Tag Archives: district

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.

  “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.”

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

School board items include discussion of whether to re-approve charter school

This sign may soon mark the ‘home of the Raiders’ if plans proceed to construct it in front of River City High School in Southport (schematic is from Thursday’s staff report to the Washington Unified School District board of trustees)


The local school board will meet Thursday at 6 p.m. at city hall to discuss a variety of issues, including the “roller coaster ride” in the district’s budget resulting from a troubled state budget. The Washington Unified School District is planning another round of reductions.

Also on the agenda will be:

— Consideration of whether to extend the charter of the West Sacramento Early College Prep  charter school. A state association of charter schools has suggested that the local academy be shut down for underperformance.

Board President Teresa Blackmer told the News-Ledger earlier this month she had not made her own mind up on whether to vote to renew the school’s charter.

— Results of the district’s public opinion poll. WUSD had hired a consultant to talk to West Sacramento voters and find out how receptive the public might be to a November school bond or parcel tax measure, aimed at helping to “complete” River City High School and possibly advance some other district-wide projects.

— Review of a proposed “marquee” sign for River City High School, marking the campus at the entrance from Jefferson boulevard to Raider Lane. The district is also working on design of a second sign within the parking lot shared by RCHS administration and the neighboring city recreation center, steering visitors to each facility.

EDITOR’S NOTE: an earlier version of this article misstated the last name of board president Teresa Blackmer, transposing it with that of fellow board member David Westin. The News-Ledger regrets the error.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

School boundaries change near Sycamore


The local school district is changing attendance boundaries for Stonegate, Westmore Oaks, Westfield Village and Elkhorn Village elementary schools, beginning with the 2012-13 year.

Residential reas affected include a number of streets west of Sycamore Ave., including Orchard Way, Pine Street, Palomar Avenue, Lake Court, and more.

Town hall meetings for information are planned for 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 at Stonegate Elementary and 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at Westfield Village Elementary. For questions, call Lisa Guillen, 375-7604 ext. 1371.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Sewage district sues over upgrades


The sewage district that serves much of the region – including West Sacramento – has filed a lawsuit in Sacramento’s superior court asking for relief from new regulations that it says would force ratepayers to foot the bill for $2 billion in sewage plant improvements.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has required the district to better filter and disinfect its discharges and remove more ammonia from waste in order to protect water quality in the Delta and Bay.

The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) appealed the order, but without success.
The district argues that the new measures aren’t necessary or are “not scientifically justified” by the benefits they would produce to the Delta ecosystem.

It has also said that ratepayers will see huge increases in their sewage bills if the order isn’t overturned. Connection fees for new development will also go up if the district has to upgrade its facilities, said SRCSD.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Board to reconsider charter school

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 11, 2012 —

When the school board of the Washington Unified School District meets on Thursday, Jan. 12, it will consider whether to renew the charter for the West Sacramento Early College Prep School.

The California Charter Schools Association has singled it out as one of four charter schools in the Sacramento area that ought to be closed due to poor student performance.

The board will also discuss a proposal to design and build a “marquee” sign marking the entrance to River City High School on Raider Lane near Jefferson Boulevard and Higgins Road. The campus currently sports a digital billboard at a nearby street corner, but doesn’t have a sign at the school entrance.

  In other WUSD news, the office of the superintendent has asked members of the public to cooperate with a new survey designed to find out “if the voters would support an increase in property taxes” for “school improvements and programs.”

A survey company will randomly sample voters and ask “whether they would support a bond issue or parcel tax,” said a statement from Superintendent Dayton Gilleland.

“If you receive a call from the survey company, please take a few minutes and answer their questions,” he said in the press release. “As the district makes its plans, we want to know what voters would be willing to support.”

The board meets at 6 p.m. on Thursday at city hall, 1110 West Capitol Avenue.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

OPINION: whether to answer ‘just a few questions’

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 21, 2011


The local school board has approved a contract with a political consultant to explore a new school bond or parcel tax in West Sacramento. The measure would seek to raise funds to build a performing arts center at the new high school, and to start a new technical education center for some of the district’s non college-going students.

A new ballot measure would probably also fund other projects around the district – partly out of widespread need for things such as facility repair, and partly out of a political strategy to get as many community members as possible to “buy in” to a new bond measure. Typically, in a new bond measure, there’s a little something for everybody – something for the high school in Southport, and something for parents of a kid in the second grade in Broderick.

  WUSD’s consultant will conduct interviews to try to determine community concerns and also to explore the campaign politics likely to surround a ballot measure for November, 2012.

This news is a reminder about political surveys and interviews in general: things are often not what they seem when someone is interviewing you for the political issue or campaign of the day. And, merely by participating, you may end up accidentally helping a political effort you oppose.

Often, when a survey company calls you, you aren’t told exactly who they’re working for. But even when you are told (as you presumably will be if you’re picked for one of these WUSD school bond interviews), your answers will probably be used in ways you don’t foresee.

A few comments about campaign surveys in general:

Some surveys are known as “push polls” – under the guise of asking for your opinion, the surveyor is asking you carefully crafted questions designed to push you in the direction they want you to go: “Would you support Measure Q if you knew it would cost this city over 4,500 jobs?”

Well, you may have been in favor of Measure Q before you got that phone call. But now, they have you wondering. There may be no factual basis at all to believe that Q would cost anybody a job – but now, you’ve got that job-killing idea stuck in your head.

Political surveys can also be designed to figure out how to get a campaign around your defenses, and the defenses of voters with like minds to yours. By answering questions from a survey commissioned by one of these people, you may help them figure out how to better craft their campaign – and defeat your own point of view.

So be careful when you pick up the phone and agree to answer “just a few questions.”


When a discount liquor store applied for a permit to take over the former Blockbuster Video site at West Capitol Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard, the News-Ledger objected.

West Capitol has a troubled reputation already for crime, drugs and alcohol. There are plenty of other liquor-vendors on the same block. And the site was just too prominent, facing one of the city’s busiest intersections and viewed by just about everybody heading to the nearby city hall, community center and city college campus.

The city planning commission evidently had some of the same concerns, giving the liquor store a thumbs-down.

Instead, a Chase bank branch has just opened at the location, boasting a spiffy and attractive new façade. Now, Chase is one of those American mega-banks whose mortgage lending practices helped create the economy we’re in today.

That begs the question: would that streetcorner’s image have been better off with the liquor store?

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

Copyright News-Ledger 2011



Sometimes, the News-Ledger gets letters.

This week, readers sounded off on the need for a new school bond (in part to build a new performing arts center at River City High School) and on whether it’s a good idea — or a partisan political maneuver — to require people to show government ID in order to vote.

Check out the opinions below.


Build the RCHS theater

(Re: ‘WUSD looking at possible new school bond or parcel tax measure,’ News-Ledger, Dec. 7)

Now is the time to build the theater for River City High School and the career trade facility for West Sacramento. Whereas the cost of construction in the mid-2000s was high because the economy was booming, now the economy is anemic, contractors are hungry for work, and bids will be very competitive.

  In addition, the costs for the bond will be lower than they were even just four years ago due to lower interest rates, and by the time the theater is actually under construction in 2013, the economy will start to grow and when completed we should actually be in good economic times, which will help with the bond repayments.

When I was on the school board we built the new RCHS and at that time we knew the theater would have to be built at a later time because of the cost. We also knew that a new bond issue would have to be passed in order to build it. The theater site is already planned. The design has already been drawn and does not need much additional work. The students are eager for the theater as is the community.

Now is the time to build.

I would suggest a June 2012 vote and I would encourage the community to support the expansion.

West Sacramento

Suppressing the vote

The party of “I Got Mine But I Want More”, otherwise known as “The Republican Party,” is embarking on a nationwide effort to suppress Democratic voting by passing laws in Republican-controlled areas that impose new and burdensome requirements on voters and voting.  These new laws now require poor people, who usually vote Democratic, to have photo ID’s.

Millions of poor people do not own a car, therefore no driver’s license, no way to get to DMV, no money to spend on anthing but food, etc.  You get the idea.  Republicans have no ideas that work for the vast majority of Americans, so they have to cheat again (remember Bush v Gore) to get back in power.  This present group of leaders in the party of “I Got Mine But I Want More” have shown themselves to be a disgraceful example of how democratic leaders should act, so we need to be very wary when it comes to our civil rights.  These guys have proven to be quite unscrupulous, taking orders from the likes of P.R. pukes like Carl Rove and his ilk.

The suppression of civil rights now being perpetrated on some of our Latino citizens (gang injunction) is an example of what can happen if we are not wary.  I wonder if these folks being locked in their homes still get to vote.  I sure hope so, so they can help us run these Republicans out of town for a while. Our whole American way of life is hanging in the balance in this next election in 2012.  It is important that everybody gets to vote.

Maybe District Attorney Jeff Reisig will enlighten us on this topic.  So far Mr. Reisig has chosen not to answer any of my questions asked of him, including emails to his office.

West Sacramento

  To comment on these issues, 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.

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

Copyright News-Ledger 2011