Category Archives: News
Showing Options and Building Confidence
By Michele Townsend
A community meeting was held and hosted by Washington Unified School District for the families of Holy Cross Academy to introduce them to our school district. Many of the students that attend HCA are the second or third generation in their families that have attended that school. WUSD wanted to reassure the families that if their children transfer to Washington Unified, at HCA’s closing this spring, their children will not be forfeiting the quality of their education. “Our school district is nothing like it was 15 years ago,” said Superintendent Linda Luna.
Many years ago our school district was very poor. The buildings needed updating, not a single one of our schools tested at grade proficient, and our curriculum in all grades needed a complete updated overhaul. WUSD, every level of the entire staff, and all of the students and families have completely changed that.
Superintendent Luna explained the structure of our district, followed by an introduction of the Board of Education members in attendance, assistant superintendents, other administrators and principals from several elementary schools. She explained their positions, and the duties they perform. In addition she explained how we have evolved to our current district structure. As our district has grown and changed, there has been a need of altering existing positions and developing new ones. The teachers have all learned the new curriculum first, so that they can effectively teach it. New schools have been built, old schools have been renovated, and technology has been brought current. We now have award winning schools and students. We have students being recruited and being awarded scholarships from major universities nationwide, and we have a 95 percent graduation rate! We are definately NOT the district we used to be.
In preperation of school enrollment, many parents look at our schools state test scores and become concerned. However, if you look at a school’s state test scores, it does not project an accurate picture of their eduaction quality. Here’s why… Testing is done at a certain time, and ALL students must be tested. There are many sub groups that the children are grouped in to, however they do not include, and do not make adjustments for things like how long the student has been in the country, what kind of education were they getting prior to coming here, what language do they speak, is the test given in their language and in a structure that they understand, etc? As you can imagine, the accuracy of those numbers representing our quality of education quickly becomes faulty. So WUSD would like those interested in enrolling in our district to look what we have to offer, and the outstanding things that are occuring with our students and schools. Washington Unified has amazing programs and technology at every level for almost every demographic of student. Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Services, Amber Lee said “We try to know every student by name and by need, and if there is a need that we cannot help you with, we do our very best to rectify that!” The beauty of the programs that WUSD has addopted, is that they arent just “a class”, they are life changing, career building programs that are set up to transition from primary to secondary to college to career.
River City High School is now an amazing place. If you have never taken a tour of it, you really should! (They offer them every year shortly before the new school year begins – however you can arrange it if you need to at any time) The departments and special programs range from robotics, to forensics, to engineering, to culinary, to farming to the fine arts and so many more. We have career and community building opportunities and more students attending college than ever in the history of school in West Sacramento.
One mother of an HCA student expressed her concern of bullying. Amber Lee in combination with Westfield Elementary Principal Roxanna Villasenor explained that in addition to the no tollerance rule, they go beyond that by teaching and incorporating anti-bullying techniques on a daily basis.
They bring in the Reach One Alliance, with Kevin Bracy throughout the year. (He is amazing!) Principal Villasenor also told about a monthly get together for coffee between parents and principal that is informal and casual where they discuss any topic, creating a family type of community within the school.. Another father/grandfather of HCA students asked about prayer, and religeon practices at school.
Much to most people’s surprise there is a Bible club at River City, as well as a group of Muslim students that pray together. One thing that was consistant throughout every administrator, principal, board member or teacher who attended the meeting was that there is an open door policy throughout the district. All families are encouraged to call, come in or log onto the district website with any questions, concerns, or needs!
Residents are invited to the 2017 Recreation Center open house
By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger
Have you been to the City of West Sacramento’s Recreation Center? Now is the time to visit. Come with your family or bring a friend. The Recreation Center wants to showcase some of the activities that they offer throughout the year. The Open House will be held on Friday, Jan. 20 from 6 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 21 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
During the Open House you can workout at no charge. Try one or more of the many exercise classes that are offered. Check out one or more of the workshops. The Rec Center offers Aging With Wellness, PNF Stretching Clinic or Fermented Foods Talk and Tasting. Call the center at 916-617-4770 to sign up or email them if you have any questions.
If you have been thinking about checking out a class, now is your chance. Experience something new. Childcare is offered free both Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, and Friday from 4:30 to 8 pm. You may want to call to reserve a spot for childcare as there is limited availability.
Your family is invited to the Rockwall Party on Friday night from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. You will learn climbing techniques. You will need to sign up at the front desk in advance for this class. Many workshops will be offered. These include A.M. Pump, Low Impact Cardio, Athletic Barre, Beginning Yoga and Meditation, Partner Preview Workout, Ask a Trainer, Body Comp Table.
You can watch or participate in the Drop- In- Pickleball. Aqua Triathlon is an event that will give you a workout and make you laugh and is great for all skill levels. The activities include Aqua Tri, Jog, and Bike as well as a Polar Slide.
Here is your chance to try Zumba. There will be a Zumba Party on Friday from 5:45 to 7 p.m. You will need to register in advance for Zumba. Sarah, Satu, Barbara and Ernest are looking forward to dancing with you. Come and see what you have been missing.
On Saturday a Fooseball Ladder and a Ping Pong Ladder will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. YOGA is scheduled at the same time and has limited availability. The staff at the Recreation Center is looking forward to meeting you and showcasing many of the activities that they offer all year round.
Plan now to visit the Recreation Center OPEN HOUSE on Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 21. You can call the Recreation Center to sign up in advance at 916-617-4770.
To ask questions via email send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Recreation Center is located at 2801 Jefferson Blvd. in West Sacramento.
Mediation Battle Continues
By Michele Townsend
The negotiation battle between West Sacramento’s Teachers and Washington Unified School District (WUSD) continues after yet another bargaining meeting has come and gone, and still no settlement has been made. Public schools are funded by the government through federal, state, and local taxes, and most are part of a larger school system. Elected school board members and education officials implement and oversee strict rules and procedures that public schools must follow. These rules and procedures not only include what needs to be done, but also how things will be done, and by whom. Salary negotiations are no exception. The negotiation/mediation process occurs in steps of give and take (you hope!), until a settlement is made. Each step in the process has strict guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed to take place and the deadline in which that step must be completed by. The current negotiations began in May 2015. They begin when both parties (WUSD and Washington Teacher’s Association , or WTA) bargaining teams sit at the table together to understand each parties’ interests. When satisfaction between the two parties cannot be reached, a third party, or Mediator, is assigned to the negotiations. The impartial mediator listens to both sides and tries to come up with a satisfactory compromise. If no resolution is obtained by the mediator the mediator then brings in a Fact Finder. A Fact Finder is now in charge of the official panel. Once a Fact Finder is assigned, the parties do not sit together to negotiate. The Fact Finder meets with a mediator representing each team. to gather all information from both sides. The fact finding meeting was held on Thursday, August 25th. The mediator reportedly spent a considerable amount of time with both parties. All were optimistic, but again no settlement was reached. When a settlement is still not reached through mediation, the next step is “Fact finding”. A fact finder is appointed and agreed upon by both parties as a neutral person to listen and mediate between parties. Both parties have a mediator that works with the appointed fact finder. This is the step that the bargaining process is currently at.
On August 30th, 2016 the fact finding meeting was held. After 11 grueling hours the fact finding was unsuccessful. Don Stauffer, President of WTA, posted on WTA’s Facebook page “Technically, we are still in bargaining, and can continue to meet with the District. Currently, however, there are no further bargaining sessions scheduled”. Since the negotiations are still legally under fact finder control, all parties are “very harshly instructed” not to speak about ANY details regarding the negotiations. The one thing that all parties agree on, is that they are frustrated and exhausted. It seems they all felt “it was very close, but just couldn’t quite get there”. Both the WTA and the WUSD are providing as much information as possible to the public, and both have a lot of information on their websites.
As we saw at the multiple school board meetings where there were so many people in attendance that the room could barely fit everyone, as well as the protest held last Monday at River City High School by students and parents, this is not just any old dispute. We’re talking about our teachers. These are the people that not only provide our children’s academic instruction, but help our kids grow emotionally and socially as well. Many of them commute for miles, knowing that they could make more money somewhere else, but staying here because they love our kids, our town, and our district. They love our diversity, and enjoy seeing our children thrive. Many of them have been here through all of the growth and changes that have occurred in the last decade. They have gone through the training of new curriculum, and then again when additional new curriculum was adopted. Some of them were even our teachers, and now they are teaching our children. It is for these reasons, and so many more, that this topic has our community up in arms. We ALL support our teachers. This does, in fact, include the district and the board members.
In addition to the 150 students and adults that attended the protest that was held in front of RCHS, there are a number of parents that feel they can’t just sit around and wait. They want to make sure that the school board and the administration know how strongly they feel about the support for their teachers. As reported last week in the West Sacramento News Ledger, a group of parents held a meeting outside of school to plan a district wide “sit out” for Sept. 6th. the idea now, is to get the administrations attention about how strongly the community feels about taking care of the teachers that take care of us! What WUSD would like to explain is that the administration is not involved any decisions at this point, as the official panel has full control now. In addition, WUSD hears and knows the concern of teachers every day, and their “attention” will have no baring on the outcome. The school district and yes, the teachers, cannot stress enough that though they appreciate the passion and conviction, they feel that a sit out is the wrong way to show support. Parent Daisy Po’oi has created a Facebook page at Parentssupport#WTA. She is posting information about the negotiations, discussions, and has posted a draft letter of support that can be sent to the Board of Education. She said “The page will evolve and include more as the situation progresses and the community comes together”. There has been some negative feedback as well. Many parents are concerned that this topic is taking up class time and that it is not appropriate conversation for school. It is, in fact, talked about at schools, but that is because school is the common ground. But rest assured, it is not likely to be the staff that brought it up, nor are they allowing it to be disruptive. In fact, Education Code prohibits it. Both the teachers, and the children that I spoke to assured me that this is not, in fact, a classroom topic. The older kids who understand what is going on want to show their support and opinion. So far, they have all done it respectfully and appropriately. As for the younger kids, they may not understand the topic, but they may have heard people mention that we need to stick up for their teachers. Chances are, they are just trying to do that, and it doesn’t matter why.
It’s not just the parents that want to know what’s going on, however. School board member Coby Pizzotti has stated that he not only welcomes, but encourages, all community members, students and parents that want to show support, or speak to him regarding this topic, to please contact him. He would like to hear what everyone has to say between now and September 26.. Mr Pizzotti has stated that he can be reached by email; email@example.com, cell phone, West Sacramento community discussion board, community forum, private message on Facebook, or by letter. He also stressed that he will do his VERY BEST to answer every correspondence that he receives as quickly as possible. He really does want the community’s input so that he can present it to the board prior to the release of the fact finding report on September 26 by the neutral member of the fact finding panel.
For more information and clarification regarding the negotiations visit WTA’s facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wtateachers/?fref=ts or WUSD’s website at http://www.wusd.k12.ca.us/Departments/Communication http://www.wusd.k12.ca.us/Departments/Communication—Community-Outreach/Negotiations-Updates/index.html. You may also call WUSD Human Recourses Dept. at (916)375-7600, ext. 1046.
Free sailboat rides day on Lake Washington
By Steve Liddick
Sailing requires wind, doesn’t it? But 40-knot gusts were a little too much for those who turned out for the Lake Washington Sailing Club’s annual “Free Sailboat Rides Day. Still, a respectable crowd gathered to look at boats owned by the club and those stored at the site by members—and in the hope of diminished winds to allow them to get out on the water. A few brave souls did get to take a spin around the lake in one of the larger, heavier boats.
The LWSC has been in operation since 1933 and holds the event to attract the general public and encourage new memberships. “It’s an opportunity for the public to enjoy sailing,” club Commodore Tom Heavey said. “Members don’t even have to own a boat.”
Indeed, the club just bought eight Sunfish sailboats which they rent to members for just five dollars a day. Several Laser sailboats have also been purchased and are expected to also eventually be put into rental service.
Before the novice sailors get to take their first solo run, they have to go through a training period. “It’s an extensive course,” Heavey said. “They have to learn sailing, rigging, and how to safely utilize the equipment.” Part of the training includes purposely flipping the boat over in the water and righting it again. Scary to think about, but not difficult to do.
The club also encourages young people to get into sailing and sponsors high school students from Davis, Rio Americano and Jesuit. “The students train together and then they compete against each other,” Heavey said.
Not all club activities involved sailing and the general public is invited to most of them: A monthly Sunday barbecue and the annual Delta Ditch Run, a regatta in early August that that takes about six hours to get from Rio Vista to the club’s Lake Washington location. There is a fee to participate and the racers enjoy a barbecue at the end of the trip.
In November there is the annual “Turkey Shoot.” No, turkeys are not shot, it is a sailing race. Winners get . . . you guessed it . . . turkeys.
A booth was set up at the event to explain the club’s functions and attractions and to hand out membership applications. Organizers say they typically get about a dozen new members at the annual gathering.
The annual membership fee is $140 (pro-rated on a monthly basis), plus a $50 initiation fee and a $25 key deposit. West Sacramento residents get a discount. A single parking sticker is included.
Membership also requires 12 hours of volunteer work, which could include building and boat maintenance, running a membership booth, working a barbecue event, and many other activities.
For more information and directions, check the Lake Washington Sailing Club’s website at www.LWSailing.org.