Santa to arrive on fire truck: Here’s St. Nick’s schedule

Santa to arrive on fire truck: Here’s St. Nick’s schedule

The West Sacramento Fire Department, in conjunction with the West Sacramento Firefighters’ Association, is preparing for the annual “Santa Run” through West Sacramento. With the help of many off-duty firefighter “elves,” Santa More »

Toys For Tots collection efforts now underway

Toys For Tots collection efforts now underway

Since 1948, The Marine Corps League, Toys for Tots Foundation has been around for the distribution of toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign More »

Council Member Bill Kristoff Retires After Thirty Years of Service

Council Member Bill Kristoff Retires After Thirty Years of Service

By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger Bill Kristoff will officially retire on November 16th when he attends his last city council meeting. His friends, family and colleagues came together recently at More »


School bus service on chopping block


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

School bus rides will probably be a thing of the past for most local elementary and middle school-grade kids next year. But the school board at the Washington Unified School District is considering a planned cut to bus service in the afternoon leaving from River City High School.

Last month, the board approved a number of budget cuts aimed at closing an estimated $2.5 million gap for fiscal year 2012-2013. They did so by looking at a set of recommendations from their superintendent, who was reacting to cuts in state funding.

One approved cut was to busing service for most K-8 kids in WUSD. Another was for the bus service taking high school kids home from RCHS in the afternoon. Bus service taking to RCHS in the mornings remains in the plan.

DAYTON GILLELAND, Superintendent of the Washington Unified School District (photo from WUSD website)

“The board took action to eliminate K-8 transportation entirely,” Superintendent Dayton Gilleland told the News-Ledger. “We’re moving some school boundaries and we think we can accommodate more kids at their neighborhood school. The board also took action to eliminate afternoon transportation at the high school.”

But, he added, several board members have had second thoughts about that. The board will talk about it one more time at tomorrow’s board meeting.

“I think what’s probably going to stick is (the cut to) the K-8 services,” said Gilleland. “The K-8 transportation piece we have calculated to save $705,000.”

Cutting the high school’s afternoon bus service would save around $199,000, he said. But he wouldn’t be surprised if the board restores that planned service at Thursday’s meeting.

The state of California has clipped the amount of money it contributes to busing kids to school.

“Up until this year, we were funded at about 30 cents on the dollar,” said Gilleland. That amounts to around $300,000 of the million-dollar annual bus tab.

Is this permanent, or will money come back for school buses when the state’s budget picture turns back around in a few years?

“I think it will come back,” said Gillleland. “Transportation is something we would want to restore as soon as we could.”

Some K-8 students would still get WUSD bus service to school.

[adrotate group=”7″]   “We still have a mandate to provide special education transportation and ‘school choice’ provision,” Gilleland explained. Any student who couldn’t be accommodated at his or her local campus, and had to be bused to another because of “overflow” would also get a ride from WUSD.

The bus cuts could reduce hours for school transportation staff or cause layoffs after this year (the employee union has “expressed concern,” said Gilleland). Most of the buses, though, have been doing duty at staggered times for both K-8 students and high school students, so the district will not be left with a significant surplus of buses.

WUSD faces layoffs next year “unless we get concessions” from employee unions, said Gilleland.
Thursday’s meeting is at 6 p.m. at city hall.

Also on the agenda is consideration of the district’s curriculum for the state-mandated teaching of HIV and AIDS prevention, currently taught in 7th and 9th grades. A representative of a local Russian Baptist church has expressed concerns about the plan.

Families currently have to sign off on HIV/AIDS education programs for their kids, but the planned change would change it to “passive” permission – students would get the education unless their parents actively “opt out.”

  Support local journalism, and see all our articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledger.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Preschool, child care to open at civic center


The “Learning Ladder” preschool and child care center will open at the West Sacramento Community Center, celebrating with a ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. this Saturday. The ribbon-cutting will precede the community center’s one-year “birthday party” beginning at 2 p.m.

[adrotate group=”9″] Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and Mayor Pro Tem Oscar Villegas will be on hand for the event at 1075 West Capitol Avenue across from city hall.

“As the City’s first licensed childcare and preschool facility, Learning Ladder will use research-based curriculum, well prepared and caring teachers and staff, and state of the art facilities to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond,” said a City of West Sacramento press release.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Charter school renewed — with conditions

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 29, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s school board on Thursday gave a temporary reprieve to the Early College Prep Charter School (WSECP) on Fallbrook Street.

A state association of charter schools had recommended it be closed for poor student testing performance. But the board – in front of a packed crowd at city hall – voted 3-1 to give the school a bit more time to bring up test scores to avoid closure.

The school of education at UC Davis and the Los Rios Community College system are partners in managing the school.

[adrotate group=”10″]   “Our key goals in this partnership are to help keep kids in school while engaged in learning,” commented Harold Levine, Dean of the UCD School of Education, at the board meeting.

He admitted that results showing up on the API test scores “have not been satisfactory” overall – but pointed to the students’ 83-point improvement in the most recent round of testing.

While “one year or two years do not confirm a trend,” argued Levine, the campus deserves more time to see if it’s on the right path.

Others – including WSECP students, backed up by dozens of other students sitting and standing in the crowded board chamber wearing school colors – joined Levine in asking for a renewal of the school’s charter.

Student Monica Perez said she and her fellows want to keep the school open, telling the board “we refuse to be mere observers.”

Mary Briggs, a Ph.D. student at UC Davis, pointed to the school’s “essentially nonexistent dropout rate” as another way of measuring its success.

The district had proposed a deal for extending the school’s charter.

Under this draft memorandum of understanding, or “MOU,” the charter school would get its charter renewed. But it would also have to improve its API test scores by an average of 20 points per year for the next two years, or it would be obliged to “amicably” close itself down. Under this MOU, the campus would only be open for certain for the rest of this school year and two more.

Superintendent Dayton Gilleland told the board that WSECP had made a counterproposal that was slightly more lenient: the WSECP plan promised to improve API test results this year by 12 points, and then by 20 points per year for the next two years. Under the campus’s proposal, failure to meet these three-year goals wouldn’t cause an automatic shutdown, but a “full review.”

SANDRA VARGAS, member of the WUSD board of trustees (News-Ledger file photo)

Washington Unified School District board member Sandra Vargas led off comments from the board, supporting Superintendent Dayton Gilleland’s “compromise” proposal.

The school was formed “to provide options for the community,” she said, adding that “I believed in it (when the school was created), I believe in it now, and I think this is a great compromise.”

Board member Dave Westin followed, arguing against WSECP’s more lenient version of the MOU and test score requirements.

“As far as I’m concerned, you could have a thousand people in this room, and I’m still going to vote my conscience,” he said. “When this (school) was approved, the district was completely in a different state – we were underperforming, with turnover. That has turned around and if this school is closed, I’m perfectly comfortable that your kids are going to get a good education (elsewhere) in the district.”

DAVE WESTIN, school board member (News-Ledger file photo)

He said the charter school should meet the same test standards as the rest of the district, and said he would only vote in favor of the original, stricter MOU.

Fellow trustee Adam Menke took issue with the campus’s homework policy.

“One thing that concerns me,” said Menke, “is that people talked about the lack of homework, and that was a positive. That was one of the reasons they liked the school.”


“Homework will give you the basis to do well in class, but also to get ready to go to college. Kids need to do some homework,” said Menke.

Board president Teresa Blackmer joined Westin in supporting a tight leash:

“I would tend to agree with Mr. Westin’s comments,” said Blackmer. “I feel very strongly we’ve held all our schools responsible for meeting our standards. . . Whatever we expect from our schools would be the same thing we expect from any charter school.”

Trustee ADAM MENKE voted against the charter renewal (file photo/courtesy of Adam Menke)

The board ended up approving the charter renewal, using the stricter agreement requiring the school two hit two-year API goals or else “amicably” shut down. Blackmer, Westin and Vargas voted in favor of this renewal; Menke voted against, and trustee Mary Leland was not present.

The approved MOU is set to go back to the charter school’s governing board for consideration in about two weeks.

WSECP targets lower-income students who may come from non-English speaking families and who plan to be the first in their families to attend college. It has about 175 students, currently serving grades 6-11, but expanding to include 12th grade next year.

  Support local journalism, and see all our articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledger.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

College info for high schoolers


River City High School plans a college information night for 9th-11th graders from 6-7 p.m. on March 7 in the school library. Students and their families are invited.

Subscribe to the News-Ledger & don’t miss a thing! Weekly delivery to your West Sacramento mailbox is just $20 for a whole year. Call (916) 371-8030 today!

Fashion show at West Sac city hall


The annual Yolo County Celebrity Fashion Show will return to the West Sacramento City Hall Galleria, 1110 West Capitol Avenue, at 6 p.m. on March 29.

Photo from the 2010 event: Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (center) with fellow models-for-a-night (not necessarily in order) Elias Flores, Kenneth Nix Jr., Bradley Palmer, Tyler Stallings and Lila Hanson, all of the West Sacramento Youth Commission (Photo by De’Onna Jack)

The show features local celebrities modeling fashions from local stores, and serves as a benefit for the Yolo County Children’s Alliance and the Yolo County Child Abuse Prevention Council. Silent auction, and goodies from local restaurants and wineries. $45/person. Reserve your tickets by sending a check to YCCA, 600 A St., Suite Y, Davis CA 95616 (include your name, address, phone & email). Call (530) 757-5558 for information.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Wanted: citizens to serve on grand jury


Yolo Superior Court is looking for people to serve on the grand jury for a year beginning on July 1. Each year, the court impanels 19 citizens to serve on this independent body.

Duties of the Yolo County Grand Jury include reviewing the operations of local governments and considering criminal indictments. The jury also investigates complaints from private citizens and others.

Prospective grand jurors must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Yolo for at least a year, conversant in English, not currently in public office, and never convicted of a felony.

[adrotate group=”9″]   The average time commitment is 25-40 hours per month, said a spokesperson for the court. Generally, the jury meets twice a month in the evening, and jurors are reimbursed $15 per day and fifty-five cents per mile for commuting.

Interested? Contact Yolo Superior Court Jury Services, 725 Court St., Room 303, Woodland, CA 95695, (530) 406-6828,

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Storm may bring high winds Tuesday

According to weather forecasts, a storm will hit the PG&E service territory beginning tonight, with an extended period of gusty northwest winds. Those locations vulnerable to northwest wind, including the Sacramento Valley, will likely see significant wind related outages. The storm will also bring much colder temperatures, snow levels down to 2,000 feet north and 3,000 feet south, but only light snow accumulations are expected at the lower elevations.
Gusty west to northwest winds 25 to 35 miles per hour (mph) are expected to develop first in the northern area of our service territory tonight and early Tuesday, and then spread southward during the morning. The Sacramento Valley will also see a period of strong north winds Tuesday afternoon and evening, perhaps lasting into Wednesday morning. Gusty winds will continue over the Central Coast and Central Valley Regions through early Wednesday morning, and then decrease throughout the day Wednesday.
PG&E offers the following suggestions to help customers prepare for the upcoming storm:
Preparing for Power Outages
  • Have battery-operated flashlights and radios with fresh batteries ready. Listen for updates on storm conditions and power outages.
  • If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication – have a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone or pager ready as a back up.
  • Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling.
Safety Tips
  • Treat all downed power lines as if they are “live” or energized. Keep yourself and others away from them. Call 911, then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
  • Use battery-operated flashlights, not candles.
  • Customers with generator should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to our crews.
  • Unplug or turn off all electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
Report a Power Outage: 1-800-743-5002
  • Before calling PG&E about a power outage, check to see if other neighbors are affected. This would confirm if an outage has occurred in just your residence or within the neighborhood area.
  • If only your residence is without power, check circuit breakers and/or fuse boxes to see if the problem is limited to the home electric system.
  • After performing the steps above, single or neighborhood outages can be reported to: PG&E’s 24-Hour Emergency and Customer Service Line: 1-800-743-5002
  • Once your outage has been reported, you can call PG&E’s Outage Information Line at 1-800-743-5002 to get a status report on your outage and the anticipated time your power will be turned back on.
  • If you lose power overnight, you can call PG&E to request a wake-up call. We’ll be happy to give you a wake-up call, as well as up-to-date information on your outage and time of restoration.