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CJ Cammack

Sue Casey
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

Superintendent's Message - January 2018

Mindset, Intentionality, Instruction, Access

MUSD Community, 

Happy New Year!  As we all welcome 2018, hopefully over the winter break everyone enjoyed extra time with those close to them and our amazing staff had a chance to recharge their batteries with some relaxation.  Students, especially those at AHS, will be coming back to school this week and preparing for finals, which take place January 16th - 19th.

For many high school age students, this places them in a position where they are less able to enjoy a true “vacation” from the stress of school and studying.  There are many important considerations, founded in research, supporting the concept that students of today face different and more intense stresses and/or challenges than their parents did in school.  Many additional aspects of recent research address how hard students work for their success, but also highlight the need for students to have unstructured time in their lives for relaxation and creative play. For these reasons, in addition to a myriad of other factors and in collaboration with all our employee groups, the District recently approved a new instructional calendar for the 2018-2019 school year which allows finals to happen prior to the winter break.

This was accomplished without having to start the year earlier.  It does create an unequal amount of days in the second and first semesters for secondary students, but this is generally offset by the number of days students spend taking standardized tests in the second semester in addition to end-of-the-year activities. These changes bring us into alignment with other districts in Contra Costa County and will allow students to be done with their finals, enjoy a full winter break without worrying about pending finals upon their return, and start their second semester when they come back from break.  In addition, this will mirror many college schedule sequences of finals prior to a winter break.  All MUSD students will be on the same school calendar in 2018-2019 in terms of overall school days, and holidays, etc. This change is specific to only the grading periods for high school students and their related final exams that fall within the established calendar. You may view the 2018-2019 calendar here: 2018-2019 School Calendar

As noted in my December newsletter, the District is responding to a recent challenge under the California Voting Rights Act. There is a lengthy description of this issue in my last newsletter (link: December Newsletter).  As promised, I want to keep you updated on developments for this issue.  During our January 8, 2018 Board Meeting, our Board of Education will consider three initial draft maps of possible trustee areas.  These are only draft maps intended for public input and feedback from Board Members as well.  In the coming month these will be revised and reworked multiple times based on feedback.  Here is a link to view a version of three different draft maps for new trustee areas. (Link: Draft Maps)

As we enter 2018, we will move directly into discussions of ongoing budget reductions.  As you may recall, the District made significant reductions in our ongoing expenditures last year of roughly 1.3 million dollars.  The District continues to face unfunded mandates from the state of California, without any significant increase in ongoing funding from the state.  Last year, most of the reductions were comprised of positions within our district office and minor reductions in discretionary funding allocations to school sites. With the continued need to reduce ongoing expenditures we will again be considering significant ongoing reductions to our overall budget.  It remains my key focus to ensure the students of MUSD are as protected as possible from the negative impacts of our budget.

Later this month, I will be traveling to Sacramento to hear about the Governor’s proposed budget for the next year and will hear analysis of how school districts, including MUSD, should plan for the next two to three years based on this proposed state budget and its related impact on public education. With continued overall economic growth, there is hope that the Governor’s proposed budget will provide an increase in funding for public education. However, there are many competing interests across the entire state budget, and any proposed budget must then be approved by legislators. I am hopeful our elected officials in Sacramento will provide a better level of funding for our students and our staff across the state.

As things progress through the state and local level budget discussions, I will be sure to keep our community informed of any significant developments.  These budget issues are a significant challenge, however, I believe with the leadership in MUSD and the support of our staff and community we will remain focused on our goal of providing the best educational product possible for our students.

CJ CammackSincerely, 

CJ Cammack, Superintendent
Martinez Unified School District

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