Focus on Education (03/13/14)

Posted on March 12, 2014 


The Waterford Unified School District Board will meet for a study session on instruction, testing and technology and get a Connecting Waters Charter update at 5 p.m. today in the district boardroom, 319 N. Reinway Ave., Waterford. Trustees will meet again at 7 p.m. for their regular meeting. The board will vote on a two-year pact with the Waterford Teachers Association giving teachers 5 percent higher salaries, retroactive to July 1, plus a 2.25 percent raise for 2014-15 with the addition of up to $10,200 in health benefits. Trustees will hear, but not vote on, revised board policies affecting promotion and retention and high school graduation requirements. See the agendas at


The Denair Unified School District Board will vote on a contract with Linda Covello for the position of chief business officer for the district as it emerges from financial difficulties. Covello, if confirmed, would replace Interim CBO Doug Cranston. Trustees will also be asked to approve a budget update showing, despite salary concessions, the district expects to end this school year with a $580,000 deficit. That improves to a $178,000 deficit by 2014-15, and by June 30, 2016, the district shows a positive reserve of $281,000. The board will meet at 7 p.m. today in the district boardroom, 3460 Lester Road, Denair. Find exhibits and agenda at


The Ceres Unified School District Board will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the district board room, 2503 Lawrence St., Ceres. Trustees will vote on a two-year contract for a new director of special education with a starting salary of $115,437 plus a $2,400 car allowance. Though not named within the document, the contract lists Susan Neugebauer as the signer. The board will also consider a contract with their support staff giving a retroactive salary increase of 1.6 percent for this year and a one-time bonus of 1 percent of base salary. Trustees will get information on the Affordable Care Act, Common Core implementation and consider a policy requiring a doctor’s note after a student has eight absences for illness. See the agenda at


The Hart-Ransom Union School District will meet at 6 p.m. today in the district boardroom, 3930 Shoemake Ave. The board will get budget and enrollment updates and consider adding $21,000 to the legal services budget for this year. Trustees will vote on job-share requests and the eighth-grade gift of an eagle design added to the Dakota Avenue fence. See the agenda at


Jamie Garner of Walnut Elementary traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, got an in-person thank you for her service from President Barack Obama and her quote noted on the White House blog of the event, viewable at “Becoming a PAEMST awardee means that my voice as a teacher can be heard in a way it never was before. I now have the platform to promote the changes in STEM education that my colleagues and I dream about in the lunchroom and at the copy machine each day. I now have the opportunity to be the catalyst for change in education today,” she says in the post. “Jamie Garner has made Turlock Unified School District proud to have Mrs. Garner as an educator. Her recognition has put the community of Turlock on the map nationally for its educational programs,” said Turlock Unified Superintendent Sonny Da Marto in announcing the blog post.


The nonprofit Common Sense Media has a free K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum available to download in eight interactive, multimedia iBooks Textbooks. “In the growing number of classrooms where students are using iPads to enhance their learning, these multi-touch iBooks Textbooks are essential and relevant tools,” said Mike Lorion, general manager of education. To download, visit


The Stanislaus County Office of Education’s 2013 Head Start Public Report is available at Head Start programs across the county served 7,247 children during the 2012-13 school year. Youngsters in SCOE Child & Family Services Division showed a gain of 30 percent in math skills. Kids also made gains in language and social development. Parents volunteer in the classes, gaining better understanding of how children develop, the report notes.


The Hughson Unified School District Board approved a tentative agreement to give teachers a 3.5 percent raise, retroactive to July 1, and approved the same increase for managers at their meeting Tuesday. Substitute teachers will also get higher pay, the district said Wednesday. The board approved safety plans for schools. In other business, trustees acknowledged the upcoming retirement of lead district custodian Greg McCurdy.


Modesto Junior College will hold Spirit Team and mascot tryouts for current and incoming students from 1 to 8 p.m. March 22 in the east campus gymnasium, 436 College Ave. Students with cheerleader or dance experience and taking at least six units in the fall semester are eligible. The Spirit Team and mascots will cheer and entertain at MJC’s fall and spring sports during the 2014-15 academic year. There will be a cost for Spirit Team uniforms and warm-up outfits for those selected to participate. Attendance from 1 to 8 p.m. is required, and candidates must have a choreographed routine with music CD. Women are asked to wear shorts, noncropped tops and tennis shoes. Men are asked to wear warm-up pants, T-shirts and tennis shoes. Contact Linda Cabral, MJC Spirit Team coach, at (209) 634-6846 or


The benefits of Waldorf education and plans to open a Waldorf-inspired public charter school in 2015 will be discussed at 7 p.m. April 23 in the basement of the Modesto branch of the Stanislaus County Library, 16th and I streets. Parents are asked not to bring their children. Waldorf educator Steve Spitalny will talk about the arts and nature-based curriculum and whole-child philosophy. Modesto parents will discuss progress toward opening Manzanita Charter School, expected to open with kindergarten, first and second grades in 2015, adding a grade each year through eighth grade. For more information, email

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