Dear MUSD Community,
For all the 49er Faithful, I am sorry your team didn’t win the big game. Even as a lifelong Raider fan myself, I would have preferred to see the 49ers win the Superbowl.
February is here and that means just four months left this school year! With our earlier August start, the last student day will be May 29th. There is so much good news to celebrate in this newsletter but we also have some very serious topics to review as well. The celebrations, which can be found in the bottom sections of this newsletter, include highlights ranging from awards for John Muir Elementary, AHS, design plans for a new Las Juntas Elementary School, and the Martinez Education Foundation annual grant awards. Please be sure to review those sections below.
Before we move to celebrations I want to share information with you on two important topics. First, as a parent of school-aged children and as Superintendent of MUSD, I am watching the developments of the coronavirus very closely. MUSD is working with Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) to reduce the risk of anyone getting sick from coronavirus in our community. Even though there are some cases in the Bay Area, the risk of becoming ill from the coronavirus in Contra Costa County remains very low. CCHS does not recommend the exclusion of healthy students, families, teachers, or school staff. The best ways to reduce the risk of getting or spreading any respiratory disease, including this virus, are:
- Stay home from school or work if you are sick.
- Frequently wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover with an elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth and limit close contact with people who are sick.
CCHS is not currently recommending the use of masks, so we are not providing or requiring them at school. At this time, there are no changes in our normal operations and/or schedules. Should there be any changes required/mandated I will be in communication with our community immediately. For your reference, I have included a letter from Chris Farnitano, MD, Health Officer, Contra Costa County, linked here: Letter - Coronavirus, in addition, if you are interested you can find more information from the County Health Services Department here: https://cchealth.org/coronavirus/
Important Information on MUSD Fiscal Forecast
The second important topic is related to our financial circumstances in MUSD. Many media outlets reported in January that the Governor’s proposed budget provides more money than ever for public education. Well, that may be true in a factual sense, but it certainly creates a false narrative around school funding. Here’s an example, if your monthly income increased by $200 per month, technically you would have an increase in revenue. However, if along with that $200 per month increase, your mortgage/rent increased by $500 dollars a month, you would, in fact, have $300 less in your monthly budget. That is the reality schools are facing across all of California. Any increases we are getting in funding is not enough to cover the base level increased costs, mandated costs, and inflation each year. School budgets can be very complex in terms of their legal requirements and mandated three-year projection cycles. Here is short summary of a very complex issue:
- Our community passed Measure R, a $120,000,000 general obligation bond for facilities. This allows MUSD to engage in projects like rebuilding and renovating our school facilities. MUSD is so thankful to the community for supporting Measure R. However, none of that $120,000,000 can be used for the normal operations of the district. Measure R funds can only be spent on facility improvements/upgrades.
- Our community also passed Measure Q which provides for parcel tax revenue of roughly $725,000 per year. This money is so helpful in supporting our music, arts, and library programs and counseling support can remain. Yet those funds, as promised to our voters, are restricted to those specific areas and cannot offset other aspects of our operational costs.
- MUSD has worked really hard through courageous leadership and difficult conversations to prioritize our current funding for student programs and services while also providing compensation increases for employees to the best of our ability given limited funding from the state.
- MUSD has also worked diligently in addressing structural deficits in our budgets by making significant reductions in expenditures, including reducing positions/programs over the last years. In the last three years, MUSD has made budget cuts estimated at two million dollars ($2,000,000).
- Despite those efforts, mandated expenditures from the state have increased significantly as have expenditures related to special education programs.
- In June, our Board of Education committed to reducing expenditures by $1.4 million for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. As MUSD worked toward planning for those difficult reductions, the state has provided a smaller increase (by providing a lower COLA for next year than projected) for next year than was previously projected. This means the required amount of budget reductions will need to increase beyond the earlier identified number in order to maintain fiscal solvency.
Over the next two months, we will engage in many discussions regarding budget development for 2020-2021 while working hard to create the most accurate projections based on all available information provided by the state and the federal government. We don’t have any “excess” expenditures that can simply be removed. Any reductions to our current operations across MUSD are fundamentally in conflict with providing the best teaching and learning environment possible.
It is for these reasons that you will see MUSD engage in messaging over the next week, in conjunction with other local districts in the Bay Area, to raise our collective voices around the need to Fund Education Now. Over this next week, MUSD will share information to help highlight the need for increased funding in education, especially in the Bay Area, with the intent of making our state-level elected leaders take notice of our student needs. Our MUSD students and employees deserve more than the state is currently allocating for schools and we want to make sure that the message is heard. Keep an eye out for our Facebook and Twitter feeds for more information on this important effort.
Don't forget to check all the awesome news and announcements below!
CJ Cammack, Superintendent
Martinez Unified School District
Exciting News in MUSD
The Martinez Education Foundation recently awarded over $180,000 in funds to the students and schools of MUSD! Their continued support of our schools has been such a blessing and their grant program allows classroom and school-wide programs to innovate new practices and engage students across our schools. We are so thankful for their continued support of our students and our schools.
Thanks to our community for supporting Measure R. I am pleased to announce that MUSD is entering into contracts for the complete reconstruction of Las Juntas Elementary School! This project will be moving forward as soon as approval is received from the state’s Department of School Architecture. Similar to the current John Muir Elementary project, the new Las Juntas School will be constructed directly adjacent to the current buildings of Las Juntas (on their current playground space). If you would like to see a current design of the new campus you can check it out on our incredible website for our facility improvements (Building a Better Tomorrow)
Congratulations to AHS for two major awards in the past week! Our Bulldogs earned the College Board's AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for attaining female student representation in both AP Computer Science A (CSA) and AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) for 2019. Out of 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 have earned the award. AHS is one of only 36 to be recognized for achieving this important result in both courses. Thanks to Andrea Salas and Chris McKibben for their leadership in this area. I know my 4th-grade daughter would love to try courses like this when she is in high school, maybe your daughter would be interested too!
Upcoming Events in MUSD
February 4th Las Juntas Kindergarten Registration Day
February 5th John Swett Kindergarten Registration Day
February 6th John Muir Kindergarten Registration Day
February 7th Morello Park Kindergarten Registration Day
February 14th Lincoln's Holiday
February 17th Presidents' Holiday
February 19th AHS Honor Roll Night
February 20th AHS Advisement Night 9th-11th grades
February 26th AHS Anti-Vaping Night 7pm
February 27th AHS 8th Grade Parent Night 6pm