Ribbon cutting to celebrate new roadway: the Village Parkway North

Ribbon cutting to celebrate new roadway: the Village Parkway North

Roadway to improve traffic flow from Southport to the Tower Bridge Gateway The City of West Sacramento has completed the Village Parkway North connecting to South River Road (and the Mike McGowan More »

West Sacramento Fire Department Is A Class Act

West Sacramento Fire Department Is A Class Act

By Julia McMichael Effective Dec. 1, 2016, the Fire Department of West Sacramento will be upgraded by the Insurance Service Office (ISO) to a Class 1 rating. An ISO Class 1 fire More »

The Yolo Land Trust honors Clarksburg Farmer Greg Merwin at “A Day in the Country”

The Yolo Land Trust honors Clarksburg Farmer Greg Merwin at “A Day in the Country”

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 »


River Cats announce 2016 Opening Day roster

New manager José Alguacil leads roster with familiar faces and promising talent

0a7422fe-c257-4182-89f5-42837959c9aeThe Sacramento River Cats are excited to announce the 2016 Opening Day roster. The River Cats open their 17th season in Sacramento with five players who spent time with the San Francisco Giants last year. The Opening Day roster also includes seven of MLB.com’s Top 30 Prospect Watch players in the Giants organization in Mac Williamson (7), Clayton Blackburn (12), Steven Okert (17), Jarrett Parker (19), Ty Blach (24), Derek Law (27), and Chris Stratton (28).

The pitching staff will look to continue its success from last season after coming off a team record single-season ERA of 3.85. The rotation is headlined by Blackburn, who claimed the ERA title for the Pacific Coast League (2.85) in 2015, and Blach, whose 11 wins were tied for third best in the league.

Behind the plate for the River Cats is local product Andrew Susac, a former Jesuit High School star, along with veteran talents in George Kottaras and Miguel Olivo, who have a combined 20 years of Major League experience between them. Manning the infield are five new faces with Juan Ciriaco the only returner from the 2015 season.

The outfield will see a number of familiar faces in Parker, Williamson, and Darren Ford. The already talented outfield will be deeper than ever with the addition of Gorkys Hernandez, a fleet-footed centerfielder who swiped 24 bases last season across three different levels.

Leading the way in 2016 will be new manager Jose Alguacil, who joins the River Cats after one season as the skipper in Double-A Richmond. Alguacil – or Augi, for short – led the Flying Squirrels to a 72-68 in what was his managerial debut. Joining him on the staff is new Hitting Coach Damon Minor, who re-joins the Giants organization from the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he served as the hitting coach for five seasons. Pitching Coach Dwight Bernard returns for his second season in Sacramento, as does Athletic Trainer LJ Petra. Rounding out the staff is Strength and Conditioning Coach Adam Vish, who, like Alguacil, comes to Sacramento from Richmond.

Full 2016 Sacramento River Cats Roster*

Pitchers (14)
Blach, Ty
Blackburn, Clayton
Broadway, Mike
Dunning, Jake
Fleet, Austin
Lara, Braulio
Law, Derek
Lujan, Matt
Mazzaro, Vin
McCormick, Phillip
Okert, Steven
Romero, Ricky
Stratton, Chris
Suarez, Albert

Catchers (3)
Kottaras, George
Olivo, Miguel
Susac, Andrew

Infielders (6)
Ciriaco, Juan
Delfino, Mitch
Gillaspie, Conor
Lee, Hak-Ju
Pena, Ramiro

Outfielders (5)
Ford, Darren
Hernandez, Gorkys
Lollis, Ryan
Parker, Jarrett
Williamson, Mac

The River Cats will be making three moves to cut the active roster to 25.

The River Cats will open their season at home on Friday, April 15 against the Salt Lake Bees (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). Game time is 7:05 p.m. PST. Tickets are still available. For more information, please call 916.371.HITS or visit rivercats.com.

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

Photo by Saba Khan
River City forward, Jaylen Crim is stopped by Woodland’s goalkeeper on Wednesday night during their 3-1 loss at home against their league rival. The Lady Raiders are now 3-1 in league play and 10-2 overall. They will have a chance to get revenge against Woodland on April 21st.

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

upcloseWhile 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 ryanb@cityofwestsacramento.org 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