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Looking Toward the Future: San José Unified’s Employee Housing Initiative

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Advisory Committees & Groups

San José Unified’s advisory committees and groups offer opportunities for parents, teachers, students, and community members to make a significant impact on the district and our schools. We value input from all of our stakeholders on key issues and initiatives, and we encourage you to get involved.

Learn more about these opportunities below, and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you’re interested in participating.

Meeting Times & Locations

Advisory committee meetings are generally held on Monday evenings at 6:00PM at the District Office, 855 Lenzen Ave., San José, CA 95126. Please check the District Calendar for updated times and locations.

Meetings are open to the public.

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Parcel Tax

Measure Y was approved by more than 67% of voters in the General Election of November 8, 2016. It assesses a $72 per parcel annual tax on properties within San José Unified School District, beginning in 2017-18 and effective through 2024-25 (8 years).

The parcel tax is projected to raise $5 million in annual local funding to support San José Unified’s efforts to:

  • Maintain and improve core academic programming in reading, writing, math, the arts and science;
  • Improve programs to prepare students for college and 21st century careers; and
  • Attract and retain high performing teachers and educational staff.

Click here to read the full text of Measure Y
Click here to view a presentation to the Board of Education from January 26, 2017

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District Information

San José Unified is an innovative urban school district that prepares today’s students to be the thinkers, leaders, and creators of tomorrow. We are reinventing the education system by bringing together teachers and staff with parents and students, inspiring each to discover their own greatness.

Serving over 30,000 students from transitional kindergarten through high school in 41 schools from Downtown San José to the Almaden Valley, San José Unified is Silicon Valley’s largest and most diverse school system.

To see our boundaries and find a school, visit our School Locator.

Click here to learn about San José Unified.

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Board of Education

The San José Unified Board of Education traditionally meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month in the Board Room at the District Office, 855 Lenzen Ave., San José, CA 95126. Regular Meetings begin at 6:00pm, except as noted or when a Closed Session is scheduled.

The Board will enter Closed Session at 5:00pm to consider items that are not subject to the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act – primarily discipline, personnel, and other legal matters. Closed Sessions are not open to the general public. The Superintendent will report all actions taken by the Board in Closed Session during the Regular Meeting.

Please note that dates, times, and locations of Board meetings are subject to change. Any changes will be noticed in a timely fashion. You should always check the district calendar for the most current information.

Click here to submit any questions regarding Board agendas, minutes, and meetings.

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Policies & Regulations

San José Unified is governed by policies and regulations established by the Board of Education and the California Education Code. Some of these policies can be found below.

To review our complete policies and regulations, please visit this online portal and enter the following public username and password.

Username: public
Password: sanjose

Click here to access the main index and use the search tool in the right sidebar to find policies by keyword(s).

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The Challenge

Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Rent has been rising faster in San José and the surrounding area than just about anywhere else in the country for over a decade and housing cost increases show no signs of slowing down. The high cost of living in this area is forcing many of our students and employees out.

San José Unified offers unparalleled supports and professional development opportunities for the people who work here. Whether they support our students as a bus driver, custodian, teacher, secretary, or principal, our employees have great benefits and salaries competitive with those in many area districts. But public education in California is inequitably and inadequately funded. Some of our neighbors are basic aid districts, which means their local property tax revenue exceeds the state’s minimum funding guarantee and goes directly to their public schools. They thus have considerably more money to devote to employee compensation than we have, making it tough for us to compete with what they can offer. Especially given the statewide teacher shortage, it is getting harder to recruit and retain the innovative workforce that makes the San José Unified school system excellent.

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The Opportunity

The Teacher Housing Act of 2016 encourages school districts to use state and local funds to construct employee housing. Other legislation extends the property tax exemption for schools to affordable rental housing for school employees on district land. Together, these laws mean school districts can build rental units and offer them to school employees at substantial discounts, perhaps even below half of market rates. The laws offer districts a creative way to raise the standard of living for teachers and other school staff.

Land is one of San José Unified’s most valuable assets. We own 70 acres in the Almaden Valley in addition to dozens of school sites. We’ve also been examining how to better align student needs with district facilities. Due in no small part to the housing affordability issues San José Unified families are facing, we are dealing with enrollment imbalances. Some schools are undersubscribed and can offer fewer programs to students as a result. Others are close to capacity, meaning they may soon be forced to turn away families who wish to attend. In addition, while our current facilities serve students well, school design has advanced considerably since some of them were built. The introduction of new incentives to build employee housing provides us with a unique opportunity to realign enrollment, upgrade facilities, and simultaneously help our employees navigate the rising cost of living.

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Timeline

August 17, 2017 (Board Meeting): Board approves creation of an advisory committee on enrollment projections and the utilization of San José Unified facilities.

October 10, 2017: Advisory Committee on Current Enrollment, Enrollment Projections, and Utilization of District Facilities recommends a comprehensive review of facilities needs and immediate attention to enrollment imbalances.

October 19, 2017 (Board Meeting): Board adopts Resolution 2018-10-19-01, committing San José Unified to being “a partner in the effort to positively address the City’s affordable housing crisis.”

August 23, 2018 (Board Meeting): Staff present an update on enrollment and San José Unified properties, asking for guidance on whether to maintain the status quo, continue to monitor the issues, or prepare a plan for how to potentially move forward. Board directs staff to prepare a plan.

September 13, 2018 (Board Meeting): Board adopts staff recommendation to identify a set of properties that have the potential to 1) better serve students, 2) positively address enrollment imbalances across schools, and 3) support employee housing projects.

September 27, 2018 (Board Meeting): Staff present nine properties that can potentially 1) better serve students, 2) positively address enrollment imbalances across schools, and 3) support employee housing projects. Board instructs staff to begin exploring the feasibility of projects involving the nine properties.

October 3, 2018: At the request of employees and community members, San José Unified hosts an informational meeting on the potential plan for properties at Leland High School.

October 17, 2018: At the request of employees and community members, San José Unified hosts an informational meeting on the potential plan for properties at Gardner Elementary School.

November 26, 2018: Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee discusses the potential plan for properties.

February 7, 2019 (Board Meeting): New Board members receive an informational update on the nine properties that can potentially 1) better serve students, 2) positively address enrollment imbalances across schools, and 3) support employee housing projects.

March 28, 2019 (Board Meeting): Board approves contract with The Schoennauer Company LLC to help prioritize and move forward with finalizing properties that can 1) better serve students, 2) positively address enrollment imbalances across schools, and 3) support employee housing projects.

June 27, 2019 (Board Meeting): Board approves contract with Kelly Snider Consulting and extends contract with The Schoennauer Company LLC to help prioritize and move forward with finalizing properties that can 1) better serve students, 2) positively address enrollment imbalances across schools, and 3) support employee housing projects.

Next steps: Consultants will assist staff with the research and review of potential projects involving the nine identified properties in order to develop recommendations on which projects should move forward.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the nine potential properties and how were they selected?

The chart below, first presented at the September 27, 2018 Board meeting, shows the nine properties staff believe can potentially 1) better serve students, 2) positively address enrollment imbalances across schools, and 3) support employee housing projects. Despite housing the state’s flagship two-way bilingual immersion program, for instance, River Glen would benefit from different facilities. Bachrodt, Bret Harte, Burnett, Leland, and Second Start-Pine Hill were also built several decades ago and, while meeting student needs, don’t provide the same amenities present in schools designed today. Several sites on the list also face enrollment challenges. Many families have to cross freeways to get to Gardner, Bret Harte and Leland are running up against capacity constraints, Burnett is far away from the high school it feeds into, and the boundaries around Olinder currently divert families who live across the street to a different school. In addition, each property – whether because of nearby parks, proximity to transit, or other factors – would provide a suitable location for employee housing. Each property’s “major consideration” will be a key factor in determining whether or not a project there is ultimately feasible.

How many employees would this project serve?

San José Unified is committed to providing housing options for at least 10% of our workforce, or about 300 employees. We are also committed to providing affordable options for employees at a variety of income levels.

How have you assessed the demand and need for employee housing?

We have looked at statewide trends, current hiring challenges, and feedback from departing employees, including teachers. San José Unified faces a serious bus driver shortage and has lost a number of quality employees due to affordability issues in recent years. We have also listened to our employee groups, who have highlighted the challenges posed by the cost-of-living in this area and expressed an interest in creative solutions. We believe it’s important to take action now so that, ten years from now, we can still fill all of our positions with high-quality staff.

What type of housing would San José Unified build?

All new housing would be consistent with other housing in the neighborhood in which it is built. Some locations might be ideal for single-family homes; in others, high-density apartments might make more sense.

How long will it take to build employee housing?

The length of time will vary depending on the specific characteristics and major considerations of each site. Projects that would invoke the need for new school construction would likely take at least five to seven years, whereas other projects could potentially come to fruition in the next two to three years. We will develop a clearer timeline when we begin moving forward with a subset of properties.

Could San José Unified buy existing housing instead of building new housing?

Theoretically, but new construction on land we already own would be significantly cheaper than purchasing housing on the open market. Individual buildings scattered around the city would also be much harder to maintain than contiguous properties.

How much will these projects cost and who will fund them?

We actually don’t know yet – there are too many variables to assign a realistic cost estimate until we narrow the list of potential sites and conduct a thorough analysis of the finalists. We plan to work with Santa Clara County, the City of San José, the state of California, and any other interested partners to identify funding options.

This effort includes better facilities for our students in addition to employee housing, and depending on the amount of funding that we are able to secure, a general obligation bond is a possibility. We are fortunate to currently have one of the lowest general obligation bond tax rates among school districts in Santa Clara County.

Why are you hiring consultants?

At the February 7, 2019 Board meeting, staff committed to interviewing and recommending to the Board consultants with land use and construction expertise who could assist with this complex project. Those with expertise in these areas can help us move employee housing forward in the best locations possible and enable district staff to continue to focus on the day-to-day work of educating our 30,000 students.

What is the plan for San José Unified’s 70 acres of land in the Almaden Valley?

As discussed at the October 3 informational meeting, San José Unified hopes to partner with Santa Clara County to increase the total amount of public space in the Almaden Valley. The land San José Unified currently owns could connect county parkland and there’s a similarly sized plot of land off of Harry Road that is currently privately held. If we can negotiate a land exchange, Santa Clara County would get increased park space and bike trails while San José Unified would retain the same amount of land in an area closer to the rest of our district. Because of the clear public benefit it would bring, San José Unified plans to pursue this concept irrespective of the employee housing initiative and master plan process.

What other information is available on this topic?

San José Unified is in the early stages of this process; the information above covers everything we know at this time. Those interested can also peruse our full set of supporting documents, presentations, and contracts. We won’t know the answers to most site-specific questions until we begin moving forward with a subset of properties.

We will continue to update this webpage as new information becomes available. In the meantime, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you have additional questions.

What media coverage has this issue received?

Articles about our efforts have appeared in The New York Times, CityLab, Fast Company, and other media outlets. There has also been extensive reporting, including in The Mercury News, on the area’s affordable housing crisis.

Can I share feedback on this initiative?

Absolutely! We’ve moved one step at a time to facilitate a transparent public discussion before any big decisions are made. You’re always welcome at our Board meetings and town halls, of course, but please also feel free to send us an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at any time. We will have more to share about community engagement and additional opportunities for feedback, and will also have additional answers to questions, after we have consultants in place.

Thank you for your interest in this project. We are excited about its potential to help us better prepare today’s students to be the leaders, thinkers, and creators of tomorrow and look forward to partnering with you to seize this opportunity.

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Carla Collins


Carla Collins

Board Member

Trustee Area #3 (See map)

Term Expires: December 2020

Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Phone: 408-535-6078

Biography:

A San José native, Carla Collins graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Philosophy and a special emphasis in Ethnic Studies. Carla currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy, part of the Equity and Social Justice Division of the Office of the County Executive. In this role she oversees strategic initiatives to increase civic engagement while ensuring that local government brings a gender lens to policy and decision making, builds the pipeline for women and girls’ leadership, and demands equity. For over 16 years Carla has trained and facilitated dialogues on prejudice reduction, civil liberties, and human rights, fostering community collaboration and bridging community to government.

Carla was appointed to the San José Unified Board of Education in January 2019 and is committed to each of the nine schools in Area 3. With her husband, Scott, she is proud to be raising three vibrant, bilingual children to be strong, active members of the community, all of whom attend San José Unified Schools.

Schools Represented

Committee Involvement

District Audit Committee, Representative
Bond Oversight Committee – Measure H, Alternate
Parcel Tax Oversight Committee – Measure Y, Representative

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José Magaña


José Magaña

Board Member

Trustee Area #2 (See map)

Term Expires: December 2022

Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Phone: 408-535-6078

Biography:

Originally from Ceres, California, José Magaña received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California-Santa Barbara. The first male in his family to graduate from a four year university, José began his professional career in education as a kindergarten teacher in San José.  After spending four years in the classroom, he transitioned into education technology as a national instructional coach and district consultant.  He has coached and worked alongside more than 500 teachers, leaders, and school districts across the country to better incorporate technology into their math instruction, and implement a highly effective early literacy program that supports the individualized needs of every student. Currently, José is on the Senior Leadership Team as the Managing Director of Impact for City Year San José/Silicon Valley. He also serves as a commissioner on the Library and Early Education Commission for the City of San José. José, and his wife Ellyn, also an educator, are expecting their first child later this year.

Schools Represented:

Committee Involvement

  • County Committee on School District Organization, Alternate
  • CAC – Special Education (SELPA IV), Alternate
  • District English Learners Advisory Committee - DELAC, Representative
  • Budget Advisory Committee - Representative
  • Standing Advisory Committee on the Voluntary Integration Plan, Representative
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Brian Wheatley

Brian Wheatley

Board Member

Trustee Area #4 (See map)

Term Expires: December 2022

Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Phone: 408-535-6078

Biography:

Born in New York,  Brian moved to Southern California with his mother and sister as a young child.  Upon graduating from high school, he received a scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he studied political science and met his future wife, Danielle.  Shortly after graduating from UCLA, Brian moved to Berkeley, CA and a few years later to San Jose, CA.  He began his career in public education with the Evergreen School District where he has worked as a teacher for the past 25 years.  A member of the Evergreen School District,  he was elected as the Evergreen Teachers’ Association President in 2008 and stays abreast of education related topics and issues through Working Partnerships (WPUSA) trainings and workshops and by attending numerous California Teachers Association (CTA) and National Education Association (NEA) conferences.  Brian, who has lived with cerebral palsy his entire life, is a staunch advocate for all students, particularly those children who may have special needs. 

Danielle, who began her career as a librarian with the City of San Jose, returned to school for a teaching credential and is now a kindergarten teacher in San Jose. The Wheatleys have two adult children; one a musician in New Orleans and the other a teacher at Overfelt High School in San Jose, CA.  In 2016, they became interim foster guardians to two teenage students from Ethiopia, helping them navigate a new country and new school. 

Schools Represented:

Committee Involvement:

  • Metropolitan Education District Governing Board, Alternate
  • Santa Clara County School Boards Association Executive Board (SCCSBA)
  • CAC – Special Education (SELPA IV), Representative
  • Budget Advisory Committee , Alternate
  • SJU Council of PTAs, Representative
  • Bond Oversight Committee – Measure H, Representative
  • Parcel Tax Oversight Committee – Measure Y,  Alternate
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Board Members

The Board of Education is comprised of five members elected by trustee area and one student board member appointed each year by the Board of Education. Trustees for odd-numbered areas are chosen by voters during presidential elections. Trustees for even-numbered areas are voted on during gubernatorial elections.

Click here to meet the current Board Members.

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San José Unified Continues to Progress in Key Focus Areas on Statewide Assessments

SAN JOSÉ CA – The San José Unified School District continued to see improvement on statewide results for a fourth consecutive year of Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessment exams, outperforming many comparable school districts according to a recently released California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) report by the California Department of Education (CDE).

San José Unified students exceeded statewide assessment results at all grade levels in Language Arts and Mathematics, with the exception of one grade level (eleventh grade) in Language Arts.  The results continue to be even with or better than comparable school districts.

Positive growth in key focus areas continued for San José Unified, reflecting areas where the district has made a significant investment in improvement:

  • Broad incremental growth within the district suggests that continuing focus on early literacy is having a positive impact on students as they progress to higher grade levels.
  • A focus on early literacy has led to ongoing gains in the district’s elementary grades in language arts.
  • Progress at many grade levels is seen for English Learners and economically disadvantaged students; the district continues to identify new tools and approaches that will support these specific focus areas.
  • For middle school students, the district is seeing growth from grade level to grade level.  An expanding math focus into elementary along with an external assessment for grades 3-8 was implemented this school year.

Assessment results for Hispanic/Latino students were lower than state results in the same student category, underscoring the importance of San José Unified’s commitment to and focus on its Hispanic/Latino population.

“San José Unified has high expectations for all our students.  Our progress on statewide assessments reflects our commitment to a rigorous curriculum that inspires all students to discover their own greatness.  We also recognize that we need to continue to go above and beyond to ensure that all students are meeting San José Unified’s high expectations.” Commented San José Unified Superintendent Nancy Albarrán. 
The CDE State Dashboard considers a variety of factors to gauge performance, including SBAC results, attendance, graduation and suspension rates, and college and career readiness.  This is part of a nationwide shift toward broader and more comprehensive measures of success. 
San José Unified supports college and career readiness for high school students by investing in free PSAT and SAT days on campus and focusing on retention and diversity in AP/IB classes,  “San José Unified goes beyond the status quo to reach the unexpected.  More advanced placement courses, more diversity of students enrolled in them, only $5 per exam, and a free SAT for all juniors are just some of the ways we have come together to elevate opportunities for all.” Superintendent Albarrán continued.

Students in grades three through eight along with those in grade eleven took the SBAC exams for the first time during the 2014-15 school year.  These online assessments feature a variety of different types of questions and require students to display a deeper understanding of key concepts.

To view complete SBAC results at the state, county, district, and school level, visit https://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/.

About San José Unified

San José Unified is an innovative urban school district that prepares today’s students to be the thinkers, leaders, and creators of tomorrow.  Serving 30,000 students from transitional kindergarten through high school in 41 schools from Downtown San José to Almaden Valley, San José Unified is Silicon Valley’s largest, most diverse, and most innovative school district.

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Kavya Kotha

Alternate Student Board Member

Term Expires: 2020

Phone:(408) 535-6078

Biography:
Student at San José High School

 

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