SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for February 2009

More Listening…

Written by scusdobserver

February 28, 2009 at 4:12 am

Posted in Parent Survey

Listening first…

On today’s opinion page in the Sacramento Bee, Roy Grimes and Susan Miller write a piece: Sac City Unified is all ears about the future.

Excerpt:

Change has to occur to meet challenging times, but this difficult period can lead to cutting-edge opportunities, new partnerships, greater transparency, more successful and innovative educational programs and stronger bonds between schools and neighborhoods.

Written by scusdobserver

February 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Luther Burbank HS Community Meeting notes of 2/18/08

Translation provided in three different languages.

Thanks expressed to Board Members Diana Rodriquez and Gustavo Arroyo for attending.

Shared administration currently being considered for schools with close proximity.

SCUSD needs a plan to make the most use of its parents as partners with the district.

Community comments:

  • Many important programs for this community are in place but not listed in the matrix. Their ability to follow the students needs to be considered.
  • Small learning communities are important at every level.
  • Language support at school is very important for family involvement.
  • Cultural training for staff so that they are not seen as rude is a need.
  • The community and the district need to educate each other as equal partners.
  • There needs to be greater diversity at the Cabinet level.
  • More bilingual staff is needed.
  • Too many changes will bring confusion into the community.
  • Bottom up supports through community counselors and social workers are necessary foundations for the academic work of the school.
  • Too many of our students are basic or below and each site needs unique interventions.

Specific ideas:

  • If the administration needs support in creative thinking then ask the community agencies.
  • If administration needs help to ask the state for money, community members are ready to offer their assistance.
  • Many community agencies are a good fit for working out of a school.

Written by scusdobserver

February 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

No Tatoo Parlors

In today’s Sacramento Bee, Robert Faturechi writes about the district’s plan to lease office space at the Serna Center.

Also in today’s paper, an editorial espouses the view that teacher layoffs are not inevitable if the district and the union can agree on voluntary salary reductions. In the comment section a writer claiming to be a former SCUSD board member weighs in on the matter.

Written by scusdobserver

February 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Layoffs, Serna Center

Summary of Staff’s Presentation at the 2/12 Board Workshop

By Leo Bennett-Cauchon

SCUSD staff is developing an outline of preliminary facilities options in a 3 year plan format. The stated need is to provide quality educational programs with declining fiscal resources.

The stated priorities that guide the plan include equity, access and achievement for every student by name, a safe environment, family engagement and strong partnerships.

The themes from community engagement are: expand successful programs, consider all options prior to closing neighborhood schools, especially consider effects on poorer and historically under served/underachieving students, keep schools small, increase services to save schools and provide for a fair process.

Development of the facilities plan will use a systems-approach which is defined as using policy priorities and strategic plan as a frame, and a decision-impact analysis, including short and long term components.

SCUSD is right sized at the high school level with 5 schools if high school enrollment is adjusted by subtracting West Campus, Engineering and Science, Health Professions and “Dependent Charters”. Dividing this enrollment figure by a goal number of 1,800 results in an ideal of 5.

Middle School enrollment less Engineering and Science divided by a goal of 800 students indicates that SCUSD is one over at 9 sites. A goal of 900 would yield 2 over ideal.

K-8 enrollment divided by 500 students results in 4.5; by a 600 goal results in 5.5. Currently SCUSD has 5 such schools.

Elementary Schools minus dependent charters divided by 600 students results in 36 as an ideal, divided by 500 results in 43 and divided by 400 as a goal results in 54 (I added this last calculation for comparison). Currently 52 schools are in this configuration.

Specific preliminary recommendations were presented. In the first year the major impacts appear to be relocating the Marian Anderson programs, possibly co-locating the MET, expanding John Morse to Harkness and co-locating programs at Washington and Freeport.

Finally, a draft school closure criteria was shared. Eight criteria: enrollment, new home projects, reuse commitments, proximity to other schools, and % of capacity, resident attendance, busing, free/reduced lunches were given ranges and point values (1 to 3 for most criteria). It is assumed that the more points a school receives the higher its ranking will be on any closure/relocation consideration list.

An initial analysis would indicate that enrollment is the most important criteria since these points are multiplied by two for the final results. It also seems that the criteria need close inspection for a bias against established neighborhoods (no new housing projects burdens a school with 4 points); against elementary schools with many portables (age and relation to permanent buildings are not factored in), with high use of free/reduced lunch (about seven schools will receive 1 point for being below 50%, 17 schools do not get points adjusted for being at 90% or above – current highest criteria is 80%) and with historically under serviced (use of % attending).

Additional criteria that should be considered are the % of English Language Learners the number of bathrooms, and the diversity index of enrollment. Additional soft factor criteria need review.

Board Meeting Packet, Items and Presentations from the Special Board Workshop of February 12, 2009

Written by scusdobserver

February 14, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Highlights from the Special Board Workshop of 2/12

Thoughts from a reporter in the field….

It was great see the “new” board members in action — a group of intelligent people trying to solve problems. Gustavo Arroyo thanked the gallery for attending, and invited us to chime in. Donald Terry advocated effectively for his constituents in Rancho Cordova, showing a good understanding of the issues particular to that community. Diana Rodriguez made a smart suggestion about ways to quantify the lower income students by means other than subsidized lunches. Electing our board members by ward is a great step forward.

The cost-cutting focus seems aimed primarily at staffing and class-size reduction with some big, scary numbers involved. Under DRAFT Plan A, 119 teaching positions would be dropped in elementary, 24 in middle, and 38 in high school. DRAFT Plan B would more than double the elementary teachers dropped to 234!! March 5th was the date given for more “firmness” in the numbers, but they are ghastly. A whole bunch of pink slips could be just around the bend.

As for facilities use and/or co-location, the staff suggestions seemed remarkably tame. Staff distributed a spreadsheet which implied that they are operating the right number of high schools for a district this size. Ellyne Bell sought some clarity on that point, but didn’t get it. Most of the ideas on the facilities side involved tinkering with elementary schools, and leasing Marian Anderson and possibly adding some more students to Kit Carson. Absent was a discussion about moving St. Hope to West Campus, and bringing the small schools under one roof.

The district appears to be leaning towards layoffs as the primary solution to balancing their budget.

Report by James Broderick

Highlights from Leonardo Da Vinci Community Meeting of 2/11/09

Staff’s new comments

  • Night-time security officers pay for themselves by reduced vandalism.
  • The district will post its draft closure criteria soon.

Community comments
(So called soft factors currently not in the district’s decision criteria)

  • Parents expressed support for John Morse, Hollywood Park, LDV, Sutter and all our schools.
  • Schools have substantial volunteer investments over the years that need to be respected.
  • Our small neighborhood schools include deep roots like students returning to be teachers.
  • Parents have transferred into SCUSD due to its smaller sized neighborhood schools.
  • Teaching teams and their networks of support represent years of effort and training. This can be diluted by closure and consolidation.
  • Limited access to open enrollment based on transportation issues is an equity concern.
  • A perspective of people, place and program needs to be brought into these decisions.

Specific ideas

  • Community volunteers could watch schools to prevent vandalism.
  • SCUSD needs to invest in success and expand programs with waiting lists.
  • Small schools provide options to expensive special education services that the size of bigger schools preclude.
  • The study areas do not always make sense since some schools are closer to other study areas than to schools in their area.
  • Schools need equitable access to facilities such as gyms and stages.
  • Facility use permit prices are a potential source of more income.
  • The MET could be housed at CK McClatchy.
  • The MET needs to stay at its current location due to its unique needs.

Written by scusdobserver

February 11, 2009 at 11:10 pm