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Superintendent's Message

Lafayette School District

“Our students are creative thinkers and problem-solvers and are prepared to become responsible, ethical and productive citizens.”

 

Dear Parents and Community Members,

 

It is never dull in the Lafayette School District! We have seen many successes and several challenges over the past few months, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share updated information with you. I remain continually grateful that your children receive instruction and so much care from exemplary teachers, administrators, and staff, and I am always so appreciative of the incredible support you provide our schools. 

 

Special Recognition

We are excited to announce, Burton Valley Elementary 4th grade teacher, Scott Westphal as the District’s nominee for the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Award for the 2018-2019 school year. Scott has taught in our District for over 32 years and has provided students with an exemplary learning experience. He will be honored at a dinner in the fall.

 

Special Education Enrichment and Development Foundation (SEED) honored Springhill Elementary Special Education Teacher, Erin Caldwell, as their Teacher of the Year. A teacher in our District for over19 years, Erin has been providing a nurturing environment dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of our students.

 

Stanley Middle School robotics teacher, Mike Meneghetti, was the recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award from CUE, formerly, Computer-Using Educators. For 37 years, Mike has inspired young students to pursue science, robotics, and engineering.

 

Budget Updates

While we did settle with our teachers and provided all of our employees with a well-deserved 2.5% salary increase, given budget projections that show a million dollar deficit over the next three years, this salary raise could only be afforded by matching increases with reductions. Unfortunately, our budget would not have received a positive certification that is required by our County Office of Education if these reductions had not been made. More detailed information about our budget can be found here.

 

It is important to note that our District continues to be woefully underfunded by the State. While the State provides us with approximately $8,000 per student per year, the actual cost to our District to educate each student is well over $11,000. This creates a funding gap of over $3,000 per child. Compare our General Fund Revenues to all other K-8 districts in Contra Costa County, and you will find that the Lafayette School District ranks at the very bottom (10 out of 10) in the amount of per pupil dollars we receive from the State. Couple this with rising mandated pension costs and a significant rise in health care costs, and our District’s budget narrative is both compelling and frustrating.

 

What can we do about it? Building a foundation of understanding about the District’s budget is a critical step. While there are no easy answers, recently the Board unanimously recognized the need for a parcel tax in order to balance the District’s budget beginning in 2019. However, a Parcel Tax Feasibility Study and recent polling of the community showed uncertainty with regards to the amount that would be supported and sustainable for the 2019-2020 budget and beyond. It is expected that the Board will revisit a parcel tax proposal. Until that time, we will continue public outreach to garner support for a parcel tax that is sufficient to assist in balancing future budgets.

 

Focused advocacy at the State level is also a critical step. The District is planning to host a Parent Forum with Gerry Shelton, an outstanding economist from Capitol Advisors, to provide us information about the State budget, as well as effective ways to engage in meaningful advocacy. This event will be held on Tuesday, May 8th at 5:30 p.m. in the Stanley Middle School Library. We hope you will plan to attend. Our parent organizations are also currently discussing ways to effectively advocate for education funding. Information about our budget is available on the District’s website, and I am always available to answer questions and talk further.

 

Measure C Bond Updates

As we head into the summer of 2018, we are excited to be starting a number of large bond projects. These include the modernization, heating and air conditioning at Burton Valley and new classroom buildings at Stanley, Happy Valley and Lafayette Schools. If you have a chance to visit the upper playground at Springhill, you will see a renovated grass area with a new shade structure in the area of the new play equipment. While you are at Springhill, be sure to take a look at the renovated science classroom (Room 19) which was completed last summer.

 

Site work will begin this summer at Stanley Middle School for the two new classroom buildings. In the fall, modular buildings will be delivered and completed on site with anticipated occupancy at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

 

Over the next two summers, new kindergarten classrooms will be constructed at Happy Valley School.  Lafayette School’s new kindergarten and regular classrooms will be completed in conjunction with the demolition of the Old Lafayette Library, along with a renovated parking lot. Future work includes constructing new classrooms at Springhill to replace the old portable classrooms.

 

With interest rates still relatively low, we have been able to accelerate the sale of bonds, which may allow us to move up some of the projects from the original schedule. As with many school districts in California, we are experiencing some high costs with some bids which are requiring us to make adjustments.

 

Lafayette Partners in Education and Parent Organizations ‘One Ask’

There has been a long standing, strong and transparent partnership between the Lafayette School District and LPIE, our Education Foundation. As the gap between the cost of educating a student in our District and the funds received from state continues to widen, the two organizations have been actively working towards deepening the relationship in the area of fundraising, to foster efficiency in the process, and administration and distribution of funds. This consolidated annual giving campaign will result in a "One Ask" in the amount of $1,300 per student. This amount is slightly higher than previous years ($100 greater) in response to the heightened budgetary pressure placed on the District. As LPIE and the parent organizations stress, participation in this campaign is critical.

 

The District will continue to work collaboratively with LPIE and parent organizations to determine funding priorities. LPIE will continue to fund the types of programs and staff that it has done historically, via direct grants to the District and to the parent organizations at each school. This will continue to be done equitably while allowing each school site autonomy to continue traditions and programs unique to their campus culture, at the discretion of each school's parent organization.

 

A successful consolidated annual giving campaign is predicated on your support. As a community, we join together to make an investment in our incredible schools with our donations. We are profoundly grateful for philanthropic contributions from our extended community of business partners, grandparents and alumni family, and YOU! Your support and donations acknowledge the value you place on the unique qualities of an education in Lafayette. More information about LPIE can be found here.

 

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASSP)

Each spring, Lafayette students in grades three through eight participate in the CAASPP. The middle school assessment is in progress and elementary students are beginning testing this week. Your child will take the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

 

The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are online tests that measure what your child knows and is able to do. The tests include many different types of questions that allow students to interact with the test questions. Results help identify gaps in knowledge or skills early on so your child can get the support he or she needs to be successful in school.

 

California is also in the process of implementing the California Next Generation Science Standards. As part of that implementation, students in grades five and eight will try out a new test called the California Science Test, or CAST. This test is still in the field test phase so the results will be an indication of the test function rather than student ability. The results of the test will include the percent correct and the overall level rating of a 1, 2 or 3 (highest level of knowledge of Next Generation Science Standards).

 

The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)

LCAP will be presented as a draft to the Governing Board on May 30, 2018. The plan is currently being shared with all stakeholder groups to provide background information about both the LCAP and the Local Control Funding Formula, to review the foundational documents that define the work of our district, and to seek input.  To review the draft of the LCAP, please click here.  We welcome your input and comments at comments@lafsd.org.

 

The adoption of the LCAP involves holding a public hearing separate from a regular Governing Board Meeting.  The Public Hearing is scheduled for June 19, 2018.  The LCAP will go to the Board for final approval on June, 20, 2018. 

 

Are You Interested in Becoming a Board Member?

The Lafayette School District has four Governing Board seats up for election in November 2018. Three seats are a four (4) year term and one seat is a two (2) year term. To learn more about the role of a Governing Board Member, please attend an information workshop on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lafayette School District Board Room, 3477 School Street. Contact Sharon Carman at (925) 927-3502 or scarman@lafsd.org for additional information.

 

Contra Costa County Candidate Workshop

If you are considering running for office, the CCC Elections’ Division is hosting a workshop providing information on how and where to file, what are the requirements, strategies for spreading your message, and much more. The workshop will be held from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm on May 12th at the Pacheco Community Center. You must RSVP at 925-335-7805 or email outreach@vote.cccounty.us.

 

Superintendent Search

The Governing Board will begin interviewing candidates over the next several weeks. I know that the Governing Board appreciates all of the input that was provided. The current plan is to introduce the new Superintendent at the May 30th Governing Board Meeting.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read these updates. I continue to be grateful to each of you for your continued involvement and support. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, input, and/or concerns.

 

Very respectfully,

 

Rachel Zinn, Superintendent

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Superintendent's Messages 2017-2018

Superintendent's 2016-17 Messages

August 9, 2016 Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year

November 2, 2016 Reflections and Updates

November 2016 Thanksgiving Message

December 2016 Holiday Message

January 2017 Measure C Update

February 16, 2017 Budget Update

March 14, 2017 Budget Update 2

March 21, 2017 Budget FAQs

May 5, 2017 Lafayette School District Updates

May 22, 2017 District Parent Survey

June 6, 2017 NextDoor Information

June 7, 2017 End of Year Message

June 13, 2017 Board Resignation

June 13, 2017 Stanley Middle Principal