Message from Superintendent Skelly
Like everyone else, we're hiring!

Are you Awesome_ We_re Hiring Volunteers are the lifeblood of our schools. And the greatest portion of those who help us do our work are parents/guardians who lead our PTOs and booster groups, help with specific projects or volunteer to support particular extra and co-curriculars.

In many cases the time parents and families spent on a school campus develops into a love affair with the mission of the school, so much so that a present or former parent applies for and joins the school as an employee. Many of our finest and most effective teachers, staff members, counselors, clerks and maintenance folks started their interaction with us as a parent or guardian shepherding their own child through our schools. It may be that their own experiences give them a window into the experiences of families and an empathy that serves the District well. In any case, we're so blessed to have both the volunteer and the former parent employee!

Now is the time when we start hearing from employees that they are going to retire or depart the District. In this full employment economy it's worrisome to think how we can replace all the talent that will leave this June. Given the wide variety of jobs involved in the District, perhaps your skill set matches one of our needs. Or perhaps you have an interest in making a difference in the lives of young people. In any case, I invite you or someone you know to consider joining the District in some capacity. An example of some of our current openings include, School Psychologist , Instructional Assistant ,   Chemistry Teacher and   Math Teacher

Caffeine and Sleep

A woman scopps food on to her plate from a buffet line
Every day before and after school there is a steady stream of students outside my window going to and from Starbucks. They have monstrous frappuccinos loaded with sugar and caffeine. My heart sinks as I think about the empty calories, fitful sleeping, and single use plastic that are all associated with this to and fro. And I know that this happens at virtually all of our campuses. 

We have a solution!  Our cafeterias are open every day before school. The food is delicious (I eat it regularly) and there's no caffeine and limited sugar. You can prod them to eat healthy foods by loading money on your student's ID card at the EZSchoolPay website .

On another note, if you think your student may be eligible for the free National School Lunch Program, I encourage you to learn more . Our District now provides free lunches and brunches to all students who qualify for reduced priced meals. Hunger does not have to be a problem in our District!     
T he Future of Facilities in SMUHSD

Drawing of a school building with a large pencil and books stacked up next to it You may have heard that there is a bond, Measure L, on the upcoming March 3 ballot. As a District, we cannot advocate for this or any other ballot measure put before the voters. We can share factual information about what Measure L would mean to our schools, students and taxpayers. 

For almost 20 years SMUHSD has implemented a program to renovate aging school facilities and construct new ones to protect the safety of our students and provide the best possible learning environment. Although some of our schools have been updated, other aging classrooms, labs and school facilities require repairs, updates and improvements.

In November, our Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place a $385 million bond on the ballot. If approved by 55% of voters, the bond would levy $15.55 per $100,000 of assessed home valuation annually while bonds are outstanding. This means the bond would cost the owner of a median-valued home about $106 in taxes per year.
Bond proceeds would be used to fund safety and security improvements for all schools, upgrades and repairs to classrooms, and improvements to technology infrastructure. More information can be found on our website or in the voter guide from the San Mateo County Registrar of Voters Office. 
Census 2020 is Coming - Stand Up and Be Counted

In our community, everyone deserves access to quality programs and services. Funding for many of these programs and services - such as education, child care, health services, affordable housing, and public transportation - are informed by the U.S. Census, a nationwide count of each and every person living in the country that occurs every ten years.

If our community does not get a complete count, we could risk losing important funding that families will need as they grow. An undercount in 2020 could cost California more than $3 billion in federally funded programs, affecting critical programs such as Head Start, Medicaid, and the National School Lunch Program .

The next national census is coming soon! By April 1, 2020 families should receive an invitation by mail to participate in the Census. There are three different options for completing the census form: online, by phone or by mail. Why are we asking for you to pay attention to this invitation? It's simple, an accurate count is essential to ensuring that our students continue to receive the support they need to be healthy and successful. Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. 

If you need help filling out the census form, there will be assistance centers across the County. If your household does not respond, the Census Bureau will send workers (called enumerators) to visit your residence and collect the information in person starting in May 2020. 

Read more about why the 2020 Census is important for schools. 
 Burlingame Aquatics Center Opens with a Splash

Students and staff in the newly opened Burlingame Pool

On January 8, Burlingame Principal Paul Belzer and I took the plunge with numerous Burlingame Aquatics Club Swimmers in front of over a hundred onlookers to officially reopen the pool at Burlingame High School. This was one of the most satisfying "swims" I have ever experienced.

During routine, scheduled repair of the BHS pool in the summer of 2018, the District's contractor discovered significant rust damage to the rebar used in the original pool shell. Damage was substantial enough to warrant further investigation during which time 90 percent of the pool shell was found to be compromised. 

The SMUHSD Board of Trustees approved replacement of the pool shell in November 2018. Construction began in April and was completed in December 2019. 

While the pool was closed, the Burlingame High swim team and water polo players were relentless road warriors travelling across the District and county for every practice and competition. A silver lining as a superintendent was to see the collaboration and sportsmanship from our athletes, coaches and athletic directors to make this process go seamlessly. 

With the construction behind us, I am thrilled to see this pool in use, knowing that it will serve generations of swimmers. SMUHSD is grateful for the collaborative spirit of the City of Burlingame for their support as well as the taxpayers who supported Measure M in making this construction possible. 

Learn more about the pool and programs available to the public by visiting the Burlingame Aquatic Center website
Teens get out the vote!

register to vote in neon lights against a brick wall According to an article in Teen Vogue , the State of California has pre-registered more than 400,000 16- and 17-year-old voters in three years. As a District we were heavily involved in this effort. September 24, 2019 was National Voter Registration Day and Social Science teachers across the District helped numerous students in US History and Econ/Gov classes to register and pre-register to vote.

For commonly asked questions surrounding voting and eligibility to vote, the National Voter Registration Day website is a great resource.

California makes it easy for 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register. They can do it online at . Once they pre-register, their registration becomes active when they turn 18 years old. The deadlines to register and pre-register to vote are February 17, 2020 for the primary election and October 19, 2020 for the General Election. 

While I'm talking about this topic, I can't help but encourage you to vote and give you a lens through which to make your decision. I recently learned that adults with young children have some of the lowest registration and voting percentages of any demographic group. In every election there are consequential decisions that will determine the future our students will inherit. I hope you will not only engage in this process if you can, but also do so considering what's best for the next generation and encourage your voting-age students to develop a lifelong habit of voting. 

Around the District

Aragon students performing their lip dub

In November, the school filmed it's 3rd ever Lip Dub to celebrate diversity in their school community. Over 1,800 students and staffulty participated to create the school-wide music video. Watch it here.

BHS Foods and Culinary students spent time with a Chef, restaurant owner  and food truck entrepreneur, Jim Angelus in January. Angelus, owner of Bacon Bacon, shared his story and advice for future hospitality workers. He has been featured on Good Morning America, Discovery Channel and Food Network. 

Cap's new Drone Club - meets during lunch Tuesday-Thursday to build and learn to fly drones. The Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) hosted a successful second annual Drag Show - to sell out crowds in January. 
Student poses in Oaxaca sweatshirt design


Check out Hillsdale's Fashion Business Club - Hillz Studio - a creative hub with the mission to empower teenagers with an interest in fashion, design and business to learn creative entrepreneurship and launch businesses.
Serena Arge Mills
Mills High School Teacher Serena Arge was recently recognized with a Dorothy Boyajian Honored Teacher award by the County of San Mateo for organizing Mills High School's first ever United Against Hate week where students and staff were challenged to reflect on how film media and digital arts promote social justice and fight hateful messages. 
Artist rendering of the future Peninsula High School

See our website for an update on construction of the new Peninsula High School. 
San Mateo High Schoo lCanned Food Drive Logo San Mateo
During the last two weeks in November 2019, San Mateo's student body donated 8,000 pounds of non-perishable food to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, the Bearcats also donated approximately $29,000 to the Samaritan House. The Canned Food Drive has been going strong since the 1990s. School records show that the Bearcats have donated over 650,000 pounds of food and $1.2 Million over the course of the past 24 years! 

San Mateo Adult School
San Mateo Adult School's Eat Healthy Be Active Community Health Program was recently awarded a grant by the Peninsula Health Care District (PHCD) at their "Making a Difference Together", 12th Annual Community Partners Event in January.  The Eat Healthy, Be Active Program is a free program offered to all community members who want to learn how to live healthy, happy lives for themselves and their families.
Drawing of a silhouette of heads with numbers falling out By the Numbers - SMUHSD Achievement
  • 93.6% graduation rate compared to the state 85.9%
  • 81% of the class of 2018 enrolled in college at any time during the first year after graduating. 
    • 275 students attending UCs
    • 274 students attending CSUs
    • 703 attending California Community Colleges
  • 2,715: Number of our 11th and 12th graders enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) Courses. This number includes students from all subgroups.
  • 96% of 2018-19 Seniors enrolled in AVID who applied to a four-year university; 85% were accepted. Read more about AVID in this edition of  eNews .
Closing Thoughts - Real Accomplishments 

drawing of a hand clap As a District, we bask in the afterglow of the accomplishments of our students. When they are admitted to a prestigious college, or win an academic award, or do something amazing, we celebrate their achievements. 

But, without diminishing these remarkable students, it is other students, with seemingly humbler triumphs, whose achievements are as laudatory. Many "average" students overcome personal trauma, debilitating illness, a difficult home life, the challenge of learning a new language in high school, or even coming to this country knowing no one. There are also students for whom school learning is much more difficult, yet they persevere. Who has accomplished more? As a school district, should we measure student achievement by where one stands at graduation or how far one has traveled during their four years at our school.

As you reflect on your own student, I encourage you to celebrate both accomplishments and journeys, and encourage others to do the same. To do so is to ennoble all our young people.

On we go!

Kevin Skelly