Monthly Archives: May 2010

Scotts Valley District Office Staff Offers Two Furlough Days for 2010-2011

Over the past several months I’ve read plenty of criticism in print and online of the Scotts Valley District and School Board and I rarely see mention of the many things they do to help in these challenging times.

I nearly missed the following line item from minutes of the May 11th Scotts Valley school board meeting (emphasis is mine):

1.  Accept a Proposal From the Scotts Valley Unified School District Administrative Team to Reduce the Length of Their 2010-11 Work Year by 2 Days  
MSP     Gumz/Roth     4-0     Student Advisory Vote: Aye

As the representative of the district’s Leadership Team, Director of Technology Shannon Calden presented to the Board a proposal of a two-day reduction to each administrative work calendar for 2010-11 as they have also done in 2009-10. She explained that the Leadership Team consists of 11.5 administrators which constitutes less than 5% of the district’s workforce. The Leadership Team is also proposing for the 2010-11 school year that when a Leadership Team member must be present at a site or district event on a weekend or holiday, the administrator may count that as a work day, up to five days per school year. Ms. Calden also mentioned that the Leadership Team would be willing to consider a larger reduction to the work calendar if any other bargaining units also agreed to a reduction in their work calendars. Board Members expressed their appreciation and gratitude to all the members of the Leadership Team for their willingness to step forward and help during the district’s fiscal crisis. Board President Michael Shulman said that it is difficult to ask parents and the community to help financially during this crisis if the district has not done everything it can to reduce expenditures.

Ann Codd, SVEA President addressed the Board to applaud the Leadership Team for their contribution, but requested acknowledgement and consideration from the Board for what teachers have taken on with increased class sizes. SVEA members will not be offering furlough days.

I believe the above is a clear demonstration of the District’s leadership in these difficult times and deserves to be recognized. In previous posts, looking at Cupertino’s fundraising efforts it’s clear a large component came from their district’s four unions electing to take five furlough days saving $2.5 million dollars.

Based on data from the most recent SARC reports teacher salaries (for 2008-2009) constitute roughly 39.3% of the SVUSD budget. From that same report we learn salaries in SVUSD are consistently below the state average for districts in our same category though the percentage of SVUSD’s budget spent on salaries was greater than the state-wide average (39.2% vs 38.2%).

Update May 20, 2010 Added other local district furlough information.

Santa Cruz 5 days 2010-2011
Pajaro Valley 10 days 2010-2011
Cupertino 5 days 2010-2011
San Jose 5 days 2010-2011

Community Fundraising Meeting June 1, 2010

Charlotte Multer SVEF President has organized a meeting for a fall Community Day fundraising event and all community members are invited to attend.

What: Meeting to discuss a Fall Community Day
When: June 1, 2010 7pm
Where: Community Center Main Room located behind the Chamber of Commerce office

The meeting will include information from several community members who attended the recent TFIN informational meeting.

Cupertino’s Their Future Is Now – how they did it

Click for TFIN Presentation
  (Click for presentation)

Cupertino’s Their Future is Now parent organization held a meeting on May 23, 2010 to brainstorm ideas for next year as well as share what they did to raise $2.2 million in seven weeks. Here are some stats regarding the effort:

Number of schools: 25
Amount raised: $2.2 million
Time frame: Eight weeks
Number of donor families: 5,365
Number of families in district: About 10,000
Number of business donors: More than 100
Source: Flush with $2.2 million success, Cupertino parents share secrets

The San Jose Mercury published an article on the meeting: Flush with $2.2 million success, Cupertino parents share secrets. Fortunately, for Scotts Valley several parents attended on very short notice and based on emails I’ve received have returned with some great ideas for our community. I’ll use this post to provide additional details from their findings.

One of the Scotts Valley attendees provided the following bullet points summarizing what was presented as reasons for TFIN’s success:

  1. Perseverance and Organization
    The district also told them "No, we can’t use fundraised dollars for teachers"  However the parents didn’t accept that as an answer.  They organized quickly and put forth a plan.  As one of the organizers told me, "at the end of the day, it’s our school.  The administration works for us."  The parents understood this is only for 2010/2011.  They also face additional cuts however they will cross that bridge next year.
  2. Marketing, marketing, marketing
    They were VERY organized and detailed in their approach.  They put together a marketing plan as if they were launching a new product.  They had Leads for Corporate Sponsorship, Local Business, Lead for the individual Schools and even a lead for each grade within the school.  The campaign was VERY clear on exactly what was going to be cut.  To get the message to the middle and high school parents, they explained that if class sizes went up in K-3, that teachers with seniority who no longer have a class to teach would be "shuffled" around, so you could potentially have a 2nd grade teacher with an 8th grade class.  It took a lot of people and a lot of hard work
  3. They operated in conjunction with their Ed Fund, taking advantage of their non-profit status.

OFSVS Update #2 May 2010

Steve Trefethen just sent supporters the following message:

Hi Everyone,

Cupertino’s Their Future Is Now Meeting

I know this item is very last minute but I’m sending it out as I just received it myself and I’m unable to attend the meeting. Cupertino’s Their Future Is Now parent group is holding a meeting this Sunday May 23rd from 2:00pm-5:00pm in Saratoga. You may view an eVite for this event with additional details including the agenda. I’ve learned that there are two members of our school community, Lori Gentile and Gina Johnson, who will be attending the event to research what the organization did to successfully raise $2 million in a relatively short period of time by working with their district and community.

I had a great conversation this evening with Lori about the recent SVEF meeting among many of the other challenges we face and will follow-up with her to post more information about their findings.

Other News

Vine Hill PTA Approves Budget

Recently, the Vine Hill PTA approved it’s proposed budget for next year. I’m currently looking at ways to publish a financial statement because I think it’s really important to communicate where this money is going. For example, this past year the PTA funded Classroom Aides at $45,000, a line item that didn’t even exist the prior year.

SVUSD New Hires

  • Valerie Bariteau will be the new principal of the High School
  • Phillip Menchaca will be the new principal of Brook Knoll School
  • Gerri Fippin will be the new Director of Student Services

Recent Blog Posts

What we can learn from Cupertino’s Their Future is Now
Vine Hill Community Service Day
Citizen’s Tax Exploration Committee Meeting

OFSVS Members

There are now 20 people throughout Scotts Valley on this mailing list which is 7 more than were on the last email! I’ve haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like on growing this list but will continue to recruit as time allows. If you can please continue to spread the information about this group and help engage more people throughout our community.

Please let me know if you would like to see specific information posted to the site or if you’re interested in posting items of interest I’d be happy to work with you.

Join Now!
On Twitter

Update May 23, 2010 After sending the above email I realized I missed a few items I intended to mention related to the SVEF including:

  • Mt. Charlie Challenge raised $27,000 (net)
  • SVEF is recruiting for new board members
  • New Dollar A Day Campaign has been kicked off donate now!

What we can learn from Cupertino’s Their Future is Now

Recently, I’ve seen some comments regarding Cupertino’s Their Future Is Now project, a parent lead effort to raise money for the school district, wondering why our district and school board seems to be standing in the way of Scotts Valley doing something similar. While I don’t subscribe to that sentiment I did some research I feel is worth sharing, so let’s look at some numbers.

According to Cupertino’s population is 53K and growing (+6.1%, since 2000). That’s 4.8 times Scotts Valley’s shrinking 11K (-2.3%, since 2000) and it’s import to note that Cupertino is K-8 with 20 elementary schools whereas SV is K-12 with two elementary schools.

Assuming Scotts Valley could organize to fund raise as effectively that would equate to $416K ($2M / 4.8). Vine Hill and Brook Knoll elementary school PTA’s raised nearly $200K with the two auctions alone (I don’t have the official numbers as neither PTA budget is published online as far as I know) although it’s worth noting those are not district dollars and will be spent at each school respectively.

According to this article it was Cupertino’s teachers/unions electing to take five, yes five, furlough days putting their fund raising efforts "over the top".

"The collaboration of all the unions and the district was monumental, as is this budget crisis. It shows what can be accomplished when we work together," said Dave Villafana, CEA president. "The teachers have overwhelmingly decided to save jobs as five furlough days will cost each teacher 2.67 percent of their salary. Even with increases in employee health coverage costs this school year and next, teachers are willing to make these sacrifices to ensure that their colleagues are employed."

Last year, SVEA voted not to take furlough days though I discovered at this year’s Strategic Planning meeting the Scotts Valley district office took two days saving the district $11K. It will be interesting to see what happens with relation to furloughs this coming school year although with the district having enough reserves to withstand one more year before facing consecutive $950K shortfalls we’re not in the same position Cupertino found itself with a $7.3M deficit for this year 2010-2011. In other words, they’re one year ahead of us in terms of running out of money and that’s even with their $125 parcel tax passed May 5, 2009.

In fact, in Cupertino it’s not just the teacher’s union but several other unions contributing as well, again according to the above article.

All four of the district’s union groups have agreed to take a five-day work furlough during the 2010-2011 school year, saving the district $2.5 million.

I’ve asked on several occasions what the savings would be for one SVEA furlough day and it’s my understanding it would amount to approximately $50K per day. Multiplied by five and combined with district office furloughs and PTA auction revenue Scotts Valley it seems would easily outperform Cupertino’s fund raising efforts with those three line items. Of course, that’s far easier said than done as furloughs are not exactly an attractive option especially when there are reserves available.

In essence, the data has me concluding it’s very difficult to make an even comparison between the two school districts or communities however, it does illustrate what can happen when everyone works together to with a shared sense of responsibility.

So, what can we learn?

The take-away is through organizing as a community we can tackle big problems like the one we’re facing. Make no mistake it will require shared sacrifice, cooperation between schools and organizations and lots of hard work to prevent continued increase in class sizes and a drastic decline our children’s education. The time to get engaged is right now. Unless we can find a way to duplicate Cupertino’s success a year from now we may all be forced to make drastic decisions to salvage our children’s education. We’re now less than a year away from a parcel tax vote and as a member of the group working on the Parcel Tax I’m greatly concerned we can’t seem to gather more than a tiny handful of people to help in what’s likely to be our district’s only lifeline. Please get involved, join your school’s PTA, attend a school board meeting(s), talk to your neighbors and get involved.

Hope is certainly not lost and I’m personally doing everything I can to create and foster neighborhood organizations to educate and recruit as many people as possible so we can have our own success story as opposed to reading about one.

Vine Hill PTA
Brook Knoll PTA
Scotts Valley Middle School PTA
Scotts Valley High School

Vine Hill Community Service Day

What: Vine Hill Community Service Day
When: May 15th 8am-4pm
Where: Vine Hill Elementary School (map)
Who: Everyone! Kids are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult (no drop offs)
Organizer: Lesal Quitzau    Email: lesal-q at esccc dot com

The work will be focused on painting the black top again, replacing the wood on the picnic tables mulching and general clean up. Tools that are helpful are gloves, shovels, rack clippers and if anyone has a weedwacker gas and string will be provided.

Citizen’s Tax Exploration Committee Meeting

[Updated: May 5, 2010] Added minutes from the meeting indicated with the vertical blue line at the left margin.

When: May 5th 2010 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Scotts Valley Middle School Library
Who: Open to anyone interested

On Wednesday May 5th, 2010 there will be a meeting for those interested in discussing and exploring the available options concerning a parcel tax. As with any tax measure there are many details to consider and a wide array of option regarding how to structure such a tax. Researching and formulating such a ballot measure is a task for citizens of the community and therefore it’s up to all of us as to what we would want to appear on a ballot.

Meeting Agenda

  • Introductions
    • Michael Shulman
    • Steve Trefethen
    • Derek Timm
    • Inger Arum
    • Brian Harrison
    • Jondi Gumz
    • Carlos Arcangeli
    • Katie Bagley
  • Action item update from last meeting
    • Michael put together a survey which was reviewed during the meeting for content/length/focus
    • Michael and Brian did great work putting together a parcel spreadsheet in order to review different tax scenarios
  • News Updates
    • Scotts Valley Education Association (SVEA) position, results from survey
      • Survey has been completed and results should be forthcoming
    • Assessor’s office statement on the question of tax exempt property
    • Email / phone contact with consulting firm
      • Michael was contacted by WiSE Campaigns, a parcel tax consulting company, regarding our efforts. Not sure where that will lead at this point.
    • Los Gatos HS parcel tax survey article (now linked)
    • Senior exemption public notice in Sentinel (SC City)
      • Seniors may file a one time exemption from a Parcel Tax as opposed to re-filing yearly
    • Dollar-a-Day (DaD) letter
    • OSVS
      • Discussion of using this website as a basis for communication and fostering neighborhood organizations.
    • Others (round the table)
  • Google docs status
    • Agreement that Google Docs is a good place for content/sharing
    • Parcel spreadsheet data imported into Google Docs
    • Draft survey available to the group via Google Docs
  • Tax Structure
    • Amount: $1.0M (what we need) v $X
    • Distributions:
      • $150 flat
      • $fixed + $/acre (and variations)
      • Res v non-res
    • Distribution constraints:
      • Min / Max range
      • Avoid steep transitions
      • Simplicity
    • Duration: 5 yrs v ?
    • Purpose: People and programs
      • Discussion focused on raising enough to cover what’s needed which is $1M
      • Issue raised of estimating the amount of Senior exceptions
      • Examination of a per acre rate with a cap
      • Leveraging the previously discussed $98 amount
  • Survey Questions
    • Awareness of fiscal situation
    • $150/parcel support level
    • Support for other distributions (2? 3? 4?)
    • Importance / non-importance of distribution parameters
    • Duration – is it even worth asking about?
    • Purpose – a statement rather than a question
    • Bond – is this the time to gather this info?
      • Desire to keep the survey very short and concise
      • Michael will be reworking the survey based on the progress made on a proposed structure for the parcel tax
  • Communications & Networking
    • Organizing for Scotts Valley Schools (OSVS)
      • Decision to move forward with supporting/utilizing this effort Desire to keep the survey very short and concise
      • Desire to maintain progress while moving into Summer break

At this point, there has been only one other related meeting held on April 14 at the Scotts Valley Middle School Library.

In order to properly structure any tax measure it’s really important to get as much feedback and input as possible, hope to see you there.

[Updated: May 5, 2010] Updated agenda and reworked the wording for type type of meeting to indicate this is open to anyone in the community interested in helping explore Parcel Tax options.