March 12, 2018

The board passed the Resolution on Student Safety, which states (in part):

MVLA district holds regular drills, works with local agencies to take any threats of violence seriously, and fosters a positive school climate, free from harassment and violence.  The district urges the state of California and the U.S. Congress to invest in wraparound services to prevent bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence in schools and to provide funding for programs to support students’ mental, physical, and emotional health.  The district urges the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence on school campuses and to repeal the prohibition against data collection and research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control.

The board passed the Resolution in Celebration of the Right to Vote, declaring 2/23/18, the 47th anniversary of the 26th Amendment, as the Day of Student Registration to Vote.

Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen presented the Second Interim Budget Report, reporting revenues of $87.4M, Expenses of $86.0M, and Transfers out of $1.0M, with no significant differences from the First Interim.

The board approved adjustments of Developer Impact Fees on residential development from $1.16 to $1.26 per square foot and on commercial development from $0.19 to $0.20 per square foot.  A Public Hearing on the fees was held, but there were no speakers.

The Adult Education Annual Review was held, highlighting the Job and Career Fair in October 2017.  Job placement for Adult School students has been very successful.

The board voted for the incumbents in the CSBA Delegate Assembly Election: Joe Mitchner, Frank Biehl, Cynthia Chang, and Jodi Muirhead. 

— Sally Ahnger, Observer

March 26 Meeting

   March 26: Recognizing that success at school is connected to the feelings of mental health and safety, MVLA puts time and money into student wellness. Tonight the board heard about the clinical services that are provided at MVHS, LAHS, and Alta Vista High School. Some context for this need: most high school students were born after 9/11 and have grown up with the tragic norm of school shootings. Added to these unsettling sociological factors is the fact that students feel more pressure to perform academically and get into colleges that are increasingly harder to get into. According to a California Healthy Kids survey, the percentages of students who report “chronically sad or hopeless feelings” has gone up for the past three years, with 20% of MVLA 9th graders feeling anxious or depressed and one third of 11th graders feeling this way. MVLA hired Dr. Susan Flatmo to be their clinical services coordinator to help these students, with Huang Vo as student services coordinator at MVHS and Kristin Castillo as student services coordinator for LAHS. A grant from El Camino Hospital helps pay for these positions. They work with a team of mental health counselors through CHAC (the local Community Health Awareness Council) who help students at both schools plus Alta Vista. What are the top five student issues via referrals? They are (in descending order) academic difficulties, depression, anxiety, family issues, and frustration tolerance. These counselors utilize three tiers of support for students: Tier One (for all students via school-wide mental health awareness events, teacher training, and more); Tier Two (early intervention for some students using individual counseling, services and support groups, and more); and Tier Three (intensive intervention for a small number of students including acute crisis intervention and support, referrals to outside services, clinical groups, and case management).  Looking forward, goals of this extensive and evolving work are to help students have an increased capacity to self-regulate and problem solve via student wellness centers and school-wide awareness work. Additionally they strive to help reduce mental health stigma (including that for parents who feel alone and stigmatized if their child has mental health issues).

     The other major agenda item at this meeting was a discussion about the increasing difficulty in finding qualified substitute teachers. According to a recent survey done by MVLA, over a two-week period there was only one day where they had enough substitute teachers. On all the other days other teachers had to fill in for that absent teacher during their prep period (and sometimes even the principal had to fill in). One way MVLA hopes to be able to attract more substitute teachers to work for their district is to raise their pay. Currently MVLA pays a daily rate of $152. Several surrounding districts (including Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View Whisman) offer these substitute teachers $160 per day. In order to remain competitive with these surrounding school districts MVLA is recommending to the board that they raise their daily substitute teacher pay to $180. The board heard this recommendation and made a few comments. This recommendation will come back as an action item (in the consent agenda) at a future board meeting.

— Ellen Wheeler, Substitute Observer