Actually there was a lot more than congratulating our Class of 2016 at last night’s meeting, but that was the high point. It was the last meeting for our two student delegates for 2015-16, Miguel Tantiado and Teresia Chen, and we’ll miss them.
I so appreciate serving with student delegates. Each year, one is elected at large by students at all the high schools, and the other is elected by the Student Advisory Council. In this way, we generally get representation from the big comprehensive high schools and also from smaller schools. It seems to work well. And every year, I am so appreciative of the thoughtfulness and commitment of the students, and how seriously they take their role of participating in our debates and casting advisory votes. They come to every meeting, they stay almost until the end (we generally excuse them at 10 pm but they can stay as long as they like), they ask questions and offer perspectives, and often author legislation (our rules specify that an elected Commissioner must sponsor legislation authored by students). They have brought us less restrictive bathroom policies, support programs for students whose parents are incarcerated, and advisory measures supporting the ability of 16-year olds to vote, among many others.
Local Control Accountability Plan
We heard from the Parent Advisory Council and also the District English Learner Advisory Council (DELAC) on our draft Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). For the most part, each parent advisory group indicated positive feelings about the LCAP and the process the district used to develop it, but had good feedback on how to make it better. Themes we heard:
- Schools need to be more inclusive and structured to welcome students and families.
- We need to get better at building relationships and communicating with families.
- The district should better support families and students during key transition points: transition to MS and HS, transitions for foster youth and also newcomer students.
- EL students need more support throughout the day — including better curriculum materials for ELD/ELA (the DELAC specifically praised the district’s teacher-developed math curriculum and recommended we develop an English Language Acquisition curriculum along the same lines). DELAC leaders said we need to do a much better job in providing support for families who speak a language other than English to understand how their students are doing and where they need to improve).
- Afterschool programming for ELs should link with what students are learning throughout the day so that students can experience a more enriched and fun environment.
Next steps for the LCAP: the Board will formally adopt it in June, after the above feedback has been incorporated.
We heard public comment from Jose Ortega parents who are concerned because a number of younger siblings of current students were not offered admission to the Mandarin Immersion program. They are asking for the district to add a Mandarin Immersion classroom to that program. I have asked for a response from staff on this issue.
We also heard public comment from members of our SEIU unit (we are currently negotiating their contract for the coming year). Because of a quirk in the City charter, employees represented by SEIU — like custodians, school secretaries and workers in business units like payroll and information technology — participate in the City’s Civil Service System and so their job descriptions fall under common job classifications with the City. However, city and school district units are funded through different sources and bargain separately, so there are pay differences between the City and the school district. School districts are (inadequately) funded by the state, so many job classifications at the district pay less than they do at the City (some jobs are year-round but others are school-year so it’s sometimes difficult to compare accurately).
The Board unanimously adopted the Good Food Purchasing Policy sponsored by Commissioners Fewer, Walton and Haney. This policy mandates that the school district work with our vendors to make sure that we are purchasing food that has been grown, farmed and processed in an ethical and responsible way.
We also unanimously approved a ban on district-sponsored travel to North Carolina, in response to that state’s passage of HB2, a law that curtails the rights (and dignity) of transgender people.
Legislation introduced for discussion and future vote
- Revisions to the district’s Physical Education policy (Superintendent-sponsored; referred to Curriculum committee);
- Revisions to the District’s Math Placement Policy (Superintendent-sponsored; referred to Curriculum committee);
- Revisions to the district’s policy on JROTC funding and independent-study credit (sponsored by Commissioners Wynns and Murase; referred to Budget and Curriculum committees);
- Revisions to district policies on gender inclusiveness (sponsored by President Haney; referred to Buildings & Grounds and Budget).
I am told, that after years of my wheedling, recordings of SFUSD committee meetings are now available online (I know people have been really chomping at the bit to spend additional hours listening to these recordings, previously available only on cassette tapes from the Board office :-). I have not yet attempted to download a recording, but they are said to be available from the following sources: