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Superintendent's Welcome - September 2017

Dr. Rosas

Dear San Mateo-Foster City Community,

I hope you have enjoyed the opening of school in spite of the recent unpredictable weather.  Even though we are only four weeks into the year, classes are well underway and special school activities have started.
Emergency Preparedness and Communication Protocols
Our thoughts are with those that have been affected by catastrophic hurricanes over the past two weeks.  While hurricanes, and typhoons in the Pacific, are not typical here, California is susceptible to other disasters.  I wanted to offer information regarding the San Mateo County Alert system as well as our emergency preparedness protocols.  Student and staff safety is paramount and our schools are ready to deal with an emergency should one occur.  Please take a moment to review the articles below on San Mateo County Emergency Preparedness and the San Mateo County Big Five Immediate Response Protocols.

Labor Negotiations
The San Mateo Elementary Teachers Association and the San Mateo–Foster City School District jointly requested the support of a mediator to bring a positive resolution to our on-going negotiations.  Three meetings have been held and we are hopeful that this process will result in a successful package. 

Many of you have expressed interest in knowing more about the District’s structural deficit resulting from the loss of parcel tax funding combined with escalating costs of the retirement systems and other necessary services.  In order to make this information more accessible, we have joined with other districts in the County in uploading information on a user friendly platform called Open Gov.  The new platform will be shared with the Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on September 28 and then will be made available to the public on our website.  We will alert you when this platform is live.

Education Foundation
We are thankful to the San Mateo Foster City Education Foundation for their generous donation to the District of $70,000.  These funds will be used to off-set the cost of the K-5 Music Program this year.  Don’t forget that the RUN2FunD event is coming on Sunday, September 24 from 2:00–5:00 pm at the Hillsdale High School track.  It will be a fun event and a much needed fundraiser for the Foundation.   I hope to see you all there!

National School Attendance Awareness Month
September is National School Attendance Awareness Month.  Chronic absenteeism, when a student is absent more than 10% of the school year, negatively affects a student’s academic performance and is a serious concern in schools across California.  The Attendance Works website shares important facts about absenteeism and states that when students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and graduation rates.  Please support our efforts in ensuring that our students are in school and ready to learn! 
Student Achievement
Speaking of student achievement, while individual students who took the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) last spring have received their scores, the District is still awaiting the release of the aggregate scores for the District and each school site.  The CAASPP is a point in time exam that does provide trend data for analysis in the on-going effort to improve student achievement in our District.  As we know more about the scores and respective student needs, we will work with schools and district-wide stakeholders to develop actions for our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).
Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
I know there is concern in our community about the welfare of our undocumented children of immigrants.  Please remember that all students have a right to be in school and to feel welcome and safe.  For this reason, we maintain school environments where our staff and students can learn and work together safely.  Should you have concerns regarding your child’s safety, please let your classroom teacher and/or administrator know.  We will continue to provide updates as we learn more about the recent developments regarding the DACA Program. 
Candidates for School Board
We are pleased that seven individuals are interested in the three upcoming open seats on our School Board.   The California Secretary of State’s office has held their random alphabet selection.  The candidates that are running in order of appearance on the ballot are:  Shara Watkins, Noelia Corzo, Alexander Haislip, Rebecca Hitchcock, Shiraz Kanga, Jacob Thiel and Thomas Morgan.  It is an exciting time in the San Mateo–Foster City School District and we welcome new team members.  Please watch for local forums to learn about our candidates.
Superintendent Coffee Chats
We will continue to host Coffee Chats during the 2017-2018 school year.  This year we will host four chats in English at each middle school and one for Spanish speaking families at College Park Elementary.  Please note the schedule below and join me to share your ideas and discuss the latest topics impacting SMFCSD and public education.  All parents and community members are welcome to attend.  We hope to see you there!
Joan Rosas, Ed.D.