#WeAreASJUSD December News

December 14 is the next Board Meeting:
This is the reorganization meeting at which our newest Board Member is officially seated and the president and clerk are chosen.  Kristen Schaefer, representing Trustee Area 3, was appointed by the Board on November 2, 2022. No one filed to run on the ballot in November for this trustee area which then required the Board to seek applicants to interview and appoint. We are so glad to welcome Kristen, one of our Aromas parents, to the Board!

Click here to see board agendas and minutes.

school board meeting

Verdict on San Juan Elementary:
We are still waiting on the decision from the State on whether we are modernizing SJ or replacing it. We recently heard the State is three weeks behind in their review of applications, so my original hope for news before Thanksgiving, now looks like it may be a verdict in late December or at the New Year. We are proceeding with plans and work while we wait on which of the two paths we are taking. If the State indicates replacement is the course we should take, they will fund around 45% of the cost of the replacement.  It is worth waiting to find out this news!

San Juan School

Measure O:
Measure O was passed in 2020 to provide 30.5 million dollars of funding to address the construction needs at San Juan Elementary. Recognizing that this project needs to start, we have successfully worked with our Bond Consultant and other agencies to successfully issue the first 5 million dollars from Measure O. The economic indicators were with us on the date of the sale and we got a very good rate, better than expected.  We also have secured an A+ rating, the same rating we have had in the past which placed us in a favorable light for those purchasing bonds. As of Dec 8, we will have the $5M in the bank to begin funding the plans for projects. Taxpayers need to be reminded that Measure O was structured as a tax extension, which means that they should not see much if any of a tax increase due to it.  It will become active and fill in behind other bond measures as earlier ones get paid off and disappear. 

Progress on HVAC:
My first week as your Interim Superintendent was during a heat spell we had in late August/early September.  It became clear to me that we needed to roll up our sleeves and see what we could do/should do to start addressing the HVAC issues on all campuses. So, as promised, we have been working hard to review projects that must be completed using Measure M dollars versus those that are optional in order to identify monies we can allocate toward HVAC needs at all sites. Here is an update for you on this project.

Work that has occurred to date:  
San Juan School:  

  • Gymnasium is Air conditioned

  • Windows on sun impacted classrooms are now tinted

Aromas School:

  • Windows on sun impacted classrooms are now tinted

  • Aromas gymnasium air conditioning project is planned to be completed by next fall, dependent on timely arrival of equipment. This is to replace the swamp cooling system and will give Aromas a large cooling area.

Our next Facilities meeting on Dec 7 at 4:30 pm (District Annex) is a time when we will look in more detail at other specific HVAC options, costs, and timelines related to all of our sites. This committee will make some recommendations that will be taken to the Board for consideration/action on Dec. 14. We are moving forward as fast as we can but this will be a process that depends on availability of equipment and approval processes we don’t have control over. So please bear with us!

Social Emotional Health and Wellbeing:
No one can deny that the pandemic has taken more than a physical toll on all of us. It is apparent to all educators that all of us have been impacted. Some of us have PTSD symptoms from two years of disruption. 

When I look at our students, we see many who are still anxious and find it difficult to form healthy relationships. We see an uptick in disruptive behaviors, too. While technology provided some sort of lifeline for schools to stay connected to students during lockdown, social media sometimes became the vehicle for bullying and unproductive activity. 

Our educational team is talking about our collective need to tap the brakes on our use of screen based applications in classrooms. Wearing my parent hat, I would ask you to think about partnering with us on helping limit your child’s use of their phone or laptop at home. Certainly there may be needs to complete schoolwork necessitating the use of technology, but beyond that we need to be encouraging our children to get outside in the fresh air and play, to meet face to face with friends and family, and to learn again how to navigate disagreements with friends face to face rather than through social media. This will not be easy work because phone addiction is rampant!

I would like to bring two things to your attention:

  1. Right after Thanksgiving all parents, employees, and students were asked to take the California Healthy Kids survey.  This is a requirement that was left unfilled last year so we are going to collect that data this year establishing a new baseline.  We will share back what we learn about the health of our students and use this data to review our support for them. I want to thank you in advance for taking this survey seriously and completing it in a timely fashion.

  2. We are going to plan a series of Parent Education events, starting with a focus on these concerns around technology.  SCREENAGERS is a terrific film that we are hoping to show, followed by a panel of experts who will discuss with us some strategies for how to help our children unplug. We will offer a light supper and childcare, so plan on joining with your fellow parents for an evening where we look for solutions as a community of concerned adults! We will hold this event in the library at Anzar High School.  I don’t yet have the date, but will let you know once we have it finalized.


Access to our Facilities:
We have completed a joint use agreement with the City of San Juan to enable residents to access our basketball courts and pickleball courts during non-school hours and holidays. On school days, our custodian will open the gate by the courts at 5pm and lock it at 7pm at the end of his shift, assuming darkness has not fallen. On non school days/holidays, the City will unlock the gate at 8am and lock up at 7 or 8pm depending on the season and available daylight.

We are also moving forward with Facilitron, an online scheduling reservation platform that anyone can use and access to make reservations for specific use of any of these areas or sports fields. Facilitron has a calendaring feature so you can see if they are available as well as what fee you will be charged. Fees establishment is based on many factors such as if you are a nonprofit organization or not. All reservations are of course dependent on availability as school events and needs will be prioritized. We realize we are a small community so where possible, we want to share our spaces while  prioritizing our students’ needs and safety.

Rebuilding is our theme:
Not only are we involved in all things construction as we deal with modernization and construction projects in our district, but we are rebuilding our personnel. As Interim Superintendent, it was important for me to find and hire the personnel needed to run the district, filling positions of individuals that had retired or resigned. To date, I have hired our wonderful new Chief Business Official Daniel Ornelas, himself a product of our district.  Assisting him is Cynthia Rodriquez, our new Business Support Person, who will work on payroll and accounts payable among other business tasks. Michelle Parra is our new Human Resources support position sorely needed to assist our HR director Anne Siri. Next will be hiring our new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, a crucial ingredient to assist us with ensuring the quality of our teaching and learning exists for all students. Soon we will be looking to add support in technology, special education, and data services.  These key hires–all part of a newly approved management structure–will help our leaders be able to lead. Currently, we have been buried by some of the paperwork and compliance documents that have derailed us from being the spotlight district that we aim to be. We are more than excited about this new team!


Superintendent Search

The most important hiring process for your next Superintendent has begun as the Board hired Leadership Associates, an executive search firm to oversee that process.  They will begin by gathering information from all of you about the characteristics important in the next Superintendent.  Expect invitations to meetings to discuss this and critical surveying to take place. All of this information will be used to compile a profile to use for recruitment when they will seek a slate of applicants for the Board to interview, likely in January. If all goes well, a new Superintendent will be issued a contract in March with a start date July 1, unless they are available sooner. I will do my best to ensure a smooth transition occurs.