By Will Carless
Originally published April 30 at http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/article_4a75d15c-b1ef-11e2-89e1-0019bb2963f4.html
April 30, 2013 (Ramona)- -Things haven't gotten any better at the Ramona Unified School District in the few months since we last wrote about the district's budgetary woes.
Ramona is the only school district in the county to have never passed a bond measure. Last year, the district floated Proposition R, which would have raised $55 million, a chunk of which Ramona Unified could have used to pay off old loans it took out to renovate district schools in 2004. The bond failed, leaving district officials scratching their heads as to how to pay off the old debts.
April 24, 2013 (Washington D.C.)--Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) cosponsored legislation to block the doubling of interest rates on Stafford student loans set to kick in July of this year. The Student Loan Relief Act (H.R. 1595) would continue the current 3.4% rate through 2015.
“We need to ensure that access to higher education stays within the reach of middle class and lower-income families,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “If we want our children - and America, for that matter - to be competitive in the global economy, access to an affordable college education will be key.”
Story credit: SDSU News Center
April 18, 2013 (San Diego) – California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White will visit the San Diego State University campus April 24 and 25. In addition to touring the campus and meeting with university representatives, Chancellor White will host an open forum for all members of the university community.
The forum will take place on Wednesday, April 24 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Athletics Auditorium in the Fowler Athletics Center.
At the open forum, Chancellor White will provide brief remarks and take questions from members of the audience.
By Paul Kruze
April 11, 2013 (El Cajon)--Members of the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) Board on Wednesday night decided in principle (with no formal vote) to begin exploratory talks with the City of El Cajon on becoming a partner in the operation of the troubled East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) , as well as build a multi-purpose conference center adjacent to the theater.
The Board also voted 4-1 (with Priscilla Schreiber voting “no”) to endorse building a 325-seat performing arts center on the campus of Grossmont High School at the cost of $15.1 million dollars.
Representing GUHSD on the ad hoc committee will be board president Jim Kelly and board member Jim Stieringer.
By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Multiple sources have advised ECM that Wednesday night’s meeting of the Grossmont Union High School Board will include a discussion on theater options to meet the needs of students--and, perhaps, the broader East County community. Options are set to be raised under the Board President’s report, item VI(b) on the agenda.
The discussion is expected to center around whether a new events center should be built at Grossmont High School as well as whether the district should consider partnering with the City of El Cajon to reopen the East County Performing Arts Center.
April 3, 2013 (La Mesa) -- Cindy Marten, newly appointed Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, will be the featured speaker at the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club April 3rd meeting. She will address challenges facing modern urban school districts like San Diego's. San Diego Unified is struggling with a large budget deficit and is planning to sell off $50 million worth of its properties to help achieve a balance. Over 60% of the new funds coming from Proposition 30's tax increase is already committed to pay for overdue raises and other staff expenses.
Rather than holding a nationwide search, the School Board selected Marten as the unanimous choice for Superintendent. This was a result of her accomplishments as principal of Central Elementary School in City Heights, where she oversaw a dramatic increase in test scores at Central Elementary, a school serving a community where nearly all families are low income and English-learners.
March 26, 2013 (San Diego) – With more than 350 education abroad programs in more than 50 countries, international study is a central part of the educational experience at San Diego State University. Through the university’s Office of International Programs and the College of Extended Studies, SDSU continues to expand its international offerings to include educational, research and service-learning programs.
This spring break, April 1-5, many SDSU students will travel abroad to prepare for positions of leadership in a global society. Some of the highlighted destinations include South Africa, Mexicali and Guatamala.
March 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – Nearly 3,000 volunteers and students statewide from elementary grades through high school converged on Cuyamaca College all day Saturday for the 2013 California Destination Imagination State Tournament, a precursor to a global competition designed to help children develop critical thinking skills in a fun, creative way.
The students worked since last fall on the Team Challenge portion of the competition, choosing from among seven technical, scientific, fine arts, structural engineering and community service projects created by the non-profit organization, Destination Imagination, based in Cherry Hill, N.J. The 200 teams that competed Saturday already won a top spot in one of California’s seven regional competitions held in February. Local schools represented included Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, Flora Vista Elementary School in Encinitas, and multiple schools from Cardiff and Encinitas.
GUHSD CITIZENS'' BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ISSUES ANNUAL REPORT: AS FUNDS RUN OUT, SOME PROJECTS PUT ON HOLD
March 19, 2013 (El Cajon)--On Thursday, March 7, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) presented their annual report to the GUHSD Governing Board. The CBOC is a group of 11 community volunteers who oversee the expenditure of Prop H and Prop U bond funds.
A cover letter from Chair Nancy Herbst raises concerns over finances in the wake of a recession and reduced state funds. Current funds will be exhausted by mid-2015, she warns, adding, "Further projects are planned, but will not be scheduled until future funding is more certain." A revised project schedule is included in the report. Prominent among projects placed on hold is the long-awaited 12th high school in Alpine.
By L.D. Thompson
March 18, 2013 (City Heights) -- Crawford High School student Terrance Hall said he doesn't always have bus fare and has to walk 18 blocks to get to school. Over 400 students in the Center City area alone take the bus to school every day at a cost of $5.00 per day or a regional monthly bus pass of up to $72.00.
School Superintendent Richard Barrera reported that for four years he has been asking Mayor Jerry Sanders to do something to relieve students and parents alike of this unfair burden only to have his request fall on deaf ears. However the election of Bob Filner as San Diego’s new Mayor changed all that.
Saturday morning, the Improving Transportation in City Heights (ITCH) held a press conference to witness the signing of a pledge to provide students free transportation on the city owned transit system.
March 15, 2013 (San Diego)--The Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego, through the generous donation of Altman Plants, donated approximately 900 warm weather vegetable and herb plants for teachers and their school gardens across San Diego County on Thursday, March 14th. One hundred and forty-five schools, preschools, and youth programs participated.
March 18, 2013 (Lemon Grove) -- Lemon Grove Academy hosts its first Underage Drinking Forum for parents and students. Phil Hubbs, from the Proactive Network Against Substance Abuse (PRONASA), will be presenting information to parents about current drug and alcohol trends among youth. Additional speakers include: M.A.D.D., Friday Night Live, Lemon Grove Academy parents and students.
Students will participate in break-out sessions with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) and Friday Night Live to learn about the dangers of drugs and underage drinking. Families are invited to arrive at 5:30 p.m. for a complimentary dinner before presentations begin. The event will be held at the Lemon Grove Academy, 7866 Lincoln Street, on Thursday, March 21 with dinner at 5:30 and presentations from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
March 14, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--Give the Dream, a fundraising extravaganza to benefit Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students facing financial emergencies, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at three East County locations: Grossmont Center, Parkway Plaza and Santee Trolley Square Center.
The event is being held to raise money for Dreamkeepers, a program that awards scholarships of up to $500 to students who face a financial hardship that threatens their ability to stay in college.
Update March 15, 2013: The Board appointed Gerald Lecko to fill the vacancy.
March 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – A preacher, a scientist, a substitute teacher, an architect, an IT tech for the Navy, and a PTA president are all vying for appointment to the La Mesa Spring Valley School Board to replace Penny Halgren, who resigned for personal reasons. The LMSV board has decided to fill the vacancy by appointment to avoid costs of a special election.
On March 14, the board will hear from the applicants and take public comments before casting their votes at the special meeting.Six candidates, listed in alphabetical order, are Steve Babbitt, Robert Divine II, Gerald “Jerry “ Lecko, Ben Motten, Jay Steiger, and Mike Stewart. For details on each, scroll down.
March 8, 2013 (La Mesa)--The Grossmont Union High School District has announced that it will not bring any certificated teacher layoff notices to the Governing Board at this time. By law, school districts are required to send preliminary notices to certificated staff (teachers) by March 15 if they won’t be offered a contract for the next school year.
The decision was based upon data released by the California Department of Finance last week, where it appears that a version of the Governor’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will result in funding that is adequate to mitigate the effect of the District’s projected enrollment decline of 879 students next year. Other budget solutions, including the commitment of $7.1 million in district reserves, will be used to cover shortfalls that might exist due to structural deficits that persist.
March, 8, 2013 (La Mesa)--Fun with Physics introduces all ages and the entire family to fun, hands-on science experiments. Fun with Physics will be held on Saturday, March 16, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the La Mesa Boys and Girls Teen Club & Highwood Park, 7775 Junior High Drive, La Mesa, 91941. Experiments include: Bubbles, Sink or Float, Oobleck, Dry Ice Experiments, Airplanes and Helicopters and more. Come join the Fun!
Classes offered at Cuyamaca College for kids ages 8-14
March 7, 2013 (El Cajon) – Looking for some fun and educational activities for the kids over spring break? Check out College for Kids, a summer enrichment program at Cuyamaca College, is now available during spring break, March 25-28, 2013. Offered through the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s Continuing Education program, College for Kids provides the perfect combination of fun and learning, with low-cost classes and activities for youth ages 8-14. The program serves parents and kids alike by providing fun, safe and educational activities with the added benefit of an early introduction to a college environment.
March 4, 2013 (Jamul) – The water saving garden at Jamul Primary School has just been selected to receive a $5,000 grant from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “Catch Our Rainwater!” is the next major project planned by school garden directors Lois Young and Cass Crain.
“Our goal is to provide an outdoor learning environment for children, and a model for the community of sustainable gardening practices for our dry climate,” says Ms. Young. “We’re on our way to a new level of water conservation.”
School and District officials celebrated the district’s only student-run commercial restaurant
March 4, 2013 (El Cajon)--Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) and El Cajon Valley High School officials dedicated the new Restaurant Services Pathway Facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.
Modernization of the 15,200 square-foot Building 400 includes the Wigwam, the only student-staffed commercial restaurant in the district, eight classrooms and new student restrooms. The building upgrades are part of the GUHSD Career Technical Education (CTE) program which provides students with hands-on technology training and skills to help them succeed in college and careers.
By Billy Ortiz
Video and pictures by Billy Ortiz
March 4, 2013 (Lakeside)--Children at the Lakeview School area in Lakeside now have a safer place to walk to school. To see a video of the sidewalk development process here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saUjx_WTvMY.
By Jake Christie
March 4, 2013 (Alpine)--The Alpine Union School District Trustees Board discussed security measures at its latest meeting, in light of recent out-of-state school shootings. But the audience (including many teachers) was far more interested in the economic viability of the district than any security program.
Superintendent Tom Pellegrino began with a rundown of what the Alpine district was planning to do with security.
“Every one of the 12 companies that contributed more than $5,000 to the Grossmont Union High School District's Proposition U campaign in 2008 won a contract from the district.” – Voice of San Diego
Reprinted with permission from Voice of San Diego
Link to original story by Will Carless and Wendy Fry
Posted February 19, 2013 (updated February 27, 2013)
From the Reporters:
We wanted to know whether major donors to school bond campaigns are likely to win contracts from school districts once the bond passes.
HOMELESS YOUTH DETERMINED TO GET DEGREE EARNS TRANSPORTATION AND A LAPTOP FROM CALIBER COLLISION RECYCLED RIDES
February 26, 2013 (San Diego)-- As one of 6,000 homeless or unaccompanied youths in the San Diego Unified School District, Jorge Palacios could have easily dropped out of school. But he didn’t. Now, his determination to graduate and move on to a college education was rewarded when he received keys to a newly refurbished vehicle from Caliber Collision’s Recycled Rides program last Friday.
Caliber Collision’s Recycled Rides program partners with insurance companies to donate refurbished vehicles to individuals and service organizations in need. Jorge’s new vehicle was donated by Esurance and refurbished by Caliber Collision associates who volunteered personal time to repair the car and solicit donations from local businesses to help with expenses such as gas and insurance.
By Janis Mork
February 25, 2013 (Spring Valley)--CSEA’s (California School Employees Association) Chapter 419 has announced an agreement to save benefited positions in the Child Nutrition Department at La Mesa-Spring Valley School District middle schools.
Anna Bongard, kitchen manager (left) with lunch workers Debbie Martin and Doris Evans
By Miriam Raftery
February 21, 2013 (Alpine)—In the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, school districts across America are examining security procedures to consider the unthinkable – how to respond if confronted with a gunman aiming to commit mass murder.
The debate is raging in Alpine, where at least one parent is calling for armed guards in public schools. On February 21, the Alpine Union School District Board will hear a report from Superintendent Pellegrino on school safety measures in place and new concepts to consider—ranging from enhanced lockdown procedures to potentially, adding armed guards and perimeter controls to local campuses.
February 21, 2013 (El Cajon) -- Everyone has a favorite-teacher story – the memory often ingrained for life of a particular instructor whose love of the profession has proven inspiring. At Cuyamaca College, the Academic Senate each year recognizes one full-time and one part-time instructor selected by a faculty committee based on student nominations, rankings and reviews.
The winners of the Award for Teaching Excellence this year are Debra Babylon, an art instructor for 17 years and a two-time winner for her teaching prowess; and Eddie Sturgeon, a Superior Court judge by day and an adjunct law professor at Cuyamaca College two nights a week.
By Jake Christie
ECM editor Miriam Raftery also contributed to this story
February 20, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--In a four-to-one vote, the Grossmont Union High School District Governing Board this week decided to not adopt a resolution to resubmit building plans for a 12th high school in Alpine. There was no public input from the small audience, and the item was not discussed until about an hour and 30 minutes into the meeting. The Board members voted 4-1 to defeat the motion, with only Jim Stieringer voting in favor of his resolution.
SB 316 would require school doors to lock from the inside
February 20, 2013 (Sacramento)--State Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego, 39th district) introduced legislation Tuesday requiring all classrooms with five or more persons to install devices that allow doors to lock from the inside by January 1, 2015. The California Federation of Teachers is sponsoring the legislation.
Following the school shooting tragedies in Newtown, Conn. and Taft, Calif., schools are rethinking safety procedures, including additional protections against campus intruders. A 2010 analysis of similar legislation estimated that 70 percent of schools already have such locks. Without the locks, teachers must go outside to secure their classrooms during emergencies. Block’s proposal would ensure that every school regardless of age complies with the inside lock requirement.
By Walt Meyer
February 19, 2013 (Lakeside)--New careers as the wave of the future was a key theme in a guest lecture February 12 given by Chuck Brands at El Capitan High School. Brands is a local sustainability and solar energy expert who is also vice-president of Heartland Coalition and director of its UnitedGREEN division.
Last fall, Brands coordinated a class at Southwestern College to teach a new technology that uses all relevant data to map a building so that owners and occupants can manage their energy consumption and plan to adapt the building for energy innovation. The students were team-taught this pioneering class by experts from across the country under a grant from SDG&E to the Heartland Coalition.
Lemon Grove Filmmaker Jim Ellis Creates 33-Minute Documentary for Children, Parents to Watch Together
By Mark Gabrish Conlan
February 18, 2013 (Lemon Grove)--Nikki’s story is all too typical of the ones told in Lemon Grove filmmaker Jim Ellis’s new 33-minute documentary, Indoctrinated: The Grooming of Children Into Prostitution. At age 18, to raise the money to go to college, she took a job in a strip club. There she met an older man who helped her out financially, bought her nice clothes and accessories, and got her to fall in love with him and ultimately move in with him. Then he put the hammer down and told her that in order to keep her lifestyle — and his affections — she’d have to have sex with other men, for which he, not she, would be paid. Nikki’s story ends more happily than most such tales; she got out of “the life,” as prostitutes call it, and in her 20’s is trying to piece her life back together. She’s sufficiently self-assured that of all the present and former prostitutes Ellis interviewed, she was the only one who agreed to show her face on camera instead of having it electronically blurred.