Board Brief: December 14, 2021 Board meeting

Board Brief
Posted on 12/17/2021
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BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the San Marcos Unified Governing Board Meeting

December 17, 2021

The commitment from our Board of Education is to provide our staff, families and community with clear, open and transparent communication. This Board Brief has been created to share key decisions and outcomes from the Board after each meeting. The Board Brief will be distributed by the end of the week after each Regular Meeting.


The following Board Brief highlights important items from the December 14, 2021 San Marcos Unified School District Governing Board meeting:

1. Election of Board Officers including President, Vice President and Clerk. Each year the Governing Board nominates and elects officers of the Board. The Governing Board unanimously elected Board Member, Stacy Carlson, to continue her role as Board President. The Board unanimously elected Board Member, Sydney Kerr, to continue her role as Board Vice President. The Board also unanimously elected Board Member, Jamie Chamberlin, to continue her role as Clerk of the Governing Board. The Board also unanimously selected Vice President Kerr to represent the Board on the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education (NCCSE) Trustee Review Committee.


2. Superintendent, Dr. Andy Johnsen, provided an update to the Board and community. Dr. Johnsen’s presentation opened with school highlights from the month, and expressed thanks to staff, families and community partners for helping keep our COVID-19 positive cases the lowest they’ve been in months, and below 1% throughout the school year. Dr. Johnsen also specifically acknowledged school administrators, teachers, and school office staff for their ongoing dedication through the substitute teacher shortage that SMUSD and many districts are facing. “I want to thank our teachers, administrators, and support staff for stepping up to ensure our students get a normal, in-person school experience this school year,” said Dr. Johnsen. 

Dr. Johnsen's presentation also shared some context for the coming Budget Update agenda item. Dr. Johnsen’s overview shared the difference and inequities in how school districts are funded. Dr. Johnsen also provided some insight on the budget’s multi-year projection, or MYP, which is required by law. An MYP is a mathematical calculation or decision-making tool, not a forecast, which answers what finances will look like in the coming years. Dr. Johnsen also highlighted a preview of important upcoming conversations including a decline in enrollment, an upcoming demographics study, advocacy efforts at the State level to change the way school districts are funded, as well as the coming Graduate Profile and Strategic Plan, which will help focus the district’s efforts in the years ahead. 


3. First Interim Budget Report and Board Resolution. Assistant Superintendent, Erin Garcia, presented the 2021-22 First Interim Budget Report. Garcia began by sharing the total General Fund revenues totaling $264 million, and expenditures totaling $268.4 million. Garcia also shared declining enrollment and attendance figures which will significantly impact the budget over the next several years. 

Garcia explained that SMUSD was one of the few school districts in San Diego county experiencing steady enrollment growth, until the 2019-20 school year when the first slight drop in enrollment occurred. During the 2020-21 pandemic school year the district saw a significant decline in enrollment. Garcia noted the district has lost 1,200 students over the last two years. Declining enrollment has become a statewide phenomenon, with public school enrollment down in every county in the state except for one, Trinity County, which has grown by less than 1%. Additionally, San Diego county is one of the top 10 declining enrollment counties in the state. 

For more information on declining enrollment and how it affects district budgets, click here

Garcia also pointed out that due to COVID and quarantine requirements the average daily attendance, or ADA, has also declined. Garcia reiterated what Dr. Johnsen mentioned regarding the multi-year projections, or MYP, serving as a calculation, which highlights the 2022-23 school year revenues will drop significantly as a result of the declining enrollment and loss of 1,200 students. To accommodate the loss of revenue or declining enrollment, a budget adjustment of $15.5 million is needed.

If a budget right-sizing does not occur, the SMUSD budget would drop below the 3% required minimum reserves, and the district would run out of funds by the 2023-24 school year. 

While budget adjustments are necessary, there is news from the Legislative Analysts’ Office, or LAO, which conducts a separate independent projection of the Governor’s coming January budget. This preview forecasts a positive outlook which may provide additional funding for schools. However, SMUSD cannot craft the district budget on the LAO preview as it is unofficial. Once we receive the Governor’s January budget, it will allow us to re-assess and make adjustments. However, should the Governor's January budget reveal more funding than anticipated, the district must still address the loss of 1,200 students and right-size our staffing and budget.

Next steps include monitoring the Governor’s January budget, developing a Graduate Profile, Strategic Plan and required Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, and developing a plan to reduce the 2022-23 expenditures by $15.5 million.  

As a result, the Board agreed on the next steps and approved a Resolution stating the Governing Board's commitment to make the necessary adjustments of $15.5 million by 2022-23, if required, in order to achieve the minimum 3% reserve requirement in the next two subsequent fiscal years (2022-23 and 2023-24) in accordance with the Education Code. Additionally, the Board also approved Guiding Principles for Budget Development which outlines the Board's values and guides district staff in the development of the district's budgets. 

An FAQ regarding why budget adjustments in SMUSD are necessary, can be found by clicking here. 



4. Enrollment Report. The Enrollment Report, shared by Assistant Superintendent Erin Garcia, is a regular report that will be brought to the board on a monthly basis as staff monitors the ongoing declining enrollment situation. The report highlighted that while SMUSD is seeing a consistent enrollment decline, in the last month, SMUSD increased slightly in enrollment numbers, but remained down from this time in the previous school year. 



5. Program Update: Adult Transition Program. Peggy Zapata, Program Specialist for the Adult Transition Program, or ATP, presented an overview of the program. The presentation began by sharing the ATP program has been designed for students without a high school diploma who also have special and exceptional needs. The program serves 67 students, up to age 22, in three locations with the purpose to increase the students' independence in key domains: functional academics, domestic domain, community domain, vocational domain, recreation and leisure.  The ATP Opportunity Store is a resale store run by students that teaches real-world job skills. Zapata also brought reusable bags made by the students as gifts to each of the Governing Board members. “I have to say that I’ve visited the ATP program several times and the staff is so amazing and wonderful at meeting the needs of students; it’s a fantastic program,” remarked Dr. Johnsen.


6. Student Board Representative Update. In an effort to encourage student participation and cultivate student leadership skills, the Board has three student representatives that participate in Regular Board Meetings throughout the year. The December 14th meeting featured student representatives, Addai Vazquez from Mission Hills High School and Chanel Davis from San Marcos High School.

Vazquez’s presentation shared an overview of the beginning of Finals Week, a recent Fall Festival event, Dance Team Fall Showcase, Senior SZN Spirit Week including writing a letter to their future selves, a fundraiser and more. Vasquez also highlighted an all-school Winter Holiday Lunch Event, Toy and Blanket Drive, holiday grams, and a Winter Sports Update including student-athlete college signings. 

Davis’s presentation included a Student Spotlight of senior Kellen Bynes recently named one of the “25 Most Remarkable Teens in San Diego”, as well as Davis recently speaking to other youth at a California School Boards Association Conference. Davis’s presentation also included a Winter Sports Update, Knight Regiment update that featured an undefeated season for the first time in San Marcos band history. The presentation also highlighted Fall Shows for dance, drama, and a talent show, the 2nd Annual Student Film Academy, a Giving Tree donation drive, and a ASB-sponsored lunch for staff to show their appreciation. 


7. Personnel Update. Personnel updates were also shared at the December 14th meeting, including the approval of Todd Marquet as the new Assistant Principal at Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary School. Marquet began his teaching career with SMUSD in 2002 and has held various roles in the district. Most recently he comes to Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary as an Assistant Principal from Mission Hills High School. 



8. Gifts to San Marcos Unified School District. The Board also approved multiple gifts donated to the district from generous parents, business and community partners. Gifts include donations from Lusardi Construction to support field trips, San Marcos Elementary PTO for new lunch tables, San Elijo Middle School PTO to purchase, clean, and replace security cameras, as well as a variety of instructional materials and supplies, music & biking programs, and more.  


For a complete and detailed overview of any of the items above, please see the full Board Meeting Agenda by clicking here.

For a link to the Board Brief on the SMUSD website, please click here.


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