Superintendent Update - October
October 7, 2020
Dear Loma Families,
In October 2019, our Board of Trustees approved a three-year Strategic Plan outlining our intended goals and actions within six key strategic focus areas: Student Achievement, Social-Emotional Learning, Financial Stability and Sustainability, Human Resources, Safe and Maintained Facilities, and Community Engagement. The plan elements were adopted following multiple input sessions with parents, staff, students, and other community stakeholders.
By February 2020, we were well on our way toward achieving many of the outcomes identified as priorities when, tragically, COVID-19 school closures significantly altered the trajectory of our concerted efforts. As a result, the game plan has changed, but not our expressed commitment to delivering the highest quality education for our students during these challenging times.
I have always been known as an educational leader who quietly goes about the business of doing good things for kids, is focused on getting barriers out of the way such that staff can do what they do best, enjoys leading and modeling the principles of high performing organizations, and humbly celebrates with others when reaching collective goals. There have been a number of inaccurate narratives that have been circulating on social media in our mountain community of late which has compelled me to want to share more candidly and/or publicly what I know to be true, thus the spirit of today’s message.
Here is what I know to be true….
Teaching and learning in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic is without a doubt a formidable task that will continue to require teamwork between home and school. To this end….
- I have convened a 48-member advisory task force of solution-oriented parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators committed to finding the best model(s) for a return to in-person learning when it is deemed safe to do so.
- The task force is keenly aware of the health and safety parameters and other constraints that we must work within when making recommendations for school reopening. As the facilitator of this task force, I have been extremely impressed with the dedication, passion and caliber of collaboration on display each time we meet. All recommendations from the task force are made by consensus decision.
- Recommendations from our October 1 meeting regarding C.T. English Middle School programming will be presented to the Board of Trustees on October 14. The task force recommended by consensus that we extend our Stage 1 - Full Distance Learning model at C.T English Middle School through January 2021, with the caveat that we also continue to monitor middle school programming and also look for ways to enhance opportunities for socialization, student wellness and/or in-person small student support groups. If approved by the Board, the task force will continue to work on instructional program enhancements, and I will update you accordingly.
- The task force is still evaluating school reopening recommendations for Loma Elementary School and will revisit this topic at the upcoming October 13 meeting.
Developing a long-range, sustainable master budget plan has been a primary focus of my time, attention and energy since arriving in the Loma Prieta Joint Union School District in 2018. Every action has been conducted with transparency and accountability at the forefront. Our fiscal success indicators have been consistent at every turn – maintain 12% reserves to ensure fiscal solvency and eliminate deficit spending in the unrestricted general fund by June 2022. To this end…
- We have consistently monitored multi-year projections with an eye on June 2022 and have taken focused actions, where appropriate.
- We conducted a rigorous self-study of special education costs in 2019 to assess current spending trends and to identify potential cost saving measures.
- I commissioned a 15-member Budget Advisory Committee in January 2019 to assist in finding new ways to generate revenue and/or to identify potential budget reductions.
- The Budget Advisory Committee has been reviewing potential budget reductions of $400K should Measure N fail and reductions of $100K which will be needed to eliminate the deficit and maintain a 12% reserve even if Measure N is successful.
- When I arrived in 2018, the concept of establishing a LPJUSD endowment had been incubating for years without ever coming to fruition. In December 2019, I researched the necessary steps to launch an endowment such that we would have access to a long-term, sustainable funding source in perpetuity. By June 2019, with the help of a team of dedicated community partners and a generous initial donor, we established the Loma Prieta Future Fund endowment which is currently accruing dividends.
- I commissioned a 16-member Measure R Bond Advisory Committee to prioritize our facilities projects with the input of numerous community stakeholders.
- The passage of Measure N is critical to meeting our fiscal goals while also preserving current programs and services.
In the face of monumental challenges, teams that succeed do so because they stick together, they stay the course, they believe that the goals they are pursuing are worthy, and they take the high road when met with adversity.
- Our Loma school community cannot afford to be side-tracked by intentionally divisive discourse. We must stay focused on our primary mission which is about serving our students and keeping our schools strong. Our kids are counting on us, and they are watching us. Adult modeling matters. Rest assured, transparency, accountability and integrity are core values that I hold very dear and routinely model. The challenges we face are surmountable if we demonstrate respect for others and strive to find common ground. I am fully committed to leading this charge. I invite you to join me. We have no time to waste.
In closing, I want to thank you for your support, teamwork, faith, loyalty, and willingness to trudge through these difficult times in partnership with us. We got this.