By Penny Weaver, Superintendent
Schools are open and staff started the year with a district-wide Welcome Back breakfast event. Board Members, City Council Members, Mayor, Police Chief, new School Resource Office, City Manager, County Superintendent, County Supervisor, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and Members, SVEF President, Rotary Club (our breakfast sponsors) and more got up early to serve breakfast and personally welcome each staff member back to work. Rotary Club President Tony Gianotti presented each Principal with a $500 check in support of our schools. We appreciate the great support from all of Scotts Valley for our students and staff!
As the District has worked collaboratively with our staff, parents and stake-holder groups, we have placed the priorities squarely on students with improvements and enhancements to the educational program, including:
- Lowering class sizes for grades K-3, PE at SVHS and maintaining the staffing added to grades 6th-12th to address some of our largest class sizes;
- Improving school allocations that will ensure all schools are fully staffed;
- Closing the achievement gap with English learners, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and foster youth;
- Investing in essential programs like International Baccalaureate (IB), Academies, specialty arts and music programs, early literacy and math intervention, and Transitional Kindergarten;
- Budgeting for the replacement of aging computers, servers and other instructional equipment;
- Budgeting for the continued acquisition of computing devices toward achieving the District goal of 1:1, one device per student.
Our balanced budget proposal for 2015-16 puts students first with smaller class sizes, improving technology access with both mobile devices and better infrastructure for connectivity, and supporting visual and performing arts, and program designs such as the academies at SVMS and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at SVHS that are proven to improve student achievement while providing opportunities for enrichment. Student achievement continues to increase as a result of the hard work of our students, our staff members, our parents and community members.
While budget challenges remain, the fiscal outlook is changing. We will work to implement the new budget model, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) with the priorities identified throughout our collaboration. Stakeholders will have more opportunity to give input at school level meetings and District forums along with online surveys.
Locally, the District is adjusting budgets to account for less funding as the temporary parcel tax measure, Measure K, has expired. Three years of about $280,000 in funding from the $48 per parcel tax measure provided the support needed to keep the District off the fiscal cliff. We are very grateful for the community’s support with the passage of Measure K. Our revenue has increased and the District is now able to budget for the teaching positions that were funded by Measure K.
Rebuilding Scotts Valley Middle School continues to be the District’s major project. Board Members approved the site plan, programming and plan for phasing at a recent Board of Trustees meeting. Three permanent classroom wings and the conglomerate of three buildings including multi-purpose room, administration offices, and office/classroom spaces will be rebuilt. The rebuilt buildings will become a multi-purpose room twice the current size, a music room with individual practice rooms, stage, and spaces for specialized programs. Plans for new construction will include a library, classrooms and science rooms, an administration building and a gym with storage rooms, locker rooms, and food services spaces.
Next steps include studying structural methodologies including custom built on-site and pre- fabricated buildings. Proposals from different vendors will be solicited and compared. Once the Board Members make the final decision, the architects will be able to begin drawing plans and the total cost of the project will be calculated. The District is working to garner state funds from the seismic mitigation program and from new construction and modernization eligibility. The professional team estimates the District’s eligibility between seven and ten million dollars to add to the project pending the passage of a statewide facility bond.
The exterior and interior finishes will need to be determined as well. Principal Lonhart is convening committees of SVMS staff members to study furnishings and equipment during this school year and the logistics of phasing students and staff into and out of temporary housing during the construction phases which are planned to begin in the summer of 2016.
Together with our experienced Board of Trustees, all of us at SVUSD remain passionate about preparing our students for a bright future — college — and career ready and are keeping learning as our highest priority. We believe that good things will continue to happen and we remain “Together for Excellence.”