Top things to know from the Nov. 9th Governing Board Meeting
1. Superintendent, Dr. Andy Johnsen shared a presentation to the Board and community.
During the January 11, 2024 meeting, Dr. Andy Johnsen shared an update regarding a recent Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, highlighting a recent visit to the Transportation Yard. “I want to thank our parent leaders, we can’t do our work without PTOs. They are very strong in SMUSD and doing a lot of good work,” said Dr. Johnsen.
Dr. Johnsen continued by sharing that January is National School Board Recognition Month, and shared the important duties of school board members. Dr. Johnsen also shared the official Proclamation recognizing the month of January 2024 as School Board Recognition Month in San Marcos Unified School District.
Dr. Johnsen also shared this month’s Superintendent Spotlight, featuring Lupe Escobedo at San Marcos Elementary School.
2. Updates from the Deputy Superintendent & Assistant Superintendents.
Educational Services Update. Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Campbell, shared an update on the Strategic Promise Goal #2, Future Ready Learning Environments. Dr. Campbell’s presentation on classroom practices to support connection & belonging for safe & inclusive schools, specifically focused on the work in the Special Education department.
Dr. Campbell shared that as a guiding principle of our Future Ready system, students with disabilities participate as much as possible in the General Education setting with their age-appropriate peers and as prescribed by their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Dr. Campbell concluded her presentation by sharing an update on Community Schools. Dr. Campbell shared the news announced earlier in the day that National University received a federal grant to implement full-service community school programs, which integrate extended academic, social, health, and workforce development services through the university, to three SMUSD schools: San Marcos Middle School, Woodland Park Middle School, and Mission Hills High School. National University and SMUSD were one of only three grants awarded in the state of California. “This is a huge deal, we are very excited and I look forward to bringing the Board more updates on this work in the future,” said Dr. Campbell.
Business Services Update. Business Services Update. Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Erin Garcia, provided an update on the expanded General Education bus service, now in operation at Discovery Elementary, Double Peak School, Knob Hill Elementary, and Richland Elementary.
Garcia also shared that this week the Governor released his State budget proposal for the 2024-25 budget year, which kicks off a 6-month process that will result in a final State budget in June. At this time, the State is projecting a $38 billion deficit and a lower than expected COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) of less than one percent. The Governor described this budget as a return to a normal cycle after a couple surplus years. Garcia will provide further analysis of the State budget and its impacts on the SMUSD budget at the March Board Meeting.
Human Resources Update. Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Dr. Joel Garcia, shared an update on the employee wellness program, announcing new, free classes in partnership with VEBA, that are available to all SMUSD employees regardless of benefits status. These classes include an upcoming healthy cooking class and work/life balance classes. “This is another way we are working to support all of our employees in their wellbeing,” said Dr. Garcia.
3. Student Board Representatives shared school updates.
During the January 11th meeting, Student Board Representatives, Jose Hernandez-Perez from Twin Oaks High School and Nikita Jadhav from Mission Hills High School, shared school updates.
Jose Hernandez-Perez shared his personal journey to Twin Oaks High School, and the challenges he faced on his path to academic success. Hernandez-Perez is on track to graduate this June, is now serving as a member of the Superintendent-Student Advisory Council, and largely credits his success to the dedicated staff at Twin Oaks.
Nikita Jadhav began her presentation by sharing an overview of how connection & belonging are being fostered at Mission Hills High School, including a recap of Homecoming Week and ASB Spirit activities. Jadhav also shared an update on the Portrait of a Graduate at Mission Hills High School and concluded her presentation with an Athletics Update.
4. Visual and Performing Arts Presentation.
Matt Armstrong, VAPA Coordinator, shared an update of the Visual & Performing Arts (VAPA) program at SMUSD, beginning with a brief history of the program, shared an update on Proposition 28, which are state funds designed to increase funding for the arts in California, and plans to expand the VAPA program with this dedicated state funding.
Armstrong explained that in November 2022, California voters approved Proposition 28 to provide dedicated funding for arts & music in schools that are over and above the funds schools receive to operate. Armstrong explained that he has a plan to allocate funds to each school site at SMUSD and to expand arts & music during the school day.
5. Principal Update: Twin Oaks High School, Foothills Independent Study and San Marcos Adult School.
Principal Garth Philips and Assistant Principal Claudia Hernandez provided an update on these alternative education programs at SMUSD.
Twin Oaks High School. An alternative high school that serves SMUSD students age 16 and older who are behind on credits and vulnerable to not graduating, or those who may need a change in environment to thrive. With a variety of after school activities and a supportive environment, Twin Oaks is proud to have a graduation rate of 93.9 percent.
Foothills Independent Study. A primary online school, 6th-12th grade, whose students work independently, with teachers meeting with students once a week and are available to support students throughout the day. Students served in this program are those who may need a change in environment or have a medical issue or surgery and would be best served in an online education model.
San Marcos Adult School. Designed for those 18 and up, for students looking to pursue completion of a high school diploma or beginning a new career path, San Marcos Adult School programs and courses provide students with the tools they need to succeed in the classroom, workplace and beyond. Proving it's never too late to learn, San Marcos Adult School had their oldest graduate at 78 years old.
6. Board approves plan for State Funded Arts, Music, Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant Plan.
The Arts, Music, Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant (AMIMBG) funds were approved by the Legislature as part of Assembly Bill (AB) 181 on June 30, 2022. As part of the 2023-24 State budget negotiations, these funds were targeted to be reduced by over 30 percent. As a precaution of a potential reduction, SMUSD has not spent any AMIMBG funds to date. These are one-time funds that must be spent by June 30, 2026 and SMUSD's allocation is approximately $11.6 million.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Erin Garcia, shared the SMUSD Plan to allocate these funds, given the very limited allowable uses of the funds. Due to the Proposition 28 arts & music funding, SMUSD will be using the AMIMBG funds to order new Chromebooks, instructional materials, professional development for new instructional materials, and making contributions to Other Post-Employment Benefits trust (CalPERS CERBT) to offset rising healthcare costs for retirees.
“Thankfully now that we have Prop 28, which is ongoing, dedicated funding for arts & music, we can allocate these one-time grant funds to some of the other needs we have in our district,” said Garcia.