Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Board of Supervisors



May 11, 2009


May 19, 2009







Honorable Board of Supervisors


Board President Mark Church

Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson


Report on the San Mateo County Math/Science Programs for the 2008-09 school year


RECOMMENDATION: Accept this Report on the San Mateo County Math/Science Program for the 2008-09 school year.

Vision Alignment:

Commitment: Sow the seeds of our future prosperity.

Goal(s) 18, 19: San Mateo County attracts and maintains leading-edge industries; The skill level of new employees rises with improved K-12 education and training options.


In 2002, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors initiated a Task Force on Improving Access to Educational Opportunities to ensure San Mateo County youth can excel in the County and in the Bay Area. Acting on their recommendations, Supervisors Mark Church and Rose Jacobs Gibson initiated a work group of education officials to explore the most effective County partnership to promote and improve student achievement and teacher excellence in math and science. That work group recommended that the Board create an Innovation Fund.

Innovation Fund

For the past four years the Board of Supervisors has established an Innovation Fund to support math and science programs in our county’s schools. As part of the 2008-09 Budget, the Board appropriated $50,000 to the Innovation Fund.

Stanford University: 2008 Summer Program of Professional Development for High School Science Teachers

Stanford’s Summer Program of Professional Development for High School Teachers was designed to re-excite teachers about the wonders of science, to provide teachers with hands-on research experience, to allow teachers to become learners again, to explore new ideas about teaching and learning and to help teachers learn about new areas of scientific research. Most important, Stanford’s program was designed to support science teachers in their critically important jobs of training the next generation of America’s scientists and engineers. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors appropriated $14,000 to sponsor two San Mateo County high school science teachers’ attendance at Stanford University’s Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME) program during the summer of 2008.

4th and 5th Grade Math and Science Teacher Projects and Programs

In partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, a request for proposal (RFP) was issued in May of 2008 to fourth and fifth grade teachers throughout San Mateo County. The competitive grant process gave teachers the opportunity to receive up to $5,000 each to fund their math and science proposals. A committee composed of members of the Math and Science Workgroup evaluated the responses to the RFPs. Eight Teachers’ proposals to fund equipment, activities and/or training to improve math and science instruction were granted.

Eight awards were made totaling $32,326. The following are a list of 2008 funded projects:

    Pescadero Elementary School (La Honda/ Pescadero School District): this school serves more than 80% Latino American agricultural based population. The entire class is comprised of 4th grade English Language Learners. The grant was used to purchase geology kits that provide tangible examples of the differing types of geological rocks; soccer math software was also purchase that allows engaging practice of basic math, fractions and math concepts that lead to geometry; finally, grant funds were used to fund a field trip to the Exploratorium, providing a unique experience for these students with a workshop that brings to life electricity and magnetism.

    Martin Elementary School (South San Francisco Unified School District) Student population is 80% English Language Learners. An earth science and physical science table was set up in the classroom that consists of books, models of weather systems (water cycle, digital weather stations, pet tornadoes), chemistry models and real life examples of elements. These resources are integrated with their science and math curriculum.

    Meadows Elementary School (Millbrae Elementary School District) This school won two separate teacher grants that integrated the following: Collaboration between teachers to incorporate algebraic thinking through hands-on application of these concepts and skills; a Math Festival that serves to educate parents on algebraic teaching through hands-on projects with their children; teacher outreach to Taylor Middle School to share and connect algebraic coursework to Middle school; attendance at the County of San Mateo Math Teacher Workshop to improve teacher math knowledge.

    Fiesta Gardens International School (San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District) Grant funds were used to purchase digital imaging microscopes linked to existing laptops, which allowed students access to a wide range of student-driven hands-on projects. These projects develop student critical thinking skills. These activities stimulate math and science achievement as students collect and analyze data, communicate their results and defend their positions with evidence. This grant also supported a district wide teacher workshop to inform and encourage other teachers to incorporate digital microscopes into their curriculum. Approximately 25 educators and teachers attended this successful event.

    West Hillsborough Elementary School (Hillsborough City School District) The grant money was coupled with matching funds to launch “The Innovation Lab” that provides a think tank for 4th and 5th graders to become creative problem solvers. Materials were purchased to design projects that would engage students in creative solutions-oriented thinking. This requires flexible problem solving, systems thinking and collaborative work.

    El Granada Elementary School (Carrillo Unified School District) A single grant was awarded to two teachers and used to purchase dissection labs and materials. All 5th grade students (3 classes) participate in the cow heart and eye dissection. Lower grade classes are invited to tour the class as the older students participate in the dissection labs. For those students who speak English as a second language, a dissection lab is of paramount importance for connecting vocabulary to concepts and content. This resource has given students a tangible understanding of how a heart valve works, and provides an effective method of teaching the complexity of the human body.

    Orion Alternative School (Redwood City Elementary School District) Grant funds were used to purchase pig lungs, which students examine to understand and demonstrate how lungs function. Students will then compare and contrast the differences between a smoker and non-smoker’s lungs. Grant funds were also used for field trips to the Lawrence Hall of Science and California Science Academy to give students natural examples of the application of life science standards taught in the classroom.


The innovation grant recipients were able to include creative hands-on activities that engage students as they apply and explore science and math topics. The innovation grant recipients will be presenting posters, which will describe their projects and class activities, at the Oracle sponsored Fall Science and Math Resource Fair in October 2009 at Hiller Aviation Museum. These posters will also be available on the County and San Mateo County of Education websites. In addition, El Granada teacher awardees with their students will present their project at the May 19, 2009 Board of Supervisor Meeting.

In partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, the 2009 RFP will be issued May 15th, 2009 to fourth and fifth teachers throughout the County of San Mateo.

Education Liaison

In the FY 2007-2008 budget, the Board of Supervisors agreed to create an Education Liaison position which was filled in March of 2008. The Education Liaison is overseeing existing County education programs, such as the innovation fund grants, Stanford Summer Teacher Development program and County sponsored school and city Homework Centers.

In the past year, the Education Liaison has made changes to improve public outreach and administration of these programs so they are functioning efficiently and in a manner that is most beneficial to students. The Liaison has spent this year focusing on bringing together the County, the education community, business and workforce entities to support these and other County Education programs to function at their best capacity. The Liaison has attracted community funding to the Math and Science Innovation Fund for 2009-10. Efforts are ongoing to identifying businesses in the community who would be willing to invest in the County’s education programs and provide resources for hands-on Science and Math learning after school.

Fiscal Impact

The funds dedicated by the Board to the Innovation Fund for FY 2008-2009 have been allocated to Innovation Fund grants and funding teachers’ attendance at Stanford’s professional development program. There is no further financial impact from this program for this fiscal year.