School board snippets: Talented teachers, Preppy K update and advice for mayor candidates

Christian Albizu builds structures with blocks during center

Here are some highlights from the Sept. 21 Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education meeting. Click here to view the full agenda. 

Mayoral candidates: Want GUSD’s vote? Here’s how to get it

During Thursday’s school board meeting, GUSD trustee Mark Good read an excerpt from a recent Gilroy Dispatch story on the upcoming Gilroy mayoral elections. The excerpt reads:

“(Mayoral candidate Don Gage) believes the City and Gilroy Unified School District need to work together, and that GUSD’s budget crisis is a ‘community problem,’ not just a school board problem. ‘If you’re not dealing with it as a community, you’re making a mistake,’ said Gage.”

“That’s refreshing,” said Good, looking up from his iPad. “Those are the types of attitudes and beliefs we need to be looking for in the people who are going to be leading our community.”

The district wants to know where mayoral candidates Dion Bracco, Don Gage and Peter Arellano are oriented in terms of: “Do they think the Gilroy schools exist all by themselves in some other entity and have no other effect on what happens in the City of Gilroy?” pressed Good. “If that’s what they think, that’s not (the kind of person) we want elected in the City of Gilroy.”

Maritza Salcido: GUSD ‘Teacher of the Year’

The Gilroy Unified School District honored its “Teacher of the Year” Thursday evening at district offices, where long-time GUSD employee Maritza Salcido – an “outstanding” educator who “exemplifies what we’d like to see in all of our teachers” – was honored with flowers and a special plaque.

Salcido taught fourth-grade at Las Animas Elementary, where “her students scored high every year,” noted GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores.

Salcido is “so good,” in fact, that the district recruited her for a position at South Valley Middle School working in the dual immersion program, a bilingual education curriculum where instruction is done in both English and Spanish. Salcido will also be coordinating kindergarten through 12th-grade dual immersion programs for the district.

“Children that are fortunate enough to have her as their teacher are truly blessed,” said Flores. “It’s a privilege to be able to recognize Maritza. I can’t think of anyone more deserving because of the tremendous leadership she’s shown.”

Salcido said she is “blessed and fortunate” to have worked with so many wonderful students and families. She’s especially thankful for the funding GUSD has put into the dual immersion program at a time when “so many programs in the district are being cut.”

“I’ve become the teacher that I’ve become because of working in this district,” she said.

Preppy K update: GUSD rocks, basically

GUSD received some major kudos for its recently implemented Transitional Kindergarten program Thursday night from Lisa Kaufman, director of Early Learning Services at the Santa Clara County Offices of Education.

Kaufman hailed GUSD as “a state example of a model of excellence.”

“To achieve that in one years’ time is frankly phenomenal,” she said.

All California school districts were required to begin phasing in Transitional Kindergarten by 2012-13. Casually referred to by some as “Preppy K,” the program broadens the kindergarten experience by spreading it out over two years. After one year of TK, which focuses on emotional, social and behavioral development through hands-on learning and playful activities, students continue to a year of traditional kindergarten, which places a heavier emphasis on academics.

After GUSD’s Antonio Del Buono Elementary School became one of three schools in Santa Clara County to implement a pilot TK program in 2011, the site “became a model for the entire state of California,” said Marilyn Ayala, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for GUSD. “We had people visiting from throughout the state.”

The class is taught by veteran Gilroy kindergarten teacher Janet Londgren, 58, who was specially trained to spearhead a pilot TK class at Antonio Del Buono this year.

“Londgren did an amazing job,” noted Antonio Del Buono Principal Velia Codiga. “To have visitors in her classroom at least two or three days a week – that’s not easy to do.”

“Kindergarten teachers are very special people,” noted board member Rhoda Bress.

The district discussed its future plans for the expansion of the TK program, which will see more TK classes added to additional GUSD elementary schools in the future.

The creation of TK came hand-in-hand with the Sept. 30, 2010 passage of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 (Senate Bill 1381), which was introduced by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and signed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Prior to the passage of SB 1381, a child was required to turn 5 years old by Dec. 2 in order to enroll in kindergarten.

The bill upped the cutoff birth date for kindergarten eligibility, rolling out the change over a period of three years.

Now, students must turn 5 by Nov. 1, 2012; followed by Oct. 1 in 2013 and Sept. 1 in 2014 to enroll in kindergarten. Learn more about Preppy K.

GUSD state funding crisis: Parcel tax? Sales tax?

After Gilroy City Council voted 4-2 against placing a joint city-school sales tax on the November ballot – a revenue-generating measure with the potential to help GUSD mitigate millions of dollars in state budget cuts – the district’s special committee tasked with discussing additional revenue options continued to brainstorm. A new set of recommendations was presented to the board Thursday night. Recommendations include:

Outreach to City Council members: Board members will be pushing for support of the governor’s Proposition 30 (Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative.) The measure would generate estimated $8.5 billion through the budget year. It will temporarily increase the personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers by up to 3 percent for seven years, and increase the sales tax by 0.25 percent for four years. If this initiative fails, the impact to GUSD will be $4.8 million.

Joint city-school sales tax: GUSD trustees aren’t letting go of the sales tax idea, either. They’ve asked their lawyers continue studying the legality of transferring city sales tax funds to GUSD – something GUSD trustee Mark Good says has been legally achieved in another California school district. This was a major sticking point that had some City Council members wary about placing the measure before Gilroy voters.

• Outreach to parents and the community

• Support the formation of a community SOS Committee to address GUSD’s funding crisis

• Meeting with union leadership members

Daily dose of happy news: New Nooks!

Ramona Trevino, Gilroy High School Education specialist, reported that every student in her special needs class just received a brand new Nook, an eReader tablet produced by Barnes & Nobles. The donation came from the local philanthropic Gilroy Foundation and the Italian Catholic Federation. 

Leave your comments