About this site

I was a Governing Board Member of the San Carlos School District, elected November 2007 and again in November 2011. This site was originally used for the purpose of communicating with school district constituents, however now it is used for surfacing ideas and expressing opinions on various subjects in education, politics, business, or otherwise.

Please note that any opinion express here is purely personal and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of anyone else or any organization with which I am, or have been, associated.

I will not accept anonymous comments, and all persons who post comments must have a valid e-mail address. Note that I reserve the right to edit, reject, or delete posts based on spelling, grammar, readability, or my judgment of what is appropriate discourse.

 

June 2011
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End of Year Update

Friends and Supporters,

As has been my custom, I am sending an end-of-the-year update to summarize the happenings in the San Carlos School District. It has been a remarkable year in so many ways (and you may have read my periodic blog updates), but I will try to summarize most of it here. On a personal note, my family reaches a milestone by no longer having an elementary school student.  Both our kids will be at Tierra Linda next year, but I do want to remark how wonderful our experience at Arundel has been over these last seven years, and I want to thank all of the teachers and staff there who made such a difference in my kids’ lives.

Public education in California has had a tough time of it ever since I joined the School Board four years ago. Budgets have been cut by the state every year, and this year we went on quite the roller coaster ride in terms of understanding where our financial position would land.  However, we have made it through all of this, albeit with painful cuts in some places, but remarkably better than many other districts.  This is largely due to three factors:

  • The continued growth and success of the San Carlos Educational Foundation, which is on target to meet its $2 million goal this year!
  • Our growing student enrollment (which secures more state funding, but brings in other challenges which I'll discuss below)
  • The proactive work and success around the launch of our "enterprise" programs and grant efforts, including our SMART-E program and support from groups like the Sequoia Healthcare District.

Superintendent Baker continues to demonstrate remarkable leadership, and we are lucky to have him at the helm of this district.  He works as hard as anyone, and he is tenaciously focused on continual improvement while also leading a culture of respect and professionalism.   This year he has focused a lot on building a culture of professional learning and development at all sites and has employed a Teacher Leadership Council to support grass roots efforts to enhance our curriculum.  Another big initiative he led this year was doing a re-alignment of some of the administrators' responsibilities, including consolidating responsibilities under a new Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability, as well as moving a number of principal and vice principal positions to best leverage the skills of our staff.  By all measures, these moves have proven to be very successful, and I have only gotten positive feedback from parents on the changes.

One of the biggest events of the year was the passage of Measure A, the replacement for the expiring Measure D parcel tax.  Voters approved it by an overwhelming 81.5%, the highest voted parcel tax measure in the state!  Although this doesn't bring in additional money relative to what we've received in the past, it's passage ensures that we don't lose this vital revenue stream.  Thanks to everyone who volunteered or donated to the campaign and who voted for the measure. 

An area which required a lot of time and effort this year was completing negotiations between the District and the San Carlos Charter Learning Center around our new working agreement as well as approving their revised charter to become a separate non-profit entity.  Although these changes were largely administrative and "inside baseball" in nature, it required an enormous amount of time to get it all done!  Even with these changes to the school's legal authority, responsibility, and liability, CLC continues to operate as before with minimal effect on the staff, students, or the overall programs offered.

Other notable updates from this year include the following:

  • We were able to update a number of outdated district policies, including those related to movies and multimedia, allergies, animals in classrooms, independent study, outside observation, fundraising and gifts, and we are close to completing new bullying/harassment and wellness policies.
  • After a bit of a slower start than expected, the SMART-E after-school, preschool, and camp programs began to expand and are getting great reviews from parents and kids.
  • We selected a new, district-wide hot lunch vendor to begin this Fall — the new program will focus on healthy choices and include environmentally-friendly packaging.
  • The District has been working with the city on improving some of the traffic, safety, and parking issues around some of the school sites — this is a work in progress (with quite a bit more to do), but there have been improvements in terms of curb painting, sign maintenance, enforcement, as well as education and encouragement for walking/biking to school.
  • SCSD has been proactive in launching professional development programs for all staff members to prepare for the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics that over 40 states will switch to in about three years.  Our team is very excited about these new standards, and there will be a lot of work in the coming years to prepare for them.

Of course, there is always so much more to do, and I have a few predictions on what we'll see this coming year.  I think two of the biggest themes for next year will likely be "21st Century Learning" and Facilities/Transportation.  We have talked for a while what a 21st century education looks like, but it would likely include figuring out better ways to incorporate technology (electronic textbooks, maybe?) as well as assessing students more consistently with our "whole child" mission.   The issues of facilities is a big one for us — it is clear that we need to plan for building a new school in the next few years and/or add significant capacity at some our existing sites.  Clearly this will be both an operational and financial challenge.

Other areas where you'll likely see updates this coming year include the following:

  • We're not out of the woods yet with regard to budget — there are still many uncertainties with respect to the state budget, so I predict we will continue to focus a lot of energy on managing our resources and this uncertainty.  And maybe — just maybe — there will be a chance to restore some of the programs and other investments that had to be trimmed back over the last four years.
  • We will likely change our policies regarding what fees are charged to students for many items, including band instruments, P.E. uniforms, school supplies, and perhaps others.  This is both in response to a landmark settlement of a lawsuit between the ACLU and the L.A. Unified School District as well as a realization that we are not providing all of the materials and support required as part of a free public education.
  • We will have a new Vice Principal at Tierra Linda, and I suspect that position will be filled shortly.
  • We have been in serious discussions with the San Carlos Children's Theater about a partnership to give them a permanent space while offering more programs to our student.  As you can imagine, this is a challenge given our facility constraints, but I believe we will find some creative solutions to create a win-win here.

Last, but certainly not least, this year will have a school board election.  Two seats will be open, one of them being mine (the other being Tom Quiggle's).  It's hard to believe it's been four years already!  This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I have grown more passionate every year for the cause of promoting public education and the issues that face our children.  I have gotten more involved in regional and state activities around advocacy and education.  I am speaking at more events, including the California School Boards Association annual conference, and I have recently been elected President of the San Mateo County School Boards Association, which represents all of the school boards in the county and supports governance teams and advocates on behalf of our students.   California has a fundamentally broken education finance system, and I feel strongly about being part of the movement to change it.  It's a long uphill battle, but one worth fighting.

But the most rewarding part of being a school board members is serving this community — I get to personally witness our progress and success as well as the enormous contribution that everyone makes to ensure we deliver an exceptional education to all of our students, despite all of these structural problems we have inherited.  I would like to believe that I have brought dedication, engagement, energy, thoughtfulness, and good judgment to the role, and that all of this in some way helps to promote our progress.  Naturally, there's still a lot more that I'd like to do and believe that we can do together. 

Therefore, I am officially announcing my candidacy for re-election to the San Carlos School Board.  I will file the papers over the summer, and the election will be November 8, 2011.  I will naturally keep you all informed as the campaign kicks off, and you can read updates on my blog at www.rosenblatt.org.   Once again I wanted to thank you for your support of both me personally as well as our school district!

Best regards,
Seth

1 comment to End of Year Update

  • Arn

    Seth Thank You. Your blog posts provide excellent information. You also approach the issues faced by SCSD in a reasoned pragmatic balanced manner.