SRVUSD board talks district diversion, enrollment

Plus: District begins deliberations with union negotiators

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District board discussed the process of diverting students from their neighborhood schools and expected enrollment rates in the coming school year, at their regular meeting Tuesday evening.

According to staff, the 2018-19 school year has seen 414 fewer students enroll in district schools than the previous year. These numbers affect different grades in different ways but could result in fewer displacements for future students.

Elementary schools are expected to see the largest reduction in enrollment, with 460 fewer spots. Middle schools will see a reduction of 89 and alternative education sites are projected to have 52 fewer students enroll.

SRVUSD high schools are the only group expecting to see an increase in students compared to last year, with an expected increase of 177.

“Our school district has always made an effort to have a policy of neighborhood schools and it’s unfortunate when we have to use diversions,” board president Ken Mintz said at the meeting. “As (enrollment) decreases more we are hopefully going to see more openings for parents to be able to make more choices.”

Overall diversion placement rates for elementary-aged students have greatly decreased over the past decade, staff noted, but the past couple of years have seen a slight increase in the total number of students sent to non-neighboring schools. In 2018, the overall number of elementary-aged diversion students increased from 51 to 86 -- still a far cry from 2008's 314, but an increase nonetheless.

Some parents are opposed to the lack of choice they are given when it comes time to place a student in a diversion school site. Tricia Meyer, the mother of a student sent to Vista Grande Elementary School through the diversion process, was against the lack of consent given to parents in the process.

“I think the policy of diversion is contradictory to your stated priorities, forcing families to arrange transportation to faraway schools does not eliminate barriers but rather puts an undue burden on certain families without their consent,” Meyer told the board. “Sending students to schools that are not by their neighborhood does not promote a positive education experience but results in some children feeling left out and detached from their neighbors.”

Meyer added that her child is now happy at their school, but she still disagrees with the philosophy of diverting students away from their local school.

Staff says that when space becomes available at a resident school site, parents of diversion students are offered several options, including: take the available space at the resident school site as soon as possible, wait until the next year to attend the school, or remain at the diversion school.

In other business

* Wearing their red union colors, over 100 members and supporters of the San Ramon Valley Education Association attended the meeting to show support for their collective bargaining team, who began negotiations with the district on Monday.

After initial meetings with union representatives the district presented a salary proposal, which included a 2% on-schedule salary increase retroactively effective to July 1 of this year.

“We are here, we will be seen and we will be respected,” SRVEA vice president Laura Finco said in support of her bargaining team and fellow SRVEA members.

The district’s proposal includes a salary increase, increase in medical premiums and cash-in-lieu of medical, and statutory increases in contribution rates to employee retirement plans. District officials say these benefits will result in far more than 2% increases in overall compensation for employees.

“The district and the Board of Education believe that this proposal is fair and fiscally responsible, in that it prioritizes employees, maintains regionally competitive salaries and benefits so that we can continue to attract and retain highly qualified employees,” Superintendent Rick Schmitt said in a statement. “We look forward to our continued negotiations in hopes that mutually-agreed upon settlements are expeditiously and respectfully negotiated.”

* The board recognized the month of October as Dyslexia Awareness Month, in an effort to raise awareness for the condition that affects an estimated 15-20% of children and adults worldwide.

Board member Rachel Hurd said since the district has initiated a dyslexia think tank, the district’s understanding and approach of the condition has increased in a positive direction.

“We have expanded the view of our dyslexia think tank so that it is not so isolated. (We) pull it under our overall view of literacy acquisition for all kids, which I think is a really groundbreaking way to look at it,” Hurd said.

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15 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 19, 2018 at 8:06 pm

District teachers continue to lose all faith in board member Greg Marvel. His attempts to redirect blame to the state for lack of funding for teacher raises is completely disingenuious and dishonest. Our district reveives less funding because we have less high-need students than many other districts similar to our size, or "within commute distance" as Marvel put it. Marvel either doesn't understand that or doesn't agree with the state's philosophy that high-need students should receive more funding to ensure equity in education across the state.
But then again, Marvel also said that district teacher's shouldn't expect to be able to afford to live in Danville anyway, so it's clear he is not on the side of district teachers.

9 people like this
Posted by Dan Ville
a resident of Danville
on Sep 20, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Why do you think it is called the Teachers Union, and not the What is Best for the Students Union? Greg Marvel is the only person on the board that uses common sense and will not be bullied by the teachers union into giving them things our district can not afford. What other occupation is there that you get tenure after just two years and then get to coast the rest of your career knowing you will never be fired? What other occupation is there that you actually get a pension for the rest of your life? Us parents are already paying for two parcel taxes, not to mention huge property taxes and state taxes, all that go to teachers and the district. Us parents appreciate good teachers, but are sick and tired of the union constantly using their union rhetoric and bully tactics in trying to get yet more and more from our district. Enough is enough. If getting tenure after two years and getting a pension for your life is not enough extras, than go work in another profession and see how easy you have it, working 10 months a year.

4 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 21, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

Teacher: are you aware SRVUSD is the 4th lowest funded district in the state? I'll go out on a limb and say the teachers are NOT the 4th lowest paid in the state. Right?

State determines funding levels. And that is via LCAP and LCFF formulas. The board has nothing to do with the funding levels.

Blame the state that they decided high needs students get more funding then ours. btw SRVUSD isn't just Danville......

4 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 22, 2018 at 4:34 pm

Scott, I'm aware of how LCFF works. I'm also aware SRVUSD isn't just Danville. That was in reference to a quote of Greg Marvel who said teachers shouldn't be able to expect to afford to live in Danville.

My point is that Marvel is trying to shift the blame to the state funding of the district as a reason for lack of funds for a raise, while conveniently leaving out the stockpile of reserves the district has or recent raises given to those in top management positions.

4 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 22, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

Teacher: Well,are you aware overall ADA is falling in SRVUSD? What reserves are you referring to? AND keep in mind teachers DID get a raise and only after did classified employees get one. Teachers also received a 'one time pymt' known to most people as a BONUS.
Don't like Marvel and if you live in SRVUSD boundaries, don't vote for him.

I'm all for teachers getting paid what they deserve, but NOT at the expense of per student spending. Or raiding some reserve which shouldn't be used to fund salaries.

The simply fact is funding is being reduced in this district and the BOD has a dance to deal with it. Be happy no layoffs......yet.....

Show up at a meeting and vent. Course, won't be able to do that anomalously.

6 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Danville
on Oct 5, 2018 at 8:08 pm

Wow can not believe this article Web Link

No wonder the district is such a mess. Why did SRVUSD not fire or suspend Aaron Becker. He walked away from a drowning young man who had only followed directions not to touch the wall.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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