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SRCS Updates: Letter from the Supt; Board-Approved Budget Reductions; Legislative Action Day; One WISH to Unite; School Murals & More

Posted Date: 3/01/24 (12:26 PM)

Message from the Superintendent

Dear San Rafael City Schools Community, 

As we leave February and step into March, it was wonderful to see our schools celebrate the rich tapestry of Black history, honoring the legacies, achievements and struggles of Black individuals throughout time. It’s a time for reflection, education and action as we continue to build a more inclusive society and District. (Pictured: MJ Brass Poppers, a New Orleans-style brass band, performs at Coleman Elementary School.)

In March, we are looking forward to celebrating Women’s History Month. At our recent Board meeting, we adopted a resolution in support and recognition of Women’s History Month, and it was an especially meaningful, poignant moment considering we had all five female Student Board Members in attendance and sitting alongside the Board.   

I also want to acknowledge how difficult the budget reduction process was for our SRCS community. I thank you for your input and collaboration. Please read on for more information about the reductions further in this update. Even as we make reductions, our priority continues to be providing high-quality learning experiences and ensuring the safety of our students. Overall, we’re proud of the great work happening in our schools and classrooms, which will continue!

Thank you for all you do for our SRCS community!


Carmen Diaz Ghysels

District Budget Reductions Approved; Next Steps 

Thank you to our greater SRCS community for your engagement and feedback as we worked through the very difficult process to identify how to reduce our spending for next school year. The community has demonstrated how much our schools are valued, how collaborative everyone is and how the focus has remained on what matters most - our students.

At their meeting on Feb. 26, the Board approved the budget reductions for both the Elementary School District (funds our TK-8 grade schools) and the High School District (funds our 9-12 grade schools) for next school year. 

As next steps, SRCS will submit these lists of reductions to the Marin County Office of Education with our Second Interim Budget Report to demonstrate our districts are fiscally solvent (maintaining the minimum required reserve of 3% over the next three years). 

Importantly, throughout the remainder of this school year, the District will continue to monitor our revenue projections driven by the State budget and how they impact the implementation of these budget reductions. If projections improve, we may have the opportunity to scale back reductions, and we would do so in accordance with community feedback provided over the past few months. Furthermore, we will continue to work with both District’s Budget Advisory Committees regarding implementing budget reductions.

Related links and resources include:Thank you again to our community for collaborating toward better fiscal health while remaining committed to our educational priorities.

Board Members Advocate at Legislative Action Day

SRCS was well-represented at the Marin County Joint Legislative Advisory Committee (JLAC) Action Day at the State Capitol earlier this month. Student Board Representatives Marguerite Walden-Kaufman (San Rafael High School) and Tess Waddy (Terra Linda High School) were joined by Board Member Mo de Nieva-Marsh for a day of making connections, digging deep into issues and engaging leaders with thoughtful questions. 

This annual legislative seminar brings school board members and superintendents to meet in Sacramento with State public officials and address issues of high priority to education in Marin County. The group heard from and connected with Senate President pro tempore Mike McGuire (pictured) as well as many leading staff members and experts in the fields of education and policy. Discussion topics included the Governor's proposed budget for education; school nutrition; education workforce housing; school facilities; and other key issues. 

One WISH to Unite (Wellness, Identity, Self-Reflection & Hope):
Black Mental Health & Wellness Retreat

The Terra Linda High School Black Student Union and the TL Wellness Team hosted a very successful county-wide "One WISH to Unite" event on Feb. 28 as part of commemorating Black History Month.

Approximately 38 students, three mental health professionals and various presenters from the community participated. This day-long retreat, designed by the TL students and wellness team, created meaningful opportunities for Black students to discuss identity, belonging, mental health and wellness and other associated topics through workshops, music, art, slam poetry and more.

A special thank you to the Marin County Office of Education and CalHope for funding this event, as well as HeadsUp for supporting the Wellness Center.

Elementary School Mural Unveilings

Together with our partner Youth in Arts, we are thrilled to announce the completion of the Universe of Imagination mural at Bahia Vista Elementary School! We celebrated with a mural dedication ceremony on Feb. 29. A second Youth in Arts' student-created mural entitled Falcons in Bloom, will be dedicated at Venetia Valley TK-8 School later this spring.

These vibrant murals are the result of a collaboration between 20 emerging youth artists, from SRCS schools and throughout Marin, and professional artists and educators, Fred Alvarado and Keena Azania Ramano. Both murals exemplify the power of partnership, empowering and inspiring students and their community. They are a reminder of the importance of arts education and the transformative power of creativity in San Rafael. 

These mural projects were created as part of Youth in Arts' I AM: Intensive Arts Mentorship and Job Skills Training program, which aims to center and amplify youth voice while providing job training and arts education opportunities. The program equips participants with foundational skills such as personal presentation, collaboration, communication, timeliness and effort while encouraging a deep exploration of social justice themes through artistic practice.

Seeing these beautiful murals come together through the summer and school year with family paint days, youth artists and professional muralists all working together has been truly inspiring.

Short-Term Independent Study

Regular school attendance is essential for students to gain the academic and social skills they need to thrive. While it is important to not miss school, a SRCS short-term independent study agreement may be an option for students who know in advance that they will be out of school between 3-14 consecutive school days.

If your child may have an upcoming extended absence, please contact your school office to request an Independent Study contract at least 10 school days in advance. Prior to administrative approval, the student's attendance and academic performance will be considered. If the contract is approved, the student will be assigned work before they leave. The absences are cleared only after the classwork is returned and graded by the teacher. Learn more about the student, family, school and teacher expectations related to approved independent study for 3-14 days.

"Spring Into Reading" Literacy Celebrations

This District's second annual "Spring Into Reading" literacy celebration is coming to our TK-5 classrooms the week of March 12! Every elementary school will have literacy activities all week long including guest readers, buddy class reading, cozy reading, bookmark making and more.

Later in March, the festivities will continue with several author visits, this year highlighting women authors of color and with the theme of "Explore the World with a Book." View the schedule and check out the books and authors. These spring visits follow up on the author visits this past fall. 
Celebrating Multilingual Learner Achievement

We are proud to recognize 172 students this year who have met the criteria to be reclassified to Fluent English Proficient! This is a major accomplishment and an important milestone in a multilingual learner’s academic trajectory. Thank you to these students' families and the educators who, over the years, have contributed to their success. 

Qualifying students and their families have been sent invitations to attend our Third Annual SRCS Reclassification Ceremony on March 20.

Register Today for TK or Kindergarten!

As a reminder, new student registration is ongoing for transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten for the upcoming 2024-25 school year! Our programs cover a full school day, with after-care options available, and offer high-quality, caring teachers in enriching learning environments for your child to grow and develop.

Important reminders:
  • Our TK program is expanding: Children whose fifth birthday falls between September 2, 2024 and June 2, 2025 are eligible for TK for the 2024-25 school year. Every SRCS elementary school will have at least one TK class. TK is a high-quality early learning program the year before Kindergarten. Classrooms are language rich and joyful and promote learning through play, social emotional growth and self-regulation skills.
  • Kindergarten: Children who will be 5-years-old on or before Sept. 1, 2024 are eligible to enroll for the 2024-25 school year.
  • Our Dual Language Program is continuing at Venetia Valley! We are enrolling in TK and Kindergarten. Learn more:
Learn more and register today!

San Rafael City Schools  |
310 Nova Albion Way, San Rafael, CA 9490