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Superintendent's Update - September 2018

Dr. Joan Rosas, SuperintendentDear San Mateo-Foster City Community,

We've been in school about four weeks now and what a great start it has been!  I hope your family has settled in well to the new year.  I wanted to share with you the latest news from the San Mateo County Office of Education, as well as recent School Board actions.

The San Mateo County Office of Education just published their 2017 SMCOE Report to the Community.  If you look at the last page titled “School Spending”, you will find that the San Mateo–Foster City School District is still in the bottom four of the elementary school districts in San Mateo County in funding received for our students, with the top district receiving over double what we receive.  The publication goes on to state, “Though California has the fifth-largest economy in the world, the state falls in the nation’s bottom quintile on nearly every measure of public K-12 school funding.  California has consistently underfunded public education while adding new requirements and raising standards.  Adequate funding is especially an issue in San Mateo County, where districts struggle due to the high cost of housing, goods, and services.”  It lists that California is 41st in per pupil funding, 45th in percentage of taxable income spent on education, 45th in student to teacher ratio and 48th in student to staff ratio.

Our District has enacted a variety of methods over the years to meet the rising costs of doing business both by making reductions and increasing revenues.  In the spring of 2018, $3 million was cut from the 2018-2019 school budget.  We have also increased our revenue streams through the amplified activity of our Education Foundation, grant opportunities, and additional funding from our for-profit ventures in early childhood education and after school care.  Even with these actions, the District faces a $5 million deficit, which will have to be addressed by the spring of 2019.  Reductions that have been presented to the Trustees can be found here - Board meeting information from August 23rd.

The Board of Trustees has taken another step by placing the Measure V - Excellence in Education Measure on the November 6, 2018 ballot to address this deficit.  This Measure would give our schools a consistent and reliable source of revenue that would generate roughly $10 million annually for 9 years (a $298 per parcel tax adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index) so that the District can:

  • Attract and retain excellent teachers and staff
  • Provide outstanding reading, writing, math and science programs
  • Enhance programs including science, technology, engineering and math and
  • Support art, drama and music programs

To learn more about Measure V – see our website -

Sanctuary Task Force

At the August 23rd Board meeting, the San Mateo–Foster City School District Trustees received a presentation on actions taken by the Oakland Unified School District Sanctuary Task Force.  Our Trustees had previously passed a resolution in support of our undocumented students and our District does have support protocols in place.  The next step is to set up a Task Force to bring further information to our community, spear head educational events and bring materials to the classroom.  Watch for more information as this work unfolds.

California Dyslexia Guidelines

Along those lines, AB 1369, California Dyslexia Guidelines, set up guidelines related to phonological processing both in regard to assessment and intervention.  A District team was established during the 2017-2018 school year with support from the Associate Superintendent of the local SELPA to review the guidelines and determine what is in place and where gaps exist in assessment and curriculum in our District.  The goals for this upcoming year are to re-form the team, adopt a universal screening tool and build on our current system to update our intervention efforts. 

September is Suicide Prevention Month

The Board of Trustees passed a resolution recognizing that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among youth between 10 and 14 years of age and also recognizing the importance of the systems of support and intervention that our District and community have in place to help our students.  Improving student connectedness is one of the most effective factors in protecting our students and we continually search for and update our approaches to addressing this task.

Staff Professional Development

On the August 31st Professional Development Day, all District staff attended a presentation by Dr. Trudy Arriaga.  Dr. Arriaga was the Superintendent of Ventura Unified School District for eleven years and during her tenure, their district accelerated student achievement for all students and made significant steps in closing their opportunity gap.  She spoke about the importance of taking action in order to open doors for all students.  Her book, Opening Doors, An Implementation Template for Cultural Proficiency, is an easy read and thought-provoking.  We left the presentation with a renewed commitment to seeing how we, too, could open doors in order to better support our students, families and staff. 

Upcoming Events

  • Superintendent Coffee Chats are beginning again. Bowditch Middle School is hosting the first in the series on Tuesday, September 18 from 9:00-10:00 am.

  • The Education Foundation is holding their annual Run2FunD on Sunday, September 23 from 2:00-5:00 pm at Hillsdale High School. The Run2FunD is a wonderful family event with activities and booths for everyone.  For more information, see the website -

I look forward to seeing you at events in your schools, at Coffee Chats or the upcoming Run2FunD!

Joan Rosas, Ed.D.