Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frank Ledesma Elementary in Soledad nominated for National Blue Ribbon Schools

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson nominated Frank Ledesma Elementary School in the Soledad Unified School District for the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, one of 35 schools in California to have their name forwarded for the distinction.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program operates under the U.S. Department of Education and recognizes elementary and secondary schools that are academically superior or have demonstrated dramatic gains in student achievement while serving an economically disadvantaged population of students. Only 413 schools nationwide are nominated each year. Additionally, nominated schools must meet all of its 2012 Academic Performance Index (API) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets for the school overall and for each numerically significant subgroup (e.g., socioeconomically disadvantaged children, English learners and children of color).

“We are very proud of the team at Frank Ledesma. They have worked diligently and passionately to help students reach their academic goals. This is a tremendous recognition to be nominated from among the thousands of public schools in this state. Our students, parents and staff have worked so hard and are so deserving of this honor,” said Deneen Newman, Superintendent, Soledad Unified School District.

Frank Ledesma leaped beyond the 800 points mark in the Academic Performance Index last year, the goal set for all California K-12 schools.

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" Foundation is officially launching today

and José Hernández from Salinas is representing Monterey County at the Harvard launch!

Eighteen youth leaders selected from communities across California took part of the celebration. The Born This Way Foundation aims at empowering youth to be leaders and advocates in their communities.

Born This Way will try to explore the best ways to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment. BTWF, a non-profit charitable organization, will address issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy.

During the launch, California youth will take part in training to learn how to advance social change through digital and social media advocacy, and will be posting multimedia content live throughout the day of the event. The youth also join in a Harvard-sponsored youth summit titled "Prevent Bullying, Create Caring Communities" involving more than a hundred young people from Boston and other communities. California youth also will tour the Harvard University campus.

If you want to get to know more about the California delegation, click here. Jose is not featured, but maybe his video can be added later??????

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

High school teachers, earn an expenses-paid summer technology course

As part of the national effort to help teachers and teens develop and embrace 21st century literacy skills, and seek teachers for an expense-paid two-week summer institute.

One hundred and seventy-five teachers will be selected to attend the 2012 Reynolds High School Journalism Institute. Applications should be postmarked by March 1.

There's no cost to the teacher or high school. Teachers from high schools that lack online student media or have struggling journalism programs are especially encouraged to apply.

For more information or for the application, click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Highland Elementary choral group

is featured in the DVD for the Concert for Music In Our Schools Month! The DVD should be available soon, but get a taste of some of the members of the group as they sing "Everlasting Melody"

Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries coming to Salinas

Renown Father Boyle, promoter of finding viable economic alternative for young men and women to get out of gangs, will share his success stories at the "For Our Future Summer for Peace" this Saturday, March 3, at the Boys & Girls Club in Salinas.

The event is free, but tickets will be needed to enter. Child care and transportation are available upon request. Contact Antonia Herrera for tickets or info at 758-7396 or

MPUSD trustee Jon Hill

has relaunched his website and he wants your input.

Hill ran on the premise to "retake our schools" and his website is an attempt to reach out to the community to find ways to do it. For starters, he'd like to know when you think the economy's going to recover as way of figuring out how to spend the $20 million cash the district is projecting to end up with this fiscal year.

So check it out and give him input. And if you want to give me your input about the district as well (or any other district in Monterey County), I welcome it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Educators, your input is needed to help develop English language development framework

Monterey County will be the site of one of the four focus groups that will provide input on developing the English Language Development roadmap for K-12 in California. Educators are being sought to be part of the 10 to 12-member focus groups, which will develop guidelines to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom.

The focus group meetings will be open to the public and comments made will be forwarded to the Instructional Quality Commission and the State Board of Education for consideration.

Focus group meetings are currently planned for the following dates and locations:
May 22 - Orange County Office of Education
May 31, 2012 - California Department of Education, Sacramento
June 4, 2012 - Monterey County Office of Education
June 5, 2012 - Contra Costa County Office of Education

For more information, or to apply, click here. Deadline to apply is April 5.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So long, Mr. Sperry!

Fifth grade Ord Terrace teacher David Sperry, a commander in the Navy reserves, was called for a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and he'll be leaving March 9. His colleagues and students at the Seaside Elementary went through great lengths yesterday and today to surprise him with farewell parties. On Thursday, all fifth graders gathered at Cunninham Park -- without his knowledge- and feted him with hot dogs, cake and games.

Sperry has been at the district for eight years, and this year's group is been his favorite so far, he said. And the children seem to
Gospeed, Mr. Sperry!

Read Across America is March 2, Steinbeck day of Writing March 12

and it would be a good opportunity to volunteer.

So contact your local school and find out of they're "Reading Across America" and sign up! -- I know some schools are going to celebrate it, and if you want me to list you, drop me a line.

The green movie "The Lorax" will open also in movie theaters March 2, so expect the environmentally concerned mustachioed creature to be ubiquitous. And maybe read from its story.

You may also want to volunteer for a day of writing! The Steinbeck Young Authors program hosts a Day of Writing for young authors to enhance their writing skills, and discover the works of John Steinbeck. A good book and strong teachers inspired himself—a combination Steinbeck organizers hope will motivate students to discover the power of the written word.

On March 12, dozens of students gather at the National Steinbeck Center to receive one-on-one writing mentorship from a coach. The students then have time to re-write their essay. A panel of experts judges the final products, and the selected winners are invited to an award ceremony.

So, if you have some time to spare on March 12, sign up! I've done it several times and it's very rewarding to help our young students. For information, contact Sandra Silva at 831-775-4729 or email at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MPUSD Marilyn Shepherd wins yet another award

but some parents and teachers in the district are not celebrating.

Shepherd received the "Women in School Leadership" award from the American Association of School Administrators last week in Virginia, besting twenty other candidates in the mix. In its announcement, the Association says Shepherd "is known as a risk-taker and lauded for her systematic approach to improving the quality of teaching and her ability to implement large-scale change."

MPUSD trustees congratulated Shepherd at the regular board meeting Monday. Others were quick to dismiss the award, saying the Shepherd described for the honor does not match the reality of the Shepherd they know.

"Is this really the superintendent of MPUSD? Was anyone you know asked for their input or opinion? Do you have any idea who has pushed all of these nominations?" writes one of her critics in an email blast to the MPUSD community. "Our friends and business associates have an idea, and think that whoever it is has not had any real facetime with MPUSD employees at the school sites. They clearly are not representing our perceptions. Are we, along with our friends, the only ones who feel that the school board and the superintendent's inner circle perceptions are complete off track? ... The only thing systematic that we can detect is her ability to get people (?) to help her win awards."

At Monday night's meeting, a coalition of parents and teachers presented their demands to the district, the result of three community meetings and long hours powwowing. It'd be interesting to see if the district can meet any of their demands -- they're largely based on hiring more teachers. But Trustee Bettye Lusk expressed a desire to start a dialogue with this group and see if they can bridge their differences.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Come listen to talented, young musicians

The Junior Youth & Honors Orchestras of Youth Music Monterey County will perform at Carmel's Sunset Center at 2 pm. Saturday, Feb. 25. Directed by John Larry Granger, the more than 90 musicians from the area will perform selections from Music Man and concertos by Corelli, Bruch, and Stamitz.

Two 2011-12 Concerto Competition Winners will also perform:
York School student John Lim, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto in g minor, Op. 26 and Pacific Grove High student Hayoung Youn, performing Stamitz’s Concerto for Flute in G Major, Op. 29

Tickets: $5 students and children, $10 seniors, $15 general admission, and $30 golden circle. Available at the door, at Bookmark Music in Pacific Grove, at or by calling (831) 375-1992.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents, president wanna-bes and the U.S. education system

My esteemed colleague Kathryn Baron, co-writer of Top-Ed blog of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, posts on her blog today the proclamation by John F. Kennedy designating American Education week to mark the importance of education -- not just by those who can afford it.

"Let us not think of education only terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation."

Interesting post only a few hours after Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been quoted criticizing the role of the federal government in education, calling for what can arguably be described as massive roll backs or even the disappearance altogether of the federal role in education. He wants parents to be in charge of education, not the federal government.

Sounds reasonable, right? There's already a program for that. It's called home school. And thousands of families already avail themselves to that. More power to them. Do we actually need a mandate?

People love to criticize education in this country, say that it's "broken," etc, etc. Yes, there's a lot that's wrong, but there's a lot more that's right. California has a 25 percent drop out rate. Which means 75 percent of students graduate from high school. Three out of four. Yes, more should be done, but does a 75 percent passing rate (more than needed to approve parcel taxes) translate into a broken system? Hardly.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is Hartnell going to find another presidential search firm?

Hartnell trustees are schedule to hold a second special meeting on Tuesday to talk again about the firm they hired to find candidates to fill the soon-to-be-vacant presidential slot. This time, the college's contract with the Association of Community College Trustees is on the agenda as an action item. Could this mean the trustees are gearing up to terminate it?

Hartnell faculty are not happy with Pamila Fisher, hired as a contractor by the Association of Community College Trustees, to scout for presidential types. Because Fisher helped place a controversial president at San Joaquin Delta College, faculty believe she could be doing something similar here.

The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the usual meeting place (CALL 208, 411 Central Ave.)

Alisal traning on racial equity and structural racism

An intriguing workshop is coming to Alisal, courtesy of Building Healthy Communities.

Provided by the Applied Research Center, the workshop called "Racial equity through media, research and activism" will teach participants how "race framing directly impacts and shapes policy imperatives for our communities and to critique racists frames in our media and how to apply racial justice and reframing."

Media portrayal of underserved groups is long been a complaint, so it'll be interesting to see what strategies are proposed to create change. I may have to drop by one of the sessions:

For youth: from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 (in English)
For parents: from 5:30 to 8 pm. Feb. 22 and March 7.

At the Martin Luther King Academy multipurpose room, 925 N Sanborn Rd, Salinas. For more information, call 758-2501 or email

"Cash for College" coming to Alisal High

Students and parents are invited to learn more about grants, scholarships, loans and other financial resources available to ease the cost of college.
Representatives from local colleges and universities will be available to answer questions and assist students with financial aid applications, including Cal Grants.

The event will also include other activities for the entire family. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Alisal High School Gymnasium, 777 Williams Road, Salinas.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb 17 is the magic date

Deadline to apply for a film scholarship, for a talent contest, and to reserve a spot for a presentation about the future of higher education is Feb. 17.

* The last day to apply to the Monterey County Film Commission Film Student Scholarship & Awards Program is "the magic date." There's one $2,000 or two $1,000 awards available for students of film or beginning filmmakers residing in Monterey County. Click here for more info.

* "Magic date" is also coming for the Teen Talent Extravaganza contest organized by the Youth Commission of Salinas. The event will take place at 7 pm. Feb. 24, but participants need to register by Feb. 17. Call 758-7306. For middle and high school students. All participants must attend dress rehearsal on February 21, 2012.

* Kathy Cruz-Uribe, Provost at CSUMB, will speak about the future of higher education at 11:30 a.m. February 25 at the Rancho Canada Club House, 4860 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. Reservation deadline is Feb. 17, 2012. To make your reservation call: 622-0425.
Uribe's presentation will address national concerns about systematic changes taking place at U.S. universities, prompted by technology, demographic, and economic changes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monterey Bay Aquarium to receive education award

Six California museums have been selected to receive the inaugural award for excellence in museum education, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of them.

The six awardees were chosen by California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson to recognize the achievements in museum programs that benefit K-12 students or educators. The Aquarium was chosen for its WATCH program -- Watsonville Area Teen Conserving Habitats, a year long program for high school students to conduct research, community outreach, and other activities specific to ocean conservation.

Also in the list are:

The Autry Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum
The Museum of Contemporary Art
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Santa Mónica Museum of Art

The winning organizations will be presented with their awards at an awards luncheon in Berkeley this Friday as part of the California Association of Museums’ annual conference.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hartnell to have special meeting to discuss presidential search

Hartnell trustees have scheduled a special meeting to discuss the presidential search process at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. You may recall I reported last week faculty members have said the process is now tainted because Pamila Fisher, the consultant hired to find presidential candidates, helped place the president of San Joaquin Delta College when he was undergoing troubles at his previous job, and now he's been placed on leave after only nine months on the job.

The meeting appears to be scheduled after some board members expressed concern about the search process, spokeswoman Terri Pyer said. Fisher is not expected to be present, but she may phone in.

The meeting will be held at the usual place, CALL building 208.

Monterey Bay and CORAL charters back again at MCOE

Monterey County Office of Education administrators are recommending a hearty approval of the Monterey Bay Charter School in Pacific Grove, citing its "sound educational practice." The school had also earned rave reviews about its money management, so the commendation to renew its charter status by another five years hardly comes as a surprise.

Another charter that will have its day under the sun -- or rain, most likely on Wednesday -- is CORAL. As I previously reported, CORAL petitioners asked MPUSD to deny its charter in December rather than approve it with conditions. They didn't want to face the possibility of a denial with no time to open in the fall, so now they'll take their chances with MCOE administrators -- who they describe as friendly, cooperative, and open to their idea.

Monterey Bay Charter's scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CORAL's for 5:30 p.m. The MCOE board of trustees meets at 901 Blanco Circle, Salinas.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy centennial, Monterey County public libraries

The Monterey Count Free Public Libraries will host their centennial celebration launch party Saturday, with lots of activities centered around a burro. Turns out Anne Haddon, first Monterey County librarian, delivered books by burro to Big Sur. Back then, it used to take her a looooong time to arrive.

Boy, have we traveled far!

Celebrations begin at 12:45 p.m. with music by Bayside Jazz, followed by speeches, cake cutting, and open house activities. There will even be Zumba at 3:30! Party will take place at the Marina branch library, 190 Seaside Circle.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Boys & Girls Club names its "Youth of the Year"

Khasandra Ayon, a 17-year-old Seaside resident, has been recognized for her leadership skills with the distinction of "Youth of the Year" by the Boys & Girls Club of Monterey County.

Khasandra Ayon now goes on to compete for the Northern California area council title and $1,000 scholarship.

Khasandra is a natural leader, writes Robert Mendoza of the Boys & Girls Club. "As President of our Keystone Club ... Khasandra has motivated other youth to serve their Club and community -- organizing service projects that include exceeding fundraising goals for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and successfully fundraising so that Keystone Members, including herself, were able to represent BGCMC at that Boys & Girls Clubs of America's National Keystone Conference in Florida."

Khasandra received a paid internship at the club and she "very quickly set herself apart from other Interns," Mendoza writes. "She moved beyond basic assignment of general role modeling and supervision of younger members to proposing and initiating a journalism and writing club."

"I am proud and happy for Khasandra as she takes the next steps in achieving her goal of obtaining a California College of the Arts higher education," said Boys & Girls Club president Donna Ferraro. "Khasandra has overcome many family hardships and worked hard for this achievement. She is well on her way to pursuing her dream of being a published author and developing her passion for writing into a career that contributes to the greater good."

Of Hartnell and MPC presidents...

As figure heads, college presidents evoke lots of emotion. Whether it is about how they're hired or how much they make, all involved want to have a say on their college leaders.

No, MPC's Doug Garrison did not get a raise, as a student had heard. He's still making about $240,000 a year, even after taking a pay cut like the rest of the college personnel. A reader who identified himself/herself as "lrelgart" wrote on my blog:

"Ah. Good to know. As a student at MPC and a parent of a child here, I think he should reduce his salary by a $100,000 a year so that school programs can have the funding to continue our education."

Trustees will tell you it's probably impossible to hire a college president in California for $140,000 a year. Why would anybody want to come to Monterey, one of the most expensive areas in the state, to earn that much to lead a 10,000 student organization, when they could go elsewhere and make almost twice as much? It's not going to happen. And I understand the feelings behind it -- heck, I'd love to make $140,000, but unfortunately, my credentials would not be sufficient to lead an organization like MPC.

But precisely because they make so much money, and have such a strong influence in the destinies of their institutions, is why people get so emotionally involved with the process to select them. As well they should.

Hartnell faculty say the process to hire a new president has become tainted, after they found out the consultant retained to find candidates helped place a controversial educator at San Joaquin Delta College. At Delta, teachers and employees are terribly upset with the tenure of Jeff Marsee, who was placed on leave last week after only nine months on the job.

"I am upset at the fact that the Trustees chose Dr. Marsee and didn't do their own research aside from obtaining information from the consultant(s) who recommended him," wrote Claudia Navarro, an office assistant at Delta, in an email.

The moral of the story? No matter how Hartell decides to go about finding its new president, it'd be much better if an independent investigation is conducted on the final candidates. That would be a lot better than ending up with a bad president and nine months down the drain.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Black History month

don't miss the programming the Media Center for Art and Education Technology of the Monterey County Office of Education has put together to honor our African American communities.

Programs include

  • Soul Music By The Bay 2010 – featuring performances by Leanne Robinson, Blayze, Big Brooklyn Red, Traffik Noize and more.
  • Voices and Visions: Langston Hughes – Hughes is one of the best poets who ever lived in the United States. Enough said.
  • Local Legends: Helen Rucker – Rucker, a lifelong educator and community activist, discusses race, politics and the importance of knowing ancestral history.
  • Arts in the Schools: African American Artists of Monterey County – The Arts in the Schools series proudly spotlights African-Americans honor students involved in the performing arts in Monterey County.
  • The Seaside Cultural Arts Group Presents a Tribute to Black History Month – Recorded live last Feb. 11.

Programming may be viewed on the following channels:

  • Charter Cable Channel 8 in Gonzales and Soledad
  • Charter Cable Channel 17 in North Monterey County
  • Charter Cable Channel 29 in Greenfield and King City
  • Comcast Cable Channel 26 in the Salinas and Monterey Peninsula areas
  • Digital Channel 38.2 (over the air)

KinderJam's founder El Brown wins Army Spouse of the Year

El Brown, a Monterey resident and wife of Maj. Ricky Brown, bested four other candidates vying for the "2012 Army Spouse of the Year" title.

KinderJam, an energetic way for little tykes to learn, was founded by El out of her experiences of teaching her son. We profiled Brown here.

Brown now is going for the "Military Spouse of the Year" award, which is sponsored by Military Spouse Magazine. Voting begins Feb. 14 here. Stay tuned for the results.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ever wonder what tests really mean?

Find out during this free workshop at Chartwell School.

Licensed educational psychologist John Aulenta will review the bell curve and discuss the types of educational assessments and what they measure. He will relate this information to specific learning styles and explain how this data is used to determine a student’s learning style.

The workshop will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at Chartwell School, McMahan Hall, 2511 Numa Watson, Seaside, CA
For more information contact Kristen Atkins at 831.394.3468 extension 1012 or

Expect fireworks tonight at Hartnell's board meeting

Not everyone's happy with the firm Hartnell trustees selected to conduct the search for a new president.

It appears the consultant was instrumental in the hiring of a controversial president in northern California, and our locals fear this consultant will try to pawn said controversial president on our local college.

Stay tuned.

Congratulations Jose Hernández of Alisal and Buena Vista Middle School

East Salinas youth leader Jose Hernandez was selected to attend the launch of Lady Gaga's Born this Way Foundation in Harvard University of Feb. 29. Jose will be representing East Salinas Building Healthy Communities, and will be among 13 other young adults representing other communities in California with similar program.

A native of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, Jose has been an Alisal resident for seven years. He's attending Cal State Monterey Bay majoring in Collaborative Health & Human Services, with a minor in Spanish. He works and is a mentor to East Salinas youth in after school programming at the Alisal Family Resource Center. Sounds like he has a very interesting story that I'll get around to telling one of these days.

Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta formed the Born this Way Foundation "to build a brave new world where humanity and kindness are embraced, where youth are empowered, and where intolerance is eliminated."

And now, back to Buena Vista Elementary

The "BV Scientists" - Buena Vista Middle School have been named winners of the second round of the fifth annual Lexus Eco Challenge. Their project, which aims to improve air quality and reduce air pollution through reduced use of fossil fuels, won them $10,000.

As part of the award, the BV Scientists have secured an invitation to participate in the final phase of the contest, with a chance to win one of two $30,000 grand prizes and eight $15,000 first-place awards.

For each of the challenges, teams are required to define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results.

Way to go, Bobcats!

Monday, February 6, 2012

MPC's Doug Garrison did NOT get a recent raise

An alert student of Monterey Peninsula College called to share some rumors that President Doug Garrison had just received a pay raise. Funny, I thought, since I didn't see a review on the agenda (that's when usually superintendents get raises). And I sort of remembered he'd gotten a pay cut, along with the rest of the staff, when budget cuts hit.

So I called Barbara Lee, associate dean of human resources, and she confirmed Garrison has NOT received a pay increase.

Garrison's annual salary is $240,557.56 -- the same since July 1, when he took a 2 percent pay cut. Garrison also declined to take the 5 percent raise specified in his contract during his August annual review, so he's making 7 percent less he could have been making if the economy was rosier.

CSUMB students gear up for statewide march against budget cuts

There was fun to be had today at CSUMB when the clubs spread out their tables and information on the great lawn, and talked about all that's fun happening on campus.

There was the Asian Pacific Islander Association -- cheerfully represented by Ryan Johnson, business major, and Jeffrey Park, kinesiology major. Then there was Johna Sneider, modeling the outdoor gear you'd probably need if you joined the outdoor adventure club.

But there was some serious business too. A box with petitions to Gov. Jerry Brown is making the CSU rounds, and students had a chance to write their personal stories. Dubbed "The Buck Starts Here," students write their stories on facsimile copies of $750 million dollar bills with the photo of Brown on them. They will be delivered to the guv when a statewide march reaches Sacramento on March 5. A rehearsal march is being planned on campus for March 1.

The Matsiko World Orphans Choir is coming to Marina

And organizers need host families for them.

The Matsiko choir will visit the Central Coast from Feb. 13 to 17, and organizers with the city of Marina are looking for families who can host three people each (two children and one adult) for five days and four nights. Contact Darlena Ridler, volunteer coordinator, at or 384-1968. Deadline to apply is Wednesday.

Kip and Jay Hudson chosen for the MPC president's award

Every year, Monterey Peninsula College president Doug Garrison honors a community member for his/her work for the college and the community. This year, the chosen ones were Kip and Jay Hudson for "their years of civic leadership and community volunteerism. They have distinguished themselves in our community and on our campus and are close friends of MPC," Garrison said in a statement.

Kip was one of the original founders of the MPC Foundation and served as their first volunteer Office Manager. Jay recently served on the college’s bond expenditure Citizen’s Oversight Committee and is currently on the Investment Committee of the Foundation.

The Hudson's will be honored during the 2012 President's address to the community on May 4 at the Monterey Convention Center. Garrison will also present his "state of the college" address.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A peek into Monterey charters

Two local charters get good marks, one will get a chance to talk about it Saturday, and another wants to meet you

Representatives with the Bay View Academy charter gave an update on what the school has accomplished in its first year of operation. So far, so good, it appears. After an initial bump that pushed them to change principals early in the school year, veteran administrator John Favero took over and everything seems to be running smoothly now. MCOE trustees sounded pleased during their report Wednesday morning. Well, except for the fact that the charter is serving fewer English language learners than even Bay View Elementary had -- which were already fewer than the district as a whole, and trustees Francisco Estrada and David Serena had concerns about that.

There were also good news for Monterey Bay Charter in Pacific Grove, whose yearly audit was completed and raised no red flags. The school's well managed, it has a very healthy reserve -- much healthier than some school districts, Assistant Superintendent of Business Garry Bousum said.

Monterey Bay's Director Cassandra Gallup-Bridge said the reserve is accomplished by being thrifty. We meet our budget but we don't give our staff raises, she said. Ouch. Who would do something like that?

And speaking of Monterey Bay, they're having open houses in two sites. The kindergarten open house will take place from 10 to noon Saturday at the Seaside Children’s Center, 1450 Elm Street in Seaside. The school’s main campus will hold an open house for grades 1-8 from 10 to noon Saturday at 1004 David Avenue, Pacific Grove.

The school's taking applications for openings in the next school year. Openings will be filled beginning in April through random drawing. Enrollment forms are available here, and at the school office at 1004 David Avenue, Pacific Grove.

CORAL Academy, a group of parents organizing to form a charter school, will have a picnic to inform the public about their charter. They don't have charter status yet or a site, but they sure have energy and hopes to begin classes in the fall. The group will gather from 11 am to 2 pm. Saturday, February 11 at the Lakeside Area in Laguna Grande Park, on the corner of Canyon Del Rey Boulevard and Harcourt Avenue. Visit the group's website or call them at 831-272-2818 for more information.