was primarily closed session items. The public called in to speak in favor and against Dr. Kemp’s performance, which the Board has been reviewing in closed sessions. This theme continued in this recent meeting as they continued to discuss the matter in closed session.
They closed the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Earlier in the meeting, an emotional Dr. Kemp said, “we need to protect our students from gun violence.” The community asked for more protection for schools and to train staff as well as run drills, which they said have not been happening.
The last two regular Santa Clara Unified Board meetings for the 2021-2022 school year are on Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m.