Chants by a crowd of parents and community members yelling :My body, my rights!” “Freedom!” “No masks at this meeting!” opened the Snowline Joint Unified School Board meeting Tuesday evening with some children present. The protocols state that when indoors at a school function, and when children are present, masks must be worn. Mask earing is optional when adults only are present, but adults must be fully vaccinated and maintain self-attestation on that matter of the vaccination policy. Snowline Policy in protection vests circulated at the beginning of the meeting. The eruptions began as the board members and administrators began to assemble after closed session. The yelling of slurs and disrespects were disruptions that lasted for approximately 37 minutes before the meeting could start. As Board President, Marcus Hernandez, asked to the meeting to come to order stating the rules of decorum. The community members still remained unruly. After a brief consultation with other board members and Superintendent Dr. Ryan Holman, Hernandez stated to the audience that if order would not be restored, the board meeting would be canceled and rescheduled. Finally, a few voices of reason from the audience asked the crowd to settle down and stop the chanting so the meeting could be productive. In spite of the disrespect directed at them, the board allowed the mask mandate to be optional for this meeting. Board members and the administrators kept their masks on. The crowd remained quiet for the rest of the meeting with only a few interruptions. With calmness restore the board meeting could proceed with community comments. The following is a brief summary of some of the over 43 remarks or more made to the board. Many community members stated that if the board persists on mandating vaccinations and masks in Snowline District, they would take their kids out of Snowline and move out of state. Other speakers felt that the vaccination protocols were made from propaganda at the government level. Insults continued to be interlaced in many community comments and directed at the board and administrators. Some of the accusations stated that if the actions and words of the Board of Trustees do not comply with the perceived responsibilities by the board, then the board is following or making up lies. “Do you have the courage to stand up to Governor Newsom stating that ‘We will not comply,’ Stand with us and we will back you, pay your bail and fines’.” Some people felt that vaccination and testing policies are discriminatory in nature due to those who do not get the vaccination. Some parents said their children are in fear of dying if they get the vaccine. Parents of special needs students say they have to stand up for their children because, according to their knowledge, they may have compromised health issues that may have severe interactions with the shots. Many people felt that they were against the vaccine mandate because they did not trust the Science involved in the studies approved by the government and that some results were hidden. A Science teacher stated that “In science there is always a consequence – nothing is free.” Several high school students spoke of breathing disorders that are exasperated due to wearing a mask when playing sports indoors and some may have other health complications by being forced to be vaccinated. “Kids should have a choice,” they said. One mom stated that the schools have to be given parental permission by the parent for the school to give a child an aspirin, so it is even more important for a child to have parental permission for the COVID-19 shot. Some children may have long term side effects that are currently unknown now. Some parents felt that when their child was quarantined for illness, the required make up grades were not fair. Others were worried but a heart condition called myocarditis relating it to being vaccinated for COVID_19 or unvaccinated but relying natural immunity, (Myocarditis is a rare condition whether vaccinated or unvaccinated but more prevalent for the unvaccinated. See: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/ circulationha. 121.056135). Some people from the floor and others whose statements were read from online, thanked the board for their efforts to continue to follow the federals, state, and local protocols that keep their children safe by adhering to and acknowledging mandates from the State and County. A combat vet of Vietnam reminded the audience that the soldiers took shots when they enlisted. He stated that it is necessary for the Trustees of the Board to follow the rules mandated to them by Federal, State, and County mandates. He added that the issues that many in the audience are upset about are at the state legislature levels and Governor’s Office. This is where the change needs to be made and resolved. As the board meeting continued, Dr. Holman gave his Learning Design Plan Update for 2021-22 school year, specifically relating to the most current data in the Snowline District. Students have two options for learning: In-Person Learning for 5-days per week and Snowline’s Home School academy. The date showed some decrease in COVID-19 cases in Snowline JUSD per 100K people since August 28, 2021 (33.10 cases per 1—L0 until October 16, 2021 (14 cases) and also some decreases New Weekly Youth cases since August 28, 2021 (33. Cases) until October 16 (14.3cases). this is a decline, but numbers may change due to the winter flu season. Possible Vaccination Events will be held at Wrightwood Elementary School for COVIC-19 and flu shots. Snowline is working out the details with San Bernardino Country. An overview of Newsom’s State Requirement Plan regarding student vaccinations are as follow: Vaccines my be added to the list: Regulation v. Legislation is waiting for the required health order for the implementation of student vaccinations, State will wait for student vaccination pending full FDA approval with grade 7-12 first, then grade TK-6: EXEMPTIONS allowed with Regulations pertaining to MEDICAL, RELIGIOUS, and PERSONAL BELIEFS. Holman presented the State requirements regarding thee validation of staff vaccinations or testing those who are unvaccinated. Testing unvaccinated staff is in the second week of operation now. Latest information regarding vaccination availability update for the booster approvals for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson will be upcoming for adults 18 years and older. Frequently Asked Questions are as follows: Question from stakeholders: Is the board going to develop a letter or resolution in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent vaccine requirements? Answer from the board: The board agreed to present letters from board members and a resolution at the next meeting. Question: If (the stakeholders) want to send their own letters, where do they send it? Answer: Sending copies of such letters to Governor avin Newsom’s office and to our local representatives is probably the most effective way to communicate with our elected officials. Recommended Next Step: Board needs to determine the Next Step; follow COVID-19 safety measures; Communicate important information; Support one another; #SnowlineKind; #SnowlineFamily; #SnowlineUnited.
State deferrals forces Snowline into possible debt of $19 million
By Vicky Rinek
The Snowline Joint Unified The Snowline Joint Unified School District, SJUSD, will be facing a shortfall in revenue of $5 million in April and possibly an additional $14 million through June 2021 due to Governor Newsom’s deferral of Snowline’s Funds. On January 12, 2021, a presentation to the SJUSD Board Robert Chacon, Assistant Superintendent, explained the situation and their plans to deal with the shortfall. Chacon explained the current dilemma that most schools in California are facing, their plans to continue with the high standards of education and cover the shortfall through a Tax Revenue Anticipation Note (TRAN). Robert Chacon stated, “Last Friday, the Governor came out with his budget proposal. There’s still a lot of uncertainty around his proposed budget. It has a lot of great things in the budget for schools, but it’s just a proposal at this point, and it still has to go to the legislation for their approval.” Chacon continues, “The Governor indicated that he plans to pay down the 20/21 referrals around November 2021. However, there was a little misinterpretation. The referrals about the frozen 20/21 funds are still in question and anticipation of the 20/21 deferrals repayment.” Chacon continues, “Unfortunately, we got some verification from the California Department of Finance that the referrals are still in place. That is why we are moving forward with the TRAN.” A state or local government issue a tax anticipation note with the understanding that a certain amount of taxes will be collected within an appreciable period of time. The note allows the municipality to fund capital projects now rather than waiting for the taxes’ actual collection. Snowline administrators request the Board to approve $5 million, not to exceed $19 million, in obtaining BTRAN Bond funds. “This is something I don’t want to tap into, to be quite honest,” said Chacon. Chacon indicated that a lot can be done now and in between June to cover that deficit, which will make up that shortfall. “There’s a possibility of federal stimulus coming that could help cover that shortfall, so I feel strongly that we need to move forward with the TRAN, just in case.” Chico says, “It’s still a debt, and I feel like just adding to our overall debt is counterproductive to what we should be doing for Snowline.” Snowline is working with the bond attorney as many legalities are to be examined and their experts in issuing bonds. “If we opt out of the agreement, there’s no harm, no foul right now to move forward.” Said Chacon. The interest rate has not been set but is expected to be .3 to 1.5 percent. “The less we borrow, the less interest we have to pay. The interest rate won’t be locked in until the bonds are issued,” said Chacon. California Schools Finance Authority is planning to issue bonds on March 8, 2021. Chacon added that Snowline would not exceed the 20/21 deferral amounts with these bonds. “If the Board approves the resolution, the administrators can always come back in the next meeting in February to make any necessary changes to the resolution.” said Chaco. “Ryan and I debated and agreed to move forward with the TRANS act as needed. We’re going to do what’s in the best interest of our District.” Marcus Hernandez, President of the Board, asked, “Why can’t the $5 million shortfall be leverage against Snowline’s reserve?” Administrators want to keep the reserve for a possible emergency when they have no other options available. Chacon indicated that depleting the account would put the District at risk. The Bonds are at low rates now, and if the District has applied for a max of $19 million, Snowline only pays interest on the portion they withdraw and not on the used amount. Chacon says he’s equally concerned that the State will not pay the 20/21 deferral to Snowline soon enough, and the Governor could increase the deferrals and not get additional aid to Snowline. If Snowline doesn’t anticipate this possibility, they would not be able to meet their payroll. Hernandez asked, ‘Is there any fees in obtaining these Bonds?” Chaco answered, “There’s a $5,000 loan fee to get the thing started.” Chacon indicated that Snowline wouldn’t know the interest rate until the end of this month. The final amount and the interest rate could be set in February and the funds distributed starting around March 8. Hernandez calculated, “At 1.5 percent, it’s essentially around $6,000 a month interest accrual.” Nathan Bristol, a Board member, said, “At $10 million at the .3 percent would be $2500 a month.” The Board agreed to the resolution and voted in favor of the Snowline participating in the TRANS act to obtain $5 million and not exceed $19 million.
Snowline Joint Unified School District provides fact on COVID-19
By Vicky Rinek
Tuesday, January 12: Dr. Ryan Holman, Superintendent of SJUSC, presented the highlights of the District’s data on what they have accomplished and what is in the future for the schools’ staff and their students, as well as the community at large. All the Snowline Schools’ boundaries remain in the purple tier, the highest level of concern and the most restricted as pertaining to the returning of in-person learning at the schools. Dr. Holman indicated no available ICU beds in the High Desert and health officials proving services for patients are under extreme challenges. He continued to mention that the public needs to do their civic duty to bring down the positive testing numbers and prevent the rise in outbreak numbers and increase the demand for our hospitals. Holman stressed that the education community needs to work together to bring us down to a tier that would allow students and educators to return to the classroom. His presentation included important information on the current status, incentive Grants, testing at the schools, and the COVID-19 vaccine distribution operation. Within the Snowline School District covering an area population of 43,987, report a total number of cases of 3,016 and youth cases of (age 5-9) 336 Phelan 14,747 reports 1,245 cases and six deaths. Piñon Hills 8,042 reports 305 cases and two deaths. Wrightwood’s population of 5,177 reports 270 cases and one death. Snowline border goes into other communities: Victorville, with a population of 43,987, reports a total number of 3,016 cases, of which 336 represent youth ages 5 to 19 and deaths of 96 Oak Hills 9,488 report 1,137 cases and one death Within the Snowline boundaries, Snowline School goals for In-person cohorts and ES waivers will be determined on February 16. Based on the overall community numbers and whether the school sports department will start up again, it will be determined with the February 16 numbers. Dr. Holman, “First of all, I want to attract attention to In-person cohorts in elementary schools’ waivers and give you an update on that information. We certainly want to consider getting ourselves back, but safety is always the primary concern, and that is why we are where we are until February 16.” The elementary school waivers include Piñon Hills Elementary, which was previously approved as a long-term school waiver; however, this area returned to the purple tier because of the community condition of COVID-91. Hopefully, plans for the middle school opening and outdoor sports programs won’t be available until February 16, after monitoring conditions and there is a significant drop in cases. “We will continue to monitor ourselves, but safety is always our primary concern. A State budget has not been finalized and plans for a $2 billion grant has been put on the table for all schools. This Grant represents an incentive payment of $450 per student to get them back into the classroom and In-person learning. The Grant’s deadline is February 1, and the administration team is working on completing the Grant application. However, the complete guidelines have not been forwarded to Snowline, and without them, the Grant committee is unable to complete the process. Also, Snowline has to get out of the purple tier to qualify for the Grant. The Grant committee will go ahead and prepare the Grant application, under the assumption that Snowline will be out of the purple tier and have all safety protocols in place. In the event Snowline fails to meet the State requirements, there is another Grant opportunity in March. Part of the requirements for the Grant is to have students and teachers tested for COVID-19. Snowline is preparing for testing that would cover grade K through High School in the middle of February or until there is a significant drop in numbers of COVID-19 cases. “We will take measures that are in place and should be in place to ensure the safety of all the kids.” Said Dr. Holman. Vaccination procedures are being finalized The three phases outlined by San Bernardino are Phase 1A vaccines currently being vaccinated, Phase 1B (February ?); all educators, students, and essential workers (dentist, pharmacy, laboratory, and medical support), 75+ and 65+ years old, and congregate settings. In Phase 1C – (April ?); 50-64 years old, 16-49 years old with underlying conditions, and essential workers with high exposure. Dr. Holman got the word that large facilities, i.e., Disneyland, San Bernardino Fairgrounds, sports stadiums, will be target locations. Additional locations are possible, including CVS and Walgreen pharmacy. Victor Valley College has indicated that they have three extreme-low temperature freezers available that could house the vaccines. Brian Holman is working with other superintendents and linking their arms together to help bring the resources up here and accelerate the vaccination process in any way possible, so they have identified points of distribution (POD). Locally, one POD identified is in Wrightwood. San Bernardino has targeted Wrightwood as a POD because in past trials, they had successfully distributed the flu vaccines. Dr. Holman and his team are working on expanding the POD locations to cover Piñon Hills Middle School, Quail Valley Middle School, or Baldy Mesa Elementary School, where the eastern end of the community will be covered. These sites have not received confirmation as of this date yet. Dr. Holman will continue to update the Board at the January 26 meeting with more clarification on what’s safe for our schools. Robert Holman said, “so, we appreciate your support in the notion of us making the decision that is necessary to ensure safety across our entire Snowline learning community and will always continue to do that and keep you abreast of all the necessary changes.”
February 25, 2020
Winners of 2020 Science Fair Announced
First place Lindsay Masseth (blue ribbon), second place Verona Casalicchio (red ribbon), third place team Addison Forshaw and Riley Carone (yellow ribbons)
By Donna Alvarez
Celebration night took place at the school board Tuesday night as middle school students and their parents filled the Snowline Joint Unified School District (SJUSD) Boardroom. Charlotte Eckenroth, Coordinator of Snowline’s Science Fair Program in charge of Quality and Learning Support, presented the prestigious awards. Over 30 judges scored the projects and were impressed by the creativity and scientific investigations of students. Eckenroth thanked the parents: “You no doubt supported your children’s passions in many countless ways at home. Also, special thanks to the teachers for going the extra mile this year with the students.” She asked the young scientists to come forward and receive their awards: • Genesis Arauz: “Will It Attract?” • Shayna Bailey: “Prevention, Now or Never” • Taylorvon Bruce: “Killin’ It” •Team - Jacob Brown and Jonathan Buckelew: “Pure to the Taste” •• Third Place Winners: Team - Riley Carone and Addison Forshaw: “Passion to Imagine” •• Second Place Winner: Verona Casalicchio: “How Do Hue Feel?” •Team - Trysta Crimmins and Brookelyn Madole: “Safe in the Sun” • Kace Dyerly: “Salty Water” • Jada Echols: “Make It Rain” Emmalee Excarzaga: “Hands Down Best Learning Around” • Katie Foster: “Busting Rust” • Audrey Galbraith: “PH Stomach Ache” • Agram Gomez: “Musical Mangos” • Sadie Grijalva: “Dancers Have Skills” • Jonathan Jeong: “Music to my Roots” •Kelly Johnson: “Spot that Dot” •Carter Markey: “An Analysis of Which Type of Gas Lasts the Longest” •• First Place Winner: Lindsay Masseth: “Energy in a Bottle” • Jackson Mersman: “Ignorance is Bliss” • Ryan Mickelson: “A League of their Own” •Areyna Mitchell: “Green Eggs and Ham” •Team - Kyle Nickerson and Hunter Way: “Blinded by the Light” • Emily Smith: “Garbage to Garden” • Brynne Staley: “Which Laundry Detergent is Best?” • Ava Steinmann: “Food Waste Not in Good Taste” • Samantha Thurber: “Persuasive Perception”
Ryan Holman, Ed.D. Superintendent Snowline Joint Unified School District
School Opening updates and COVID-19 letter to parents
Each Monday we receive COVID-19 data from the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. This week’s daily case rate numbers in the Snowline JUSD boundaries went up slightly from the previous week. Our communities remain in the deep purple tier due to the high virus transmission rates. As we continue to prioritize safety, please keep wearing masks, watching your distances, and washing your hands. Together we will reduce the spread and ultimately eliminate the pandemic.
The messages for the day are as follows: • Snowline JUSD Board Meeting – Our next virtual meeting of the Snowline JUSD Board is set for tonight at 6:00 p.m. Please feel free to join us and keep in mind that all such meetings are streamed on our own Snowline JUSD YouTube channel. • Snowline JUSD Young Artist Contest – Our 21st Annual Young Artist Contest has begun. Each year we look to recognize our many outstanding student artists in all grades from preschool to high school. The entry deadline is March 31, so please encourage your children who enjoy creating artwork to participate in this wonderful opportunity.
The California Department of Education encourages school districts to recognize January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Recognizing the signs of these horrible crimes is one way to eliminate the victimization of so many people, including millions of children. Protecting our students is always of paramount importance. Together we can do our part to help stop the exploitation of children and young adults. As you know, together truly is better.
Serving Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon HIlls and West Cajon Valley Since 1961