BOARD BRIEF: August 11, 2022

BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the August 11, 2022 meeting
Posted on 08/15/2022

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

August 15, 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 following Board Brief highlights important items from the August 11, 2022 San Marcos Unified School District Governing Board Meeting:

1. Superintendent, Dr. Andy Johnsen shared a presentation to the Board and community.  Dr. Johnsen began his presentation by welcoming staff and students back to the new 2022-23 school year starting next week, August 16, 2022. Dr. Johnsen also shared that throughout the summer many staff have been in professional development conferences and retreats to plan and prepare for the new year, as well as students working hard to lead registration and welcome back events on their campuses. 


Dr. Johnsen provided a brief update on COVID-19, sharing that per our SMUSD Endemic Plan, over the summer staff has worked to optimize indoor air quality, clean and sanitize facilities, hosted vaccination events, as well as free COVID testing for all of our staff, students and their families. Dr. Johnsen also reiterated that as we have done throughout the pandemic, we are following guidance from public health officials, and that masks remain strongly recommended, not required, at SMUSD campuses as we open the 2022-23 school year.  

Safety Update

Dr. Johnsen was proud to share that our SMUSD staff safety team, as well as our law enforcement partners, have been hard at work ensuring our campuses are as safe as possible, including San Marcos Sheriff’s Office conducting two active shooter drills on our Mission Hills High School campus this summer while student and staff were off campus. 

Portrait of a Graduate

Finally, Dr. Johnsen shared an update on San Marcos Unified’s vision for the future, also known as our Portrait of a Graduate. With the final Portrait of a Graduate vision in place, outlining how our students will become Future Ready, SMUSD is now shifting gears to implement this vision throughout our school by engaging in a Strategic Planning process. This process will help ensure SMUSD becomes a Future Ready System, that supports the growth and development of Future Ready educators, who create Future Ready learning environments that produce Future Ready students. 

2. The 45-Day Budget Update presented to the Board. Assistant Superintendent, Erin Garcia, provided a 45-day Budget Update to the Board, which is the first opportunity to revise the SMUSD’s revenues and expenditures based on the enacted State Budget.

Garcia began the presentation by outlining what has changed in the SMUSD Budget since the State Budget has been finalized, as per Education Code the District must submit a final budget before the State Budget passes. Garcia shared that SMUSD has updated its Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) base grant funding to the full 6.28% that was approved in the final State Budget, as the District only budgeted 2.5% in its Adopted Budget.  She confirmed that the State budget did include COVID attendance rate relief funding which is reflected in the current SMUSD Budget. However, the state has made additional one-time funding available to school districts, which are currently not yet reflected in the SMUSD Budget.

Garcia further explained details regarding two one-time grants from the State, a Learning Recovery Grant and an Arts, Music and Instructional Materials grant. Garcia shared that while both grants will bring welcomed revenue, they have specific time limitations to use them by and restrictions on the funding. “The District will need time to plan for the best ways to utilize these funds, while not incurring additional ongoing expenses,” said Garcia. 

Garcia also shared that the State provided additional ongoing funding to support student transportation within the District. Requirements of the funding include providing low-income, homeless, and students with disabilities in grades TK-6th grade with transportation service. While there is no mandate to provide this service, SMUSD will be working to create and submit a plan to the Governing Board no later than April 1, 2023 which will further outline how this funding will be utilized.

Garcia also shared that during her next Budget Update to the Governing Board and community, she will present the Unaudited Actuals from the 2021-22 school year, which will take place during the September Board meeting, followed by the 2022-23 First Interim Budget Update presentation in December. 


3. Board heard an update on the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program. Director of Special Projects, Spencer Wavra, provided a presentation and update to the Board on the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program, or ELOP

All school districts in the state are required to develop an expanded before and after school program that is offered to unduplicated students in TK-6th grade. Unduplicated students include English learners, foster youth, or students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. The focus of the program is to help develop the academic, social, emotions and physical needs of these students through a hands-on, engaging learning experience. 

Wavra explained that the ELOP plan will roll out in a phased model, by first expanding the current programs already in place at school sites, these include Joli Ann Elementary, San Marcos Elementary, La Mirada Academy, San Marcos Middle School and Woodland Park Middle School. The next phase would then expand the program on school sites that do not have any before or after school opportunities in place, and the final phase would expand the program into Transitional Kindergarten. 

While this program is not mandated to be put in place until the 2023-24 school year, Wavra outlined in his presentation that SMUSD already has this program in place and shared the next steps of the plan which includes notifying parents and guardians that their student qualifies for the program, solidifying memorandums of understanding with key partners, and continuing to fine tune the schedule for this year. 


4. Board receives staff recommendations for updates to the Student Dress Code Policy. The Governing Board regularly reviews existing policies to ensure they continue meeting the needs of the District. Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Campbell shared a presentation regarding the Student Dress and Grooming policy, along with the Director of Student Services, Christine Frias, and Mission Hills High School student Sierra Stanley, who shared student feedback regarding recommended dress and grooming policy changes. 

After reviewing the data, and conducting staff and student focus groups, key takeaways included an agreement that there are some attire that is not appropriate for the school setting, and that little change was actually needed to the policy, with the focus shifting to create consistent enforcement of the policy. As a result, staff will be trained on equity with regard to the enforcement of the dress code and communicating with mutually respectful exchanges.  The recommended changes to the policy will come before the Governing Board for approval at their September meeting.


5. Personnel Update. Several personnel updates were also shared during the meeting, including a new Assistant Principal for Knob Hill Elementary School, Stephanie Higginbotham, was approved by the Board. 


6. Increase of Daily Pay Rate for Substitute Teachers. San Marcos Unified is always seeking to attract and retain the most qualified professionals. As a result, the Board approved an increase in the substitute teacher pay to $185 per day, and $200 per day for long-term assignments. 

7. Gifts to San Marcos Unified School District. The Board also approved multiple gifts donated to the District from generous business partners, including Mission Federal Credit Union and Cooperative Strategies, to support several professional development events.   

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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