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December 16, 2022 update from Superintendent Flores: final Friday letter of 2022! Happy holidays!
GUSD Communications

Happy Winter Break GUSD staff and families:

As you are reading this message, the Winter Break has officially begun for our staff and students.   Our campuses and offices are closed until Monday, January 2 for the Winter Break.  School for elementary students (grades TK-5) resumes on Tuesday, January 3, and the District Office will reopen then as well.  Our secondary students (grades 6-12) are off on January 3 for Teacher Records Day, and return to campus on Wednesday, January 4.   Whether you are traveling for the break, or staying close to home, I hope you all will find some time to rest and recharge even amidst the hustle and bustle of the season.  

There is no school for students on January 16, and January 20, as we observe Martin Luther King Day that Monday, and our staff members have professional development that Friday.  
 
** It should be noted that the GECA instructional calendar, including breaks, varies from the rest of the schools in GUSD.  

Thank you Don Christopher
Photograph of Don ChristopherThe Gilroy Unified School District joins the Gilroy community in mourning the death of one of our greatest champions and generous supporters: Don Christopher.The impact of Don Christopher’s kindness on the Gilroy Unified School District community will stand the test of time.  He helped secure the land for the construction of the Christopher High School campus and funded the construction of the school's Sports Complex.  He and his wife made annual contributions to Christopher High School to address specific needs.  The Christophers provided significant donations to Gilroy High School for a number of purposes, and provided matching funding to our District for the installation of security systems at our middle and high school campuses.   The Christopher family also provides scholarships for dozens of GUSD seniors each year that help them follow their dreams following high school graduation.

Don’s reach has positively impacted the lives of our students, staff and families in great and small ways.  His philanthropic spirit, innovative ideas, and collaborative approach to bettering the Gilroy community will be greatly missed.  His influence made Gilroy better, and for that, we are forever grateful.
 
COVID continues
There has been a significant increase in the number of COVID19 cases in the County and Gilroy (as well as an increase in the flu and RSV).  Recently, it was reported that the current COVID case count in Santa Clara County is higher than it was at the same time last year.  This is concerning because last year we saw a huge surge of cases after the Winter Break.  Students and staff members have been provided at-home COVID test kits to use before returning to school.  Whether you are traveling this season, or planning to stay home, please use the kits to test for COVID-19 before returning to school on January 3 or 4.  If someone in your immediate family tests positive for COVID-19, please notify your child(ren’s) school, and wait for further instructions.  

As always, you are encouraged to get the appropriate COVID boosters that are available.  To find a vaccine clinic, visit: https://www.vaccines.gov/.  Gilroy Unified School District will hold two vaccine clinics that are open to the public on January 23 at Glen View Elementary and January 30 at El Roble Elementary.  As soon as more information is available, including how to book an appointment, we will share it with you.  Thank you for your family’s commitment to keeping our school communities healthy.

Recent recognitions and celebrations
I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to two members of our school communities for recent recognitions. Michelle Anderson, first grade teacher at Glen View Elementary, was recently named the 2023 Educator of the Year by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. GECA senior, Alexandra Beyret was named the 2023 Susan Valenta Youth Leadership award winner by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce as well. Both Michelle and Alexandra represent the best qualities of the staff and students in the Gilroy Unified School District, and I am so proud of them. These recognitions are very well-deserved and reflect the hard work of so many people in our organization.Report on declining enrollment
At last night’s Board meeting, the District’s demographer provided updated enrollment information to the Board and public.   Unfortunately, the demographers are projecting a steady decline in enrollment over the next 10 years.  The district has actually declined over 1,000 students in the last six years and is expected to decline over 2,000 students in the next 10 years.  The major reason for the decline in the K-12 school population in Gilroy, the Bay Area, California, and in the Nation is the declining birth rate for the past 10+ years.   Young adults are delaying having children or deciding not to have children so there are fewer students entering kindergartens across the country.  You can watch the full presentation from the December 15 Board Meeting here: https://youtu.be/v6SU8TcnwD0?t=5384.  

State budget release on January 10, 2023
 
On January 10, the Governor will release the State budget which we will be watching very closely.  In the current school year, the State had a $100 billion surplus and school districts received a big increase in one-time funds as a result.   The current projections for the 2023-24 fiscal year indicate that there will be a $25 billion deficit. There is much talk about a recession and economic indicators seem to support a downturn in the economy.  Since 40% of the State budget funds public schools, this could mean less money for schools in the next school year.

Updates to the Board of Education

During the December 15 board meeting, three incumbents were sworn in to remain on the Board of Education for another four-year term.  Returning to the Board of Trustees Linda Piceno, Trustee Michelle Nelson and Trustee Tuyen Fiack.  Also joining the Board of Education is newly sworn-in Trustee Gabriela Kim, who also will serve a four-year term.  Linda Piceno was elected President of the Board for 2023 and James Pace will serve as Vice President.

This is my final Friday letter of 2022, and as I looked back through the Friday letters I have written since January of this year, it is clear that we’ve come a long way as a District and community.  I continue to be filled with so much gratitude for the work being done in the Gilroy Unified School District.  I am grateful for the daily work our staff puts in to provide stellar teaching while challenging our students.  I am grateful for the effort our students put in to achieve excellence both in and out of our classrooms.  And I am grateful for our families who support our staff, and encourage our students to continue on the path of lifelong learning.  This community is second-to-none, and it starts with all of us in great and small ways.  I hope your holiday season is full of all that is important: connection with friends and family, rest and relaxation, and laughter along the way.  We will see you in 2023!
 
Take care of each other,
Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Gilroy Unified School District