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February 19, 2016
SVA News & Notes
What's Happening at SVA?

March 10-11 -- Parent Teacher Conferences, No School

March 13 -- PTO Roller Towne Family Fun
We're Starting Another 
K-8 School
I am pleased to share news of a historic moment for SVA and celebrate with you what this means for our students, our staff, and our community.  Last night, the SVA Board of Directors voted to support our school's transition from a single charter school to a "Charter Management Organization," or CMO.  A CMO is a nonprofit that manages two or more charter schools.  The board's decision last night means that SVA will take the first steps toward starting and establishing a second charter school over the next several years.  Last night's choice will directly translate to many more children having access to an SVA education in our community, and it will also make it possible for our organization to grow and restructure with greater supports for classroom teachers and more sustainable roles as administrators.

The admissions window is always an emotional time for me as the Principal/Superintendent of this school because I am reminded of those who wish for, but cannot access, what we offer.  Before I begin that lottery, I tell the audience, "My heart is with you.  All of us here on the stage are both staff members and parents of children attending this school.  If we weren't here on the stage, we'd be sitting where you are."  When I empathize with the position the attending parents are in, seeing what is possible in public education and knowing how crucial a quality education is in nurturing our children to grow into their best selves and give them a shot at the American Dream, but being held at the door because we don't have enough seats to offer, I am compelled to respond.  The families who have tried for multiple years to gain access to SVA and remain on a wait list, and the experience of families who get one child in and have to live the excruciating experience of sending one child here while the other attends elsewhere, keeps me up at night.  That could be me.  That could be you.  My gratitude for what I have as an SVA parent motivates me as SVA's leader to want to find a way to make this opportunity possible for more families. 

While our community's support and demand for our option has been one motivator, there are two other primary motivators behind the choice to replicate.  Over the last year, SVA leadership has taken the time to deliberate and develop a Strategic Plan to help us achieve our mission/vision and continue our pursuit of excellence.  In that process, the question of starting another K-8 school was raised as a strategy that could help us achieve two of our intentions.

The first was our intent to find ways to serve more diverse students.  We started a charter school (instead of a private school) to affect social mobility in our community, to be a part of the solution.  We are disturbed by the unequal access families have to a quality education, and frustrated by the restraints we currently work within to achieve demographic parity (the lottery, our location). We are also motivated to serve a more diverse population because we are true believers in our model.  We are eager to demonstrate that progressive/ constructivist pedagogy, and schools that meet the needs of their gifted, will outperform those that do not, even when they serve challenging populations.  We want to incite improvement within our public education system by demonstrating that our philosophy and practices are good for all.
The second goal that growth will help us with is our desire (always) to increase the quality of what we offer the community. SVA is an institution that aims for excellence.  Our leadership could only support growing our school if it resulted in increased quality.  When we considered this question, we considered: whether replication can result in improved classroom instruction, bring greater sustainability to our staff, allow for leadership succession, and produce a better service to the community.  After working out the financial model and identifying the tactics/initiatives we can enact in a growth scenario with greater organizational capacity, it is clear that replication will result in these benefits.  Through growth, our team will be empowered to do their jobs with greater ease, support, and confidence.  A larger staff will bring more minds to bear on the challenges we face in our complex roles as 21st century educators.
've told many that if there was an icon of depth and complexity to summarize where we are at this point in time, it might best be typified by "unanswered questions."  There are many vital details to work out as we chart our course, but a crucial question was answered last night:  SVA will soon be available to more of our community, and SVA will be stronger and our community will be enriched because of that.

I will continue to update you as more questions become answered through News & Notes and Mission Vision emails, as well as our website.  In the meantime, I'm always available through email or phone and I value all perspectives. 

If you'd like to learn more about the benefits our leadership sees in the decision to start another K-8 school, you can view the PowerPoint presentation I presented to the Board last night by clicking here.  

You can also read our Strategic Plan, approved by the board in the January meeting linked here, to see how growth is in service to our mission/vision and is an effective strategy to achieve multiple goals.

SVA parents, thank you for what you have built with our team here.  Thank you for supporting us as we have grown through this school's launch and initial years.  Thank you for holding a vision in your hearts of what is possible through this institution for your own children and for the broader community we live in.  Thank you for expressing faith in our mission/vision and in our staff to be capable of realizing it.  As we embark on the course to replicate, know that we keep you and your children top of mind.  Our intent is to build from the strengths SVA already possesses and to offer that to more.   

With gratitude, humility, optimism, passion, and joy,


Please help us spread the word that SVA is seeking highly qualified individuals to fill several positions. Share the SVA Staff Recruitment Brochure with anyone who might be a match for our organization. 

With growth on the horizon, Ms. Dutton's dual role of Principal/Superintendent will be divided. Ms. Dutton will become a full time Superintendent, and SVA will gain a new full time Principal beginning July 1. If you know someone who might be the perfect candidate to fill this role at SVA, please send them our way. 

Full-time Teacher 2016-17
SVA is looking for a talented teacher to join our staff next year. Here's a link to the posting on EdJoin. Pass it on! 

Substitute Teachers and Instructional Aides 
We pay substitute teachers $116/day. 
Substitute Instructional Aides earn $10.30-14.42/hr (depending on education & experience). Must have Tulare County fingerprint clearance. For more information on qualifications and requirements, contact [email protected] 

A recent order in a lawsuit against the California Department of Education (CDE) is impacting all schools across the state, including SVA. 

In April 2012, two organizations, the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and the Concerned Parent Association, filed a lawsuit against the CDE alleging widespread, systemic non-compliance by local education agencies with special education laws. The suit also alleges the CDE fails to monitor, investigate, and correct such non-compliance in accordance with the law. The CDE denies these allegations and is actively defending the litigation.

Our school was not involved in the lawsuit and is not the subject of any of the suit's allegations.

Nonetheless, as part of this lawsuit, CDE has been ordered by the court to release all data it has collected on general and special education students since January 1, 2008.

For more information regarding the release of this data and how you can file an objection with the court to consider not releasing your data or your student's data, visit: You may also contact the CDE at 916-319-0800. 

To opt out, you must submit an objection from to the court by April 1, 2016. The form is linked here. 

Admissions Info

We have a few seats remaining in our new middle school class next year. If you know someone who is looking for an alternative to the large middle school experience, please share our application for 2016-17 admission, linked here.
DE Staff
Conference Care Available 

Parent teacher conferences will be held on March 10-11, there is no school on those days. SVA After School Programs is offering care for SVA students during conferencesPre-registration is required by March 6 in order to participate.  

Students will participate in crafts, structured play, reading, projects, and will watch a movie.  Care is offered from 7:30-5:30. Students may also attend for a half day (7:30-12:30 or 12:30-5:30).  The fee for a full day is $12.  The fee for a half day is $6.  Food is not provided; students should bring their own snacks and lunch.  SVA dress code is not required, but reasonable standards of dress are expected.

Thursday March 10
CAMP OUT - Make a ranger vest, learn about local species, go on a nature walk.  Bring a sleeping bag (optional) to enjoy story time, a movie, and s'mores. 

Friday March 11
BACKWARDS ST. PATTY'S - Find a *three* leaf clover, look for a rainbow at the end of the pot of gold, and get a high five if you *don't* wear green!

Pre-registration is required by March 6 in order to participate.  Families already registered with after school programs can enroll through the event registration tab in their customer portal.  (Access your portal here.)  Families who have not yet registered must first do so by clicking on "Sign Up for Programs" at the ASP Program page of the SVA website.  Once you have registered, you will receive an email explaining how to access your portal.

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
DE Logo
DE Session - Feb 16-26
Destination: Back to the Future

Travel back in time, and forward too. Each day, Explorers will find themselves in a different time, learning about the language, clothes, food, and fun of the era. 
Excellence or Bust! 

SVA will be hosting an event especially for educators on April 1 and April 8. 

Leaders in education will visit our school to learn about our programs and instructional practices. 

If you are an educator, download the invitation here. Feel free to share with other educators in the community.
Pennies for Patients
February 8-26

SVA Student Council has organized school-wide participation in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients campaign. 

Students across the country are collecting spare change during the campaign. Proceeds help fund blood cancer research and provide treatment for patients. 

Since 1994, millions of dollars have been raised in pennies and other spare change by more than 10 million elementary, middle and high school students throughout the country. 

Send your loose change to your child's classroom starting Monday!
New Immunization Law

Effective January 1, 2016, a new law prohibiting exemption from immunization requirements for personal beliefs went into effect. 

If your family is affected by this change please read the letter from Tulare County Health & Human Services linked here.  

For more information you may contact Tulare County Public Health at (559) 687-5725 or visit
Explorers Basketball

SVA Basketball still needs volunteer referees! 
We need 2-4 referees for all home games. 

Explorer Basketball Home Schedule
February 16 - 3:30 - 5:30
March 3 - 3:30 - 4:30
March 8 - 3:30 - 5:30
March 10 - 3:30 - 4:30

Please contact Jessica Bennett ASAP if you can help out! [email protected]
Jog-a-Thon Coming Soon!

Attention Parents! Business sponsors are needed for the 20
16 SVA PTO Jog-a-Thon. 

PTO has expanded sponsorship opportunities this year. Sponsors will be recognized on event signage (Silver level $50 and up) and event t-shirts (Gold-Diamond level, $250-$750). Please help us make this event the huge success it was last year. 

Use this letter to reach out to your contacts in the community. 

Student pledge forms will be sent home on April 11 for parent and family Jog-a-Thon sponsorships. 
Next PTO Meeting

March 14, 6:00PM

Round Table Pizza
4035 S. Mooney Blvd. 

Community Events
CAG Parent Workshop

California Association for the Gifted is hosting a parent workshop at their annual conference on February 26 in Palm Springs. Pre-registration is required. Click here for more information. 

SVA alumnus, Sarah Matthews, plays the part of a Shark! 

Remaining Show dates: February 12, 13, 14, 18, 19 & 20 

For tickets, call (559) 686-1300
Sycamore Valley Academy | 559.622.3236 | [email protected]
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