Tag Archives: school

EDITORIAL: WUSD should know better

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER — SEPT 26, 2012 —

We were disappointed to find that the superintendent of Washington Unified School District, and apparently the district’s lawyers, when offered a chance to walk away from an untenable position, chose instead to dig in and play defense.

The issue – as you may have seen in our separate news article – was a simple request by the News-Ledger for some documents. We wanted to publish the names of the people who were applying to be appointed as the newest school board member.

[adrotate group=”9″]   The district said “no,” initially saying that the list of names wasn’t “public information” because the board hadn’t seen it yet. Later, they said added the reason that there wasn’t, technically, a printed list.

Let’s take the second reason first: yes, WUSD is correct that they don’t have to provide documents to the public if the documents don’t exist. The problem – carefully explained to Dr. Gilleland – is that WUSD send us an email that seemed to acknowledge that there was a list. The email from the district was misleading. Had WUSD told us that the names of the applicants hadn’t been put onto one document, we could have and would have instantly rephrased our request, and asked the district to fax us copies of the applications themselves.

And, you know what? The California Public Records act actually requires government agencies to help members of the public identify the records they need – not to hinder them.

Now, our request for this information was informal and on a short time frame. What happened, happened. What interests us more is the district’s policy: does it truly believe that it can withhold a document from the public for the simple reason that “the board hasn’t seen it?”

In a word, yes. And that’s wrong.

Most documents in the hands of your local government agencies are public, period. There are only narrow exceptions. Anyone running a school district or providing its legal advice simply ought to know this.

Imagine WUSD is right, and imagine they have on file some kind of document they don’t want to go public. Let’s say it’s a contractor’s report saying the roof is about to fall in on one of the campuses, or that somebody embezzled a bunch of money. Under the district’s theory, all they have to do to legally justify keeping such information secret is not give a copy to the school board. They could still brief the board, but as long as they don’t provide the board with a copy, “it’s not public information.”

Please.

Public information is public information. The board is just five guys and gals who do the public’s work. It’s that simple.

  If you comment on this editorial, we may publish your comment in the News-Ledger.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Bagdazian joins WS school board

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER — SEPT 12, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s school board on Wednesday interviewed a number of candidates to fill the board seat vacated by Sandra Vargas.

After a round of questions, the board voted 4-0 to ask Elizabeth Bagdazian to serve the final two-years-plus of that school board term.

“I’ve been involved (in the community) on a number of levels for many years,” Bagdazian later told the News-Ledger. “I’ve been participating in numerous programs. My daughter is 22 now and graduated in 2008 from here. I am in a place now where I felt I could table some of my other projects and make more of a direct impact.”

[adrotate group=”7″]  Herself a graduate of River City High School in 1979, Bagdazian has been a volunteer in the county library’s adult literacy program and a member of the local chapter of the Soroptimist International women’s service organization.

She is a government relations policy analyst for a private company that works in government relations and lobbying.

On what does Bagdazian hope to focus on as a member of the Washington Unified School District Board of Trustees?

“I’m pretty big on literacy and language arts,” she answered. “I think right now what’s on everyone’s mind are the ballot measures (seeking to raise tax revenues to help fund California’s schools). If they fail, we’re looking at some pretty hard choices in the district.”

How has the board been doing lately?

“I think, for the most part, they’re effective,” said Bagdazian. “The district has made some pretty good strides with API (student test scores), that’s undeniable.”

Bagdazian currently has a couple of relatives going to school in WUSD; one nephew at River City High School and another at Bridgeway Island Elementary. She lives in central West Sacramento.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. 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

Riverbank gets spruced up

The new marquee is part of the renovation at Riverbank Elementary in the city’s north (courtesy photo/AugustineIdeas)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — SEPT 5, 2012 —

Riverbank Elementary was opened more than 50 years ago as a high school, later becoming Golden State Middle School and then an elementary campus.

During the 2011-2012 school year the 12-acre campus was home to third through eighth graders but after a 10-week, $8-million overhaul the campus reopened on August 22, greeting students’ kindergarten through eighth grade.

While minor work started in May while school was still in session, the majority of the work began in June when school was out, giving HMH Builders just 10 weeks to complete this transformation, intended to improve the environment and accommodate more kids.

According to a spokesperson for the builder:

[adrotate group=”7″]   Starting on the outside, the parking lot was redesigned with safety in mind, providing much needed space to drop students off, and separating the entrances for kindergarten through fifth grade from those for sixth through eighth grade. The walkway leading to the entrance was also redesigned and made ADA compliant with new landscaping and decorative fencing. The school even received a new marquee, complete with an LED sign that can be used for posting announcements. Other improvements to the outside of the campus including adding a new section of asphalt for recess and PE activities, which doubles as a way to improve the fire departments access to the campus.

On the interior, each of the 42 classrooms on the campus received a technology makeover. All are now equipped with smart boards that allow a teacher to project his or her computer screen or other video directly onto a whiteboard and then write over it or to show educational videos. A new fiber optic network and fire alarm system was installed across the campus along with a new intercom system to improve campus-wide communication, security and fire safety. Many rooms have new windows to let in more natural light, fresh paint, cabinets, tack boards and carpeting.

Additionally, some rooms were also completely remodeled such as what was once a dark building with no windows transforming into the campus’ kindergarten wing complete with three classrooms, smart boards, windows, and a separate play area with shade structure. A building that housed outdated gym equipment has been turned into five new classrooms for second graders. Two old locker rooms that were being used as storage areas are now places for learning. The girls’ locker room is now a fitness studio with climbing wall and will also be used for indoor sports and yoga. The boys’ locker room was gutted and renovated into two wet science labs.

Riverbank Elementary School classroom, renovated (courtesy of AugustineIdeas for HMH Builders)

“We are impressed and relieved by the ability of the HMH Team to complete this major renovation to Riverbank, both on time and on budget,” said Dr. Dayton Gilleland, Ed.D., Washington Unified School District’s Superintendent, in a press release from AugustineIdeas, for HMH Builders.. “The efficiency of this project, coupled with the hard work of teachers and district staff, has resulted in a beautiful school setting that stands ready to meet our students and families on the first day of school.”

In the coming months the campus will continue to see limited construction including a completely remodeled commercial kitchen to prepare school meals. During this construction, meals for students will be made at other district facilities and brought to the school for students.

“We were delighted to be chosen to work on this project with the Washington Unified School District,” said Tim Spence, project executive with HMH Builders, in a press release. “We worked closely with the Washington Unified School District and Stafford King Wiese Architects on every aspect of the project, finding ways to save money. The improvements that were made to Riverbank over the last 10 weeks will improve the learning environment for students, teachers, and staff for many years to come.”

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Clarksburg wine tour benefit

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER —

A “Clarksburg Wine Country Tour” will depart from the River City High School parking lot in West Sacramento on Sept. 22.

The chartered coach will tour the Clarksburg wine country in a fundraiser for the Delta Elementary Charter School in Clarksburg. Participants will visit Miller’s Leap Winery, Bogle Vineyards and the Old Sugar Mill, with lunch catered by Mama Kim’s Food Truck. There will also be a raffle and silent auction.

Cost of $80 (plus any online ticket fee) includes the tour, lunch, all taxes and gratuities.

Visit http://deltacharter.eventbrite.com

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Final candidates for West Sac’s ballot:

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — AUG 15, 2012 —

EDITOR’S NOTE: The extended deadline for new people to enter the school board race passed without any new candidates signing up. So the list of candidates for West Sacramento’s city and school board elections we published below on Aug. 15 is now final and complete — with the exception that Nathan Eckler, who filed to run for school board, has withdrawn his candidacy.

The deadline has closed for candidates to file for election to the West Sacramento city council or to the mayor’s seat on the November 6 ballot. And while there will be only one new challenger in those races, he does pack some punch.

Oleg Maskaev, a resident of the Southport area, will challenge city council incumbents Bill Kristoff and Oscar Villegas for one of the two available four-year terms. Maskaev is a former WBC heavyweight boxing champ.

[adrotate group=”7″]   Mayor Christopher Cabaldon will not see a challenger this year as he seeks election to another two-year term.

Things are more crowded and less final in the race for one of three available seats on the school board.

Incumbents David Westin and Mary Leland have filed for re-election, but current board president Teresa Blackmer did not.

As of yesterday morning (Aug. 14), there were eight challengers on board for the race. Here are their names and their self-described ballot designations:

Coby Pizzotti, a “parent/legislative advocate”; Alicia Cruz, a “parent/community volunteer”; Katie Villegas, “Children’s Alliance Director”; Walt R. Bowman, “retired truck driver”; Nate Eckler (no designation yet given) [application later withdrawn]; Tamera Russel, “educator/parent”; Rene L. Guerrero, “community organizer”; and Roy Sianez, “parent/legislative director.”

Because one of the incumbents did not file for reelection, the deadline for challengers to file was automatically extended to today (Aug. 15). So this list of school board candidates is not necessarily final.

A fourth seat on the board of trustees for Washington Unified School district is also in play. Because board member Sandra Vargas has submitted her resignation effective Aug. 31, the board is accepting applications from people interested in being appointed by the board to fill her seat for the remaining two years of her four-year term.

The resignation came too late to allow the vacancy to be added to the November ballot as a matter of routine.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. 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

Villegas joins WUSD school board race

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — AUG 8, 2012 —

In today’s News-Ledger newspaper, we mentioned that Alicia Cruz (“parent/community volunteer”) and Coby Pizzotti (“consultant/legislative advocate”) have filed candidacy papers for the school board election.

Fresh news this morning is that Katie Villegas has just done the same. She is executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance and wife of city councilman Oscar Villegas.

[adrotate group=”9″] Deadline to file for city council, mayoral or school board races in West Sacramento is this Friday, although the deadline will be extended a few days for challengers if any incumbent on the ballot fails to re-file.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Help equip local kids for school

[adrotate group=”9″] NEWS-LEDGER — JULY 11, 2012 —

  IKEA West Sacramento is asking the community to help low-income kids start the school year loaded with new backpacks and classroom supplies.  The “Getting Yolo County Kids Ready for School” collection drive is underway through July 29.

KATIE VILLEGAS, executive director of the Yolo County Childrens Alliance (News-Ledger/2011)

  The school supply drive will gather essential school items for children grades kindergarten through high school, reports the Yolo County Children’s Alliance.  All donations made at the IKEA store will be delivered to the Yolo County Children’s Alliance for distribution.

  A donation bin will be located at the store’s entrance at 700 IKEA Court, West Sacramento. Donors are invited to bring some school materials to drop off or buy some in the store for donation.

  “IKEA is committed to working within the communities where both our customers and co-workers live and work, and we’re excited to host our first ever school supply drive for the Yolo County Children’s Alliance,” said Heine Roikjer, West Sacramento IKEA store manager, an a press release from the alliance.  “Together, we hope to improve the lives of children within Yolo County and help them start the new school year on the right foot with much needed school supplies.”

   “We really need general school supplies and backpacks,” said Katie Villegas, executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance. “Last year hundreds of Yolo County children received new backpacks and school necessities through the generosity of businesses and individuals in our communities.  We hope to be able to provide even more children with the materials they need for a successful school year this year through the donation center at IKEA.”

  Solid colored backpacks are preferred, but not in red since many schools prohibit red backpacks (for gang-related reasons).

  Other needed items include single subject spiral notebooks; packs of pencils, pens, crayons, and washable markers; large pink erasers, 9 x 12 sturdy two-pocket folders; college-ruled loose-leaf paper; 3-inch binders; pencil cases/pouches; children’s safety scissors;  colored pencils; glue sticks; hi-liter pens; binder diver sheets; graph paper; and index cards.

[adrotate group=”7″]  For more information about the IKEA West Sacramento Getting Yolo County Kids Ready for School campaign, contact the Yolo County Children’s Alliance at 530-757-5558 or 916-572-0560.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. 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