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  • Joey Lai

SMUSD Board Meeting 8/18/20

Last night I attended the SMUSD Board meeting via Zoom. Here is a run down of items and some thoughts.


Topics Discussed

- First day of school feedback. Overwhelmingly what was discussed was positive and recognition to teachers and site administrators for coming together for the first day.

- San Marcos High School and Mission Hills High School Student Board Reps presented updates.

- Dr. Garcia gave an update on no current plan in place to re-open in person school despite San Diego County coming off the State watch list as of 8/18. A special session will be called later in August to review return to in-person. Labor negotiations on current virtual learning and return to in person are still stalled. Next negotiation meeting with SMEA is 8/25. Next board meeting is 9/15.

- Assistant Superintendent Tiffany Campbell presented on the Districts plan to continue to support students in the unique learning environment as well as how the district plans on supporting the teachers with continued development.

- Assistant Superintendent Mark Schiel gave an update on Budget changes. He let the Board know we have $12.2 million in revenue from Federal and State that must be spent on designated items. Some of the funds have specific dates they need to be spent by. In addition he noted that the District may need to take out a Line of Credit to use the funds, and then wait for the funds to be sent in to pay the line of credit off. In addition their is a potential $2 million loss to the budget due to covering loss of KOC revenue from this year.

- Dr. Garcia's emergency powers were rescinded as part of normal procedure. She did not utilize them during the crisis management.


My Thoughts on some of the topics -

- Having the students be part of the meeting is good for leadership development. You could tell they were a bit nervous but I am sure they will grow more and more comfortable as the year goes on. It is great to see their presentations and understand the trending topics within their schools.

- With San Diego County now off the COVID watch list, planning for in-person school needs to be a top priority. Based on how the meeting timelines work, there is very little chance an in-person experience will happen before October. SMEA was also very specific about not returning to in-person before 10/31/20 (ironic they chose that date for their memo). As mentioned in my previous blog post, a phased approached to introducing students back to campus would be ideal.

- I would like to see Dr. Campbell go more in depth about LEVS, and be more specific about the program. This year is a prime opportunity to showcase what a 100% online education could be. As we look to the future of our district and student population per campus (especially secondary schools), a robust online learning experience is going to be critical for the community and to support our student population without over crowding campuses.

- Budget - I'm cheering Mark and the finance team on to get an extension of the allocated funds. I don't see how that much money can be spent by the end of the year and the funds are a "use it or lose it" allocation. I am hoping their is a way to use the funds to recoup the $2 million in lost KOC revenue. One of the stipulations of the federal funds was it had to be used for extending student learning. Maybe KOC can be justified so the federal funds can be used and the district doesn't have to do a special inter-fund transfer.


I encourage everyone to listen to the board meeting themselves. There are many posts on social media that are misleading or misinterpret topics. You can listen to board meetings at

https://www.smusd.org/governing_board/governing_board_meetings . The August meeting is not posted yet, but when it is, it is a good idea to hear directly from those who were in the meeting.

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