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August 11, 2022

More Than Half of SLVUSD Students Have Fallen Behind in Some Subjects

As the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District community looks ahead to exciting infrastructure upgrades, it is simultaneously battling severe Covid-19 learning loss.

Trustees got both positive and negative news during the regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday.

Superintendent Chris Schiermeyer said the district’s “final expenditures” for 2019-20 include $95,000 for a bus lane, $111,800 on the band room, $40,571 on heating and cooling systems, $868,473 on pool renovations and $27,822 on wastewater upgrades.

This was part of the first group of projects getting a facelift, made possible by a $75 million bond measure.

“The idea would be that we would take $25 million in three series, and the reason is you can’t take the full amount of money out unless you’re going to spend it in three to five years,” Schiermeyer said.

In the facilities update, Schiermeyer said the projects are in no particular order, and final costs may vary.

The district hopes to spend $1.4 million on bleachers and a concession area at some point between 2021 and 2023, while finishing up the work on the pool for $30,515 and doing $100,000 of dry rot repairs.

Starting in spring 2023, it wants to do $2.6 million in solar and heating/cooling system renovations, $4 million in electrical meter upgrades and a $2 million high school administration building remodel.

Officials say they might even get $6-9 million from Sacramento toward these, and other, projects.

As the district works to improve its physical structures, it’s also facing a steep drop in student academic achievement.

Officials said 2020-21 standardized testing, which was conducted remotely, showed worrying signs.

The poor results had to do, in part, with teachers narrowing their focus and not being able to get around to teaching some of the material students were tested on.

Staff said many students didn’t even finish their tests.

In language arts, for example, of 477 elementary students tested, 65.9% did not “meet” or “exceed” educational standards.

In math, of 483 elementary students tested, 72.1% of students weren’t able to reach that bar.

Of 368 middle school students, 75.5% didn’t meet or exceed language arts standards.

The results were even worse when it came to 392 middle school math tests that were reviewed.

The 114 juniors who were tested did a little better, with just one-third not meeting or exceeding language arts standards, although a majority of juniors still didn’t measure up in math results.

Mark Becker, the SLVUSD Board Clerk, noted these results are just a single data point.

But Schiermeyer wasn’t interested in mincing words.

“I don’t want to sugarcoat it either,” he said, adding the task ahead is to “close the gap,” something all of California is working on.

The district is establishing an educational “baseline,” and will conduct student assessment meetings.

Administrators are realigning math programs, adding a language arts period for middle school students and expanding learning loss intervention programs.

In its 2020-21 unaudited financial report, presented by Julie McCarthy, the chief business officer, the district reported $29.7 million in total expenses and $32.6 million in total revenue.

Schiermeyer said there was a $401,000 drop in certificated and classified salaries, compared to what was anticipated, due to teachers taking leaves of absence (leading to a $238,000 drop in benefit costs, too).

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]



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