Tag Archives: News

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.

  “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.

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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.

  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, www.yolo.courts.ca.gov.

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.

Partial closure of Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge may have lane restrictions and traffic control between 7 a.m. & 7 p.m. through Friday.

Workers are repairing electrical wiring and replacing operating cables for the drawbridge. Caltrans encourages you to use another route between Sacramento and West Sac during this time period, and remember to “slow for the cone.”

The repair schedule may change in the event of adverse weather.

RCHS students get a taste of the real world: mock job interviews

A River City student (left) faces an intimidating interview panel in a classroom full of spectators. Across from her are Michelle Vandeheetkamp, owner of Wicked West Pizza & BBQ; Bill Panos the city’s public works director; Michael Costello of “Brew It Up” restaurant fame; and Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (photo courtesy of Krysty Gaponov, River City High School student)

NEWS-LEDGER FEB 29, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Students at River City High School had a chance to practice their job interview skills last Wednesday, with help from Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and other guest interviewers.

The “guest grillers” visited two government civics classes of teacher Ronica Carlisle, interviewing about ten kids while others observed. Then, there was a debriefing to learn how to do better when they go out into the real world.

“The students in the class voted to do it and invited us to come,” said Cabaldon. “Given that the rates of teenage unemployment and youth unemployment have never been higher, and that so many high school students graduate with no work experience and into a tough employment market, this is important.”

  The kids “did great,” he added.

“It was a wide array of students – some with work experience, a couple of real go-getters, and a couple who were really shy. Afterward, we talked about things to do and things to avoid – not necessarily to sell yourself, but to present yourself and your skills in the best possible light.”

Teacher Ronica Carlisle said one of the goals is to help kids learn to handle such open-ended questions as
”Tell me about yourself,” “What do you do outside of school?” or “Do you have any questions for us?”, all of which can leave a young person stumped during an interview.

“(Cabaldon) talked about youth unemployment,” she said. “(The interviewers all gave real practical advice such as how to shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye, repeat (the interviewer’s) name.”

A number of the 70-or-so kids involved in the project said they learned some things.

RCHS journalism student Sam Urrea quoted interviewee Ryan Colen as saying he gained confidence from his practice interview:

“I was a little nervous at first, knowing these guys were important people, but as the interview progressed, I felt more and more confident about my answers to their weird questions.”

“I feel like I should have answered some questions better,” said fellow student Angelica Estrada, “but this will only help me for future interviews.”

She, too, was quoted by Urrea.

Teacher Carlisle says she hopes to bring the mock interviews back next year.

On the same day of the mock interviewers, Congressman Mike Thompson visited the RCHS campus to talk about youth employment and to tour the school’s new solar panel array.

  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 FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012