SLV School District Perspectives
School Board Meeting Synopsis
March 2 , 2004
Link To SLVUSD Web site Agendas and Minutes Page (Note: These are PDF files - read this if you have trouble opening them). Minutes are posted after they are approved, usually at the next regular meeting.
Note from Laura About These Synopses (Basically, I report on what I think will be most interesting to community residents. Consult the minutes for a more complete listing of what happened in the meeting.)
Confidential Personnel Issues (which may include leaves, medical issues, disciplines, separation, etc.) (Government Code 54957)
Labor Negotiations Compensation for Represented and Unrepresented Employees (Government Code 54957.6)
Superintendent Performance Evaluation (Government Code 54957)
Conference with Legal
Counsel - Pending Litigation
Conference with Legal
Counsel - Pending Litigation
Report out of Closed Session: 14 employees (I think this is teachers) will be released (I think this meant from union contract), including one temporary, plus 3 administrative employees.
Board Workshop - Values Statement
The Board worked on their "values statement" as part of the strategic plan.
There was no general community input at this meeting. All community input at this meeting was at the public hearing regarding Redwood Academy Charter School.
Special Education Action Plan - part 3
Statewide, 10% of students qualify for special education services, whereas in our district, 13% of children do. The financial implications of this were discussed. It was emphasized that people need to understand the qualifications for special ed services, clear goals need to be set for each child, and aides and other services should not be renewed automatically. Other cost-saving measures, such as not using expensive subs for speech and OT , were presented. Since due process proceedings incur expensive legal fees, steps should be taken to avoid them. It's all quite a complex balancing act of trying to provide needed services without overspending more than necessary.
Transportation Budget Proposals
Proposal to increase bus fees from $180/yr. to $200/yr., or for those paying by the trip, from 65 cents to 75 cents. $10,000 would be added to the annual budget this way. (At this point, fees pay about 19% of the cost of transporting students in the District.)
One bus driver is resigning - proposal is not to fill the vacancy. This would save $40,000. The transportation dept. would have to do some juggling, but it could probably be done, especially as we have a lower special ed transportation load than last year.
The group of parents who have been working on the Redwood Academy charter gave a presentation. Most of the information in their presentation can be found at their Web site at www.redwoodacademy.com. I also have some information and opinions in an article on the subject.
Public Hearing - Redwood Academy Charter Petition
A public hearing on the issue of the charter petition took place. Board President Susan Weber read the portion of the Education Code governing such hearings - "at which time the governing board of the school district shall consider the level of support for the petition by teachers employed by the district, other employees of the district, and parents." The following input was offered from teachers, parents, and possibly other community members.
In Favor of the Charter
- Most of the parents who spoke want a small 5-day/week school, with smaller class sizes and fewer children on the playground.
- A few cited what they feel to be inadequate facilities at BCE.
- A few said that their children were either currently being educated outside the District, or would be next year, but would enroll their children in Redwood Academy if it opened.
Criticisms of the Charter
- One of the most frequent complaints was that the educational plan put forth is not descriptive enough to get a clear understanding of what would take place on a day-to-day basis at the school. People wanted a more complete description of the curriculum. The proponents responded that the charter is a contract and they wanted to stay flexible and not be bound by guidelines that are too strict.
- Many were concerned that the new school would hurt the rest of the students by removing resources from the "regular" schools. Several of these people urged the petitioners to consider becoming part of the District as a dependent charter school.
- There is some dispute as to the plans for teacher salaries and contracts in the proposed charter. The petitioners state that they are willing to work with the teacher's union, however, their budget is based on paying non-union wages. For their part, a representative of the SLVTA stated that an agreement could only be reached if the new school would offer the same salary and benefit package as the District and if they also worked with their "sister group", SEIU, the union for non-certificated staff. There is also reluctance to agree to a contract with a school that is causing hardship for the members who are laid off due to the new school opening.
- Lack of differentiation in the plan from traditional schools. This was especially expressed by some of the teachers currently working in the District, but some parents mentioned it as well.
- Lack of clear governance structure - some people pointed out gaps in the Redwood Academy policy on this.
- Lack of teacher involvement in the planning process of the school, and no opportunity to find out more about the teachers. Also, lack of other experts and administrators who would be responsible for running the school.
- A letter signed by 20 parents was presented to the Board. In addition to some of the above concerns (lack of clear plan, lack of teacher and other expert involvement), they cited Education Code which state that charter schools should provide "expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving". They are concerned about the lack of a plan for low-achieving students and other students with special needs.
- A few people were concerned that the petitioners are the same people who tried to recall most of the Board last year, and who are supporting the current lawsuit against the district, which is attempting to reverse the school closures.
At this point, there are 20.9 certificated full time employees on the list to be laid off. It is hoped that this may be reduced by as much as half by the time it is known how many are leaving voluntarily, although it may mean some teachers will need to change assignments to stay on.
Jeff Calden, head of the SLV teacher's union, commended the District for including them at each step in the process, and all were agreed the procedure was necessary and fair, except in one case. Mr. Calden stated that reducing the Adaptive PE instructor to 60% was not going to be enough time to do the job, and suggested a compromise of 80%.
At BCE borings are being done for the soils report. The plan is for rooms 6, 7, and 8 (currently in portables to be moved during construction) to be replaced by a two-story structure housing six classrooms. After the construction is completed, rooms 15-17 and the library will be removed, and the library relocated to the main building, turning that space plus the computer lab into a multimedia center.
There will be an extra School Board Meeting on Wednesday, March 31. The only item on the agenda will be the second reading of the Redwood Academy charter petition.
Meeting was adjourned at around 10 PM.