Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Alisal and Salinas High reach capacity, won't be open to "open enrollment."

Salinas Union High School District administrators have announced that Alisal and Salinas High School will reach capacity with regular enrollment for the 2016-17 year -- which means that these schools will be closed for 'school choice."

The district has a 'school choice' policy, meaning that any student from within the district can apply to transfer to the school of his/her choice when space allows.

A lottery will be held for Everett Alvarez High School for 60 students. The School Choice window begins February 1, 2016. Applications for the 2016-17 school year are available at any district school site. Applications must be completed and returned to the main office of the requested school, no later than 4:00 p.m. on February 26, 2016.

For questions or more information call the pupil personnel services office at (831) 796-6964.

York School and Stevenson seniors, candidates for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Kevin Zamzow-Pollock, a graduating senior at York School, and Teeger L. Blasheck, from Robert L. Stevenson School, are among the 4,000 candidates in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars program.

They're believed to be the only two graduating seniors from Monterey County selected for the recognition.

A panel of educators will review the names and accomplishments of these candidate and select 800 semi-finalists in early April. The commission of Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 citizens appointed by the president, will select the finalists. The U.S. Department of Education will announce up to 161 chosen scholars in May.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors granted upon graduating high school seniors. They’re selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in school activities.

Congratulations, Kevin and Teeger! What a great honor!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

MPUSD schedules townhall meetings to "reimagine" high schools

Some of my readers will remember that I wrote about the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District's new effort to remake their high schools. For a refresher, read here.

The district has announced a series of town hall meetings to get input about the idea. The first one takes place at 6 p.m. today at Seaside Middle School.

Here's a poster with the full listing. See you around!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hartnell brings savings to taxpayers with refinance of Capital Appreciation Bonds

Hartnell administrators recently finished refinancing nearly $95 million in bonds, including some Capital Appreciation Bonds, which can carry a higher-than usual interest rate and could therefore be more costly for taxpayers.

As a result, taxpayers could end up saving $175 million in the long run, Hartnell officials said.

The bonds were approved in 2002 for Measure H to finance college renovations. The money was used to build the library, the student center, the Alisal campus, and the science center.

Capital Appreciation Bonds became an issue in 2012, when it was learned that the Poway Unified School District near San Diego approved issuing a $105 million bond that could ultimately cost local taxpayers about $1 billion to repay. The controversy led to legislation to modify their use, although school districts are still able to use them.

One of the bonds Hartnell used was a CAB, as it's commonly known. Officials always argued the bonds would be financed because their repayment would become too expensive. 

The new bonds were sold with an average interest rate of 4.25 percent with the final maturity of 2049. So at least until then, the taxpayers will be paying for those gleaming buildings.

Cool interactive feature on California's teacher shortage

If you saw my story about the teacher shortage on Wednesday's paper, you'll know the issue  has a lot of people very concerned.

Also, you will remember I mention a study published by the Learning Policy Institute, led by Linda Darling-Hammond. The study predicts the problem could get worse if not tackled soon, and offers some possible solutions. You can find the executive summary here.

What I did not mention was that the study comes with a snazzy, interactive chart of "teacher shortage" indicators, with percentage of teachers older than 50 (30 percent in Monterey County) and the percentage of 'underqualified' teachers (3.5 percent).

You can find it here. Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jacki Cruz is now vice president of advancement and development at Hartnell College

Jackie Cruz, who began working at Hartnell College in 2009 as director of development, has been promoted to vice president of advancement.

“Ms. Cruz's promotion ... is in recognition of her outstanding leadership for the Hartnell College Foundation and her outstanding contributions to innovation through her work in college advancement," said Superintendent Willard Lewallen in a statement. "She has emerged as one of the finest leaders in these areas and is known throughout the state for her creativity, collaboration, and achievements."

Cruz is credited launching a number of programs, including the Salinas Valley Health Professions Pathways Partnership, and two capital campaigns, one for the arts and one for athletics. Under her leadership the college has expanded the Agriculture Institute and worked to increase support for innovation through agriculture and STEM.

Cruz began her career in the non-profit sector 19 years ago at the United Way Monterey County. She was born in Watsonville, and raised in Salinas where she has lived all her life. She serves on the Board of Directors for the YMCA Salinas, Sun Street Centers, Youth Orchestra Salinas, Salinas City Elementary School District Foundation and the California International Airshow. She volunteers for The California Endowment Building Healthy Communities. The Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce named her the 2009 Citizen of the Year making her the youngest recipient of this award.

Congratulations, Jackie! You're a hard worker and caring community member who deserves this recognition and more!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lots of students want to get in CSUMB

A record number of students applied to attend CSU Monterey Bay in the fall 2016 semester, spokeswoman Joan Weiner said in an email.

The university received 16,182 freshmen applications by the Nov. 30 deadline to apply, an increase of almost 5 percent from the previous year.

About 4,180 transfer students applied to attend CSUMB in the fall, a 15.3 percent increase from a year earlier.

Because college officials ask CSU to allow them to limit enrollment, only  about 950 new freshmen and 850 new transfer students will be able to enroll, according to Ronnie Higgs, vice president of student affairs.

There are now 7,102 students enrolled.

Overall, the entire California State University system received a record number of applications for fall enrollment, with more than 830,000 applications submitted by prospective students, a 4.8 percent increase and more than 40,000 applications over last year’s total.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Seaside's Robert Percell heads to Carnagie Hall. Again.

Robert Percell, a junior at Seaside High School, has been selected for the 2016 High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. He will perform on cello during Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary season in February with the Honors Orchestra.

It will be the third time that Robert will join the Honors group, and he's thrilled.

“I’m so excited I will have this opportunity again!" he told Theresa Hruby, artistic director of Seaside High music department. "It’s never going to get old because it’s Carnegie Hall and it’s an amazing experience. I love getting to perform original works by great composers with exceptional musicians from around the world.”

Earlier this school year, Robert auditioned for the Honors Performance Series and was accepted after a review by the Honors Selection Board. Robert will join other performers from all 49 United States, Guam, four Canadian provinces, and a number of foreign countries for a special performance at world-famous Carnegie Hall, a venue that marks the pinnacle of musical achievement.

“Being selected to the Honors Performance Series is something each finalist should be extremely proud of accomplishing," said in a statement Morgan Smith, program director. "We processed more than 18,000 nominations this year and have selected nearly 750 of the most talented student performers from around the world. Working with these conductors and performing at Carnegie Hall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these musicians never forget.”

So far, it's  a thrice-in-a-lifetime kind of experience for Robert.

The cellist has studied cello with Margie Dally of Carmel, since he was five. He is a member of the San Jose Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, which he toured with, performing in Portugal and Spain this past summer.

 Finalists will come together in New York City for five days in February. They will have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned conductors, work with other finalists, and get a taste of New York City. Two performances, an Honors Choral Performance and an Honors Instrumental Performance, will take place February 7, and are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased beginning 60 days prior to the performance through the Carnegie Hall box office.

The Honors Performance Series was created to showcase accomplished individual high school performers on an international level by allowing them to study under master conductors and perform in the celebrated venue, Carnegie Hall.

Congratulations, Robert! Watch him perform in this video my fabulous colleague Vern Fisher took last year.

Miranda Lopez's huge cabbage earns her $1,000

Miranda Lopez was the lucky winner of a $1,000 education bond for having tended and grown a huge cabbage.

The contest is part of a marketing program of Alabama-based Bonnie Plants, which awards one $1,000 scholarship in each state that participates in its National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.

A third grader at Madonna del Sasso School in Salinas, Miranda's 28-lb cabbage was selected as the best in her classroom, and then her name was entered in the statewide drawing, where here name was randomly selected. On Friday, Miranda will be acknowledged for her cabbage and her efforts by local officials and the California Department of Agriculture.

Any third grade teacher can participate in the program. For more information, click here.

More than  67,415 students took place in the contest, which was launched nationally in 2002.

Congratulations, Miranda. It's marvelous to see how living things grow, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!!!!! Send 'The Birds' flying to Hawaii!

Happy New Year! I hope you're recharged and ready to take on the world of education by the horns!

Me? I've resolved to try to be more dutiful in posting to my blog. And to try to be a better-rounded human ;)

How's that for resolutions?

So here's me, posting my first post of the year, and it's about "The Birds."

You may remember that I wrote about a co-production of the Aristophanes classic by Hartnell and Millennium Charter High School Students. If you need a refresher, visit the story here.

Well, it turns out, "The Birds" has been chosen to be featured in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii in February.

"It is a great honor for the college, and the theater department, in particular," said in an email Steve Ettinger, Hartnell's music instructor.

"All of our actors are young students who hope to share their talent and passion with others and inspire creativity," writes Hanne Tonder on the groups fundraising page. "But we need your help to reach our fundraising goals and bring our production to Honolulu."

If you're feeling generous, here's the link to the fundraising page. Go Birds!