August 21 and September 5, 2017

Summer School Principal Bill Pierce gave the board a report on summer school.  Classes were offered for credit recovery and makeup for failed courses to improve UC A-G eligibility, plus some acceleration courses and a few transition-to-high-school classes for incoming 9th graders, including “Bridge to High School” for students who did not graduate from their middle schools.  The numbers of students attending and classes offered were roughly the same as last year.  Added new this year, Algebra 2 Boot Camp was for students who needed a little help getting ready to take Algebra 2 in the fall.  Last year’s Catalyst class was divided into Catalyst Algebra and Catalyst Geometry this year, to prepare incoming 9th graders for algebra and geometry.  There were many more girls in the Catalyst classes this year compared to last year.

New Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Margarita Navarro presented a review of the implementation of the homework policy that was begun in 2016-17.  Both MVHS and LAHS conducted surveys of students to determine their reactions to the new policy.  A majority of students reported a reduction in stress due to homework-free weekends.  There were mixed results on the question of whether homework was useful to learning or busywork.  A small percentage of students reported that some teachers were not following the policy and those reports were investigated.

Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen gave a Facilities Master Plan progress report.  There will be a complete update at the October 23 board meeting with the architect and campus maps showing where new construction is recommended.  The agreement to lease Mountain View city land near Alta Vista for a new two-story building for Freestyle Academy and office space is in final negotiations.  A bond feasibility survey of voters is being designed and will be presented at the October 9 board meeting.   School site meetings will be held at the end of September and early October to get input from administrators, teachers, students, parents, and neighbors.  An application to the state school building fund is being prepared;  MVLA is eligible for $25 million in funding for new construction and improvements.

The board approved an increase in fees for the rental of MVLA facilities by outside groups, to be phased in over two years, 2017-18 and 2018-19.  Rates have not been increased since 2001.  A survey of nearby school districts (Saratoga, Fremont, and Campbell)  found MVLA’s fees to be substantially lower than average.  Palo Alto was not included in the local school district average fees because their rates are much higher. 

Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen presented the 2016-17 unaudited actual financial results, which showed revenues of $82.3 million and expenses of $78.6 million.   The final balance in the reserve is $9.5 million, including the state required 3% reserve.  The target reserve amount is $16.2 million (17%); the district is working to achieve that level gradually over multiple years. 

— Sally Ahnger, Observer