The Cabrillo Middle School community has become a Board Meeting fixture as they advocate for equity for their school. At the Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 27, staff gave a presentation about possible options to give Cabrillo’s growing music program room to flourish.
There used to be a large music space at Cabrillo Middle School, according to Bond Projects Director Larry Adams, but when they modernized the campus, some of the space was reallocated. Now, the program is growing thanks to Music Director Kosuke Okamura and the space is not adequate.
Okamura wants to mentor his students and give back. “The best gift I could give my students is an optimal learning space to begin or continue their journey in band or orchestra,” he said. Their current portable is overcrowded, he continued, and stunts the music flow.
Michal Healy, Facility Development and Planning Director, said they have been trying to find solutions since Fall 2019, but COVID-19 put a hold on things. Now, after many meetings and outcry from the Cabrillo community, they are hoping to find some solutions, though they can’t find any easy ones.
In the short term, a committee could identify an existing space to repurpose for more music facilities — though the Cabrillo Principal is coming up with more short-term ideas which will be ready near the end of February.
For a middle-term solution, the District could purchase a large 2,400 sq ft portable. They haven’t identified funding for this, but it would be about $2 million and possibly be complete in Fall 2024.
In the long-term, Healy said they could finish the Cabrillo Master Plan and erect a new permanent building. They would need to also find funding for this $6 million project with a target completion date of Fall 2026. If the District wanted to replace more portables and make other improvements, it would be an additional cost.
Many Cabrillo community members spoke on the inequity at the school, saying they don’t feel like their students get as many resources as other schools, but they make do.
Board Vice President Vickie Fairchild made a motion to bring back a cost proposal for the facilities plan for Cabrillo, which passed.
Adams also explained that new fencing and gating plans were underway. New 6-foot fences would be placed to secure the campus, with fencing along Raggio Avenue. This would cost $1 million and could use Measure H-2014 bond money. The tentative completion date would be in July 2022.
Mark Schiel, Chief Business Official, went over the proposed Governor’s budget and the District’s budget but the discussion was dominated by the District’s declining enrollment.
There is a decline in student population and Schiel described a trend where students are not staying — they enter at kindergarten, but they leave before 6th grade. The Board had previously heard that they would possibly see declining enrollment and worried that the trend will become their reality.
At this Study Session, the Board described the priorities they wanted to focus on in the face of declining enrollment and budget concerns. Their priorities included smaller class sizes, equity, wellness and more.
Fairchild wanted to make her intentions clear when she said she wanted to make small class sizes. She made a motion to bring back an analysis of 20 to 21-student classes (on average per school) for TK through third grade, with the possibility of one combo class, as well as a facility analysis. The motion passed and this will come back to a meeting in February.
“Last Friday,” said Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp. “I sent a letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and County Administrator Dr. Jeff Smith advocating for a shift of public health protocols from school districts staff and resources to public health staff and resources by the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.” She went on to say this would include testing, contact tracing, etc. She explained that the school districts should be focusing their time and resources on education, not public health.
Last meeting, staff described difficulties with their COVID-19 testing partner, Grapefruit. At this meeting, Richard Pescatore, Medical Director at Grapefruit Health, said they switched labs after their last lab failed to test samples and deliver results. They are using a new lab and a delivery system that takes the samples at 7 p.m., which is why testing sites now close at 6:30 p.m.
Pescatore said they have a new email to help field questions and concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also looking at additional ways to better the process like more signage and enhanced communication.
Fairchild was concerned about Grapefruit as a company and how they don’t pay rent for facilities use. She inquired whether they would reverse charges to insurances companies since test results were not delivered. Pescatore said they would and community members can email them to make sure they’re included.
Staff talked about the new Santa Clara Together volunteer program. Dr. Jose Gonzalez also said they are interviewing for 12 new substitute teachers. He thanked TOSAs and anyone else who stepped up to fill in for teachers. He said they are averaging about 115 to 117 teacher absences a day.
Jennifer Dericco, Director of Communications, said in Santa Clara County you can make an appointment on the County’s website to pick up at-home COVID-19 tests while supplies last.
The “Agreement with HY Architects for a Districtwide Facility Conditions Assessment and Long-Range Master Plan” item was tabled to a future meeting.
Board Member Albert Gonzalez was absent.
Board President Jodi Muirhard adjourned the meeting in memory of beloved Santa Clara Unified volunteer, Tom Goodson. The Board will meet next on Thursday, Feb. 10, at 6:30 p.m.