Board Brief

BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the May 11, 2023 Board Meeting
Posted on 05/12/2023

BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the May 11th San Marcos Unified Governing Board Meeting

May 12, 2023

1. Superintendent, Dr. Andy Johnsen shared a presentation to the Board and community. Dr. Johnsen shared a brief presentation beginning with an overview of the recent Advocacy trips. Dr. Johnsen shared he was recently at the State Capital to meet with legislators and their staff advocating for the District’s top priorities, including stabilizing LCFF funds, mental health supports, and streamlined accountability. Additionally, the Superintendent and Board met with federal legislators in Washington, D.C. to advocate for District interests including special education funding, extended mental health funding when current federal funds expire, as well as cybersecurity. Dr. Johnsen then shared a preview of other presentations on the meeting agenda. 

2. Updates from the Deputy Superintendent & Assistant Superintendents. 

Business Services Update. Erin Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, provided a brief update regarding an upcoming State press conference to release the Governor’s May Revision of the budget, which is the most recent proposal for the 2023-24 year. Because State revenues have continued to come in lower than projected, coupled with an extended tax filing date of October 15th which will delay an accurate count of State revenues, this will create greater budget uncertainty. However, the SMUSD budget team is currently developing the 2023-24 Budget that will be presented to the Board on June 15th, and will primarily utilize the assumptions in the May Revision. 

Human Resources Update. Dr. Joel Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, provided an overview of the updated hiring process for principals, including adding additional assessments to the selection process, which received a lot of positive feedback. “As a result, we have a really strong group of highly-qualified principals joining our team, or current staff promoting into principal positions,” remarked Dr. Garcia. 

Dr. Garcia also shared in celebration of Classified School Employee Week, CSEA and District Administrators including the Superintendent’s Cabinet Team, will be participating in ACE, Appreciating Classified Employees, where Administrators job shadow a classified school employee to receive a day-in-the-life experience of a classified staff member. 

3. Student Board Representatives shared school updates. During the May 11th meeting, Student Board Representative, Emily Crysler, Mission Hills High School, shared an update.

Emily Crysler, Mission Hills High School, provided a review of the 2022-23 school year including Athletics highlights, ASB events including pep rallies, spirit week, dances, a staff karaoke event, Discovery Bowl Week, and more. Crysler then shared highlights from extracurricular activities including the Mock Trial program club, the Iron Kodiaks Robotics Club, as well as the Varsity Dance Team. Crysler also introduced the new Student Board Rep for next school year, Nikita Jadhav. To conclude, Crysler shared that she has been accepted and is committed to attend Penn State University in the fall.

4. Principal Update: La Mirada Academy. Principal Dana Spencer, along with Assistant Principal, Kelly Ezzard, provided an update on K-8 school, La Mirada Academy. Principal Spencer began by sharing an update on the school’s future plans. After analyzing school data, and reviewing feedback, it was clear the International Baccalaureate (IB) model is not providing students with the type of course content that will help them succeed in high school, and does not offer the variety of options that students are communicating that they would like in their school day. As a result, in the next school year La Mirada will begin to transition away from this model and will have a new framework for the school community. 

The new framework will offer a number of Pathways for students including an Music & Arts Pathway, a Language Pathway, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Pathway, three levels of band, choir, as well Avid and Avid Excel, which are college preparatory courses that help students succeed in high school and increase organizational skills. La Mirada will also offer ASB (Associated Student Body, also known as student leadership) and Yearbook courses, which are also offered in high school to prepare students to stay engaged at the next level.

“We are very excited about our Pathways forward and foresee some incredible engagement for our students,” said Principal Spencer. 

5. SMUSD Boundary Study Update. Assistant Superintendent, Erin Garcia, shared that after a recent demographics study presentation at a previous Board meeting, it was clear some schools are reaching capacity and it is time for SMUSD to adjust school boundaries. Garcia provided an update on the tentative action steps and a timeline for a boundary study by explaining the steps and phases of the plan. 

Phase 1 would be developing new boundary recommendations, which would include SMUSD entering into a contract with Davis Demographics in May 2023, followed by assembling a Technical Boundary Study Committee comprised of five to six District Office staff which will analyze the criteria of the boundary change based on Board Policy, meeting in May-July 2023. An Extended Boundary Study Committee will then be created, comprised of 10-12 District Office staff & principals of impacted schools in August-September 2023. Then in October-November of 2023, Community Input will be sought to gain input and feedback on 3-4 map options. Community Input will be obtained through in person meetings and online opportunities for feedback. 

Phase 2 would be the approval and implementation and consist of an Information Item to the Board with the final recommended map in December 2023. In January 2024, the final map changes will come before the Governing Board for possible approval. Should the final map be approved, in Spring 2024 students would be registering for the new school of residence with the updated map in place. 

“We’ve had members of our community speaking on this issue for some time, and I’ve been taking notes, and this process provides an opportunity to address those feeder pattern issues our community has been sharing with us,” said Garcia. 

6. SMUSD Strategic Promise Data Update & Needs Assessment. Dr. Tiffany Campbell, Deputy Superintendent, provided a data update directly related to the Strategic Promise, on Future Ready goals, specifically with the Deeper Learning milestones. 

Deeper Learning Milestone: Elementary Foundational Literacy. Dr. Campbell shared midyear iReady reading data and Report Card data, which indicate an increase of students now reading above grade level as compared to the fall. Dr. Campbell also shared the work completed this school year to reach this goal, including: all K-2 teachers have been trained in the Orton Gillingham approach, K-5 timelines updated, phonics/sight word progression for K-2 now aligned district wide, the creation of an articulation of SMUSD’s approach to literacy, determined proficiency levels for current assessments, and the Curriculum Council identified essential ELA standards at all grade levels.   

“We have to build the supports for staff, to help students to reach these goals,” said Dr. Campbell. 

Deeper Learning Milestone: Middle School Redesign. Goals for middle school include Future Ready Students who are engaged in rigorous academic content and relevant experiences, and Future Ready Learning Environments that are welcoming places that promote academic, social-emotional, and physical wellbeing. Dr. Campbell shared some middle school reading and math data, which is fairly stagnant. “Not only in our school district, but we see in these transition years, that academic data doesn't look great. Students are moving from an elementary setting of one teacher, to multiple teachers and a huge campus; it's all of it that’s tough for them. Seeing the data stagnation is concerning, and that is why we are working to redesign the middle school experience,” said Dr. Campbell. “We will see a transformation in the data, when we transform the middle school experience for our students.”

Dr. Campbell also shared the work completed this school year to reach this goal, including: Professional development in math instruction, vertical alignment between middle school and high school ELA teachers, new curriculum in science with OpenSciEd, identified and purchased college & career platform called Xello, and Systems Design Benchmarking work. 

Priority Area: Campus Climate & Student Belonging. Director of Student Services, Christi Frias, shared recent Hanover Survey and Panorama Survey results and discipline data, which gauges student engagement, perception of belonging, and desire to be at school, as part of the Future Ready Learning Environments goal. 

While there are several concerning data points regarding belonging at the secondary level, overall students feel they have supportive relationships on school campuses. “Our goal is to take strides toward increasing these scores. Based on work being done this year, we have new survey data coming out again, where we hope to see increased numbers” remarked Frias. 

Work this year to support safe and welcoming school sites for all students included Inclusive & Safe Schools training at all sites, Trauma Informed Care training for all administrators, school social workers, school counselors, and psychologists; Diamond Safety training for teams from all school sites, and training in Restorative Practices across campuses.

7. Presentation from The San Marcos Promise. The San Marcos Promise Executive Director, Lisa Stout, shared a presentation about their services. As a non-profit organization, The San Marcos Promise provides services to help students plan and prepare for life after high school. These programs and services help students learn about themselves and their options to help them make informed choices about their future. Stout shared that establishing three Future Centers in the District, which provide college and career planning and support, has been one of their proudest accomplishments. Stout also provided an overview of other programs including Promise 360, which helps students looking to head straight into the workforce after high school, and Connect2Careers, which provides students with opportunities to hear from and network with professionals in the community. 

The presentation concluded with a request for financial support from the District. After discussion, the Board directed staff to begin working on an updated MOU for the 2023-24 school year with TSMP that is compliant with fiscal requirements for the expenditure of public funds and labor relations law, and that clarifies the nature of the partnership moving forward.

8. Personnel Update. The Governing Board approved personnel updates, including: 

  • Lisann Selph, promoted to Principal of La Costa Meadows Elementary School, was approved by the Board.
  • Angelica Barragan-Su, Principal Twin Oaks Elementary School, was approved by the Board.
  • Katie Buffum, promoted to Principal of Woodland Park Middle School, was approved by the Board.
  • Jesse Schuveiller, Principal of San Marcos High School, was approved by the Board.

9. Gifts to San Marcos Unified School District. The Board also approved multiple gifts donated to the District from generous PTO organizations, community members, and businesses.   

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.

For a video of the Board Meeting, please click here.