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News Archive
January 2007
Dec   Feb
Permanent link to archive for 1/24/07. Wednesday, January 24, 2007

FCMAT News Headlines have moved A note to our readers: If you are visiting this page via a bookmark or favorite, please note that our news headlines have moved to FCMAT's main web page at Simply click on the link to go to our main page and access up-to-date news headlines.

Permanent link to archive for 12/18/06. Monday, December 18, 2006

Fiscal storm on horizon Already grappling with spiraling annual health costs, some of the largest agencies across California are facing a new squeeze as they're forced to begin fully accounting next year for retiree health-care liabilities.

Permanent link to archive for 12/15/06. Friday, December 15, 2006

Pair settle special education claim with Irvine Unified Thomas and Liya Lin, who alleged staff members at Canyon View Elementary School in Irvine solicited $100,000 worth of gifts so their autistic child would receive proper care, have dropped their claim seeking restitution or return of the gifts, Irvine Unified School District spokesman Ian Hanigan said.

Students ill-prepared for work, panel reports A high-profile commission warned Thursday that U.S. workers will lose more jobs overseas and will see their standard of living drop unless dramatic steps are taken to improve how kids are educated.

Folsom Cordova to give school bond another try Folsom Cordova Unified School District trustees will try again on a $750 million bond measure to fund school construction in an as-yet largely undeveloped area. The board Thursday set a March 27 election on a proposal that appeared as Measure M on the Nov. 7 ballot. The bond was supported by 64.9 percent of voters, but fell two votes short of the required 66.67 percent.

Charter school move reconsidered Kennedy High teachers and students, who have spent weeks protesting a plan to move Leadership charter school to Kennedy's campus next year, rejoiced this week after learning that the district is considering another site instead.

School's hair policy hits the tube The matter of an 18-year-old's hair length prompted TV news crews from Sacramento and Stockton to converge on Angels Camp Wednesday afternoon.

Bids for school projects rejected The Big Oak Flat-Groveland School District trustees Wednesday night rejected several bids for two bond-funded projects.

Tempers run high at school board meeting Attorneys for the Mountain Empire Unified School District have determined that a former teacher accused of molesting a 9-year-old girl in his class cannot be blocked from serving on the school board.

Chico High takes next step in technology: an online class Students in Kris Larson's U.S. History course at Chico High School don't have desks. In fact, they don't even have a classroom. When Larson meets with her students — which she does once or twice a week, at most — she does so in English teacher John Klein's classroom or Joe Asnault's technology classroom. Otherwise, the class is online.

Drug dogs heading to class Lincoln Unified administrators plan to allow drug-detecting dogs into high school classrooms, an effort school leaders say is important to protecting campus and student safety. On Thursday night, dog handlers explained the searches and answered parents’ questions during an informational meeting.

Medal of character Ann Chavez told her students the idea, and they were taking a decidedly wait-and-see position on the matter. Let us get this straight, their eyes seemed to be saying. You want us, the fifth- and sixth-graders of Teague Elementary School, to give a medal to the other team? And you don't even want us to reward the best player? their eyes continued. The one who showed the most sportsmanship?

Unity High students build self-esteem through theater There's a dearth of banks and retail in the Eastmont-Seminary area, so the idea of creating a community theater near Oakland Unity High School may seem like a long shot to some. But not to one teacher and a few students — the pioneers of the school's first drama club.

Some noteworthy gifts With cheers and gasps, music students from four Los Angeles city schools greeted a surprise present Thursday at Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park. Shiny new trumpets, French horns, flutes, clarinets, saxophones and other instruments and accessories were lined up for them on the stage of the school's Arthur C. Brown Auditorium.

Judge to hear LAUSD reform case A Los Angeles Superior Court judge will hear arguments today on the legality of legislation that would give the mayor substantial control over public schools - a ruling that will have wide implications.

Permanent link to archive for 12/14/06. Thursday, December 14, 2006

School board gives workers pay raise Oak Park teachers are getting their largest pay raise in years. The Board of Education for the Oak Park Unified School District unanimously approved a 6.25 percent raise for teachers, administrators and other school workers Tuesday night. The raise is retroactive to July.

French Camp School plan OK'd A plan to reform troubled French Camp School has been approved by the Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustees, but only after the board ditched the most controversial component. The plan originally recommended by district staffers called for all of French Camp's teachers to be "unassigned" - removed from the school but remaining employees of the district - over three years.

Teen with gun arrested at school A Laguna High School student was arrested Wednesday after bringing a loaded handgun to school, Sebastopol police said. Police said the boy's father was arrested hours later when officers searching his home found more firearms.

Board seeks English-only preschool programs Saying they want students taught only in English, Santa Rosa school board members said Wednesday they intend to run their own preschools at two elementary schools.

Search firm picked for school post The search for a new San Francisco school superintendent will be conducted by the firm of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, the Board of Education decided Tuesday.

San Ysidro schools chief taking City Heights job San Ysidro schools Superintendent Tim Allen has accepted a position as the leader of San Diego State University's project running three public schools in City Heights.

School parcel dispute ending The school district will soon own a 22-acre parcel where it plans to open its 11th elementary school, officials said yesterday.

School tries to stand out Earl Warren Middle School is proposing more foreign language courses, innovative math classes, off-campus physical education choices, and an expanded arts and music program to lure students from the more crowded Carmel Valley Middle School.

Businesses urge LAUSD to seek food-service bids A day after the school board gave Superintendent David Brewer III 90 days to analyze the effectiveness of school cafeterias, the Valley's largest business organization urged him Wednesday to consider competitive contracting for Los Angeles Unified's food services.

Expanded Clovis Unified site OK'd Clovis Unified School District will expand and reconfigure the site for an elementary-through-high school complex planned east of Fresno, possibly attracting opposition from property owners. The bigger site, approved by the Clovis Unified board by a 5-2 vote Wednesday, could be more difficult to assemble because it includes 11 parcels with 10 owners.

School district talks gym modernization Eureka City Schools is requesting architect's plans to renovate -- rather than replace -- the Jay Willard Gymnasium. The district previously planned to demolish the Eureka High School gym and build a new gym, a move which drew criticism from the community and led to a lawsuit by the Eureka Heritage Society.

Paradise teachers offered 8.7 percent in raises over three years The most recent offer to teachers in Paradise Unified School District included a raise of 4.2 percent retroactive to July 1, 2006 and a 4.5 percent raise effective July 1, 2007.

Columnist: Great teacher helped shape life's course Here's how Mrs. Krauter changed my life: When I was in her seventh-grade English class at Haven Drive Junior High School in Arvin, she noticed that the work was too easy for me. So she transferred me to public speaking class.

Schools may get harder to leave Two new initiatives in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District mean students will likely take more math and science classes that are focused on real-world skills. District administrators are considering beefing up graduation requirements to three years each of math and science from two years.

School's drive for better attendance: Car giveaway Desperation can take many forms. And in this snowy town with a dwindling student population, desperation has taken the form of a shiny black pickup truck. South Tahoe High School, suffering financially from dropping enrollment and spotty attendance, is trying to lure students to school by offering those with stellar attendance the chance to win a new car or truck.

Counselors' load is about to get lighter In anticipation of extra state money specifically to hire more counselors, the San Juan Unified School District added the equivalent of about 16 full-time middle and high school counselors in August, making caseloads more manageable and allowing counselors to catch students before they falter.

Holiday break is crunch time for college applicants High school students go on holiday break this weekend, but many seniors won't get much rest because they will be holed up at home or taking the laptops along on ski trips as they scramble to finish their college applications by the end of the year.

L.A. teachers union backs Lauritzen for school board, sets up clash with mayor In a surprise move, the Los Angeles teachers union Wednesday night voted to endorse incumbent San Fernando Valley school board member Jon M. Lauritzen for reelection, setting up a potential confrontation with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the union's putative ally.

Irvine parents settle claim over gifts to educators A couple who contended they were forced to spend $100,000 in gifts on school employees to ensure proper care for their autistic son have settled a claim against the Irvine Unified School District, according to a district spokesman and the family's attorney.

Mayor steers donations to his targeted schools Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is steering money to the schools he seeks to control, announcing Wednesday that a major telecommunications company has pledged $1 million for after-school programs on those campuses.

Permanent link to archive for 12/13/06. Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bret Harte student asks that athlete hair rule get cut A Bret Harte High School senior wants district officials to reconsider a dated rule in their athletic handbook that says "all hair must be trimmed above standard shirt collar."

Report: Area teachers are well-prepared Very few Tuolumne and Calaveras county teachers are unqualified or unprepared, a report released last week shows.

Lawsuit alleges sexual assault on school bus A school district and one of its bus drivers are being accused of negligence after a special education student was allegedly sexually assaulted last year by a fellow student while riding home on a school bus. The allegations were filed against the Lucia Mar Unified School District and bus driver Sherry Fricia last week in a civil lawsuit by the girl’s mother for an unlimited amount of compensation.

School board leaders face angry teachers Bakersfield City School District trustees elected new board leadership Tuesday night only a few hundred feet from where a crowd of teachers heckled them.

Tape tangle continues at Bakersfield HS What began as a joke soon turned serious when a Bakersfield High teacher duct-taped a student's mouth shut last week, said several students who witnessed the incident. Students said the freshman science class thought duct-taping the student's mouth and fingers was funny at first, but the mood grew more somber once students saw the boy was upset.

CUSD campus may be closed Endangered almost as long as it has existed, Foxborough Elementary may finally be closed by Capistrano Unified at the end of this school year. Trustees on Monday heard a staff proposal to shut down the school, which was built in 1992 as a "temporary" fix to the growing Aliso Viejo population.

School proposal riles residents Angry residents in the Castro Elementary School area swarmed a West Contra Costa school district meeting Monday to demand that officials reconsider moving some or all Portola Middle School students to the Castro campus.

Charter gets to-do list for new school Livermore Valley Charter School leaders have until next month to digest a long list of conditions -- including recruitment of a more diverse student body -- district trustees seek as part of the approval of the charter's plans for a new high school.

Subbing gym for field may save Golden Hill canyon Bowing to community opposition, the San Diego school district is backing off a long-standing plan to build an athletic field in a canyon treasured by Golden Hill residents as an urban oasis.

Encinitas board questions TIP Academy's finances The Encinitas Union school board is concerned that the TIP Academy charter school's first interim financial report has overstated its revenue by at least $150,000 and underreported its expenses, and the new campus is vulnerable to unexpected costs.

Poway Unified clarifies status of property The Poway Unified School District wants to make it clear that the land it owns on Avenida Venusto in Rancho Bernardo is not for sale. The district has been working on plans to swap the vacant parcel for a building in Poway that will become the district headquarters.

Certain school workers get raise San Diego city schools' police officers, bus drivers and other district employees are getting pay raises under labor agreements ratified by the board of education yesterday.

Teachers mourn loss of good instructors at protest Teachers in the Central Unified School District held a mock funeral Tuesday night to draw attention to a contract dispute with the district. Members of the Central Unified Teachers Association wore black and carried a fake coffin to warn of the possible "death" of quality education because teachers are leaving for better wages at other districts.

Teacher strike threat looms in South Shore Teachers are expected to vote this week whether to use the threat of a strike if negotiations continue to drag along over pay increases.  The vote itself hasn't been made by the union representing teachers in South Lake Tahoe School District for about 30 years, according to officials.

Gay student sues district seeks up to $1.3M in damages Attorneys for a lesbian student who sued an Orange County school district and her principal for revealing her homosexuality to her mother have asked a judge to award their client up to $1.3 million in damages. Charlene Nguon, 18, filed the lawsuit against the Garden Grove Unified School District last year alleging her privacy rights were violated.

Permanent link to archive for 12/12/06. Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Educating 'Generation 1.5' Irving Vazquez is one of many students across the nation who are part of "generation 1.5," a term used by some researchers and educators to describe students who live between two worlds and two cultures. Usually immigrants or the children of immigrants, these students speak another language at home, while in school and elsewhere they speak English. Generation 1.5 students' educational needs often are ignored by schools, Scott Forrest, an English language development and exit exam preparation teacher at Escondido High School, said in an interview last week. He details the issue in an article published in the October issue of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, published by the International Reading Association.

Charter school board unveils long list of allegations Members of the governing board for the area's largest charter school, Vista-based Eagles Peak, read a long list of allegations against the organization's executive director Monday, before weighing their next step in the matter.

Attack at Elk Grove high school sparks safeguards After the freshman boys basketball team was attacked on campus last week by a group of young men who poured out of 10 cars, student athletes at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove must now wait inside the school's gym for buses taking them to road games.

Student's mouth allegedly taped A Bakersfield High School science teacher has been placed on leave after allegedly duct-taping a student's fingers and mouth shut during class. Teacher Carol Humphrey was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 5 -- the same day of the alleged incident, said district spokesman John Teves.

Buses buckling down School buses without seat belts have been the norm for years, but slowly that's changing. The San Diego Unified School District recently bought 25 new buses with lap-and-shoulder belts similar to the safety restraints found in cars. The district plans to buy 10 more such buses in February.

Lunar New Year set to become school holiday San Francisco schoolchildren will likely get an extra day off every few years to recognize the Lunar New Year -- a $207,000 holiday the district's school board is expected to approve tonight. Currently, the city's schools are closed for the holiday only if it falls on a weekday.

Progress seen at 'failing' school In search of a local success story, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings visited Noble Avenue Elementary in North Hills during a quick trip to Los Angeles on Monday. Some 51% of its students take advantage of free tutoring established through the federal No Child Left Behind Act. That's one of the top participation rates in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Permanent link to archive for 12/11/06. Monday, December 11, 2006

School employees await 6.25% raises Oak Park teachers, administrators and other school workers are up for a 6.25 percent raise, the largest they've received in several years. The raise, which would be retroactive to July, would cost the district $1 million this year.

Districts take a closer look at P.E. California law requires schools to measure the physical fitness of their fifth-, seventh- and ninth- graders every year. Statewide results of those tests showed only modest gains for the 2005-06 school year, with San Joaquin County posting slightly lower fitness levels than California as a whole.

Bingo slump a threat to schools and charity A decadelong decline in bingo players and revenues -- as the aging clientele either dies or is drawn to Indian casinos -- threatens the lifeblood of high school sports, bands and other local fundraising.

Charter is making pay cuts, one layoff Pay cuts ranging from 10 percent to 50 percent were issued to every employee at the Oceanside School of Business and Technology this week, and an English teacher will be laid off to cope with a severe budget shortfall.

Column: Friends face off in legal fight over L.A. Unified The high-stakes head-butting that that will rock Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs' courtroom Friday promises plenty of entertainment for fans of arcane constitutional argumentation.

L.A. charter school chief accepts mayoral job A leader of a fast-growing chain of local charter schools has accepted a top position with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's education team, immediately becoming a key player in the administration's school reform efforts.

Drop out? Not an option Under new principal Marsha Coates, Birmingham High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District has embraced ambitious measures to keep students in school.

Advanced H.S. courses will get audited The number of Advanced Placement courses being offered at the nation's high schools has exploded in recent years, prompting the board that oversees the 51-year-old college prep program to conduct, for the first time, a nationwide audit of standards.

Survey indicates too many kids are behaving badly Nearly 4,000 Pomona Unified School District teens gave the rest of the world a peek into their activities last year, including how often they drank alcohol, used drugs, carried a gun or attacked someone they thought was going to hurt them.

School crime soars but few kicked out Serious crime at high schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District has more than doubled in the past five years, while the number of students facing the most severe punishment -- expulsion -- has plummeted.

Mayor names school reform team Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Saturday named five people — among them an executive of the Riordan Foundation, a teacher with 51 years of experience, a former local superintendent for the Los Angeles school district and a retired Long Beach assistant superintendent — to spearhead his administration's school reform initiatives.

Can the LAUSD be fixed? After two decades of false starts and broken promises, Los Angeles Unified finds itself on the brink of reform, with city and education leaders betting their political futures on their ability to revolutionize the troubled school district.

Schools' new worry: filling void at the top School districts across California are bracing for a wave of retirements from principals, superintendents and other key players -- raising questions about who will make up the state's next generation of education leaders.

Permanent link to archive for 12/8/06. Friday, December 8, 2006

Plan to move continuation school evolves For months the Durham Unified School District board of trustees has struggled with the challenge of having to move Mission High School, the district's continuation school, from one side of the campus complex to the other.

Gridley students much fitter than data reflected When the California Department of Education released the scores last month, it showed that 36.7 percent of Gridley's ninth-graders passed all six of the required tests. But Garnero said she knew the number was much higher -- as high as 57.3 percent for girls and 77.4 percent for boys at her school.

Manteca Unified gets visitors from other side of the world The chief technology and information officers from the South Wales Department of Education along with representatives from Microsoft toured several district schools, looking to recreate Manteca Unified's use of "thin client" operating systems in classrooms on the other side of the world.

Survey says … Think "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" meets "Family Feud" meets, well, Algebra I. In this game-show scenario, Magnolia High School teacher Paul Schiada is the host, his 30-some students are the contestants and the name of the game is quadratic functions.

Decision delayed on new school district To muted cheers and jeers, partisans in the Los Altos Hills schools debate pleaded, argued, explained and, at times, issued threats Thursday night before the countywide board that will determine the course of public education in the affluent community.

School board gets an earful over Kennedy More than 150 Kennedy High School students, parents and teachers stormed the West Contra Costa school board this week to demand that district officials reconsider a plan to move Leadership charter high school onto Kennedy's campus.

Prop. MM savings to help taxpayers Property owners living within San Diego Unified School District boundaries will see slight reductions in their property tax bills. The district has taken advantage of lower interest rates and refinanced about $1 billion of its $1.51 billion in Proposition MM bonds approved by voters in 1998.

Carlsbad schools ready to hire more counselors  Carlsbad Unified should soon have the money to hire three to four more middle and high school counselors through an estimated $357,600 in state money expected next month.

State tally of migrant schoolkids under fire Miscounting California's migrant children may be costing taxpayers money, federal auditors warn. The funding helps schools educate the children of migrant farmworkers. It's particularly helpful in the Central Valley, home to an estimated 141,000 migrant children. That's nearly half of the state's total.

Bilingual students get help Tulare County Office of Education has received $129,860 in state funds to assist those who work with bilingual students in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the California Department of Education. Tulare County was among 14 recipients to split $2.1million in grants.

Schools plan for mass exit of principals Faced with the loss of a third of their principals over the next five years, San Francisco school officials joined forces with a lengthy list of local organizations to create a program for finding and training 75 educators to fill the vacancies.

Brewer vows action to aid L.A. students Los Angeles schools Superintendent David Brewer III asked San Fernando Valley business leaders Thursday for their cooperation and financial support to help make L.A. Unified a first-class district.

Fewer police in Anaheim schools In an effort to improve community response time, the Anaheim Police Department is pulling three uniformed officers from Anaheim junior high and high schools.

Schools' efforts fail to keep all marketers out of the classroom Despite efforts to the contrary by education officials in San Francisco and across the country in recent years, commercial ventures continue to find ways into classrooms. And often they are welcomed with open arms.

Students take exam angst to Capitol The LegiSchool Project is part of a series sponsored by the Legislature and California State University, Sacramento, that brings high school students to the Capitol to take on politicians and policymakers on burning issues of the day. 

CalSTRS set for lobbying Still staring down a $20.3 billion shortfall, the board of the California teachers' retirement fund is packing up its lesson plan and heading to the Capitol to educate a large class of new lawmakers about a plan to wipe out the long-term deficit.

Permanent link to archive for 12/7/06. Thursday, December 7, 2006

Board OKs contract with teachers One of the first actions Andrea Lerner Thompson and Kathy Kaiser took as newly installed trustees for the Chico Unified School District was to approve a contract with Chico Unified Teachers Association.

Restructuring of districts clears hurdle The long-standing struggle to restructure school districts in northern Sacramento County took a step toward resolution Wednesday when the County Committee on School District Organization approved a plan to merge four districts.

Does deal let former teacher be on board? Teacher Fred Kamper resigned from the Mountain Empire Unified School District in June after he was accused of inappropriately touching a 9-year-old girl in his class. Next week, Kamper will return to the backcountry district as a newly elected member of its school board.

Teachers union presses for raise in Burbank Seeing a boost in the local school district budget, Burbank teachers are pressing administrators to pass the increased wealth on to them, noting they make less than the county median for educators. The teachers union is pressing Burbank Unified School District for raises next year that would put members in the top quarter in compensation for Los Angeles County teachers.

UTLA criticizes possible deal to keep Romer as district advisor As teachers prepared to rally Wednesday to protest stalled contract talks, their union leaders criticized contract extensions for senior school district officials as well as a possible consulting contract for former Supt. Roy Romer, who retired last month.

Permanent link to archive for 12/6/06. Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Students claim censorship of poster In a rough draft of a poster designed by high school students in Castroville, one hooded member of the Ku Klux Klan turns to another Klansman and uses a racial slur in discussing African-Americans. The display is at the center of what some North Monterey County High student leaders are calling censorship.

Board votes to renew school charter Derek Knell, a vocal critic of the Marin School of Arts & Technology, surprised other Novato school board members when he moved to renew the school's charter Tuesday. The five-year charter renewal, which comes with a lengthy list of conditions, was approved 6-0.

Education system improving, but not yet head of class California's impending teacher shortage still looms like a threatening storm cloud in the distance, but an annual study of the state's teachers asserts that alarm bells need not toll over the profession with the same urgency as in the past.

Superintendent dispute leads to complaint against district A Garden Grove Unified School District trustee whom Westminster School Board members voted to hire as superintendent but later fired has filed a complaint seeking more than $1 million in damages, immediate reinstatement and a public apology.

Plans to scan student fingerprints called off Plans to start a student finger-scanning system at University High School to make lunch lines and record keeping more efficient have been stopped by the Irvine Unified School District after parents complained of its possible Big Brother effect.

Number of underqualified teachers drops The number of underqualified instructors teaching children in California's public schools has dropped by more than half since 2000, a new report finds. But with nearly 18,000 still in the classroom, there is no guarantee the state can comply with a federal law requiring only "highly qualified" teachers in the classrooms by an approaching deadline this school year.

Permanent link to archive for 12/5/06. Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Bret Harte programs focus on campus safety A 2005 survey of Bret Harte High School District ninth- and 11th-graders showed only 25 percent of the students reported feeling very safe at school. A series of new programs launched this year are aiming to change that.

Teachers bristle over management pay raises The Lucia Mar school board and the teachers union are at odds over raises given to top administrators and a board plan to spend about $450,000 to restore some school services.

Altadenans seek split from Pasadena USD Frustrated by a lack of influence over its schools, Altadena is getting serious about secession. Local activists, aided by the town's council, are petitioning the Los Angeles County Board of Education to consider the feasibility of splintering from the Pasadena Unified School District.

Gas leaks at San Marcos school prompt officials to address aged site The smell of natural gas at San Marcos Elementary school not only prompted officials to address existing gas leaks at the school twice this year, but has put the need for major renovations at the forefront, officials said Monday.

Oceanside USD expecting smaller increase in state funding for 2007-08 The Oceanside Unified School District is preparing for a smaller increase in state funds next school year compared to the nearly 6 percent increase it received this year, according to Associate Superintendent Robyn Phillips. The district is expecting somewhere between a 3.5 percent and 3.8 percent increase in state spending next year, Phillips said.

Court turns down parents who complained about sex survey Parents who sued a California school district over a sex survey given to students lost a Supreme Court appeal Monday. Justices declined to review an appeals court ruling that dismissed the suit against the Palmdale School District.

Principal faces demotion in wake of missing cash A suspended Sunnymead Middle School principal faces demotion in an alleged embezzlement even though police have found no evidence of her involvement.

Swanson bill would empower schools Newly sworn-in Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, who replaced termed-out Wilma Chan to represent Oakland and its environs, introduced a bill Monday that would force the state to return some control over schools back to the Oakland school district.

Area follows K-12 diversity case closely Bay Area lawyers, educators and activists kept a close watch Monday on two cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court over using race to assign students to schools in an effort to integrate them.

West Sacramento schools chief in turmoil Almost six months on the job and the new superintendent of the Washington Unified School District has had a taste of the toughest issues facing West Sacramento schools.

Justices question school policies The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments on school integration, signaled Monday that they are likely to bar the use of race when assigning students to public schools.

LAUSD takeover work in progress With Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hoping to take over Los Angeles Unified in just four weeks, city officials say they're working hard to streamline operations while school district leaders are bracing for the changes.

Permanent link to archive for 12/1/06. Friday, December 1, 2006

Students protest campus sharing Chanting "save our school" and clutching rally signs, hundreds of Kennedy and Kappa high school students marched from class to the West Contra Costa School District offices Thursday in protest of a plan to move Leadership Public School students onto the Kennedy campus.

Golden Hill canyon gets reprieve Bowing to community opposition, the San Diego school district is backing off a long-standing plan to build an athletic field in a canyon treasured by Golden Hill residents as an urban oasis. Instead, district staff is proposing a gymnasium on the northwest corner of Golden Hill Elementary School. The $33.5 million campus overlooking 32nd Street Canyon near C Street opened in January without a field.

Chico teachers to vote on contract All that remains in an arduous negotiating process is approval from Chico teachers and a nod from the Chico Unified School District board of trustees -- and teachers will have a long-awaited raise. Negotiators reached a tentative agreement between the Chico Unified Teachers Association and Chico Unified School District, which will be voted on by all teachers next week.

Poll : Post public schools' data on the Web Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who says parents should be able to scrutinize schools on the Internet like they are "shopping for a car," received a political boost Thursday with a new poll showing widespread support for opening the financial books at public schools.

Audit faults teacher plan Five years ago, California lawmakers pushed through an ambitious program to improve mathematics and reading instruction by training teachers to introduce more rigorous academic content and inspire improved student performance. But a state audit released Thursday, based on a survey of 100 school districts, estimates that only 7,230 of the state's 252,000 public school math and reading instructors have completed the voluntary 120-hour training program.

O'Connell searches for the true cost of education  For years it has been a rhetorical question. But for the first time this spring, Californians may finally get an answer. Exactly how much does it cost to properly educate a child?

Permanent link to archive for 11/30/06. Thursday, November 30, 2006

Funds came from other sources, CUSD admits Capistrano Unified School District officials acknowledged for the first time this week that they had misled the public about how they would pay for a new administration building, but urged the public to move on now that the correct information has been revealed.

Fullerton School District superintendent to retire In a surprise announcement at Tuesday night's board meeting, Fullerton School District Superintendent Cameron McCune said he is retiring effective summer 2007.  McCune, who started his sixth year of leadership in September, said he had completed the tasks set by trustees for the K-8 district: help approve a $49.7 million bond measure, improve test scores and lead the district into 21st-century technology.

Carlsbad USD officials lay plans for summer bond sale Carlsbad Unified School District officials don't plan to sell the first of several Proposition P school construction bonds until mid to late summer, according to Superintendent John Roach.

'Read 180' helps struggling readers turn things around Jani Cordova was hesitant when Murrieta Valley Unified School District officials wanted to enroll her son in a reading-improvement program they were launching this academic year.

Ravenswood postpones hiring vote Wary of giving the mistaken impression that they acted deviously, Ravenswood trustees Wednesday night declined to name Maria Meza-De La Vega the school district's permanent superintendent.

San Juan OKs huge student move Trustees took the first steps in a sweeping plan to reorganize the San Juan Unified School District by voting Tuesday to move hundreds of students to different campuses. But they delayed making decisions on whether to sell some property left vacant in the reorganization, leaving those matters for the new school board to resolve in the new year.

Column: Castro Valley hoops coach can't win The results are in at Castro Valley High School. That's where a group of parents were in an uproar over girls varsity basketball coach Nancy Nibarger and demanded that her team be picked by a six-person panel. This week the team roster was posted. None of the disgruntled parents' daughters made it. The parents are not going to let this go.

Students' files open to parents via the Web Newly installed software in San Dieguito district schools is enabling parents to track virtually every slip-up made by their kids. From shoddy test scores and skipped assignments to truancies and tardiness, this computer program reports it promptly to mom and dad.

Charter school tackles contract Summit Preparatory Charter High School may not get the support it hoped for from the California Department of Education in its quest to get an early renewal of its charter petition.

Teachers' contract talks deadlock A state mediator has been called to help the San Mateo Union High School District and its teachers' association agree on a contract after negotiations came to a standstill last week. The San Mateo Union High School District Teachers' Association declared an impasse in negotiations after the two parties couldn't agree on changes to employee health care benefits.

Family prays for bus driver The family of a 2-year-old Sanger girl struck and killed by a school bus was saying prayers for the bus driver and his family Wednesday, the girl's grandmother said. The investigation into Tuesday's accident in Sanger continued Wednesday, but preliminary findings indicate the driver was not at fault, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Philanthropist gives $10.5 million to charter school group Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad has donated more than $10 million to a leading charter school organization that will help its bid to triple in size as it continues to establish itself as an alternative to traditional public schools.

O.C. high school writes rules to take 'freak' out of dancing The principal of a south Orange County high school has lifted a nearly three-month-long dancing ban he instituted after seeing teenagers' sexually suggestive moves at school dances that were "one step from events that should be occurring on wedding nights."

LAUSD faces an unwanted audit In their first in a series of weekly meetings, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer III and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agreed Monday they'll push for an audit of the school district and performance reviews of its teachers.

L.A. mayor, new schools chief on the same page Despite an ongoing feud between city and school district leaders, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and new Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. David L. Brewer pledged jointly Wednesday to demand more funding for schools and more accountability from the district.

Permanent link to archive for 11/29/06. Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Parents help make the grade at new school Two students dug their hands into the thick, sticky dough, listening to cooking directions in Spanish. A few others clustered on beanbags in a corner, learning how different cultures dispose of lost teeth. Outside, children sat at tables painting and running knitting yarn through their fingers. All were typical lessons at Ventura's new charter school, called School of Arts and Global Education. All also were led by parents — one feature that makes the school "unique."

Schools' pilot program seeking to help families For students who are homeless, school is more than a place for learning. School also may be their only safe and stable environment, where they can get two meals a day and health services. But connecting parents and their children to health and social services can be challenging.

Rowland parents list priorities for upgrades The wish list for parents and students in the Rowland Unified School District is simple: upgrading the pool at Rowland High School and building a performing arts facility.

Trustees move to buy land for fifth senior high facility The Salinas Union High School District on Tuesday took another step toward completing the purchase of a site for a new high school, even though it has no money to build the campus.

District again adjusts high school year Summer is going to start, and end, a little sooner for the city's high school students in the next two academic years, according to school calendars being considered by the board of the Escondido Union High School District.

Raises OK'd for Fallbrook district administrators Administrators in the Fallbrook Union High School District and their assistants will receive raises of more than 7 percent under an agreement approved this week by trustees, despite fierce opposition from teachers who questioned the timing of the vote.

School dances return under new rules Dancing shoes can come back out at Aliso Niguel High School. Principal Charles Salter announced Tuesday that he is lifting a nearly three-month ban on dances as long as students abide by a new contract.

Wildly popular teacher known as 'Mr. K' pens his first book Armen Keuilian is no ordinary teacher. At 60, his middle school pupils adore him as if he were a rock star or a legendary athlete. They wave and call to him on the El Rancho Charter School campus in Anaheim Hills. "I love you, Mr. K. I love you, Mr. K." It happens hundreds of times each day.

New school board member faults appointment As one of their first actions after taking office nearly four years ago, three board members of the Ravenswood City School District moved to get rid of then-Superintendent Charlie Mae Knight. As one of the outgoing majority's last actions, tonight the board plans to appoint a superintendent. Presumably, board members will make permanent interim Superintendent Maria Meza-De La Vega, who has held the job for 17 months.

Fortuna teachers and district have reached impasse The union says it wants a salary increase that teachers deserve because the district has received a cost-of-living adjustment from the state. The school district says that it is dealing with a budget deficit and can't afford to give teachers the raise right now.

Bakersfield City SD considers school sites, board seat The Bakersfield City School District is wasting no time in spending new bond money, but is in no hurry to fill a soon-to-be vacant school board seat. Trustees looked at four properties for possible school construction during a closed session Tuesday. Superintendent Michael Lingo said the properties were all in the Rio Bravo Valley but declined to elaborate further.

Lawsuit challenging No Child mandades may be revived School districts in three states and the nation's largest teachers union asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to revive a lawsuit challenging the way government-mandated programs are funded.

LAUSD OKs school on old hospital site Citing an overwhelming need to alleviate crowding at San Fernando Valley campuses, the Los Angeles Unified board voted unanimously Tuesday to build an $89 million high school at the site of the defunct Granada Hills Community Hospital.

School's next act CoSA, as the Coronado School of the Arts is known, plans to hold a party Jan. 20 to celebrate its 10th anniversary as a school-within-a-school at Coronado High. It will also be – for a school that has for a decade held classes in trailers and performances in other campuses' theaters– an opening night of sorts. The event will unveil a $12 million building with a black-box theater, scene shop, music and drama rooms, and a fly loft.

Influx of English learners a challenge for California The disproportionately high number of Californians with limited English skills is straining the state's education system, according to school officials interviewed about the report, as immigrants continue moving here, primarily from Mexico and Central America and also from Asia. But immigrants are eager to learn, and their children are mastering English and successfully assimilating into American society, demographers and education experts said.

Schools' pilot program seeking to help families To serve the needs of a growing homeless student population across the state, the California Department of Education recently earmarked $8.2 million in Education for Homeless Children and Youth grants. The federal government had authorized the funding through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Permanent link to archive for 11/28/06. Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Escondido UHSD classified employees say salaries lagging Members of the classified employees association of the Escondido Union High School District say lower salaries and rising insurance costs are causing them to slowly fall behind teachers and administrators in the district. The district's chapter of the California School Employees Association is in the process of negotiating a three-year contract with district officials, but some union members have expressed their dissatisfaction with the negotiations.

Etiwanda schools honored for energy efficiency There is a slew of advice out there about electricity consumption - measures that can save a chunk of change. But $1 million? In the past 28 months, the Etiwanda School District saved $1,150,381 after participating in an energy conservation program that got the district to evaluate its consumption habits.

Teacher union seeks mail access In a debate that pits electioneering laws against free speech, California's largest union has launched a legal battle to permit political endorsement on public grounds. State law ensures teachers unions the right to spread the word on contract negotiations and grievances using campus mailboxes. However school districts typically ban partisan politics from the rectangular receptacles, to the chagrin of unions.

Biggs school superintendent to leave for university position Biggs Unified School District's board of trustees will consider approving an interim superintendent when they meet Wednesday, because Superintendent Lee Funk announced he will resign as soon as a replacement can be found.

Capistrano Unified to open its books to public Capistrano Unified officials will provide a full accounting of facilities projects and spending over the past 15 years, a response to parents who say the district misled the public. Interim Superintendent Charles McCully said the presentation will show how much has been spent on construction of and improvements to dozens of schools.

San Diego school district sets up ethics program Employees of the San Diego school district have a place to turn to if they have a tip about fraud or need advice to avoid ethical pitfalls. The San Diego Unified School District, which employs 15,800 workers and has an annual budget of more than $1 billion, has hired an ethics officer and activated a fraud hotline.

School-site fight in its last inning Community groups led by City Councilman Greig Smith made an 11th-hour effort to derail what education officials call a much-needed high school in Granada Hills and instead to reopen a hospital on the site.

Exit exam eludes some The first time Alfredo Guzman took the California High School Exit Exam two years ago, he wasn't too worried when he failed. As a sophomore, the student from Saddleback High in Santa Ana knew he had several other chances to pass, and his homework and other tests came first.

Rocco, activist group sue Orange Unified over censure Orange Unified School District board member Steve Rocco and an activist group have filed a lawsuit claiming the district violated the Brown Act and the California Constitution.

Education leaders call for reform About 150 parents, teachers and other residents of Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos gathered on Monday night to hear two leading educational policymakers place local schools in a global perspective.

Permanent link to archive for 11/27/06. Monday, November 27, 2006

Educators, critics debate video games' impact on students Games and violence in schools have been mentioned in the same discussions for years. But the material in the new video game "Bully" - which includes fighting on school grounds - comes at a sensitive time when high schools have witnessed school violence erupt on their campus.

Football scores big in classroom Like many high schoolers, John Hagen's algebra students worry about passing. But they also worry about rushing. And receiving. And scoring. They've become miniature NFL coaches, tracking the performance of key players in their own fantasy football league.

Teen drinking at the forefront of city's concerns Organizers of a Thursday forum in Palo Alto are hoping that a dialogue among parents, health officials, law enforcement and perhaps some teenagers will be the right mixture to curb underage drinking. The meeting comes almost a month after a Palo Alto Unified School District teacher allegedly allowed underage drinking at a party at her house.

Finding the good in a bad situation It's what all schools fear: state sanctions for low test scores. It's what Compton Junior High faces now. The state appointed a trustee to oversee Compton earlier this year. It's one of three schools in the entire state in the situation.

Teachers prefer reality in lessons on Thanksgiving Teacher Bill Morgan is among elementary school teachers who have ditched the traditional Thanksgiving lesson, in which children dress up like Indians and Pilgrims and act out a romanticized version of their first meetings. He has replaced it with a more realistic look at the complex relationship between Indians and white settlers.

Student farmers' ranks increasing With the addition of high-tech computer gadgets, and new, broader study areas, high school agriculture classes are seeing more students than they have in decades. "It's not just your old farmer anymore," said Joe McNealy, Livermore High School's agriculture teacher.

Builders ready to go on magnet high schools Idle bulldozing equipment and a trailer sat yesterday near a hill in northeast Oceanside where Vista Unified School District officials expect to begin construction of dual magnet high schools next week. The project is the centerpiece of Proposition O, a $140 million school bond measure that voters approved in 2002 to build facilities and relieve overcrowding.

Dual-language school wins OK ¡Viva la escuela! Long live the school! After nearly two years of negotiations, the Riverbank Unified School District approved a dual-language charter school this week. Riverbank Language Academy will open next fall on the Rio Altura Elementary School grounds.

Fewer kids, fewer schools The California Legislative Analyst's Office reports that K-12 public school enrollment -- or average daily attendance -- will drop next year by 6,000 students from a total of more than 6 million pupils statewide. Though seemingly modest, the drop signals considerable challenges for schools as statewide enrollment is expected to continue falling through 2010 as the children of the post World War II baby boom generation move beyond school age.

It's a stretch for schools to find enough space for P.E. In the Los Angeles Unified School District's physical education classes, "squishy-squashy" means "move in close enough to touch somebody, but don't." But metaphorically, the invented word could apply to P.E. in the district as a whole.

Permanent link to archive for 11/22/06. Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An abrupt turnaround at Capistrano Unified School District The Capistrano Unified School District will make major cuts this year and next, ending a brief period of optimism that had depended largely on spending down reserves, interim Superintendent Charles McCully said.

Man arrested on suspicion of threats to school  Riverside police Tuesday arrested a San Diego County man suspected of being a high-tech hacker who threatened to blow up a Riverside school and harassed a teacher for more than two years.

Officials tighten reins on teachers The Redwood City School District is establishing more stringent rules for backup teachers after a substitute pricked numerous students with the same needle during a science experiment last week.

Hewlett grant helps Hayward schools The school district's effort to bring all students to proficient levels in English just got an extra boost.  The Menlo Park-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation recently awarded a $2.75 million grant to the district, which will help students master a subject that has plagued district schools scoring at the lower end of statewide measures.

Norovirus sickens dozens A highly contagious intestinal virus has contributed to the deaths of two elderly people in Sonoma County and has struck dozens of people in long-term health facilities and schools, a county health official said Tuesday.

Permanent link to archive for 11/21/06. Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Charter schools forge a new path Kate Bean thinks she knows what's wrong with public education. "It's just very institutional," said the former public school teacher while offering suggestions on how the system could be improved. As director of the newly approved Aveson Charter School in Pasadena, Bean will soon have the chance to put her words into action.

Hayward teachers, school district at odds over salaries Teachers and the school district have come to a standstill in contract negotiations and are awaiting a state mediator to assess the situation. The teachers union, the Hayward Education Association (HEA), is seeking a 16.84 percent salary increase — a figure that recently was given to top district administrators, while the district countered with a 3 percent increase retroactive to July.

Revised budget of $524 million OK'd by Kern HSD The Kern High School District will spend about $22 million more this school year than originally expected. Trustees approved a revised $524 million budget Monday morning. In June they approved a $502 million budget, but that was before the district knew exactly how many students it would have.

Parents press for measures to protect pupils Vineland School District parents and community members planned to present school board trustees and the superintendent with petitions Monday asking the district to build fences around its two schools and give parents more information about pesticides sprayed in the area.

Substitute allows kids to share needle for class It's unlikely that any of the students who shared needles during a science experiment at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Redwood City were exposed to any diseases, the San Mateo County Health Department says. But health department officials will be at the school today with mobile vans, checking students for Hepatitis B and C and HIV.

School takes root at Ambassador Thirty-eight years after presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel, his family and the community celebrated the groundbreaking Monday for a new school that will be built on the historic site. "The fact that there's a school here is the greatest possible memorial the people of Los Angeles could give to my father," said Kennedy's son, Maxwell. "It's a beacon. I'm grateful that my dad will be remembered in this way - the finest school for the poorest kids."

Permanent link to archive for 11/20/06. Monday, November 20, 2006

Principal put on leave; Center High stunned The principal of Center High School has been placed on paid administrative leave, officials said. The move stunned students and staff members at the school, leaving them wondering what led to the decision only a few months after Ken Gardner was hired.

Urban, rural test scores compared Children in major U.S. cities perform worse than other students around the country on science tests given in elementary and middle school, a snapshot released by the government shows. Ten urban school districts volunteered to take the tests and have their scores compared with public school students nationwide for the first time.

Disruption at debate discussed by district Sweetwater school district officials are considering prohibiting students from hosting live political debates after two National City men disrupted a mayoral debate at Granger Junior High School in October. Martin Ortega, a parent of a Granger student, was one of the men who yelled when the students who organized the debate allowed each of the mayoral candidates to ask each other a question. He said he was also angry the student newspaper used the term “illegal alien” instead of “illegal immigrant.”

School board member is charged with perjury A member of the Chino Valley Unified School District board was charged with conflict of interest and perjury for allegedly benefiting from a contract between the district and the company he worked for, the San Bernardino County district attorney's office said Thursday.

Ex-Fowler High student sues over pot suspension A former Fowler High School student who was suspended for possessing a speck of marijuana on school grounds is suing the school district, contending it has double standards when disciplining students. Jonathan Carl Coch Simonian said in his U.S. District Court civil lawsuit that the Fowler Unified School District violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Students falling flat on state fitness test The majority of California students are too big, too slow and too weak, according to the results of the state's annual fitness test released Friday. About 3 out of 4 students tested couldn't perform all six of the physical tasks required to pass the exam -- about the same as last year.

Schools choose to play it safe In a post-9/11, post-Columbine America, where color-coded terror alerts are part of the fabric of life, school lockdowns have become as familiar as fire and earthquake drills. During the Cold War, students fretted about nuclear war -- and huddled under desks. Today's administrators worry about terrorism and gun violence. And they view lockdowns -- like metal detectors and pat-downs -- as just another tool to keep students safe.

I.E.'s science lag addressed Getting students excited about math might be a matter of rocket science, say some county and state education officials, and that's easier than it sounds. At a Cal State San Bernardino summit Friday on the state of math and science education, elected officials and educational administrators acknowledged the Inland Empire's shortcomings in preparing students for careers in the sciences.

County schools respond to a growing Mixteco population Like all but two of the students in this Hueneme School District middle school class, Ricardo Zaragoza is from Mexico. But like four of his classmates, he doesn't speak Spanish as his first language. Ricardo is a Mixteco, an indigenous group more than 725,000 strong whose homeland is the western part of the state of Oaxaca and extends into neighboring Guerrero and Puebla.

Column: S.F. Unified -- Love it or leave it In the special city, choice doesn't really mean choice. San Francisco Unified School District trustees proved as much last week when they voted 4-2 to eliminate the popular Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and deprive high-school students of a program that instills leadership and other skills essential to success in a competitive world.

Parents start picking schools for their kids An estimated 10,000 people converged on the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Saturday to peruse offerings at San Francisco's public schools and kick off the district's annual, anxiety-ridden enrollment process. In most other cities across the country, when a family buys or rents a home, they're also buying a seat in their neighborhood public school down the street. That's not the way it works in San Francisco.

Column: A primer for the superintendent Dear David Brewer: Even before you officially became Los Angeles Unified School District's superintendent last week, you'd been pep-talking anyone who'd listen, and in discussing your hopes for the district, you've been touting Jim Collins' bestselling management tome "Good to Great." If you really think you're starting with a district that's "good," you've been massively suckered by those school board members who've been showing you off like a circus bear they won in an all-night poker game. "Dreadful to So-So" would be a more realistic trajectory.

Single-sex classes on a forward course Single-sex classes and schools — both public and private — are gaining favor across the nation as educators search for ways to boost test scores and students' self-esteem. In 1995, only three public schools in the nation offered a single-sex option, compared with more than 253 today, according to the National Assn. for Single Sex Public Education. Five percent of private schools are single-sex.

Schools slow in closing gaps between races When President Bush signed his sweeping education law a year into his presidency, it set 2014 as the deadline by which schools were to close the test-score gaps between minority and white students that have persisted since standardized testing began. Now, as Congress prepares to consider reauthorizing the law next year, researchers and a half-dozen recent studies, including three issued last week, are reporting little progress toward that goal.

Permanent link to archive for 11/17/06. Friday, November 17, 2006

Lopez Elementary opens to smiles Ignacio L. Lopez Elementary School opened for business Thursday, not quite finished and a few weeks later than expected. But judging by the smiles, it was well worth the wait. Pomona Unified's 27th elementary school welcomed students and staff to a sparkling campus and brand-new classrooms that connect with restrooms and shared meeting rooms.

Council rejects charter school plan A hundred or so people chanting and waving signs could not persuade the West Contra Costa school board to approve the Making Waves Education Program's proposal for a charter middle school in Richmond. Board members voted 4-1 against the organization's charter application Wednesday, saying they were concerned that Making Waves had not yet picked a site for the school. Board member Dave Brown dissented.

Students' censorship suit nears settlement Former East Bakersfield High School newspaper students neared victory Thursday in their fight against the Kern High School District over censored articles about homosexual teens.

Charter schools aim to raise profile with Web site Since charter schools were authorized by the state Legislature in 1992, they have grown to about 600 charters serving more than 200,000 students. So, this week, the California Charter Schools Association, an advocacy group, announced a half-million dollar marketing campaign to raise awareness of charter schools as an option within the public education system.

Charter school in battle to expand A small Fallbrook charter school is tangling with the county over whether it can expand, with both sides saying the law is on their side. The two-year-old New School is one of the highest performing schools in the state and serves 107 children from kindergarten through seventh grade.

Couple say they paid tens of thousands for 'free education' To get proper schooling for their severely autistic son, an Irvine couple say they were forced to shower employees at his elementary school with diamond jewelry, Coach bags, Chanel perfume and other lavish gifts worth a total of $100,000, according to a legal claim filed this month.

State education secretary resigns State Secretary of Education Alan Bersin is leaving his Sacramento post to spend more time with his family, his spokeswoman said Thursday. His last day is Dec. 15. It is unclear what prompted Bersin to resign 16 months after his appointment by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He splits his time between his home in San Diego and Sacramento, and the travel is too much, spokeswoman Michelle Orrock said.

Valley school seeks charter status Frustrated teachers and administrators at a San Fernando Valley middle school have revived plans to break away from the mammoth Los Angeles Unified School District and form an independently run charter school.

Permanent link to archive for 11/16/06. Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lodi Unified dreams up ideas for new high school The Lodi Unified School District is beginning plans for its next north Stockton high school. With last week's passage of the $114 million Measure L, Lodi Unified plans to build an academy high school for up to 600 students.

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