NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. May 19, 2020 – It was eight weeks ago that the Nevada Joint Union High School District (NJUI-ISD), along with all Nevada County school districts and charter schools, was forced to close its schools to in person instruction. The rapid onset and related effects of the global pandemic have tested our district to its core. However, in the midst of overwhelming challenges, our district and community has come together to support our students and families. I am humbled and very proud of the commitment our classified staff, certificated teachers, and administrators have demonstrated during this difficult time.

Since March 13 we have been working overtime to meet the needs of our students and families. We launched our Distance Learning programs in under two weeks of planning, distributed more than 17,000 meals to families in need, conducted countless online support sessions for students and parents, and mobilized our facilities to partner with other local government agencies and nonprofits. We are now exploring ways to further expand our student and family support services in the 2020-21 school year.

While this has been a very challenging time, NJUHSD has come together as a strong and resilient community to ensure our students and families feel supported. Many in our community are experiencing dire impacts of the pandemic. NJUI-ISD staff, students, and families have not been immune to these. Now we face the next, and most challenging, phase as we begin to address the broader social and economic effects of the pandemic.

As we end of the 2019-2020 school year, it is important that we begin to plan for the next phase of what this national crisis will mean for the district and public education in Nevada County. Last week, Governor Newsom released his 2020-21 May Budget Revision predicting more than a $41 billion dollar drop in state revenues. The global pandemic has hit our local, state, and national economies dramatically. Less tax revenue coming into the state means that schools are projected to receive $19 billion dollars less in the state K-12 education funding. Reduced funding of this magnitude will have a dramatic impact on public schools within California, including our district. State fiscal experts project the impact on education in 2020-21 will be significantly worse than the worst year of the Great Recession. The governor’s May budget revision would result in more than a $1,250 reduction in the district’s per student funding.

In the months and years ahead, we will be faced with many difficult decisions until our state and national economies recover. The district will likely remain in a position where we will need to find ways to reduce expenditures to protect basic instructional and student services, while maintaining the agency’s fiscal solvency. On May 13th, staff briefed the district’s Board of Trustees and outlined short- and long-term challenges facing NJUHSD. I want to emphasize that we are in the beginning of this fiscal stabilization process and no decisions have been made by the Board. We will continue to operate transparently and engage our school communities to provide input on decisions under consideration.

The global pandemic has cast a spotlight on the tremendous inequities within our society, and schools have stepped up to play a vital role in supporting the health and well-being of our children and our communities. As we plan for the worst, we will continue to advocate at the state and federal levels for increased support for public schools during this difficult financial time. We hope that you will join us in standing up for Nevada County’s public schools by communicating to our state and federal representatives to prioritize schools in the coming state budget and federal COVID-19 response legislation.

As we navigate these difficult times, my commitment to all of our students, staff and the community is to remain transparent and make decisions that will have the least negative impact on students, the classroom, and staff in both the short- and long-term. While this is indeed an unprecedented time, I am confident that together we will keep NJUHSD on the right track, and poised for a successful recovery.

Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to NJUI-ISD and Nevada County schools.

Brett W. McFadden