The Yolo Land Trust’s signature event “A Day in the Country” will be held this year on Sept. 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Barger Keasey Family Farm near Davis. More »
By Monica Stark firstname.lastname@example.org There has been a tumultuous start to the beginning of this school year in West Sacramento. With gossip of teachers striking and high school students texting messages to More »
Washington Unified Loses Assistant Superintendent
By Michele Townsend
This article is going to be a little bit different for me, as it touches my heart and my home, as it should yours. I have one child that has gone through school in West Sacramento, and one child still in school. I have been on Site Councils and the Curriculum Council for about 10 years. I am not a teacher, nor am I an educational specialist of any kind; I am just a mom who was not happy with the education that my children were receiving, so I got involved.
Five years ago, when William Spalding (Bill) took over the job of Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, after Sue Brothers, he had some big shoes to fill. But he jumped in with both feet! The administration that was led by Stephen Lawrence, and his staff, influenced a complete turnaround of our school district. There had been so many changes and improvements in all aspects of our district that it would have been natural for that progress to slow, while a new administrator was brought up to speed.
As an administrator, he didn’t just come in and take over. He had ideas of what he’d like to see, but he didn’t bulldoze over the work we had in progress. He didn’t stop the forward motion that our district was in. In fact, amazingly enough, he didn’t even slow it down!
He came into the district, he introduced himself, and he asked us to talk to him. He wanted to know where we were going with things and why.
There are obviously many aspects to anything that is done in the education system. It doesn’t just take a good idea. That idea needs to put into a format related to its goal, such as a lesson plan, or some other conceptual plan. In addition, the need and benefits, along with how the idea will be executed and any training that will be needed, must be included. It then needs to be presented to counsels to be passed, and possibly the Board of Education.
From there, funding must be planned, found or acquired. Budget plans, categorizing funds, applying for grants, etc., are just a few examples of the financial challenges. These are the basic steps just to get something approved. As much work as these things entail – that is only the beginning. Getting it done is the impressive part. The list of changes, improvements and programs that Bill Spalding has completed in his five years of being with WUSD is astounding. This is not to say he is a one-man army. Everything done takes a team, but Bill listened, took in ideas and suggestions, addressed issues and challenges, and steadily moved us forward by leaps and bounds.
When asked what he was most proud of since he’s been here, he mentioned the Bryte Garden Café (637 Todhunter Ave.) Not only is he proud of the beautiful building and first-rate equipment, but also the outstanding program that is now offered to our kids. He’s extremely proud of the caliber of work that the children are producing, and the excellent instructors and guest chefs who are teaching them. He didn’t just get the culinary program up and running, and stop there; he had a vision of bringing in the Farm to Fork program, where the kids will have the opportunity to be involved in the farming, and business regarding the agriculture. He also prepared for the Future Farmers of America program to come into our school, allowing another aspect of the food supply business to be taught. These programs are just a few examples of the progress that Bill brought into our schools, all while watching and ensuring that our test scores continued to rise, our drop rate went down, and our staff received continued training. New curriculum has been adopted and put into place, not only for our existing subjects, but for new and current subject matter as well. Programs to help struggling students catch up, as well as to bring them back into mainstream are now in place.
The Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services is the Chief Academic Officer of the district. He, or she, along with the Assistant Superintendents of Human Resources and Business Services, serves on the Superintendent’s Executive Cabinet. Bill’s job was to provide support to schools, teachers and students with the mission of providing the highest quality of education and best possible opportunities for ALL students. Bill took his job seriously, and did it with genuine concern and care for our students as well as the staff throughout our district that work so tirelessly for our kids.
Bill’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. He has been offered a job as superintendent for another district, and left WUSD this week. Though we are happy to see him get recognized for his work, their gain is our loss! We do not yet have a replacement for his position, but I’m sure it will be no easy task to replace him with someone that has as much passion and care that Bill put into the job. So, thank you, Bill, for all of your heart that you left behind; we wish you the best of luck.
River City weekly sports highlights
Weekly sports calendar: April 6 to 13
Wednesday, April 6:
-Boys Tennis: Home vs. Pioneer at 3:30 p.m.
-Boys Volleyball: Away at River Valley at 6 p.m.
– Track and Field: Home, TCC Center Meet #2
-Raiders Softball: Home vs. Woodland 4:15 p.m.
Thursday, April 7:
-Girls Soccer: Home vs. Pioneer, JV at 5 p.m.; varsity at 6:3 p.m.
Friday, April 8:
-Boys Tennis: Away at River Valley at 3:30 p.m.
-Boys JV/Varsity Baseball: Home vs. Woodland at 4:15 p.m.
-Raiders Softball: Away at River Valley at 4:15 p.m.
Saturday, April 9:
-Track and Field: Away, Thunder Invitational
-Boys Volleyball: Away at West Campus, West Campus Tournament
Monday, April 11:
-Boys Tennis: Away at Inderkum at 3:30 p.m.
-Boys Volleyball: Away at Rio Linda at 6 p.m.
-Girls Softball: Home vs. Yuba City at 4:15 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12:
-Girls Soccer: Away at Inderkum, JV at 5:30 p.m.; varsity at 7 p.m.
-Freshman Baseball: Home vs. River Valley, at 4:15 p.m.
-JV/Varsity Baseball: Away at River Valley at 4:15 p.m.
Wednesday, April 13:
-Boys Tennis: Away at Yuba City, at 3:30 p.m.
-Boys Volleyball: Home vs. Pioneer at 6 p.m.
-Girls Softball: Away at Rio Linda at 4:15 p.m.
Sports photo of the week
Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Start of Annual CAASPP Testing
Last week, at Bridgeway Island Elementary, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that students have begun taking the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, the state’s computer-based, online assessments given in grades three through eight and eleven.
“These tests in mathematics and English language arts/literacy are one of the many ways we measure how well students are doing at the challenging job of preparing for college and a career,” Torlakson said. “I encourage all students to take advantage of this opportunity to put their learning and their skills to the test.”
2016 marks the second year more than 3 million California students will take part in CAASPP, which was designed to gauge their progress toward the learning goals set for California students. Districts and schools select their individual testing dates.
The CAASPP asks students to demonstrate the kinds of abilities they will need to do well in college and the 21st century workplace—including analytical writing, critical thinking, and problem solving.
“Because CAASPP tests are given statewide, they provide an opportunity to gauge students’ skills against the same academic standards in the same way, measuring millions with one common yardstick,” Torlakson said.
California moved to new, online, computer-adaptive assessments last year based on more challenging academic standards as part of its comprehensive plan to give every student the opportunity to graduate ready for college and to pursue a career. California is one of 20 members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which developed the assessments.
“Teachers and schools need more than a single end-of-year assessment to know how students are progressing and to tailor instruction to meet their academic goals,” Torlakson said. “That’s why California also provides both interim assessments and a Digital Library of high-quality materials and resources to help schools measure student progress throughout the year.”
Computer-based assessments, coupled with an online system to report results, can give school districts access to results earlier than the pencil-and-paper tests they replaced, allowing schools to make adjustments to improve learning and instruction.
CAASPP is particularly important for eleventh grade students to gauge college readiness. Under the Early Assessment Program, more than 100 California State Universities and California Community Colleges will use CAASPP results to determine whether students are ready for college coursework or need additional courses in their senior year of high school.
“California is leading the way in moving from a top-down approach to testing to a system focused on gathering useful insights and helping schools put them to use by improving teaching and learning,” Torlakson said. “These changes take time to carry out, and it is important to remember that schools, teachers and students are still adjusting to our new standards and assessments. We know that real progress takes patience and persistence.”
Committed to addressing the digital divide by ensuring access to technology and digital resources for our students at every school, Washington Unified School District Superintendent Linda Luna explained that the Innovative Educators Program has shown great success in the district in transitioning technology for teaching and learning. “We have teachers at each school that participate in the Innovative Educators Program in which teachers and students learn and grow using technology in the classroom,” she said.
Teachers trained in this program receive a Chrome Cart (a class set of Chromebooks) to use for their students’ learning. There are first grade students doing research, sharing Google docs and creating power point presentations in their classrooms. “We have 98 teachers in this year’s cohort of Innovative Educators. We start with another bunch next year. Our goal is to build capacity within our teachers and students until we reach 100 percent in the district.”
In addition to the Smarter Balanced assessments, schools will be administering other exams throughout the spring including:
California Alternate Assessment (CAA)
These tests in English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics will be administered to students in grades three through eight and eleven with significant cognitive disabilities. It replaces CAPA—the California Alternate Performance Assessment. These computer-based assessments are built around new, deeper learning goals – called the Core Content Connectors—which are linked to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The connectors focus on the main academic content from the standard for each grade and subject—with three levels of complexity to give all students an opportunity to demonstrate what they know.
California Standards Test (CST), the California Modified Assessment (CMA) or the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for Science
Students in fifth, eighth, and tenth grades will be administered a science examination. Students will either take the CST, CMA or the CAPA depending upon a student’s individualized education program.
Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS)
The STS is an optional assessment for English learners at no cost to an LEA or non-English learners (e.g., pupils in dual immersion classrooms) at the cost of the LEA. The STS for reading/language arts may be administered to students in grades two through eleven.
Using science to make the world a better place: Westmore Oaks students made “solar suitcases” to energy poor schools in the Philippines
By Monica Stark
Jennifer Garcia and her students over at Westmore Oaks are at it again – using science to make the world a better place. Recall the recent story on the rain barrels? Now, in Garcia’s words are “doing an even more amazing project,” building six life changing solar suitcases for folks in the Philippines and given to schools that do not have electricity. The suitcases will be used to provide light and a charging station for lap tops, cell phones, and lights to lend out to students. We Share Solar is the nonprofit organization that does this. They have been doing this in many other places that are rebuilding after disasters or are developing countries. Asked how the project came to be, Garcia said explained that colleague and the “amazing lady next to me” in the picture, Deb Bruns, invited her to attend a solar suitcase training earlier this year. “She is from YCOE (Yolo County Office of Education) and has been an amazing asset to my teaching for a few years. I want to thank Deb for her continued support. She also brought several amazing people that were a tremendous help.”
Solar suitcases are portable solar systems from We Share Solar that will be donated to energy poor schools in the Philippines. They are a 12-volt DC stand-alone solar power system. (Basically the Photovoltaic cell charges the battery in the case. There are four ports to charge electronic devices or power lights that are also included.)
This educational experience encouraged civic engagement through building awareness of energy poverty and sustainable development. This also teaches students more energy literacy while reinforcing STEM skills through the assembly process, Garcia said.
The students completely wired the suitcase. They followed a process just like engineers to inventory the materials and all the way through the wiring process. The students even went through the steps to commission their suitcase and ensure it was working properly. Final steps were installing the components into the transportable and mounting cases (after writing greetings inside to the recipients).
Garcia said her class prepped for about a week and spent two, three-hour days to build. “I had worked out a temp schedule with the other teachers so I could keep this class for three periods both days,” she said.
Describing the students’ reactions as “priceless”, Garcia said when she first explained where the suitcases were headed and how they were to be used in schools without electricity and how hard that is for us to imagine (not having electricity), it was a very touching moment.
“I really saw empathy in my students. My students understand that they made something that will drastically change another person’s life for the better. My students know that they are making a difference,” she said.
“Once we were completed with the build, commission, and lighting up…everyone was so proud!!!! We were also a bit exhausted. It was a lot of hard work, mentally and physically. But, the feeling of accomplishment were all worth it!”
Sunpower actually paid for the teacher kit and the six student kits. They also will be adding photovoltaic cells and batteries to each of the student’s kits once they arrive in the Philippines. So, an additional big thanks goes to Sunpower!
“This was an amazing experience for my students! It was an amazing experience for me! They made something that will be a life changing tool for many!! My students changed the world!!!! I am so proud of my students!”
March Drought Spotlight Honoree – Diane in Southport
By the city of West Sacramento
While running through the neighborhoods of West Sacramento, Diane loved how much color and variety she saw in other people’s front yards. These landscapes seemed like inviting places to relax. Her lawn, however, was just a place to walk by. On a winter day in the second year of the drought, she and her spouse decided to replace their grass and dead tree with a real sitting area, full of colorful plants that would provide variety all year round. Not only is their new front yard beautiful, it requires very little water. In fact, their water usage has been cut by more than half.
Diane used Next Door to inform the city about her drought tolerant yard. If you would like to nominate your yard, or someone else’s, email email@example.com or call 617-5025. You can also use Next Door to make a nomination, as well as stay informed about neighborhood events. Visit nextdoor.com to get started.
To learn how you can make the change with your landscape, visit these sites:
Save Our Water – Landscaping 101
Be Water Smart – Top Ways to Save
EcoLandscape California – Design Plans for The New California Landscape
Beyond the Drought – Smart Irrigation Scheduler
West Sacramento City Council Newsletter
(Courtesy of the city of West Sacramento)
CITY MANAGER’S OFFICE
Yolo Leaders Forum
The city is hosting the next Yolo Leaders Forum on April 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Galleria. LAFCo staff is working on developing the topic “Families and Poverty” and is beginning to talk to subject matter experts and line up potential speakers.
Farmers Market Planning
Representatives from Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire, Community Relations, Community Development, Public Works and the West Sacramento Chamber met Thursday to plan for the Farmers Market season. The market will operate on Thursdays starting May 19, through August 25, on West Capitol Avenue in front of City Hall. Four Dig-In Dinners are scheduled, along with musical acts and other special events.
Revision Brewing CUP
The Planning Division received a Conditional Use Permit application from Revision Brewing to operate a brewery and taproom at 1000 Riverside Parkway. The brewery would be 22,374 square feet and would include a 3,100-square-foot taproom. The applicant indicated they plan to produce 1,200 barrels of beer in the first year and increase to 10,000 barrels a year within 5 years of opening. Staff anticipates the item going before Planning Commission at the April 21, meeting. Unfortunately, Revision Brewing was unable to secure a site in time for the City to submit a grant application to HCD on their behalf. They are moving forward with private financing.
Liberty Specific Plan
Liberty has resubmitted their Specific Plan version #3 for a 1,503 unit project. The last submittal of the proposed Specific Plan was in March 2015.
Youth Fire Academy – CPAT
The WSFD Youth Fire Academy recently participated in the Candidate Physical Agility Test (CPAT) at the Fire Consortium Training Center in Sacramento. The FCTC provided proctors, orientation, and a practice CPAT for each cadet. This concluded the mock hiring process for the cadets and will be followed by the upcoming Tower Week to complete their training.
On the evening of March 14, at approximately 10:50 p.m. the West Sacramento Fire Department, in conjunction with Sacramento City Fire Department, responded to a reported male adult yelling for help from the Sacramento River. On arrival in the area, witnesses reported the male had been in the water for approximately ten minutes. Fire crews from both sides of the river began their search from the Tower Bridge downstream. West Sacramento’s Fire Boat 41 was launched from Miller Park where they began an upstream search. Sacramento Metro Fire’s helicopter joined the search and at one point located the victim downstream but quickly lost him due to debris and high water flows. All fire department units were redirected further downstream. Boat 41 responded back down stream where they were waived down by fisherman in a boat on the river who reported hearing the male yelling for help and directed Boat 41 to the area. Boat 41’s crew used search lights to find the male floating on his back with his face just above the water. The male was pulled into the boat and immediately transported to Miller Park for medical aid and transport to the hospital.
PARKS and RECREATION
Statewide Quality Rating Improvement System Consortium Meeting
On March 17, Early Learning Services Staff attended the Statewide Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) Consortium Meeting to learn more about the IMPACT grant we will implement next year, and find out how all counties in the state are planning to transition from current funding to the next iteration of QRIS dollars. Staff learned a lot and was able to network with other counties to see how they will leverage local funding to improve quality of childcare and preschool.
Community Center Turns Five (Learning Ladder is Four)
The children from Learning Ladder helped celebrate the big 5 for the Community Center by singing a medley of Happy Birthday songs. They practiced hard all week, and used their voices, and air guitars to convey the enthusiasm and excitement of the day. While the Community Center opened its doors five years ago, Learning Ladder turns 4 years old on April 4. On that first day, there were just three children enrolled. Now with a yearly waiting list of close to 100, it’s definitely a success.
Adult Softball is Back for the Spring
Adult Softball is back for the spring at Bryte Park as of March 18. The men’s league takes place on Mondays, while co-ed leagues will run on Thursdays and Fridays. All games are played on Softball fields #3 and #4. Follow the season on Instagram at @WestSacSports.
Adult Co-ed Soccer Began Play Sunday
The co-ed soccer season began spring league play March 20, at Bryte Park. The adult co-ed soccer league runs two seasons annually. Each team is guaranteed eight games with qualifying teams completing in the playoffs.
Club West Fantasy Baseball Tournament
Seventy A.S.E.S. After School Program middle school students from four different campuses participated in the Club West Fantasy Baseball Tournament on March 16, at Westmore Oaks Elementary School. Fantasy Baseball is a statistic based math enrichment program based on Major League Baseball player stats. Students have been playing Fantasy Baseball all school year long in preparation for the tournament. A team from Westmore Oaks A.S.E.S was the tournament champion.
Art Guild Exhibit at Gallery 1075
The West Sacramento Art Guild is displaying a collection of the varied artists within the local Guild. They held an opening reception on March 3, to celebrate their variety of exciting art mediums. The exhibit will be on display the entire month of March so please come by to see their talent.
Police Services Coordinator
Welcome, Taylor Nelson. Taylor is filling a unique new position as a Police Services Coordinator. She has been a local resident for many years and comes to us with a strong background in community relations. The city is excited that she will be coordinating various types of community meetings, events and spearheading efforts to continue to build a better connection with our community.
On March 17, officers were dispatched to a suicidal female on the “I” Street Bridge. We found the woman standing on-top of the bridge in tears and several bystanders were trying to talk her down. Officer Thruelsen, a seasoned veteran officer quickly arrived and he along with bystanders convinced the young woman to come off of the bridge. Our Mental Health Clinician quickly responded and was able to facilitate immediate mental health assistance. We captured a photo of the bridge, next is Officer Thruelsen buying a sandwich for the young woman and Thruelsen briefing the clinician. This is a job well done by members of our community who worked together with police and avoided a tragedy.
Employees Pass Commercial Driver’s Training Test
Last year we were able to send a few of our new employees through a Commercial Driver’s Training hosted by Caltrans concluding with them easily passing the rigorous testing process with the DMV and obtaining their commercial driver’s license. This year we were unable to make our schedules mesh with Caltrans to facilitate the need of new staff. Instead, Luke Forbis and Joe Scali, two of the drivers that received their license last year stepped up and trained our new employees Sean Green and John Keith. Both drivers had no problem passing the difficult tests required by the DMV and are now licensed to operate our commercial vehicles. Congratulations to all four.
The Environmental Services Division is hosting a WaterWise Workshop on March 28, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Community Center. This class will cover two major solutions to water waste: fixing toilet leaks and setting irrigation controllers. These topics were chosen because they often appear difficult for residents. We will show them how easy it is to solve these common issues. So far, 14 residents have registered. Residents may sign up through email or phone by contacting Ryan Burnett, Water Conservation Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-617-5025.
March 23 – SRCSD/SASD Board Meeting (700 H St) – 9:30 a.m.
March 23 – Economic Development & Housing (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
March 24 – LAFCo Meeting (Woodland) – 9 a.m.
March 24 – WUSD Board Meeting (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
March 28 – Special Arts, Culture & Historic Preservation Commission Mtg. (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 2 – Summerfield Park Grand Re-Opening – 10 a.m.
April 4 – City/School 2×2 Meeting (Rm 238) – 5:30 p.m.
April 5 – Parks, Recreation & Intergenerational Services (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 6 – Port Commission – (Chambers) – 5:15 p.m.
April 6 – City Council Meeting (Chambers) – 7 p.m.
April 7 – Planning Commission (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 8 – Fire Apparatus Dedication Ceremony (Station 45) – 10:00 a.m.
April 11 – Environment & Utilities Commission (Chambers) – 6:00 p.m.
April 11 – YCTD Board Meeting (Woodland) – 7:00 p.m.
April 13 – Yolo/Solano AQMD – 9 a.m.
April 13 – SRCSD/SASD Board Meeting (700 H St.) – 9:30 a.m.
April 14 – WSAFCA Meeting – 11 a.m.
April 14 – Successor Agency Oversight Board (Chambers) – 3 p.m.
April 14 – WUSD Board Meeting (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 18 – Yolo Habitat Conservancy Board Meeting (625 Court St) – 5:30 p.m.
April 20 – UP4WS Executive Board (Rm 104) – 8:00 a.m.
April 20 – City Council Meeting (Chambers) – 7 p.m.
April 21 – Planning Commission (Chambers) – 6 p.m.
April 27 – SRCSD/SASD Board Meeting (700 H St.) – 9:30 a.m.
April 27 – City/County 2×2 Meeting (Rm 311) – noon
April 27 – Yolo Leaders Meeting (Galleria) – 4 p.m.
April 28 – LAFCo Meeting (Woodland) – 9 a.m.
April 28 – WUSD Board Meeting (Chambers) – 6 p.m.