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SRCS Updates: Letter from the Supt; COVID Protocols; New Trustee; Early Childhood Education Center; Budget Reductions & More

Posted Date: 2/02/24 (3:16 PM)

Message from the Superintendent

Dear San Rafael City Schools Community, 

As we head into February, I am so impressed with the many happenings going on in our District, including the celebrations for Black History Month as well Lunar New Year. Our schools have engaging activities planned this month, including Brass Band Ensembles, Oratorical Festivals and more.

I want to highlight some additional celebrations throughout our District:

  • AP Expansion: SRHS and TLHS are expanding Advanced Placement course offerings while diversifying enrollment. Recently, we’ve partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools and previously, significant work was done at the department level by key teacher leaders to eliminate prerequisites and create a welcoming environment for low-income and/or students of color. 
  • New CTE Courses: The momentum behind our Career and Technical Education programs is growing. We have a new pathway for Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation and we've expanded our Filmmaking pathway. These CTE courses and pathways help students explore career opportunities. 
  • Math Learning Labs: Grade-level teacher teams from Bahia Vista and Sun Valley participated in a math learning lab focused on choral counting and problem solving. Opening up our classrooms to learn from and with one another is so powerful. 
  • SEAL Completion: We're proud of our fourth and fifth grade teachers who have now completed Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) training. The training helps transform classrooms into rigorous, engaging, joyful learning for all students and educators.
  • Community School Open Houses: Our Family Centers (funded by the State's Community Schools grant) have recently welcomed community members, elected officials and community partners to tour the campuses and learn about the valuable partnerships, resources and programs that are supporting our students and families. (Bahia Vista group pictured below, left)
  • Preparing for High School: Davidson eighth graders recently visited San Rafael High School to tour the campus and learn more about what to expect in high school. The visit followed a lesson covering A-G Graduation requirements. Terra Linda High School will have reps at Davidson next week to talk with interested students, and TLHS is also visiting Venetia Valley's eighth graders to share information and support enrollment! (Davidson students visiting SRHS pictured below, center)
  • Kindness Week: Many of our elementary schools proudly participated in the Great Kindness Challenge, a week-long program dedicated to creating a culture of kindness and compassion in communities worldwide. There were engaging activities and resources to help our students build empathy, feel supported and thrive. (Glenwood's "Be The 'I' in Kind" banner pictured below, right)
  • Lunch Program: Our Nutrition Services department added a new scratch-made meal to the elementary menu this week, spaghetti with homemade marinara, and a record number of students were served - 2,349!
Regarding the difficult topic of budget reductions, I first want to thank you for sharing your voice! While I understand that it is stressful for many and there are a lot of uncertainties, I very much appreciate ALL the input we're receiving. In listening to the conversations at the sessions and reading the input from our surveys, it is so clear how much our community values our schools. I also appreciate hearing so many creative ideas about how we can be more efficient. Lastly, I've been impressed by how collaborative everyone has been, and how the focus has remained solely on what matters most - our students. I feel privileged to lead this District. 

There are more opportunities to share your feedback; visit to learn more or see the budget section in this email. Thank you for your support and we will continue to address this difficult topic with transparency.  


Carmen Diaz Ghysels

COVID Update from Marin Public Health

The following was shared from Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. SRCS continues to partner with and follow guidance from Public Health regarding health and safety protocols and measures in our District.

The California Department of Public Health recently updated COVID-19 isolation and testing guidance. This is an important milestone in the post-pandemic phase as we move away from a defined period of isolation to a symptom-based approach.

Recommendations if you test positive for COVID-19:
  1. Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms until you are fever-free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medication and symptoms are improving. Individuals are no longer expected to remain in isolation for a minimum of five days.
  2. Mask when around other people indoors for the 10 days after you become sick or test positive.
  3. Avoid contact with people at higher-risk for severe COVID-19 for 10 days.
  4. Discuss treatment with your healthcare provider. For those at high risk for severe disease, prompt treatment significantly reduces risk of hospitalization. COVID-19 antiviral medicines work best if taken as soon as possible, and within 5-7 days from when symptoms start.
Recommendation for close contacts of cases:
  1. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, test and use a mask when around other people indoors
  2. If you are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and would benefit from treatment, you should test 3-5 days after exposure even if you do not have symptoms.
Childcare facilities and schools continue to follow CDPH Schools Guidance for infection prevention and control that mitigate the spread of communicable disease and support safe, in-person learning.

Read more [English |  Spanish]

Welcome to our New Trustee, Mark Koerner

We are pleased to announce that Mark Koerner was appointed to the SRCS Board of Education on Jan. 29. Trustee Koerner fills the open seat for Trustee Area 1 vacated by former Trustee Gina Daly for the remainder of the term, though 2024.

Mark is a passionate advocate for the arts, trades and financial literacy in education. He currently has an eighth grader at Miller Creek Middle School and a tenth grader at Terra Linda High School. Mark serves on the Miller Creek Budget and LCAP Advisory Committee, the Miller Creek School Site Council and the UCLA Venture Fund Investment Committee. He brings over 20 years of experience in technology, operations and product management, spanning projects in ed-tech, healthcare and entertainment. 

He is committed to perpetuating education in the arts, communication and business to set the foundation for students to find careers marked by innovation, creativity and joy. He believes that education has the power to build healthy and happy communities and bring all people together. Learn more.

The San Rafael Early Childhood Education Center at Short School 

SRCS is pleased to share the opening of the San Rafael Early Childhood Education Center at Short School for the 2024-25 school year! We are proud to partner on this endeavor with our longstanding partner Community Action Marin (CAM) as we work together to serve children who are primarily 3-4 years old. Designed specifically for these young learners, the campus will provide many unique opportunities and benefits.  

It will be home to several programs, including:
  • The new longterm location for the Laurel Dell Transitional Kindergarten program.
  • The new longterm location for the District's Early Intervention Preschool Program, which is being relocated from the Old Gallinas campus.
  • A temporary location for two Venetia Valley Transitional Kindergarten classes who are relocating for the 2024-25 school year due to construction at the Venetia Valley campus.
  • The new longterm location for four preschool classes with our longtime partner Community Action Marin.
Learn more. 

Reminder: District Budget Reductions

We are proud of the great work happening throughout our District, and we are committed to continuing to focus on our educational priorities. However, it is important that we share that the budget outlook for our District is concerning, and we are faced with the reality of having to significantly reduce our spending for next school year. 

Statewide, school districts are impacted by budget challenges. There are three main factors that are impacting us and many others: State funding with a low cost-of-living adjustment; high student absenteeism rates; and COVID relief dollars ending. Click here for an informational video, background on our funding and an overview of the process

As we prepare to make difficult choices to manage the many competing demands on our resources, we need your engagement and feedback.

Complete Our Brief Survey by Feb. 16 Additional Input Opportunities 
  • DELAC (District English Learner Advisory Committee): Thursday, Feb. 8, 6 - 7 pm, Zoom
  • Board of Education Meeting, Public Hearing on Budget Reductions: Monday, Feb. 12, 6 pm, District Office and Zoom 
  • Board of Education Meeting, Action on Budget Reductions: Monday, Feb. 26, 6 pm, District Office and Zoom 
Spanish interpretation will be provided. All meeting information, including Zoom links when available, can be found at Learn more

TK & Kindergarten Information Sessions

Are you, or do you know a family, who is interested in learning more about Transitional Kindergarten (TK) or Kindergarten at SRCS? The District is hosting Informational Sessions for parents who are considering Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten for their child for the 2024-25 school year. 

District and school leaders, along with teachers, will share information and answer questions about TK and Kindergarten programs, what the typical school day entails, our Dual Language Program, aftercare opportunities, how to enroll and more.

Open to All Interested Families

At Sun Valley Elementary School
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 6 - 7 pm
Presented in English with Spanish interpretation 
At Bahia Vista Elementary School
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 6 - 7 pm
Presented in Spanish with English interpretation

SRCS Students Recognized at Heart of Marin Awards 

Earlier this month, the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership held their 31st annual Heart of Marin awards ceremony. The ceremony was attended by over 500 Marin leaders, including elected officials, businesses, employers and nonprofits. 

In the category of "Youth Volunteer of the Year," we are proud that Terra Linda High School student Candice Lucas and San Rafael High School student Marcos Vega were nominated, and Marcos (pictured) went on to be recognized as an award recipient for his work with Youth Transforming Justice!

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