Friday, July 29, 2016

Hartnell gets $2.3 million grant to help migrant students get high school diploma

The U.S. Department of Education has just awarded a five-year, $2.3 million grant to Hartnell Community College for its High School Equivalency Program, which helps seasonal farmworkers and their children to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The grant will also fund programs to help graduates gain employment, receive job training, and apply for postsecondary education.

“A good education is the pathway to success,” Congressman Sam Farr (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Farmworkers and their families are incredibly important members of our Central Coast community and I’m very pleased to support this program to help them better their lives.”

Hartnell’s high school equivalency program was recently ranked in the top five best performing programs in the United States with an above 90 percent graduation rate.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MPC trustees hold special meeting

And there are only two items on the agenda: whether to place a bond in the November ballot and whether the board approves the self-evaluation report that's to be delivered to the Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community Colleges. The accrediting team is scheduled to visit MPC in October.

It's still unclear how much would the college be asking in bonds or what the money would be used for, so attending the meeting could help to find out. Stay tuned.

The meeting takes place at 2 p.m. at the MPC library.

Stuff the Bus still short of backpacks!

The United Way, the driver of the Stuff the Bus campaign, is reminding community members of the great need there is to help needy children go back to school.

The campaign needs an additional 800 backpacks to meet their goal to provide new, fully stocked backpacks for local students who are homeless and cannot afford the required school supplies. $20 buys a new, fully stuffed backpack.

You can donate online here
You can text "StuffBus" to 313131 to donate - $20 buys a fully stuffed backpack.
And to spread the message, share your support of Stuff the Bus on social media and challenge your friends to help. Use #StuffBus.

Helping kids stay in school is the best way we have to promote a peaceful, educated community.  Backpacks will be distributed throughout the county by the homeless liaisons for each school district in partnership with the Monterey County Office of Education.

Soledad parents want different leadership

Trustees with the Soledad Unified School District will hold a regular meeting on Wednesday, when they're schedule to discuss routine matters -- such as approving minutes -- and not so ordinary, such as discussing the FCMAT report on possible fraud by top administrators.

If you're not quite caught up with what's happening, here's links to my previous stories here, here and here.

Trustees are also scheduled to discuss possible terminations, resignations, etc, during closed session. Unlike their previous meeting, no administrators are being named for possible evaluation.

In the meantime, we've received a letter that describes the community's unhappiness with the board's selection of Jorge Guzman to remain at the helm of the district. Here it is, for your reading pleasure.

Dear Editor,

We, the parents of students of Soledad Unified School District, are requesting an interim superintendent that is NOT a current employee of the district. We believe is needed to begin the rebuilding process not only with the community and staff but the school board as well. Clearly you were misleading as we were. We believe that Mr. Guzman is not the person for the job. He may not be named in the investigation, but we feel he either had knowledge and did not act or was a willing participant by not stopping it or alerting personal of the problem. It is difficult to rebuild relationships with staff and parents when there is no trust. An interim superintendent outside of the Soledad district can begin to build trust and begin to put procedures in place in order to rectify the problems and “status quo procedures and attitude towards staff and community.” This outside person also would also be able to make sure hiring procedures and qualifications for jobs were also met and terminate all personnel who were involved in the misappropriation of funds or covering up for those who did.

We also feel independent audits are needed on all accounts including general fund, LCAP, Main Street Middle School building, College and Career pathways grant etc so the board and the entire community can be assured of no other irregularities. We have learned that our current CBO left his former district where the superintendent and CBO were accused of financial fraud and that district was left almost bankrupt. The similarities between the district of San Ysidro and our district are haunting San-Ysidro- Superintendent-Emails- To- Staff-217482801.html Ysidro-Superintendent- Manuel-Paul- Sentenced- 288478541.html embattled-superintendent/ 

Linkedin Profile: a407708?authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=gG0f&locale=en_US&trk=tyah&trkInfo=clickedVerti cal%3Amynetwork%2CclickedEntityId%3A25776336%2CauthType%3ANAME_SEARCH%2Cidx%3A 1-1- 1%2CtarId%3A1468619173676%2Ctas%3Acesar%20vega

In order to rebuild and go forward, we must know and the board must know where we stand financially. Transparency will be the key to rebuilding trust. Unfortunately too many left in charge in the district office are still part of the problem. Until what part they played is known, an independent audit needs to be done as well as hiring an interim superintendent who is not an current employee of the district can begin the changes needed to rebuild this district. Our children only get one chance at a quality education they so deserve. Monies need to be spent on programs and resources they need to be successful in the future.

While the financial issues are the main concern, it not our only concern. We believe that many of the changes Dr. Boyd made have been detrimental to our students and their education. This includes the loss of highly skilled teachers, quality district staff, and support staff that have left us to and gone to other districts. We are concerned with the lack of discipline on several of the school sites and lack of support for teachers, the lack of progress with our ELL learners, the lack of data to support if growth was made or even if a target goal was used. We have so many people at the district office paid from LCAP with no data to support if they are even needed and what they are truly in charge of. We want to be part of the process to help decide LCAP instead of waiting for it to be approved to see what was written. We must work together to make this district what it was and can be again. We are here to work and get involved. We are asking our elected officials for help in making sure this happens.

Thank you

Parents of Soledad

CSUMB hosts "Better Together: California Teachers Summit" this Friday

Cal State Monterey Bay will host the Better Together: California Teachers Summit for the Monterey Bay region from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Tanimura and Antle library.

CSUMB is one of 38 universities statewide that will host the summit. Thousands of pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade teachers will convene across multiple locations in a statewide effort to help them learn from each other and share best practices in implementing the new California Standards. A team that includes CSU faculty experts on the new standards is planning the resources, tools and strategies to be presented.

The following speakers are included for the CSUMB summit location:

Kelly Gallagher, teacher, author, coach and the summit’s first keynote speaker. Gallagher has been dedicated to helping students become better readers and writers since 1985. He is considered one of the leading voices in literacy education.

Jilian Epstein, science educator at El Sausal Middle School in Salinas. Epstein also serves the Educational Director for the Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education. Her passions include constructing hands-on bilingual science and social justice activities for her students and community.

Alessandro Tani, resource teacher, case manager and department chair for Special Education at Marina High School. Tani’s highest priority is bringing together families and educational communities to develop individualized educational plans.

The free summit is a California State University partnership with the New Teacher Center and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and its member institutions. It is supported by $3.5 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. CSUMB’s College of Education is coordinating the local event.

All California teachers, teacher candidates and school administrators are invited to participate. Registration is available online here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stanley Uchiyama honored for his teaching career

Stan Uchiyama, retired agriculture education teacher from North Salinas High School, was recently inducted into the California Agriculture Teacher's Association Hall of Fame.

The California Agriculture Teachers Association has 800 teachers and 95 members permanently featured in the Hall of Fame at the organization's headquarters in Galt, Calif.

Known as Mr. U among students, Uchiyama spent 41 years teaching at North Salinas High. He was also recognized in 2014 with the Steinbeck Center's Valley of the World Awards in the education category  for his teaching and efforts to inspire life long learning.

Congratulations, Mr. Uchiyama!

Boys & Girls Clubs to showcase STEAM projects

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County will have on display projects produced by its members at a STEAM Showcase at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 28.

Both Salinas and Seaside Clubhouses are participating in the STEAM Showcase at their respective locations. The showcase is a culmination of the clubs’ summer programming; curriculum designed to prevent summer learning loss and keep kids on track to succeed in school.

The showcase will feature projects focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), which includes member artwork, interactive games, tech and science projects, and more. Parents, educators, and community members are invited to attend the showcase.

The Seaside club is at 1332 La Salle Ave, Seaside.

The Salinas club is at 85 Maryal Dr, Salinas.

For more information about the STEAM Showcase click here or call (831) 394-5171 ext. 229.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hartnell President Willard Lewallen honored by Salinas administrators

Hartnell College Superintend/President Willard Lewallen was presented with the "Forbes Impact Award" during the Forbes AgTech Summit in Downtown Salinas on July 14.

Lewallen was recognized for his leadership in education, as exemplified by the Computer Science in three years program in partnership with CSUMB.

The Forbes Impact Awards are granted each summit to individuals who are leading, innovating, and pushing boundaries in their given field. Previous recipients of the Forbes Impact Award include Malala Yousafzai, Bruce Taylor, Liz Scott, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Veronika Scott, The Empowerment Plan, and Brian Antle.

This is the second year the Forbes AgTech Summit is held in Salinas. This year, it drew more than 600 attendees from all over the globe and offered a number of talks and seminars, Innovation Showcase, tours, film screenings, and more.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Soledad Unified to hold special meeting Thursday

And there are only two items to be discussed. An evaluation of the superintendent and the release or dismissal of an employee.

It does not  bode well for the superintendent, who was portrayed in a very unflattering light a few weeks ago when the Fiscal & Crisis Management Team issued a report that declared fraud had  possibly been committed.  If you want to read my story in the Herald, click here.

Futher complicating the matters for this woman is the fact that there are some top educational officials -- and I mean, TOP -- actively lobbying to displace Rupi Boyd, according to my very reliable source, Scuttlebutt. S/he tells me the votes are already lined up to get rid of her: 3-2. Do I smell a Brown Act Violation? Oh boy, will that be a fun Public Records Request.

Scuttlebutt also tells me a second story I wrote about the matter, detailing the fact that Boyd inherited a somewhat messy district, is ruffling the wrong feathers (as evidenced by an email I got from a very discombobulated councilmember).  Top county officials knew about the  less-than-sterling Soledad Unified School District, as a report was written only six months after Boyd took office, detailing what problems needed to be addressed. But according to another top county official, the district was "exemplary" before Boyd took office.

That should make another interesting story.

It'll be fascinating to see how Boyd reacts if she indeed gets fired, without haven't gotten her due process through the District Attorney. Scuttlebutt is just going nuts about the political machinations going on behind the scenes. I think I should take a peek.

Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. I wish I could be there, but I'll be relying on Scuttlebutt to learn all about it. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Host families sought for visiting children from China and Korea

International education company Education First is seeking families in Monterey County to host children ages 10-13 from China and Korea for a few weeks from July 28 – August 16. There will be a weekly stipend of $100 for each Host Family and 24/7 support. Students will be involved in education and other activities from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm Monday – Friday and can be dropped at one of many bus stops. They will also take a field trip to Los Angeles on one of the weekends.

There is a special Host Family orientation at the Portola Plaza Hotel, after a home visit has been made, on July 24 from 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Host families get a chance to have a unique cultural experience and showcase their community to the visiting students. They will also play an important part in the students' cultural experiences abroad. Students come here in hopes of improving their English skills through language courses and by speaking with their host families on a daily basis.

To host a child or for more information about Education First, call Russell Stearns at 831-205-9729 or email

CSUMB and MPUSD receive grant to prepare new teachers

Cal State Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula Unified School District have been awarded a grant by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to expand training for new K-8 teachers in implementing the state’s math and science standards.

CSUMB will get $600,000, and is among 11 California State University campuses earning S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation grants.

The grant will support CSUMB and Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in developing a shared vision for teacher preparation and professional growth. It will serve to support candidates, inductees, and new teachers’ understanding and implementation of research-based practices in Common Core State Standards - Math (CCSS-M) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) classroom instruction.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Marina youngsters going to the World Series!

For the first time in the history of Marina Pony Baseball, the Shetland Division (6 and under) won the West Zone Coast Regional Championship and earned a berth to the NorCal World Series and Shetland SoCal World Series Finals in Simi Valley, California.

The fourteen players (all five and six years old) worked incredibly hard to achieve their goals both on the field and in the classroom. Early on these players bought into the goal and learned that they could achieve more together as a team than alone as individuals.

Now the team needs the community's help to pay for travel expenses and lodging during the Shetland World Series Finals in Simi Valley on July 15-18.

When the youngsters are not playing, Coach Alade is planning to take the children visit colleges in Southern California.

"Introducing our players to college campuses at a young age is important to their development as young men and women and will help them become excited about college at a young age," team organizers wrote in their GoFundMe page. "We emphasize the connection between the hard work on the baseball field and the commitment necessary to be equally successful in the classroom."

These youngsters's hard work deserves to be recognized! Help spread the word to help them on their journey! To donate to their cause, click here.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

CSUMB Director of Admissions Recognized for Efforts in Diversity Recruitment

A Cal State Monterey Bay administrator was honored recently month for his efforts to increase student diversity during recruitment and admission.

CSUMB Director of Admissions David Linnevers was awarded the Joseph P. Allen Human Relations Award from the Western Association of College Admissions Counseling on June 2. The award was announced during the organization's annual conference at Loyola Marymount University. The honor is presented to an individual who has encouraged and supported traditionally underrepresented students in the transition from high school to college.

In 2009, Linnevers initiated a partnership with the CSUMB Early Outreach and Support Programs, the Region 16 California Migrant Education division, the CSUMB College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), the Salinas YWCA and migrant education programs in local school districts to improve college attendance rates for Spanish-speaking migrant families. The outcome was increased communication and “Dia De Los Padres,” a reception and information session specifically for Spanish-speaking parents of incoming and prospective students.

“To be recognized for the work I've poured my heart and soul into over the last 20 years and to be in the company of so many previous award winners, is truly humbling,” Linnevers said in a statement. “The students’ hope for a better future, a desire to achieve greatness and fortitude in the midst of sometimes overwhelming obstacles continues to motivate me to work even harder to ensure they will attend a university, get a degree and seek their own fortunes and happiness.”

Friday, July 1, 2016

Salinas Union High Dan Burns heading to Daly City

Dan Burns, associate superintendent of instructional services in the Salinas Union High School District, will become the next superintendet at Jefferson Union High School District in Daly City starting July 1.

Burns, 46, spent most of his educational career at the Salinas district, serving in a variety of positions as teacher, assistant principal, principal, and most recently in the district office. He worked at Seaside High School for a year before coming to Salinas 25 years ago.

"As I’m reflecting on leaving the area grew up in -- Seaside and Marina -- I can’t believe what we’ve done in last 26 years," Burns said. "I had a lot of people inspiring me to grow professionally. That helps. I learned from my parents that you get involved in the community and you serve other people. We’ve been active in athletic programs, dance programs and all kinds of staff through the years. I'm Looking for a new adventure and I’m sure the city will allow us to venture."

Among the accolades he's earned, Burns was recognized by the Association of California School Administrators as the High School Principal of the Year in 2011 and as the Curriculum and Instruction Superintendent of the Year in 2016. Burns has been a presenter for WestEd, the Central Coast Section Sportsmanship Committee, and the Association of California School Administrators.

Additionally, Mr. Burns is an all-around cool guy who returns my phone calls promptly and feeds me cool stories about the kids. Plus, he doesn't take it personally when I have to report on the nasty stuff.

Good luck, Mr. Burns. Salinas is sure going to miss you.


Dan Moirao to stay as superintendent of South Monterey County Joint Union High School District

Starting Friday, the South Monterey County Joint Union High School District has returned to local control.

But that does not mean the district will lose its state-appointed administrator. Dan Moirao, who has been at the helm of the district since 2012, will remain as superintendent for a year.

“It’s been a lot of work but we finally regained local control,” Moirao said. “We’re fiscally solvent, we graduated more students from our two comprehensive high schools than in the (previous) decade and we’re very pleased with that. More students have reclassified from English learners, the drop out rates are falling significantly. Those are good indicators. Maybe we've done something right.”

South Monterey County, formerly King City Union High, was placed under state receivership in 2009, after the district needed a $13 million loan to cover its future debts. The state appointed an administrator and it was supposed to remain under its control until the debt was fully paid.

Although the debt has not been fully repaid (there are still about $11 million outstanding), the district has a good repayment plan, Moirao said. The district will remain under trusteeship until the debt is paid, but the newly appointed state trustee will only have veto power over financial decisions. The local board will be able to make non-financial decision independently of the trustee.

Newly appointed Linda Grundhofher, who has been in King City before, “could rescind any decision the board makes that has the potential to put the district into financial trouble again,” Moirao said. “But just on the finances. As state administrators I was in complete controls of everything.”

Moirao said the local board will begin looking for a permanent superintendent within the next year.