Thursday, September 15, 2016

Santa Rita Superintendent to get a four-year contract, and a $40,000 salary increase?

Expect fireworks tonight during the Santa Rita Union School District board meeting, as trustees are expected to consider -- approve? -- a four-year contract extension with their current superintendent, and provide what's being described as at $40,000 salary increase " to more closely align with comparable districts," according to a board report.

Interestingly, the contract extension report is not included in the agenda online for tonight's meeting. And it does not provide the superintendent's current salary, so for now I can't verify whether the increase is indeed $40,000. If you want to look at the agenda yourself and see if I missed something, here it is.

I don't think I can go to tonight's meeting, but I'm certainly curious about the outcome. I'll keep you posted. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Governor Brown signs bill to establish ethnic studies as an elective in California high schools

Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2016, which will for the first time establish a model ethnic studies curriculum for use in California’s public and charter high schools.

It’s the first legislation of its kind in the nation, creating a statewide model curriculum for ethnic studies, and countering trends seen in other states that are abolishing or restricting ethnic studies courses, most recently in Arizona.

“This is historic,” said in a statement Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who authored the bill. “I thank the governor for recognizing the importance and value of having ethnic studies available to our students."

A study published earlier this year by the Stanford Graduate School of Education found that students at risk of dropping out who took ethnic studies courses improved their attendance and academic performance significantly, especially Latino students, Alejo said.

AB 2016 had bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature. This legislation directs the California Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and the State Board of Education (SBE) to develop and adopt a model ethnic studies curriculum, to serve as guide for local school districts to adapt their coursework to reflect the student demographics in their communities.

This curriculum will be developed with participation from faculty of ethnic studies programs at California universities and public school teachers who have a background in teaching ethnic studies.

AB 2016 directs the IQC to draft and submit a model curriculum to the SBE by June 30, 2019 and the SBE to adopt a model curriculum by Nov. 30, 2019.

Once adopted, school districts and charter schools that don’t already have a standards-based ethnic studies program would be encouraged to offer a course based on the model curriculum to high school students as a social sciences or English language arts elective.

“The development of a comprehensive ethnic studies curriculum acknowledges the diversity of California, which has the most ethnically diverse public school student body in the nation,” Alejo said. “Ethnic studies are not just for students of color. We should give all students the opportunity to prepare for a diverse global economy, diverse university campuses and diverse workplaces.”

Renown wild life photographer offering a free photography workshop for teen girls

Renowned professional wildlife photographer, Suzi Eszterhas, is offering a free wildlife photography workshop for teen girls.

Eszterhas wants to offer this opportunity to girls between the age of 13-18 in an effort to encourage more girls to enter the male-dominated field of wildlife photography.

The workshop will take place in Moss Landing, California, on November 6th, 2016.

“Wildlife photography is such a male-dominated field. It is my hope that this free workshop might spark a few young girls to make the dream of being a wildlife photographer into a reality," Eszterhas said in a statement. "Making it in this field takes confidence and persistence, which teenage girls don’t always have. When I was a teen, my life took many crazy turns - boys, family instability, etc - and there were a few landmark moments with professional women in various fields that helped to keep me from becoming totally lost and stay the course. Maybe the next generation of wildlife photographers will include more women”.

The event is part of Eszterhas new initiative to encourage more women to enter the field of wildlife photography. The day includes a photography lesson and a picnic lunch, followed by a private boat charter on the Elkhorn Slough to photograph sea otters, seals and birds.

All girls must have their own transportation to Moss Landing, and must bring their own camera (this can be an SLR, point and shoot, or even a tablet or phone). There will be two slots for low-income girls (in which camera gear and transportation will be provided).

There are 15 spaces available. Applicants must apply Oct 15th by email to For more information about the photographer, visit her website here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

MPUSD hosts town hall meetings to discuss bond projects

Administrators with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District will host three town hall meetings to discuss projects completed with Measure P money and a proposal to spend the unspent funds.

Approximately $55 million in bond funds remains on the district's Measure P bond measure. Measure P was passed by over 71 percent of district voters in 2010. School facilities throughout the district are in need of significant modernization and upgrade due to age and programmatic need.

The meetings will take place:

Thursday, September 15 at 6 p.m. in the Cove at Marina High School, 298 Patton Pkwy., Marina.
Monday, September 19 at 6 p.m. in the library at Seaside High School, 2200 Noche Buena St., Seaside
Thursday, September 22 at 6 p.m. in the Monterey Cafe at Monterey High, 101 Herrmann Dr., Monterey

For more information, visit the district's website here.