Tag Archives: board

New leaders for West Sac charity

NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 11, 2012 —

The West Sacramento Foundation has named its Board of Directors for 2012.

They include new president, Joe Goeden, a former West Sacramento City Manager; vice-president, Maria Simas; treasurer, Jennifer Engstrom; and secretary, Kelly A. Rochester Garrett.    The board plans to continue the Foundation’s mission to distribute grant money to local non-profits again in 2012.

  Fundraisers include the annual “All Charities Raffle,” as well as an annual golf tournament and and the “Hope Stocking” event.  The foundation began over 25 years ago, raising money to distribute to deserving West Sacramento nonprofits.

For information regarding the West Sacramento Foundation contact executive director Charlie Moore at 916-417-5623 or visit www.westsacfoundation.org.

Voters lukewarm on school bond


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s school board appeared interested in pursuing a new local school bond or parcel tax on November’s ballot, despite a poll showing tepid public support for the idea right now.

TERESA BLACKMER: President of West Sac's school board

At the board’s meeting on Feb. 23, district officials heard a report from their polling consultant, Jonathan Kaufman of Solem & Associates.

“We interviewed a sampling of 400 randomly selected voters in the school district,” Kaufman told the board.

One of the questions posed was whether such voters would support a $55 million bond that would cost a “typical” homeowner $88 per year in extra taxes. Such a bond on a general election ballot would need 55 percent of the vote to pass. The poll showed 39 percent support, so “we’re quite a ways away,” said Kaufman.

One probably reason is the economy, he added.

“We’re in a ‘down’ economy, people are (having trouble) paying mortgages, there’s high unemployment, and the 2007 (school bond) measure failed,” he said.  On the other hand, voters responded positively to some of the specific plans that were floated during the interviews, including the offer of creating a citizen’s committee to oversee how the tax money is spent. They also liked some of the ideas their money would be used for.

  “They liked the idea of a citizens’ oversight committee, and they liked the idea of fixing leaky roofs,” said Kaufman.

Voters were more receptive to the concept of a smaller bond, such as a $27 million measure that might cost the typical homeowner $44 per year. If there was a large turnout of voters, said Kaufman, such a measure “might squeak through.”

As far as a parcel tax, voters were “way short” of supporting an $80/year measure and slightly shy of adequate support for a $40/year tax.

“Only a $27 million bond issue costing homeowners $30/year of assessed value, or (for the typical homeowner), $44/year, receives the required 55 percent (approval),” said Kaufman of his polling results.

The board had talked about a new bond or tax in order to finish work at the new high school campus, build a career & technical education center elsewhere, and perhaps do work such as fixing roofs and updating fire sprinkler systems. A big part of the campaign, said Kaufman, is convincing people the school district would be trustworthy and responsible with their money. And a lot of that trust comes from the district’s image in the public eye.

“The more you can communicate to the community that you are good at these tasks, the better you will do,” he said. “For public information and education, I think it’s important to do that now. The more you can educate people about all the good things you’ve been doing in the district, the better off you’ll be.”

How might the economy over the next few months affect the vote:

“If people feel things are moving in the right direction. . . they will be more open to spending money out of their pocket for public things,” Kaufman added.

Washington Unified School District has had two years of 20-plus point improvements in its student test scores. Several board members felt the polls showed that West Sacramento voters weren’t adequately aware of these gains and other accomplishments.

  “We just went through budget cuts and we didn’t have to lay off teachers,” said board member David Westin. “The numbers coming out of this research are just showing what a mediocre job we’re doing (communicating district success). . . The school district has an unbelievable story to tell. We’re achieving a lot without laying off teachers.”

Board president Teresa Blackmer said that new taxes will be problematic to some:

“There are a lot of people on fixed incomes who would be affected drastically by these kinds of decisions,” she commented.

Board member Adam Menke requested a special meeting just to focus on where any new bond or parcel tax money would go.

“We can talk all day about going for a bond, but the question would be, how much and for what?” said Menke.

The board agreed to tackle those details in a future meeting.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

McGowan to run again

Michael McGowan: Representative of West Sacramento and Clarksburg on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors (courtesy photo)



By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s Mike McGowan announced this month he will run to defend the Yolo Board of Supervisors seat he has held since 1993. He has also just been named president of the California State Association of Counties – which is now involved in serious negotiations with the administration of Governor Jerry Brown as Brown tries to tackle state debt.

  “The primary issue now is ‘realignment’ and reform, and what might happen if the planned $6 billion (in new state cuts) are triggered,” said McGowan. “Counties are really an extension of the state, and we are the folks who implement a whole lot of federal and state programs – like welfare, food stamps, indigent health. In a city, the functions are primarily police, fire and public works, sewer, water and garbage. . . We (counties) have to do that in our unincorporated areas, but we have to provide state services as well.”

The governor proposes to shift more duties from the state to the counties, and the struggle is over making sure that enough revenue comes along with it.

‘Realignment’ is a fancy word for shifting more work to the counties,” said McGowan. “We want to make sure the money will be there, too.”

McGowan said he thinks that local agencies can serve their communities better on a lot of fronts than the state, so in principal, “realignment” could work well.

“I think it depends on the funding,” he said. “I believe locals are really better at identifying a problem, because we live in it, we’re here.”

And how’s Yolo County doing on the whole?

McGowan said he and his fellow board members, fortunately, have shared a common vision for development. As a former West Sacramento mayor (the city’s first, actually) McGowan saw growth as the city’s friend. It’s different for the county.

  “There’s a strong buy-in from the average citizen in Yolo of what we’re trying to do here,” he told the News-Ledger. “One of the best things about Yolo County is what hasn’t changed. We haven’t developed much at all in the unincorporated area, and have stayed true to the notion that development should occur in the cities. When you leave any city limit in Yolo County, you are immediately in the country. There’s no blur.”

After almost 20 years on the board, McGowan sees himself as something of the “grayback gorilla,” he said. He’s been involved in health administration, Native American casino issues, water rights from Conaway Ranch, and more.

“It is busy. I love it.”

  To comment on this article, please visit the same article at our sister website, www.WestSac.com.

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

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Copyright News-Ledger 2011

WUSD looks at new school bond


‘Finishing’ RCHS, building career trade school campus are both being considered’

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s school district may ask local voters to approve new school bonds or parcel taxes a year from now. The money could be used to help finish the new River City High School campus, and build a career and technical education center elsewhere in West Sacramento.

“We do have some interest in taking a look at completing the high school, including a performing arts center,” Superintendent Dayton Gilleland told the News-Ledger yesterday. “Also a career technical education center. And we have roofs that need work throughout the district.”

  Gilleland said it was too early to talk about the dollar amounts Washington Unified School District might request from local voters. The school board will make some decisions on its shopping list and any bond or parcel tax request after the results of a new consultant’s study come in.

On Thursday, the board is scheduled to consider a contract (valued at around $20-30,000) with a consulting group called Solem & Associates. WUSD officials propose to hire the company to interview several hundred demographically-chosen voters and try to gauge their reaction to different proposals and “test a range of bond amounts that include the annual cost to a typical homeowner,” as the company’s initial proposal states.

The survey would ask voters about which potential projects on the district’s shopping list are important to them, and which campaign arguments (on both sides of a possible bond or tax campaign) might be most persuasive.

The consulting company says it recognizes that this is not an ideal economy in which to ask voters to pay more local taxes:

Voters “expect local districts to tighten their belts just as they’ve been doing with their personal finances,” said Solem’s proposal.

Local voters approved bonds to pay for the new high school that opened three years ago. But they saw cost estimates skyrocket, taking that project over $150 million – despite dropping one classroom wing and a planned performing arts center from the project. So how can WUSD now convince local voters to part with more money for the same project?

Gilleland – who became superintendent after the school was built – said that “trust” will help.
“We can’t turn the clock back,” said Gilleland. “We could establish (to the public) how the funds were utilized. I think we’ve established some trust in the school district.”

Building a career technical vocational facility is also important to the school board, and could be funded by new money from voters, he said.

“It could be a ‘magnet’ school that draws kids from the other campuses for part of the day,” Gilleland explained. The facility could help train kids who aren’t headed for a traditional college or university, and who instead are looking for services in fields such as biomedical services, engineering, communications, web design, health services or construction.

The career training campus might go at what’s currently the Bryte Elementary campus, after that kindergarten-through-second-grade school consolidates with Riverbank Elementary’s grade 3-8 campus.
When might voters see a ballot for a new parcel tax or school bond measure?

“We’re looking at the suitability of the November election a year from now,” answered Gilleland.

  Meanwhile, the district is also reevaluating its landholdings, and considering whether to hold, lease or sell WUSD real estate. The evaluation process follows a state-mandated procedure, involving formation of a special committee governed by rules of the education code.

The committee will look at WUSD’s real estate, examine enrollment projections, and make a report to the school board on what, if anything, to do.

“It’s just something we wanted to do on a periodic basis,” said Gilleland. “The layperson – and I count myself as one of those – would assume this is not a promising time to sell any surplus property.”

The so-called “7-11 Committee” meets Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at Room 75 in the district office to continue its discussions of WUSD real estate.

The school board itself will convene at 6 p.m. on Thursday at city hall, 1110 West Capitol Avenue. Part of the agenda will deal with the proposed contract with Solem & Associates regarding a school bond and property tax survey.

To COMMENT on this article, please visit the same article at our sister website, www.WestSac.com

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

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Copyright News-Ledger 2011

School district posts another test score jump

WUSD schools met the goal of Board President David Westin to achieve a 20-point increase in API scores overall this year. In fact, scores at the district went up 28 points.

The gain makes for a 48-point increase in API scores districtwide over two years.

Westmore Oaks this year joined Bridgeway Island and Southport elementary schools in achieving the 800-point status with this year’s round of testing.

Said Westin in a WUSD press release:

“The Washington Unified School District’s sustained API achievement reflects our ‘whole child’ approach — focusing on the student’s academic, emotional and social needs — along with quality teaching that is driven by students’ learning needs and determination to make learning applicable to continued success, long after they graduate from our schools. This is another clear indication that our district has already gone to the next level.”

Added Dayton Gilleland, WUSD superintendent, in the same press release:

“Gains are no longer isolated to a few schools or socioeconomic groups. We are now seeing more consistent growth throughout the district. . . Beyond test scores, on any given day, if you walk into a classroom, you will see engaged students who are excited and ready to learn.”

The district reported that almost every school saw at least a 10-point increase in API scores this year.

The exception was Yolo High, the district’s alternative high school, whose scores dropped from 406 points to 389.

Copyright News-Ledger 2011

Guest commentary: WUSD answers the mayor



By Dayton Gilleland, Ed.D.
Washington Unified School District

When I arrived in West Sacramento about ten months ago, I expressed to the Washington Unified School District Board of Education that I was enthusiastic about the incredible gains the district had made in the past few years and optimistic that I could manage the next iteration of academic improvement and promise for our 7,300 students.  There is a consistent pattern among school districts that have demonstrated solid academic improvements, and I recognized many factors that affected such gains in Washington Unified.  My message resonated well with the Board, and I am grateful for this opportunity to serve our students and community.  I remain true to my initial enthusiasm and committed to the work before us to sustain the accelerated growth that this school district has demonstrated.  Our kids deserve no less, and our future depends on our success.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Mayor Cabaldon’s Annual State of the City Address with the WUSD Board of Education.  I knew that evening that I would be providing a response to the message that was shared by the mayor. I suspect that he has anticipated my response as well. Reflected in the mayor’s silence on matters of the school district’s excellent financial health, in the midst of such horrendous economic tragedy, and disregard for  students’ significant academic gains achieved in our schools, is evidence of the inconvenience or threat he perceives toward his objective to “save our schools” through the efforts of city government. While my wife suggests that my delay in finalizing this copy is a problem and that the whole issue has lost some luster, I maintain that this delay was needed to assure the degree of objectivity and accuracy in the facts that I have prepared for print.

Dayton Gilleland: Superintendent of the Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento

In my various reviews of a certified copy of the mayor’s address, as delivered on April 14, 2011, I have found several areas of concern with a variety of inaccuracies, misrepresentations of truth, and an apparent neglect to mention actual gains that the school district has demonstrated.  I will address my findings specifically but first need to state that much of what the mayor shared that evening, while narrow in scope, was factual, and while some comments he made were simply wrong, I find that I am mostly troubled by the information and data that his presentation lacked and a bias that appears in the picture he portrayed. On April 4, 2011, I sent an e-mail to him offering “any pertinent data and/or talking points” that he felt might fit into his message.  His non-response to this offer suggests that he already had the information he needed and is consistent with numerous invitations Board President Dave Westin and I have extended in an attempt to meet.

The mayor stated in his address that our students’ academic progress has “slowed some” over the past three years.  It is important to note that our students’ academic gains have not slowed but rather accelerated during this period.  During the three years in question (2008, 2009 and 2010) the district’s Academic Performance Index (API) improved a total of 44 points.  Over the course of the three previous years (2005, 2006 and 2007) the district’s growth was 34 points.  The 20 point API gain in 2010 represents the second highest gain of the twenty school districts in the entire Sacramento region.

The Annual Yearly Progress measure (AYP) is the performance indicator reflected in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative. This measure identifies the percentage of students performing at proficient and advanced levels in English/Language Arts and Math.  Over the last three years, the district’s AYP has improved in English from 41.3% to 49.1% with consistent gains each year.  In Mathematics, the gains have been more modest but follow a similar path from 44.1% to 49.5%.

I remain confused by the mayor’s statement that for “the last two years the total number of Latino kids in our community who tested proficient in English and Math and were college ready: Zero.”  I had referred to district-wide proficiency levels earlier.  The disaggregate for the Hispanic/Latino student subgroup over the past two years reveals growth in both English and Math with gains from 34.3% in 2009 to 38.4% in 2010 in English and from 35.0% in 2009 to 39.6% in 2010 in Math. Further to the point, 343 seniors graduated from River City High School last year.  Of that group, 34% are Latino (117) and of this group, 19 students entered a four year university, 68 enrolled in a community college, 7 continued their studies in a trade school, and 7 entered the military.  107 of the 117 Latino graduates last year are reflected in these numbers.  While we are by no means satisfied with these percentages, we are encouraged by sustained gains and there is a considerable distinction between the facts and what was stated by the mayor.  His reference to “zero” is incongruent with the actual data and appears to me to be more inflammatory or alarmist than it is a call to action.

Mayor Cabaldon’s claims our improving statistics are due to “changing demographics” and that our community now has “a lot more high achieving kids”.  Any reference to demographics in the context of student performance is risky.  The most important factor to consider is that all students can learn and it is our obligation and intent to meet the needs of all students who enter our classrooms.  The mayor’s opinion that this is the basis of our gains is inaccurate.  The school achieving the highest API gain this past year was Riverbank with an increase of 39 points.  Riverbank is a school in the northern portion of town.  Our schools in the north are situated in the most established communities and those which have been affected the least, if at all, by this change in demographics.  Additionally, free/reduced priced lunch rates are an indicator of socio-economics in communities.  This factor is used by the California Department of Education (CDE) in calculations of comparable districts for API demographics.  In 2007, 55% of our students qualified for free/reduced priced lunches.  In 2010 the number increased to 67%.  In this regard, Washington Unified has demonstrated academic gains that have surpassed those projected from this changing demographic by the CDE.   The gains our schools demonstrate are reflective of how we have become more responsive to students’ specific educational needs.

The mayor stated that “a lot of our overall statistics look pretty decent.”  I would concur.  I also agree fully with his claim that “we can’t accept schools that are good enough.”  We will continue to improve and wish to be collaborative with the community and the city in all efforts to support our students and their success.  It is my sincere hope that the political flavor that accompanied my dinner that night does not represent continued barriers to cooperation and collaboration between the school district and the mayor’s office.

I found the State of the City Address to be disparaging to the nearly 800 employees in the school district that have dedicated themselves to this work.  I will maintain my focus on the educational work our teachers and staff do for students in Washington Unified.  This work occurs daily in our classrooms.  Our teachers are an invaluable asset who have been too frequently and for too long discredited.  I don’t intend to venture any deeper into the political abyss that West Sacramento seems to offer; however, without regret or apology, I will continue to defend what is working and acknowledge those responsible for our success.

My intent is to focus on the work at hand, and to further establish cooperative and collaborative relationships with those who share common interests and commitments to students’ success. We will continue to reach out to the mayor’s office in an attempt to align our efforts and enhance our potential for great gains.  The School Board President’s Initiatives validate our commitment to work within and throughout our surrounding communities.  In title alone, these initiatives demonstrate the collaborative intent:

— The Whole Child Initiative,
— The Parents Bill of Rights Initiative,
— The Better West Sacramento Initiative, and
— The Community Networking/Outreach Initiative

The work that has been underway for the past several months, with substantial participation from local agencies, city employees, and elected officials from throughout this region, will continue.  It is my hope that we can all come to the table to share ideas and reach the enhanced benefits that collaboration will provide and isolation will deter.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2011

EDITORIAL: City & school district turf battles


  Mayor Cabaldon and the local school district aren’t going to see eye-to-eye on this one.

At last week’s “State of the City” address by the mayor, Cabaldon took credit for bringing leadership reform to Washington Unified School District. A decade ago, as Cabaldon reminded his audience, the mayor formed a “blue ribbon commission” that harshly criticized the district and its school board. He then supported candidates for the school board who won and changed the board’s complexion.

Local schools started to improve after this intervention, he said.

Flash forward to the present date. There’s a new and different generation on the school board, led by board president Dave Westin. This board believes it’s on the right track, and believes that a 20-point jump in standardized student test scores last year proves it.

But Cabaldon doesn’t see it that way.

“Over the last three years, that remarkable progress has slowed somewhat,” said Cabaldon, in an oblique criticism of Westin’s regime. The mayor added that the test scores are masking a gap in achievement, particularly among Latino students, and they don’t address the drop-out problem.  He proposed some level of increased involvement by the city and community in this problem – although some of his suggestions were small (give preschoolers a few of their own books) and some were, as yet, still vague. But the real news was that he was again pushing the city government onto school board turf.

Now, the mayor doesn’t run the school district any more than the school district runs the city fire department. Cabaldon and Westin are not close partners. Comments such as those the mayor made last week aren’t likely to be well-received at 930 Westacre Road. Cabaldon is smart enough to know that before he spoke up.

Whether Westin and Cabaldon can get along well is unimportant. More important is whether local education can come out ahead if the local city government starts putting some pressure again upon the Washington Unified School District.

Copyright News-Ledger 2011