Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

March 27, 2013
New planetarium to give students more stargazing opportunities

Is your student a stargazer?

Then you'll want to know about the new StarLab Planetarium, which will be dedicated in a special Sacramento County Office of Education ceremony Tuesday in Pollock Pines.

An inflatable igloo-shaped dome at the Sly Park Environmental Education and Conference Center is designed to accommodate up to 50 students. Inside, a projector displays constellation maps on the dome's ceiling.

Students attending the education program will be able to study the maps and then use the center's observatory telescopes for more hands-on stargazing.

March 25, 2013
Oak Ridge teacher and coach named Educator of the Year

clip_image002.jpgOak Ridge High School's Steve Seely is the best high school teacher in the state, according to the California League of High Schools.

Seely, a social studies teacher and tennis coach at the El Dorado Hills high school, has been been named Educator of the Year by the statewide organization.

The veteran reform-minded teacher said he's "embarrassed and shy" about the award.

"I've never been comfortable with the idea of teachers competing for awards ...," he said in a prepared statement. "Teaching is a democratic, egalitarian profession, and what I would highlight is that what teachers do is special. I feel honored to have the profession be honored."

March 24, 2013
Lincoln girl wins American History Poster Contest

GOLDEN APPLE:Thumbnail image for postercontest.jpg Anjalee Golden, a fifth-grade student from Twelve Bridges Elementary School in Lincoln, won the annual American History Poster Contest sponsored by Sons of the American Revolution, Gold Country Chapter.

Golden's poster was selected from 531 entries submitted locally. The topic of this year's contest is "The Declaration of Independence."

Her poster will now compete against posters submitted from around the state. The California winner will go on to compete in the national contest in July.

The poster contest is a national program of the Sons of the American Revolution, a historical, educational, and patriotic non-profit organization.

Photo: Anjalee Golden poses with her teacher Connie London and her winning poster at Twelve Bridges Elementary School in Lincoln.

March 22, 2013
Sac City open enrollment bids soar in final days

JV_020613_SCHOOLCLOSURE 250.JPGParents hoping to choose which Sacramento City elementary school their children will attend in the fall submitted hundreds of applications in the closing days of the open enrollment period, the district reported today.

The extended deadline for open enrollment for elementary schools was 5 p.m. Wednesday. By that time, the total volume of applications had reached 1,802 - up 61 percent from the 1,122 applications filed just two years ago.

The district's open enrollment system allows students to attend schools other than their assigned neighborhood campus. The district expects to inform families of their school assignments by mid-April, according to spokesman Gabe Ross.

The district last week extended this year's open enrollment deadline to accommodate nearly 2,300 students whose existing schools are closing due to enrollment declines.

March 22, 2013
Vista Del Lago students see consequences of drunken driving

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Tami Bogert today is showing about 700 students at Vista Del Lago High School in Folsom the legal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The program focuses on an unnamed 18-year-old driver who, as part of his public service, is appearing before students for an interactive assembly intended to teach students about the consequences of drinking and driving.

The unnamed man was formally sentenced earlier this week, according to a spokeswoman for the California Office of Traffic Safety, which provided a grant for the program through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Students will hear from and interact with the judge, attorneys, a guest speaker from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and possibly the defendant, according to a program announcement.

March 20, 2013
Here's a way to rid yourself of old computer, stacks of paper

You know you want to get rid of that antique computer that's so old it takes floppy disks. And that pile of paper littered with account numbers is getting to be an eyesore.

In that case, you might like to know about a free e-waste collection and $5 shred event planned for Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the parking lot of El Camino Fundamental High School, 4300 El Camino Ave., Sacramento.

The fundraiser will benefit El Camino Baseball & El Camino Athletic Boosters. It's sponsored by Rapid Information Destruction (RID) Services along with California Electronic Asset Recovery.

March 19, 2013
Christian Brothers video creates buzz at high school contest

Students from Christian Brothers High School, Whitney High School and Granite Bay High School took home first-place awards at the annual Student Television Network national competition March 7-10 in Los Angeles.

The event was attended by 3,000 high school students from across the country.

Christian Brother students Justin Cappello, Jenner Chapman, Kate Houston and Lucas Dudley created a great deal of excitement at the conference with their music video, if online comments on YouTube are any indication.

March 19, 2013
Live chat replay: Tips for Sacramento school open enrollment

If you're one of the hundreds of parents in the Sacramento City Unified School District hoping open enrollment this year will put your son or daughter in a favored school, join me along with the district's Sara Noguchi, area assistant superintendent, for The Bee's open enrollment "Live Chat" today at 11:30 a.m.

Every year, open enrollment is popular for parents who want to zero in on a favored campus. For some popular campuses, winning a classroom seat is no easy feat. When there are more contenders than open slots, a lottery system takes over.

But this year, there's a twist involving some 2,300 students whose campuses are closing due to falling enrollment. Parents who hope to send their students to a campus other than the assigned home schools will get first crack at open enrollment for grades 1-6.

The deadline for elementary school open enrollment this year has been extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Open enrollment for secondary schools has already closed.

March 18, 2013
Twin Rivers board won't talk about replacing president - yet

The Twin Rivers Unified agenda for tomorrow night is out and something is missing, said board member Rebecca Sandoval. There will be no discussion about removing Cortez Quinn from his position as board president.

The board voted to put the item on the March 19 agenda at its last meeting, at the request of Sandoval. She believes Quinn should be removed because of a California Fair Political Practices Commission report that said he illegally accepted more than $55,000 in personal loans from a school employee and did not report them on financial disclosure forms. He was fined $14,000.

The removal of the president must follow a formal procedure, said district officials.

March 18, 2013
Twin Rivers Unified's top student speakers square off

TRUSD public speaking contest 03-14-13 (1).jpgTwelve students poured all their enthusiasm, skill and quick wit into two- to five-minute speeches Thursday in an attempt to win the annual Twin Rivers Unified public speaking competition.

Everyone in the room ended up a winner. Teachers, principals, parents and judges - including yours truly - heard students speak from the heart about everything from how to talk parents into getting them a puppy to the life of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

March 15, 2013
Laid-off Sacramento teachers win partial court victory

Scores of laid-off Sacramento teachers who sued last year complaining that their school district ignored seniority-based job protections won a partial victory today in Sacramento Superior Court.

Judge Allen Sumner, in a case closely watched by educators and advocacy groups across the state, concluded in a 26-page decision that the Sacramento City Unified School District erred in categorically exempting all teachers at "high-need" schools from seniority-based layoffs.

But in a decision that gave something to both sides in the case, the court also said the district was permitted to make "high-need" exceptions to seniority-based layoffs on a case-by-case basis.

March 15, 2013
Sacramento city school district plans readiness fair Saturday

Here's a session that can help parents take the stress out of their children entering kindergarten.

The Sacramento City Unified School District on Saturday is holding a school readiness fair, offering free services such as health screenings and dental exams.

Parents also can receive information on kindergarten and pre-school enrollments, pre-kindergarten summer camp and community resources. To encourage reading, free books will be distributed.

"Our goal is to help every child be as ready and prepared for school as possible," district Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said in a printed announcement. "Every student deserves a great start to their academic career. With a strong child development program, we can end the dangerous cycle of 'start behind, stay behind' that traps so many kids."

The readiness fair is sponsored by the district's Child Development Department and Partners for School Readiness, including Kaiser Permanente, First 5 Sacramento and the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Serna Center, 5735 47th Ave., Sacramento.

March 14, 2013
Scholarships for high school grads pursuing technology

Students in the graduating high school class in the Sacramento area in pursuit of a college degree in the technology field of study are invited to apply for a $1,000 scholarship offered by the utility applications and mobile apps publisher Wondershare.

The company has announced two $1,000 scholarships to be awarded locally to help students pay for tuition, housing, books, and other college expenses.

To be eligible, students must be graduating in the class of 2013 from a public or private high school in the Sacramento region and be enrolled in public or private community college, four-year university or technical school and be pursuing a degree in a technology field of study.

March 14, 2013
Sac Unified extends open enrollment for elementary schools

Worried about open enrollment for your child, either entering kindergarten or hoping to transfer to one of the district's most sought-after schools? The Bee's Loretta Kalb wants to hear your story. Call her at (916) 321-1073, email her at or comment below on the blog.

By Loretta Kalb

The Sacramento City Unified School District has extended open enrollment for elementary school students to 5 p.m. Wednesday, giving parents added time to pursue alternate campus attendance in the aftermath of school closure decisions.

Applications for students attending seven schools facing closure will receive priority in the open enrollment process, according to school district officials.

However, students who have siblings already at a school will have an advantage in open enrollment, according to school officials. Children whose parents work at a given school also will have an edge.

March 12, 2013
Area students headed to international science competition

Students at Mira Loma, Vista Del Lago and Folsom high schools took top honors over the weekend at the Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair held at Rosemont High School in Sacramento.

Nikhil Kotha, a Mira Loma student and Folsom resident, captured first place at the Saturday event with his project, "Prediction of Tyrosine S sulfation in Viral G-Protein Coupled Receptors; Subversion of Host responses by viruses."

Need translation? The project predicted the probability of a type of protein modification and found this phenomenon to occur. More translation? The study showed these viruses (and perhaps many more) are being enhanced and that, subsequently, current drugs are not as effective in fighting the viruses.

March 11, 2013
Twin Rivers Unified board to reconsider pink slips

A special meeting has been called for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, so that the Twin Rivers Unified school board can reconsider whether it wants to send preliminary pink slips to teachers and support staff before Friday - the state-mandated deadline.

The school board failed to vote March 5 on a staff recommendation to send warning notices to 74 teachers and counselors, as well as 23 support workers. The proposal died due to the lack of a motion.

District staff said that many of the positions were funded with one-time money that is no longer available. They said the layoffs would save the district $9.1 million.

March 8, 2013
Veteran reporter joins Bee's education team

By Loretta Kalb

You may have noticed my new smiling mug at the top of this page. I'm Loretta Kalb, and this week I'm joining Diana Lambert in bringing you stories, vignettes, highlights and, yes, lowlights of Sacramento's education scene.

While my coverage often will cross district boundaries and extend to education trends, school financing and policy, much of my focus will be on three school districts: Sacramento City Unified School District, Folsom Cordova Unified School District and San Juan Unified School District. Diana and I will be a tag team of sorts, handing off stories to one another from our respective beats where necessary and collaborating to expand our coverage where possible.

This is a new venue for my reporting, but it's not a new approach. For the last eight years, I've been writing about the operations of regional governments and special districts. That has included every facet of public operations - from pensions, bond financing, furloughs, labor contracts and unfunded deficits to growth, development, politics, policy and personalities.

As I start this new (ad)venture in coverage, I hope to hear from you, Bee readers, about what is going on in your schools and in your students' lives. And, always, to hear your feedback on what you read in this space - good, bad or indifferent.

March 7, 2013
Sacramento City district school board spares two schools from closure

Sacramento City Unified School District trustees tonight, as expected, gave a unanimous thumbs up to continued operation of both Tahoe Elementary and Mark Twain Elementary schools.

Trustees had been asked to choose which of the two schools should close to help ease the financial burden of declining district enrollment. But the campuses won a reprieve from that decision.

The district with 47,000 students lost 10 percent of its enrollment in one decade and projects further decline. The board voted two weeks ago to close seven other campuses after the current school year.

March 5, 2013
New beat as Twin Rivers Unified reporter looks exciting

My first Twin Rivers Unified board meeting was interesting.

Parents, teachers and union members were eager to share their concerns with me and drop off business cards.The place was packed with lots of interested, involved people eager to have their voices heard.

The meeting took off with a bang. Board members began with a discussion about removing Cortez Quinn as president. He had been fined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for accepting loans and gifts from a school employee.

The issue, proposed by Rebecca Sandoval, set off a debate between the board and attorney about the length of the discussion as well as the legality of voting to remove Quinn immediately. In the end they voted to discuss Quinn's removal at a future meeting.

Then, one by one, residents spoke about their concerns about possible reductions to adult education, teacher layoffs and a district reorganization.

I'll be looking into each of these items, as well as many others.

Stay tuned.

March 5, 2013
Twin Rivers Unified meeting packed with concerned parents

Parents holding signs asking the school board not to close adult education and others requesting the ouster of Cortez Quinn as Twin Rivers Unified school board president are filling the board chambers tonight in North Highlands.

The board is also expected to make some decisions about the number of pink slips that will go out to meet the state's March 15 deadline.

About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

(916) 321-1073
Twitter: @LorettaSacBee
(916) 321-1090
Twitter: @dianalambert

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