Tag Archives: washington

‘Town hall’ for strategy


Jan. 19, 2011 —

By Steve Marschke,
News-Ledger Editor

Washington Unified School District hosted a “town hall” meeting on January 8 at River City High School’s library. The WUSD was asking for public input on where to focus its efforts this year, under the basic strategic guidelines offered by board president Dave Westin.
“As board president, I have the unique opportunity to set initiatives and have volunteers come forward to support them,” Westin told the Saturday-morning crowd.
Westin had earlier named these four goals:
There’s a “Whole Child Initiative,” a “Parent’s Bill of Rights” initiative, a “Better West Sacramento” initiative and a “Community Networking/Outreach Initiative.”
The Whole Child Initiative will “focus on how to provide a level playing field to all children in the district,” he explained. Westin hopes to rally all available government services to support kids in school.
The “Parents Bill of Rights” initiative will “empower parents to take charge of their children’s education,” said Westin.
The “Better West Sacramento Initiative” involves reaching out to other local agencies “because we really need to have a joint vision with the city and the other agencies around us,” Westin said. He later told the News-Ledger his administration will even extend across the river to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, to see if there are ways the two jurisdictions can partner and prosper.
The “Community Networking/Outreach” initiative is needed “because we live in the age of social networking,” Westin said. That networking can be put to better use, he feels.
Westin told the News-Ledger that he thinks the district can keep improving its student test score results, after this year’s reported 20-point gain within WUSD. He thinks the benchmark 800-point level is obtainable by virtually every school.
“I don’t see why, in the next three to four years, every school in the district, save maybe Yolo High and one other school, can’t be at 800 points,” he commented.
Several dozen people showed up at Saturday’s “town hall meeting.” District employees outnumbered the general public, although some of the employees reported having kids in school within the district. All of the participants, including board members, were divided into groups to “brainstorm” goals for WUSD.
In one group, comments covered a lot of ground.
Resident Liz Bagdazian worried about supporting kids who had problems with their basic needs.
“There are kids coming to school hungry,” she said. “Kids with a lot of baggage attached to them. It’s pretty black out there. . . we have to take care of the full child, not just the kid that’s going to come in and take your test.”
A 71-year old man said he had a grandson now in local schools after initially after being raised in Japan.
“You have kids who don’t have respect for their teacher,” said the grandfather. “(My grandson) complains every day, ‘gee, those kids are noisy.”
Several participants said the school district needs to strike a harder bargain with the city over who will pay for maintenance of jointly-used facilities, like tennis courts or the high school track.
Sue Brothers, a WUSD administrator, pushed for more “tech” training in school.
“I think we have a gap between high school and career,” she said. “I’d really like to see us do something about that.”

In the end, ideas from the first four groups of participants were distilled into seven guiding principles.
They included better communication from WUSD, closer ties to business partners, an improved system for delivering support services to pupils in need, equity among the facilities at different campuses, intervention and support for student achievement, a more organized mentoring program, and other “relationship building” between students and adults.
copyright News-Ledger 2010, 2011

Westin offers proposals for future of West Sac schools


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s school board on Thursday re-elected businessman David Westin as board president and chose Teresa Blackmer as vice president for the coming year. In other board changes, former trustee Matt Stegman has finished his school board service after deciding not to run for re-election this year, and new board member Adam Menke has taken his seat as a trustee.

Westin outlined an “activist” agenda for his next one-year tenure as board president. He talked about those plans this week with the News-Ledger.

First, he noted his belief that Washington Unified School District is on the right track, as evidenced by its 2010 student test score results.

“We had a 20-point incremental gain in the API, while the state had a statewide gain of only 13 points,” said Westin. “All socioeconomic groups improved in the district. Southport Elementary School hit 800 points, joining Bridgeway Island.”

WUSD tied for the second highest district API gain in the region, he said, beating 12 regional neighbors.

DAVE WESTIN Re-elected to presidency of Washington Unified School District Board of Trustees

Westin last week announced the creation of school board subcommittees to cover four different initiatives.

“The first is the ‘Whole Child Initiative,’ to look at bringing social services into economically challenged areas as well as to underprivileged children, to level the playing field for them,” said Westin.

Which social services?

“Mental, emotional, physical – the full gamut,” he answered. Westin assigned board members Mary Leland and Teresa Blackmer to that subcommittee.

Next is a “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” assigned to Sandra Vargas and Adam Menke to work on.

“It will cover the rights a parent has as they manage their children’s education,” he said.

Third is his “A Better West Sacramento Initiative.” This effort will focus on getting the district to work better with outside partners to add their resources to WUSD.

“This includes anything from ‘can we leverage grants that other agencies can bring to the table’ to money that other agencies can go apply for, and more joint use agreements,” explained Westin.

He put himself and Vargas on the “Better West Sacramento” initiative.

Finally, he offered a “Community Networking – Social Networking and Community Outreach” subcommittee of Leland and Blackmer.

“It’s a combination of social networks and community outreach,” said Westin.

“My youngest daughter, Annika, who is two, will graduate in 2029,” he said in written comments explaining his proposals. “Facebook did not exist six years ago. The world as we know it has changed and will continue to change. . . the essential question I ask myself every day is, ‘what needs to change in regards to our leadership to prepare students for the 21st century and beyond?’”

Westin said there will be a combination “town hall meeting” and strategic planning session on Saturday, Jan. 8, most likely from 8 a.m. to noon at River City High School. Final details will be confirmed later.

He hopes to bring an outline of the “Parent’s Bill of Rights” in front of the school board on Jan. 13.

Westin also promises the first “State of the District” address at Washington Unified, during the first week in October, 2011. Although the local chamber of commerce has hosted a “State of the City” address by the mayor for a number of years, the school district has not yet had a similar tradition.

  UPDATE from our Dec. 29 calendar section: The school district has scheduled its ‘Town Hall Meeting’ for Sat., Jan. 8, 2011, at 8 a.m. at River City High School, 1 Raider Lane, West Sacramento. On the agenda is discussion of district goals and Westin’s initiatives.

copyright News-Ledger 2010, 2011