Tag Archives: school

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.

[adrotate group=”10″]   “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.”

But:

“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

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)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 22, 2012 —

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.

  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.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

‘Heart of the City’: West Sacramento’s vibrant youth sports scene

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 15, 2012 —

Wow! Youth basketball season!

The Washington Unified School District girls basketball program wound down with great playoffs and a championship series.

BY DON SCHATZEL for the News-Ledger

The playoffs began at Riverbank School that used to be Golden State Middle School that used to be James Marshall High School (small history lesson. . .) I mention this because the schools gym is high school-dimension,  complete with Rotary- sponsored scoreboard.

The four teams that qualified for the playoffs were regular season winner Stonegate Elementary and prospective championship opponent Bridgeway Island, whose only loss was to Stonegate. Upstart Elkhorn and always-in-the-playoffs Southport joined the post-season party!

What was expected was not to be.

Elkhorn pulled off the upset of the season in the first round, beating Bridgeway Island 30-21. Elkhorn became West Sac’s own version of a Cinderella team. Joanna Lira led Elkhorn with 8 points and Elkhorn held Bridgeway’s powerful offense to just 8 first-half points. Michaela Faaifo had 8 points and Melissa Bustamante had 4 for Bridgeway.

This was Elkhorn’s first trip to the championship game.

Stonegate and Southport squared off to determine Elkhorn’s championship opponent. Stonegate ran off to an 8-point halftime lead, 19-11, then pulled away for a 36-14 victory and a chance to play Elkhorn for the local title. Gabby Mistler had 8 points and Niki Singh  7 points for powerhouse Stonegate. Anniyah Furlow 4 points for Southport.

The consolation and championship games were played at Westmore Oaks Elementary School, formerly River City High School, and its gym, too, has high school dimensions.

In the Southport vs. Bridgeway Island match for third place,

[adrotate group=”10″] Bridgeway rebounded from its disappointing opening round loss with a 26-11 win. Jordan Criswell had 9 points and Michaels Faaifo  7 points. Mikaela Drewry led the Southport scoring.

The long-awaited championship between Elkhorn and Stonegate was a tough physical game, with Stonegate winning 32-9 for their first championship. Elkhorn battled the entire game, but Stonegate brought a  deep a bench and kept the pressure on the entire game.

The unstoppable Alina Castillo scored 17 points and Nikki Singh had 8, both for Stonegate. Joanna Lira earned 5 for Elkhorn. Congratulations to all four teams for making the playoffs and playing great basketball.

Our Lady of Grace School is  in mid-basketball season. The J.V. team, made up of 5th and 6th graders, beat St. Elizabeths of Elk Grove 14-2 to stay in first place. Krystal Robles,  Lauren Bykowski and Julianna Calles had great games for the OLG win.

QUICK QUESTION!!
What youth sports league started in 1974 has 25,000 teams worldwide, 360,000 participants,ages 4-18, four world series tournaments, and is an international program not just in the U.S?

GIVE UP? It’s little league girls’ softball – not boys baseball!
West Sacramento Girls Softball Little League is registering players. As are the West Sacramento Dolphins, West Sacramento Little League and Washington Little League, with separate registration for summer programs. They have web sites so they are easy to find!

  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 mailboxl.

  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

Raider wrestling season nears end

The Raiders’ Aaron Ringor with “the pin and the win” (Photo by De’ONNA JACK)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

[adrotate group=”9″] On Wednesday, Jan. 25, River City High School Wrestling team held their first home wrestling match vs Union Mine.  River City Lost the match 38-36.Their final home match of the season was scheduled for yesterday against El Dorado, when the team was to celebrate “senior night.”

River City's Bobby Baffico with the pin and win (photo by De'Onna Jack)

(Facebook members can find up-to-the-minute info on RCHS sports at contributor De’Onna Jack’s Facebook page. Click here.)

  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, by mail..

  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

School boundaries change near Sycamore

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 25, 2012 —

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.

[adrotate group=”9″] 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

A computer may help autistic youth

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 25, 2012

By Steve Marschke

13-year old Qais Kakar is new to this country and new to the concept of school – he has just started his second year of formal education at Riverbank Elementary School. But those difficulties may pale in the face of another challenge Qais experiences.

Qais Kakar

Qais is autistic – unable to relate to the world in the ways most people take for granted.  (His name is pronounced like “Case.”)

One of the things that works for him at school is the shared use of an iPad tablet computer, which he uses for, among other things, watching videos explaining how to have a simple human conversation.

His older sister, Waheeda, has been in the country longer than Qais, and helped explain his situation to the News-Ledger. Qais, his mother, and another sister came to the U.S. from Pakistan in 2010, after the children’s father died. Their native language is Pashtoo, and before coming to the U.S., Qais had never been to school.

He now has limited language skills and limited means to interact.

“He has severe autism. He started in 7th grade here, and is now in 8th,” said Waheeda Kakar. “The iPad seems to help. When I go to my mom’s, I sometimes give him my iPhone (a computerized smart phone) and he really enjoys that. He knows how to work with (the website) Youtube – I type in a musician’s name, and he scrolls through that musician’s videos.”

Qais also uses computers for simple videos on language skills, and for Sesame Street.

[adrotate group=”7″]  The family has limited income, and would like some help providing Qais with an iPad computer of his own.

“We hope that while he’s at home with the computer, he could learn more from his English videos, and his language skills could get better,” said Waheeda Kakar.

Anyone interested in helping can go online to www.giveforward.com/qais

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.

[adrotate group=”7″]   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