December 2018 Newsletter
Chart of revenues and expenditures
A message from the Superintendent
School districts are required to report their financial status at least twice a year after the district’s budget is adopted in June. I am happy to report that we were able to positively certify our required 2018-19 First Interim budget for the first reporting period (July 1 to October 31). What this means is that we are able to meet our current year, and two subsequent years’ financial obligations. We’ve been working hard to return to a positively certified budget. Now the difficulty will be maintaining that positive certification in future budget reportings, and one look at our budget chart (above) shows the challenges we face in closing the gap between expenditures and revenue.

If the red line (expenditures) continues to go up and the blue line (revenues) continues to go down, we will not be able to meet our financial obligations. Have you ever had to dip into your savings? Our district is basically doing that. We are spending our reserve (beyond the minimum that the state requires us to keep) because our expenditures continue to outpace our revenues. We need to continue looking at our operating expenses in order to align our budget with the revenue we are receiving. The are several factors affecting both our expenditures and revenue, such as declining enrollment and the mandated increased cost of pensions.

Our district has an active Budget Advisory Committee - made up of students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members - that is meeting regularly to discuss the budget and make recommendations for me to consider as I work with the school board, which approves the interim and final budget. The bottom line (pun intended) is that we need the red and blue lines to intersect! We will evaluate staffing, programs and services to find areas to reduce spending and increase revenue, in order to meet our financial obligations in the future.

As we head into Winter Break, I hope that you spend time with the people you care about and are reminded about what really matters to you and your family. See you back in school on January 7th!

Diann Kitamura

Dec. 18-20 - Minimum Days for High Schools
Dec. 21 - No School for Middle/High Schools
Dec. 24-Jan. 4 - No School - Winter Break
Three new school board members
On December 12th, three new directors joined our Board of Education: Stephanie Manieri, Jill McCormick, and Omar Medina. They join Evelyn Anderson, Laurie Fong, Jenni Klose and Ed Sheffield. After the new members took the oath of office, the board elected officers for the next year. Jenni Klose is president, Laurie Fong is vice president, and Stephanie Manieri is clerk. For more information about our school board, go to our website: Meet the Board
Free counseling during Winter Break
Are you or your family in need of support? We'll have counselors available in our Integrated Wellness Center during Winter Break, on Thursdays and Fridays (12/27, 12/28, 1/3 & 1/4) from 1:00-3:00pm. During the school year, the Center (2232 Lomitas Avenue) is now open three days a week, Tuesday - Thursday from 3:30-5:30pm, to provide FREE counseling, school nurse services, and tutoring for students and families in our community. Call 707-890-3827 to make a Winter Break counseling appointment or for more information.
Music Blitz to expand to 4th, 5th and 6th grades
Music Blitz strings class
Starting next school year, thanks to a grant from the California Department of Education, all 4th, 5th & 6th graders in our 9 elementary schools will be able to borrow an instrument and learn to play at school! This year, all 6th graders can choose an instrument - strings, woodwinds or brass - and learn to play as part of our Music Blitz program. A production crew from the PBS show “Inside California Education" recently visited Luther Burbank Elementary to do a story on the program, which will air in the spring on California PBS stations.
Excellence in Education Awards: High School
Just before the school year began, teachers and community leaders gathered for the annual Excellence In Education Awards, sponsored by the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber. Outstanding teachers were nominated from pre-school to college level, and winners were chosen in each category. In high school education, Chris Berg from Montgomery High and Kyla BradyLong from Maria Carrillo High took top honors.
Update on CAASPP waiver request
Laptop illustration
In the spring of 2018, Santa Rosa City Schools requested and received a waiver from the California Department of Education for Spring 2018 CAASPP testing, also known as standardized testing, due to the three weeks of lost instructional time in our schools after the October 2017 fires. As part of the waiver agreement, the state asked us to administer a local assessment in English language arts and mathematics, which our students completed in October and November. 
We have recently learned that the US Department of Education denied the waiver and informed the California Department of Education in October. What does this mean for Santa Rosa City Schools? 
  1. Our scores will remain the same as last year (2016-17) on the California School Dashboard.
  2. There will be no financial penalty.
  3. We will move forward, as we know this was the right thing to do for our recovering community and students. 
Because of the testing that we administered this fall, we do have data that can be used to inform instruction and student achievement. We are grateful for the support of our families, teachers and administrators throughout this process.
High school science pathways
For the past few years, changes to high school science classes have been in the works in order to meet the state’s new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Last year, our district’s science department chairs and teachers discussed what science courses to offer in all high schools to meet the new standards. Science graduation requirements are not changing; students will still need two years of science to graduate. However, if students would like to be exposed to all the science standards to support their college and career readiness, there will be two 3-year pathways they can take. For 10th grade and above, honors and AP science will continue to be offered at our high schools, and IB will continue to be offered at Montgomery High. There will be a science pathways meeting on January 22, 2019. You can find more info about that meeting, and read more, by clicking on the link below.
What is bargaining?
Handshake illustration
You may have heard that Santa Rosa City Schools and the Santa Rosa Teachers Association (SRTA) are currently bargaining over some of the articles in their contract, such as wages and salaries, and class sizes. Some parents have wondered what bargaining means or what goes on in our negotiations. Details of particular negotiations are, by law, confidential. However, the District has answered some basic questions on our website: FAQs about Bargaining
Free College & Career resources
Naviance is an online College and Career academic platform designed to assist students with career exploration, academic planning, and college and career preparation. Naviance accounts are available for all 7-12 grade students in the district. Students should work with the counselors at their site to access their account. Naviance has partnered with Kaplan to offer FREE courses where students and parents can now attend web-trainings to learn about topics such as efficient note taking, SAT, ACT, time management, goal setting, managing stress, writing a college essay, digital responsibility, and more! These courses support students as they develop the critical academic, transition and interpersonal skills to be successful on their journey to figuring out their path after high school. To learn more and register for the FREE courses:
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Santa Rosa City Schools
211 Ridgway Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401