BOARD BRIEF: May 3rd Meeting

BOARD BRIEF: May 3, 2022 Governing Board Meeting Recap
Posted on 05/06/2022

BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the San Marcos Unified Governing Board Meeting

May 6, 2022

The commitment from our Governing Board 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 May 3, 2022 San Marcos Unified School District Governing Board meeting:

1. Superintendent, Dr. Andy Johnsen, provided an update to the Board and community.

Dr. Johnsen began his presentation by sharing several student successes, then provided a COVID update, and a budget update.

COVID Update

Dr. Johnsen shared a few recent updates from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), including that all student & staff COVID quarantine options have expired. Dr. Johnsen shared the COVID Dashboard illustrating our case rates remain low, less than 1% throughout the district. Dr. Johnsen also noted that SMUSD is still conducting testing and vaccination events. 

Budget Update

Dr. Johnsen shared a brief update regarding California K-12 funding, highlighting the highly-unpredictable ‘feast or famine’ state budgeting cycle. Districts throughout the state are awaiting the state’s May Revise which will provide a more accurate picture of funding for schools, including if schools will receive more one-time money, an increase to the base funding, or other changes. In closing, Dr. Johnsen shared that with enrollment declines projected throughout the state, while districts may receive additional funding due to the large state surplus, SMUSD must be prepared to continue practicing fiscal discipline with regard to financial commitments, “Our goal is to achieve financial stability for our staff and our students,” remarked Dr. Johnsen. 

Dr. Johnsen completed his presentation by sharing that the district is planning to share the 2021-22 Annual Report at the Special Meeting to take place on May 24, 2022. 

2. Student Board Representative Updates. 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 May 3rd meeting featured student representatives Addai Vasquez from Mission Hills High School and Chanel Davis from San Marcos High School.

Vasquez’s presentation began by sharing a few student success stories including a Mission Hills High School alumnus, Chris Olave, drafted by the NFL for the New Orleans Saints. Vasquez also shared an Arts and Music update, a Spring Sports update, and shared the exciting day for the Grizzlies recently as the baseball team received an opportunity to play at Petco Park and student SeRi McMahon opened the game by playing the National Anthem with her violin. As this was Vasquez’s last meeting as a student Board Representative, he shared that he will be attending Cal State San Marcos in the fall, and also introduced the next Mission Hills High School Student Board Representative for next year, Emily Crysler. 

Davis’s presentation began by thanking the San Marcos High School staff and acknowledging Teacher Appreciation Week. Davis then shared a Spring Sports update, highlighting San Marcos High alumnus, Kyle Philips, was recently drafted into the NFL for the Tennessee Titans. Davis also shared a variety of School Spirit events, as well as Discover SM, an event to welcome 8th grade students who will be incoming freshmen. Davis also announced the opening of the first Future Center at SMUSD on the campus of San Marcos High School, which will serve as a one-stop hub for all things related to college, career, and future planning, and provided a preview of the remaining end of the year events. Davis also shared this is also her last meeting as a Student Board Representative, and she will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall.  

3. Principal Update: Double Peak School. The Board welcomed the addition of a regularly occurring presentation from school principals in the district as a monthly agenda item. At the May 3rd meeting, Principal of Double Peak School, Erica Obrist, along with Assistant Principals Kylie Lewis and Katie Buffum, provided updates to the Governing Board and community. 

The presentation for Double Peak School began with an update on an overview of the school including their unique TK-8th grade model, a music and innovation program, peer tutoring, and more. Obrist explained the school’s commitment to foster character, curriculum, and culture amongst students. An overview of music and the arts, as well as how the innovation classes, including coding and robotics, fits into the learning environment was also shared.  

4. Special Presentation: California Fiscal Outlook by guest speaker Kevin Gordon. Kevin Gordon, with Capitol Advisors Group, a team of experts in California politics, education policy and finance, provided insight on California state funding for schools.

Gordon began by sharing the confusion with the unprecedented funding from the state, and the perception that this should combat any financial issues schools have, “With unprecedented economic growth, school districts throughout the state need to cut their budgets, and people wonder ‘what’s going on?’”. Gordon explained that the majority of this unprecedented projected funding is in two forms, one-time money or restricted money, which districts should never spend for ongoing costs. 

Gordon also shared that Dr. Johnsen has been advocating to legislators to raise the base funding for school districts, not only one-time funding. Gordon explained the biggest funding help the state can provide is to raise the base, “The way the state funding formula is structured, it has disadvantaged this district. This is why you have to make budget choices other districts don't. How schools get the money, and how schools are able to use the money, makes all the difference,” said Gordon.

Gordon then explained the large COLA, or cost of living adjustment, from the state is only designed to keep pace with providing the same services from the year prior, “A COLA keeps you level to where you were the prior year, it doesn't give you a penny to make progress beyond where you were,” stated Gordon. With inflation at an all-time high, Gordon shared this COLA will not allow for increased programs or services. “We know this type of funding doesn't last forever and are anticipating a downtown in the next few years,” stated Gordon. 

Gordon pointed out another major budget strain is the retirement systems that are mandated for school districts to fund, but districts do not receive additional funding from the state to cover this rising cost. Gordon also shared that in addition to this fiscal strain, declining enrollment is a huge issue across the state for school districts and a factor for school budget issues. “When we go to Sacramento, we articulate two things, the state has to address retirement funding and declining enrollment for schools,” said Gordon.

Gordon also explained that school districts are in a difficult position to have to create a budget and notice any employee of potential layoffs by March 15th, but the state doesn’t provide the final budget to school districts until June. “We are advocating moving this layoff notice deadline until after the state budget is finalized, which means most layoffs would never have to be issued. Districts can't spend money they can't count on - hope is not a plan,” stated Gordon.

To watch the entire update from Kevin Gordon, please click here and go to 1:06 in the video.


5. Third Interim Budget Report. Assistant Superintendent, Erin Garcia, presented the 2021-22 Third Interim Budget Report. Garcia began by sharing updated figures from the Second Interim Budget presented in March 2022. General Fund revenues total $263.2 million, and expenditures currently total $266.9 million, bringing the district’s unrestricted budget just shy of being balanced. While the district will be filing a ‘Qualified’ budget certification, SMUSD is on track to file a ‘Positive’ budget certification by the end of the calendar year, which is the highest certification and signifies a district is in good financial standing.


Garcia explained that next steps include continuing to monitor the state budget and the Governor's May Revise, continue to work on our LCAP, Strategic Plan and Portrait of a Graduate, as well as continue to implement the reductions per the Board Resolution.  


6. Notices of final staffing reductions. Assistant Superintendent, Henry Voros, shared an update explaining the two resolutions relating to final staffing reductions. The resolutions outlined hearing details, bumping rights, along with settlement details. Assistant Superintendent Voros explained that per California Education Code, the district is required to send out preliminary notices of layoff on or before March 15, 2022, however a notice does not necessarily mean that a layoff will occur. While the final resolutions were approved for both certificated and classified staff, layoff notices are still able to be rescinded for numerous reasons, including improved budgetary projections from the state. 

7. Enrollment Report. The Enrollment Report, shared by Assistant Superintendent Erin Garcia, is brought to the Board on a monthly basis as staff monitors the ongoing declining enrollment situation. Garcia explained the latest report illustrates current enrollment at 19,620 students, a slight decrease from the previous month this school year.  

8. Gifts to San Marcos Unified School District. The Board also approved multiple gifts donated to the district from parents, business and community partners. Gifts include donations from our generous school PTO organizations for supplies, instructional materials, after school 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 Briefs on the SMUSD website, please click here.

To watch a video of the Board meeting, please click here.
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