Report Card

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

September 3, 2013
Sac City schools open, minus seven elementary campuses

Thousands of Sacramento City Unified students headed to their first day of class this morning - including about 2,300 routed to new campuses following seven elementary school closures.

At Pacific Elementary in south Sacramento, the new school site for hundreds of former Clayton B. Wire Elementary students, children lined up for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and for the start of school at 9 a.m.

Principal Shana Henry greeted the long line of students with a warm smile.

"I think the biggest challenge is finding ways to make sure the children are welcomed and the blending of the community," Henry said.

August 26, 2013
Round of golf could reduce youth violence

Golfers and sponsors are needed to help support a program to reduce youth violence.

Project Safe Alternatives and Violence Education (SAVE) is operated by the Sacramento County Office of Education. Students who are expelled from school because of on-campus violence are required to complete a violence-prevention program.

Since 1998 2,500 students have taken part in Project SAVE.

An annual golf tournament is the main source of funding for this program.
The 11th annual Project SAVE Golf Tournament is scheduled for Sept. 23 at Valley Hi Golf Club in Elk Grove. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. The shotgun start is at 9 a.m.

Entry fees for the event are $150 per person or $600 for a foursome. Tournament hosts, contest sponsors and individual hole sponsors also are being sought.
Door prize donations to benefit the program also are needed.

For more information about the tournament or to learn about sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, contact Cheryl Raney at (916) 228-2201 or

August 23, 2013
Twin Rivers administrator resigns, collects nearly $175,000

A top Twin Rivers Unified School District administrator resigned this week and will receive nearly $175,000 on his way out, the district confirmed today.

Rob Ball, associate superintendent of business support services, submitted his "voluntary resignation" to the Twin Rivers Board of Trustees, which accepted it on Thursday, according to a statement. Ball at one point served as the district's interim superintendent.

Ball will receive $174,570.60, the remainder of the salary he would have been paid through the end of the current school year, the district said. Twin Rivers students just started school eight days ago.

Ball, 63, most recently served as associate superintendent of business support services. In May 2012, he ran the district for several months while a search was under way for a new superintendent.

This month, he was in the news as one of three district administrators who have Twin Rivers paying their share of public pension contributions, a practice that state leaders have banned for new government employees hired starting this year.

August 21, 2013
Sacramento County education board fills trustee vacancy

Thomaysa Glover, a Gold River resident, has been named trustee for Area 5 of the Sacramento County Board of Education, filling the seat vacated when trustee Penny Schwinn resigned July 3.

The board named Glover on Tuesday to a provisional appointment. She will remain in the post until the next regularly scheduled board election in June 2014 unless a petition seeking a special election is filed with the county by Sept. 19.

Glover is a former trustee for the San Juan Unified School District. She served as a regional director for the California School Boards Association and is president of the Sacramento chapter of Links, Inc., a not-for-profit volunteer group.

August 2, 2013
San Juan Unified names new leaders at seven campuses

The San Juan Unified School District announced a series of administrator changes today, naming seven new principals - five hired internally and two from other districts.

The district also announced that Mesa Verde High School Principal Rick Messer will serve as acting assistant superintendent of secondary schools, a job not expected to be made permanent until a district superintendent is in place.

Superintendent Glynn Thompson has been on administrative leave since mid-May as district consultants investigate whether he created a hostile work environment for some administrators. General Davie Jr., a former superintendent for San Juan, was brought on board last month to run the district while Thompson is on leave.

August 2, 2013
Sacramento school trustees close $2.3 million budget gap

Trustees of Sacramento city schools have voted to close a $2.3 million deficit tied to a decline in Medi-Cal reimbursements and an increase in special education students, district spokeswoman Janet Weeks said today.

A Sacramento City Unified School District budget revision presented to trustees Thursday night identified $1.6 million in added costs for special education, most of that tied to newly identified special education students.

In addition, district officials said the state reduced the district's Medi-Cal reimbursements by $700,000.

July 16, 2013
San Juan considers acting leader before school year begins

San Juan Unified School District trustees will hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider naming an acting superintendent while their current leader is on paid leave.

The district has placed Superintendent Glynn Thompson on leave while it investigates employee complaints that he created a hostile work environment for some female administrators. Nine former and current San Juan employees filed complaints with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission.

Trent Allen, district spokesman, said in an email today that he anticipates the board will name an acting superintendent "to ensure a smooth start to the rapidly approaching school year should the ongoing investigation not conclude prior to that time."

The first day of classes for the district is less than a month away - Aug. 15.

July 15, 2013
Diocese: Holy Spirit principal under investigation has resigned

Holy Spirit School Principal Fran Wise, who was placed on suspension while she was investigated over allegations she threatened another person, has resigned her post, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento reported.

Diocesan spokesman Kevin Eckery said Wise's resignation came June 12. The investigation, in turn, was abandoned.

"When she decided to resign, there was no need to further pursue" the investigation, Eckery wrote late last week in an email.

Wise was placed on suspension May 28. Eckery has said details are unavailable because the issue is a personnel matter.

July 2, 2013
Rancho Cordova eyesore demolished to make way for campus

RB Motel 6.JPG

The Los Rios Community College District gained an education site and the city of Rancho Cordova lost an eyesore today as the dilapidated First Value Inn was dismantled, piece by piece, with an excavator.

Area residents, including some who brought lawn chairs to watch the show, were tickled to see the motel go.

"They have had so many fires from the transients, it's good to have it brought down," said Dennis Smith, a lifelong resident of Rancho Cordova.

June 13, 2013
Sacramento City schools close today, seven for the last time

The children came for the last day of school - some with nostalgia and heartbreak over the planned closure of seven campuses in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

"This is where a lot of memories come from," said 12-year-old Angel Torres, who this morning embarked on his final day of attendance at Maple Elementary School in south Sacramento. "I made my first friends here."

As a sixth grader, he's leaving the campus for good, no matter what. But he still was sad.

His two brothers, now teenagers, also attended Maple Elementary. Both came back later as campus volunteers. A niece and two nephews also attended the school, which was built in 1952 and annexed to the district in 1958.

All of the district's 80 schools end the year today. Fifty-six of them serve elementary school students.

But the district plans to shutter seven of the elementary schools for good: Maple, Washington, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire. The closures will save the district about $1.1 million and help close a $5.6 million shortfall projected for the next school year.

June 11, 2013
Students sue to block Sacramento City Unified school closures

Updated at 11:50 a.m. with district response.

A dozen minority students and their parents have filed suit in federal court to block closure of seven elementary schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Attorney Mark Merin filed the suit late Monday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento on behalf of the students, their guardians and three parent-teacher associations at closing schools. The suit complains the schools designated for closure were chosen because they are in an area "without political influence or organization" - south Sacramento - and have disproportionately low-income and minority populations.

The schools' selection "was motivated by an intent to discriminate against minority populations which dominate in these schools," the suit states. The closures, unless halted, will have a "disastrous discriminatory effect on the poor, disadvantaged population" that relies on the campuses, the suit said.

District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond and Board President Jeff Cuneo called the action "an unsubstantiated and baseless lawsuit" that would be costly for the district.

May 30, 2013
Sacramento's Holy Spirit School principal suspended

Holy Spirit School Principal Fran Wise has been suspended pending an investigation into an allegation that she made "threats and comments against a third party," a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento said today.

Diocesan spokesman Kevin Eckery, reached in San Diego, said the suspension began Tuesday.

"We can't go into many details because it is a personnel issue," Eckery said. "But she is suspended because we received an allegation that had made threats and comments toward a third party.

"If true, that violates our policy and our professional standards."

He said the suspension would continue while the investigation is under way.

Wise has been a principal within the diocese for five years, including the last three years at Holy Spirit School on West Land Park Drive in Sacramento.

The diocese encompasses 20 Northern California counties and covers 42,000 square miles, serving about 1 million Catholics.

May 23, 2013
Sacramento area students show science, engineering chops

Three Sacramento area students received honors in Phoenix last week at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair.

Nathanial Varghese, a 15-year-old sophomore from Folsom High School, received second place honors in Engineering in the category of materials and bioengineering in the Phoenix event.

His design, "A Robust Human Fall Detection Wireless System," involved a wireless device to be worn by an elderly person. The device would alert remote emergency personnel if the wearer had a bad fall.

May 22, 2013
Roseville school accepted as IB program candidate

Warren T. Eich Middle School in Roseville has become an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program candidate, an initial step in a rigorous process to become certified.

Students in the IB program study at least two languages, as well as humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology. In their final year, they also pursue an individual project that shows development of skills and understanding, according to the International Baccalaureate Web site,

Krista Bernasconi, spokeswoman for the school, said other schools in Placer County offer an IB program for select students. But Eich will establish an IB focus starting in fall 2013 for its entire enrollment. At the same time, the campus will expand its seventh- and eighth-grade student body to include sixth graders and, she said, become the county's only stand-alone middle school to offer an IB program.

May 21, 2013
Sacramento education summit aims to boost summer learning

Educators and providers of summer learning programs in the Sacramento area are invited to a summit on summer education at the Sacramento Library Galleria on Wednesday.

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. and includes workshops until about 2 p.m., including sessions on STEM learning (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as parent engagement and community school partnerships.

Speakers will include Michael Funk, director of the After School Division of the California Department of Education, Sue Stickel, deputy superintendent of the Sacramento County Office of Education and Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer.

The event is organized by Sacramento County Office of Education, Sacramento Public Library, UC Davis School of Education and National Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Funding comes from Sierra Health Foundation, Walmart, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

For information, visit

Other events are scheduled through the summer. Among them is a "National Summer Learning Day" rally set for June 20 at the state Capitol with literacy-themed activities on the grounds of Capitol Park at 12th and L streets.

May 21, 2013
Sac City students show energy-saving creativity to save money

Student teams from 13 schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District will offer their proposals for making their campuses more environmentally sustainable as part of Project Green Showcase on Thursday.

Projects deemed viable will be in line for $1 million in Measure Q bond money set aside for green school initiatives. Measure Q, approved by voters in November, authorized up to $346 million in bonds for construction, rehabilitation or replacing school facilities.

Project Green Showcase is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School, 1410 60th St., Sacramento.

The student "green teams" formed earlier this year with a mission to audit their school campuses and make recommendations for green improvements. Last year, those included replacing outdated windows and installing water-saving plumbing.

May 16, 2013
Rocklin school trustees pick San Juan official as new leader

Trustees in the Rocklin Unified School District have named Roger Stock as the new superintendent, replacing veteran Superintendent Kevin Brown, who is retiring after more than a decade in the job.

The unanimous vote at the district board meeting Wednesday night capped a search that drew 47 candidates, a district spokesman said. Stock takes the job starting July 1 and will receive an annual salary of $185,000.

Stock, 45, is the chief academic officer for the San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento. This week he became one of two top officials placed in charge of the San Juan district pending an investigation of its superintendent, Glynn Thompson.

May 15, 2013
Two top officials step in for San Juan superintendent

The San Juan Unified School District has tapped two top officials to run the district starting today while Superintendent Glynn Thompson is on paid leave pending an investigation of employee complaints.

Thompson's duties will be split between San Juan Chief Academic Officer Roger Stock and Assistant Superintendent for Operations and School Support Services Kent Kern, according to a district announcement.

Incidentally, the Rocklin Unified School District board will consider tapping Stock tonight as its next superintendent, but not effective until July 1.

May 10, 2013
Los Rios trustees authorize sales of voter-approved bonds

Trustees of the Los Rios Community College District this week authorized the sale of $80 million in general obligation bonds to raise funds for a variety of projects - including $16 million for a gymnasium at Folsom Lake College.

Jon Sharpe, Los Rios deputy chancellor, said about $20 million in bonds would be issued under the district's Measure A, which voters approved in 2002.

In addition to funding the gymnasium, the proceeds would help fund a portion of two other projects: American River College's Life Science and Fine Arts project as well as $2.6 million for site improvements for Folsom Lake College's planned Rancho Cordova Center.

May 2, 2013
San Juan names principals to Carnegie, John Barrett schools

Mark Siewert, principal of Earl LeGette Elementary School in Fair Oaks, will be the new principal at Andrew Carnegie Middle School in the San Juan Unified School District, the district announced.

The district also named Brent Givens, an alumnus of Del Campo High, as the next principal of John Barrett Middle School, replacing retiring Principal Lisa Herstrom Smith.

Both the Siewert and Givens appointments take effective Aug. 5.

Siewert started with the San Juan district in 1988 as a teacher for former Starr King Elementary (now Starr King K-8), where he taught special education, media, electives and physical education. He also served as an intervention specialist before he was named the middle school vice principal 18 years later.

In 2008, Siewert became an interim principal at Oakview Community Elementary and, a year later, was appointed principal for LeGette Elementary.

Siewert was an active member of the district's strategic planning, was a coordinator for GATE and school standardized testing and an intervention math coach. He also was active in leading professional development opportunities for staff.

May 1, 2013
Cosumnes event commemorates 1994 genocide in Rwanda

The genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda nearly two decades ago will be the focus of commemoration Saturday at Cosumnes River College.

The keynote speaker will be Edouard Kayihura, a genocide survivor who spent 100 days as a refugee in Hotel des Mille Collines, also known as Hotel Rwanda.

In 1994, the Hutu-led government launched a genocide of Tutsis that claimed as many as 1 million lives.

Much of the public awareness of the largely ethnic-based genocide has been credited to the 2004 movie, "Hotel Rwanda," which addressed horrific atrocities and casualties that ravaged the east-central African country.

The three-hour event starts at 3 p.m. in the campus Learning Resource Center, room 104.

The Friends of Rwanda Association is sponsoring this event in collaboration with the Rwandan Community of California, Cosumnes River College, Pan-African Studies at Sacramento State University and Palo Alto University.

April 30, 2013
Paul Burke named principal of Oak Ridge High

Paul Burke has been named principal of Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills starting in July, the El Dorado Union High School District announced today.

Burke currently serves as principal at Samuel Jackman Middle School in the Elk Grove Unified School District. He spent his educational career serving as a teacher and vice principal at several Elk Grove school district sites during a 15-year period.

As a teacher, he taught high school business, and he served as department chairman for business and industrial technology at the middle school level.

April 27, 2013
Met High School principal in Sacramento speaks out about allegations

By Loretta Kalb

Met High School Principal Allen Young in Sacramento, placed on administrative leave this week pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct, says the allegations are false.

"The allegations are unfounded and will be proved as such at the conclusion of the investigation," Young wrote in an email Friday night to The Bee.

"I am a proud product of the Sacramento City Unified School District as a student, teacher and currently principal. For years I have taken students, with parental and district consent, to college previews.

"I have been honored to work with hundreds of amazing Metsters over the last six years. Met staff, families and the community have been essential to the success of our school. I am confident that the students and staff will continue to thrive. I am ready to get back to the job I love. At this point, I must trust the process."

District spokesman Gabe Ross on Friday that Principal Allen Young was placed on leave Wednesday afternoon, but said he could not provide details of the allegations.

"We're just beginning an investigation," he said.

The Met High School, at 810 V St., has an enrollment of 274 students. It is one of five charter campuses operated by the district. Ross said Assistant Principal Vince Wolfe has been placed in charge of the school.

April 24, 2013
Deadline for SMUD summer internships closes May 17

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District this year is extending its student internship program to students in four unified school districts for this summer: Elk Grove, Folsom Cordova, Twin Rivers and Natomas.

The application period closes May 17, and high school students within those districts can pick up internship applications from their respective school offices.

The program gives about 25 students a year experience working in different SMUD departments. The program operates in partnership with Sacramento Works Youth Council, which is part of the Sacramento Employment Training Agency.

April 18, 2013
Rid your garage of e-waste at Bella Vista High on Saturday

If there are old electronics piling up in your garage, you can take them to Bella Visa High School's parking lot on Saturday.

Televisions, computers, fax machines, copiers, scanners, printers, gaming systems and other miscellaneous electronics can be dropped off for collection by California Electronic Asset Recovery.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 8301 Madison Ave., Fair Oaks.

Donations of $5 will help support the Science Olympiad teams and the school's library program.

For information, call Susan Sloan at (916) 971-5030. Or email her at

April 17, 2013
Volunteers sought on future of Sacramento's closing campuses

The Sacramento City Unified School District is seeking volunteers with varied backgrounds to advise the Board of Education on the reuse or disposition of school buildings and vacant sites not needed for school purposes.

Trustees of the school district recently decided to close seven elementary schools after finding them to be chronically underenrolled.

The 7-11 committee - a group of seven or 11 members - is to have members that represent the ethnic, age and socioeconomic composition of the district.

Members also are to represent the business community, such as store owners or managers, as well as property owners or renters, preferably those linked to neighborhood associations.

April 17, 2013
Sacramento parents and activists meet over school closures

Members of Hmong Innovating Politics will meet with parents and community leaders at 6 p.m. today to discuss decisions by Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond and district trustees' to close seven neighborhood schools.

With less than two months before the start of summer vacation, students and families at the seven closed schools say they are scrambling to sort out their transition plans and have very few details about preserving student safety, adequate transportation and open enrollment decisions.

The announcement for the "Wrong-Sizing Fall-Out Forum" reports it will seek to enable parents to document their challenges and to develop strategies for responding to the board's action.

The two-hour session is set for Lemon Hill Community Center, 6000 Lemon Hill Ave., Sacramento.

April 15, 2013
Four American River students qualify for national skills contest

Four students enrolled in American River College's technical programs won top state honors in San Diego earlier this month and are eligible to compete in the national competition sponsored by SkillsUSA, the Los Rios Community College District announced.

Those who qualified for the national competition are Linda Froemel, who won a gold medal with her welding sculpture; Nial Ix, who won the gold in collision repair technology; Victor Dyachuk, who won in automotive refinishing, and Charles Relat, who won in electronics technology.

The national competition is set for June 24 - 28 in Kansas City.

In all, students from the technical programs at American River College won 11 awards.

April 11, 2013
Sacramento area campuses recognized for innovative practices

Thumbnail image for RB West Campus 1.JPGThirteen campuses in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties are recipients of California Distinguished Schools honors for 2013, the state Department of Education announced today.

The middle and high school campuses are among 218 public schools statewide recognized for their commitment to innovative approaches and improving academic achievement.

"These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college," state schools chief Tom Torlakson said in a statement. He called the results inspiring "given the enormous challenges schools have faced in recent years."

April 11, 2013
San Juan district announces three new principals

It's principal recruitment season in the San Juan Unified School District, which has announced new principals at Mariemont Elementary School, Casa Roble High School and El Sereno High School.

Vice Principal Elizabeth Wahl was named Mariemont Elementary School's next principal, effective July 1. She replaces Principal Linda Dismukes, who will retire at year's end. Wahl was a longtime San Juan Unified teacher and a recent vice principal at Gold River Discovery Center K-8.

Michele Lorenzo has been named the next principal of Casa Roble High School, where she has served as a vice principal since 2008. Lorenzo has been interim principal since March, when former principal Jim Shoemake accepted a position in the district office. Her appointment is effective immediately.

Mia Funk has been named the district's new director of college and career and K-12 counseling and will also serve as principal of El Sereno High, an alternative program providing independent study options for students.

April 11, 2013
Community Colleges Scorecard to help guide campus choice

The online Student Success Scorecard released this week by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office gives the latest statistics on enrollment, full-time faculty and college completion at each of the state's 112 campuses.

Scorecards for both Sacramento City and American River college campuses in the Los Rios Community College District show, for example, that students who started college by taking college-level courses rather than remedial math or English were far more likely to complete a degree or certificate or to transfer to a four-year college.

In addition, the data show that student enrollment at Sacramento City College is predominantly 24 years old or younger. At American River College, the population is mainly 25 years and older.

To see the scorecard for any California community college campus, visit the website at

April 3, 2013
Trustees consider converting Rosa Parks Middle School to K-8

You'll recall that in February, trustees decided to close seven elementary campuses in the district because of falling enrollment, requiring about 2,300 students to attend other schools.

The campuses to close in the fall are Washington, Maple, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire. Most students are expected to attend their newly designated home schools.

This week, yet another shoe is set to drop.

At Mark Hopkins Elementary, the designated replacement campuses were to be either John Bidwell or John Sloat elementary.

On Thursday night, Superintendent Jonathan P. Raymond is recommending, instead, that the board convert Rosa Parks Middle School, which is adjacent to Mark Hopkins, to a K-8 campus.

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 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 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 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.

February 21, 2013
For latest on Sac City school closures, check here

closure3.jpegUpdate 12:38 a.m.: Trustees in the Sacramento City Unified School District voted 4-3 to close seven schools at the end of this school year after a lengthy school board meeting Thursday night.

The schools that will be closed are Washington, Maple, Collis P. Huntington, Fruit Ridge, Joseph Bonnheim, Mark Hopkins and Clayton B. Wire. Trustees Jeff Cuneo, Patrick Kennedy, Jay Hansen and Darrel Woo voted in favor of the closures, while Gustavo Arroyo, Diana Rodriguez and Christina Pritchett voted against.

Board members were scheduled to vote on the closure of 10 elementary schools on Thursday, but three were pulled from the list at the start of the meeting. Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said concerns raised about the closure of Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte and James Marshall warranted a second look.

Raymond said enrollment at Susan B. Anthony and Bret Harte will be affected by residential developments planned near the schools. The superintendent said he heard objections from some James Marshall parents whose children would have been zoned for A.M. Winn, which is transitioning to a Waldorf-inspired school.

The board is scheduled to vote on whether to close Tahoe Elementary or Mark Twain Elementary at a March 7 meeting.

"School closures are a part of what needs to happen in our district," School board president Jeff Cuneo said. "The fact is we have not enough kids for our schools at this time."

Update 11:55 p.m.: Trustee Jay Hansen, who may end up being the swing vote tonight, said there are long term gains to be had by closing schools, which may be hard for those experiencing the short term pain to see.

Hansen took a defensive tone with his comments, saying he's been surprised by the hateful emails he has received and felt some speakers tonight were disrespectful.

Hansen was appointed to the board in December to fill the vacated seat of Ellyn Bell. As part of his appointment interview, Trustee Darrel Woo asked Hansen what his thoughts were on school closures.

Hansen said they should be a last priority and should come after an open and transparent process.

Update 11:10 p.m.: In my story today, I wrote that sources told me that newly appointed board member Jay Hansen would be the swing vote for closures tonight.

Here's how that is playing out right now. Board members Darrel Woo, Jeff Cuneo and Patrick Kennedy have each spoken in support of doing the fiscally responsible thing by closing schools.

Board members Christina Pritchett, Gustavo Arroyo and Diana Rodriguez have each expressed grave concern with the closure process and the disproportionate effect on low-income and minorities communities in south Sacramento.

What about Hansen? He hasn't spoken yet.

Update 10 p.m.: Public comment continues 3 1/2 hours after the Sacramento City Unified board meeting began. There are about 10 speakers remaining before trustees will begin to discuss and vote on the school closures.

Update 9 p.m.: Several speakers have called the district's recommendation to remove three schools from the list of 11 slated for closure as "dividing and conquering."

A long list of speakers remain. Board won't begin discussing the closures until after public comment ends. In the meantime, check out the photo gallery by Bee Photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr. by clicking HERE.

Update 8 p.m.: Public comment has begun at the Sacramento City Unified School District school board meeting, where more than 100 people have submitted speaker cards to address the board regarding the school closures. Each speaker is given two minutes. Just a dozen speakers in, many have gone over their two minute allotment.

So far, Superintendent Jonathan Raymond has pulled three schools from the closure list - Susan B. Anthony, Bret Harte and James Marshall elementary schools. Raymond said enrollment at Susan B. Anthony and Bret Harte will be impacted in the future by residential developments planned near the schools. The superintendent said there were reasonable objections from James Marshall parents whose children would have been zoned for A.M. Winn, which is transitioning to a Waldorf-inspired school.

Update 7:30 p.m. - Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said he is now recommending pulling James Marshall, Bret Harte and Susan B. Anthony elementary schools from the closure list.

Update 6:30 p.m. - The board room is packed, as was expected. As I drove up at 6 p.m., there were a few dozen people outside with signs protesting the proposed closures.

Former Sacramento City Unified board president Roy Grimes is here. Grimes said he had no comment on the current school closure proposal, but instead is here to urge trustees to engage the community moving forward.

Sacramento City Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell said she is here to offer support of community members.

"Parents are so upset," Pannell said. "They aren't sure about the process and neither am I."

Board President Jeff Cuneo just announced the beginning of the meeting. Check back.


Tonight's Sacramento City Unified School District school board meeting begins at 6:30. Check The Report Card for the latest news on the district's proposal to close 10 elementary schools at the end of this school year.

I will also be tweeting from the meeting, which you can read below or find me on Twitter @MelodyGutierrez. If you're reading this on your smartphone, follow me here.

I will be checking for reader questions on this blog, so feel free to post.

February 20, 2013
Steinberg urges Sac City trustees to support school closures

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, issued a statement today supporting a recommendation by Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond calling for 11 under-enrolled elementary schools to be closed at the end of this school year.

Trustees will vote Thursday night on whether to close 10 elementary schools. A vote on whether to close Tahoe Elementary or Mark Twain Elementary is scheduled for March 7.

Here is Steinberg's statement:

"Closing a neighborhood school can be heartbreaking for students, parents and educators. I know Superintendent Raymond is making this recommendation with a heavy heart. I also know the pain of being forced to make drastic cuts that affect real lives when you're faced with budget deficits and a struggling economy.

February 15, 2013
Watchdog agency fines Twin Rivers trustee for illegal loans

Cortez.jpgTwin Rivers school board President Cortez Quinn was fined $14,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission Friday for illegally accepting $55,000 in personal loans from a district employee in 2010 and 2011 and not reporting them on financial disclosure forms.

At the time Quinn accepted the loans, he was the district director for Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, a position that also required annual financial disclosure forms.

Three of the five violations that the state watchdog agency announced Friday against Quinn related to his previous position with Dickinson's office. The remaining two violations stemmed from his position as an elected board member of Twin Rivers Unified School District.

Quinn did not return a call for comment on Friday.

In addition to the loans, Quinn also illegally accepted a gift of $4,000 from the same school district employee, Sherilene Chycoski, according to FPPC documents outlining the circumstances of the case.

The Political Reform Act prohibits elected officers of local government agencies from receiving personal loans of more than $250 from employees and gifts of more than $420.

Chycoski is listed on the Twin Rivers website as the visual and performing arts director. Chycoski filed a paternity suit against Quinn in June 2011.

The Bee first reported in May 2012 that Quinn had accepted illegal loans. Two weeks later, Quinn won a second term as a Twin Rivers trustee and was voted school board president by fellow board members in July.

Dickinson parted ways with Quinn in August for undisclosed reasons, calling it a "personnel matter."

According to documents obtained by The Bee last year, Chycoski loaned Quinn $35,000 on Feb. 24, 2011. Other documents showed bank transfers from Chycoski to an account allegedly belonging to Quinn and cash advances on a credit card in which Quinn allegedly was a secondary cardholder.

Chycoski said in a sworn statement on May 17, 2012, which her attorney provided the school district, that she felt the money was obtained "through fraud and misrepresentation."

The FPPC's $14,000 judgment against Quinn indicates the school board member consulted with an attorney and opted to waive his rights to a probable cause conference and an administrative hearing. Quinn was facing a maximum administrative penalty of $25,000.

Quinn's fine, which will be paid to the state's general fund, is pending FPPC approval at its Feb. 28 meeting.

February 13, 2013
Sacramento City may swap schools on closure list

schoolclosure.JPGThe vote on whether to close Tahoe Elementary in Tahoe Park is being delayed by the Sacramento City Unified School District in order to consider closing Mark Twain Elementary instead.

Parents of children at both schools were being notified today about the possible change, said district spokesman Gabe Ross. Mark Twain is located on 58th Street, about a mile from Tahoe Elementary.

Sacramento City Unified trustees are weighing the closure of 11 under-enrolled elementary schools. The vote on the other 10 schools will continue as planned on Feb. 21.

The decision on whether to close Tahoe or Mark Twain elementary schools will be March 7.

Ross said concerns at a Tahoe Elementary community meeting prompted district officials to reconsider their plan. Currently, Mark Twain students eat lunch at West Campus High School due to the elementary school not having a fully equipped kitchen. Tahoe Elementary parents voiced concerns about that arrangement.

February 13, 2013
Read the report Twin Rivers trustee calls a roadmap for district

Several readers have expressed an interest in reviewing the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team report commissioned by the Twin Rivers Unified School District. So, here it is.


The 88-page report found Twin Rivers has too many administrators and too little communication among departments. Twin Rivers trustee John Dexter called the FCMAT report a "roadmap, much like the Grand Jury report."

"It's a good starting point," Dexter said today.

To read my original posting with findings from the report, click HERE.

February 11, 2013
Video: Kindergartener asks board not to close his school

Six-year-old Gavin Whelan approached the podium with confidence, stepping onto a stool and leaning into the microphone at Thursday's school board meeting regarding school closures in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Whelan immediately won the hearts of the room, as you'll see in the video below that captures the last half of his speech. For his bravery, as well as his patience in waiting through three hours of prior public comment, Whelan earns this blog's Gold Star award.

January 8, 2013
New investigation puts cheating scandal to rest, Rhee says

Rhee2.JPGEducation reformer Michelle Rhee said today that a federal investigation should put to rest allegations that educators cheated to improve test scores during her tenure as Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General announced Monday that its investigation found no widespread cheating on state standardized tests during 2008-2010.

In a statement, Rhee said the conclusion supports previous investigations into the allegations, which will be the focus of a "Frontline" episode on PBS that is scheduled to air tonight at 10 p.m.

Rhee, the wife of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, runs the national education lobbying group StudentsFirst, which is based in Sacramento and promotes education reform measures.

"The results confirm what we've long believed, that the vast majority of educators would never compromise their personal or professional integrity to cheat on a test, thereby cheating children," Rhee said in the statement.

The hour-long Frontline program, which The Bee reviewed in advance, primarily recounts Rhee's time as the chancellor of public schools in Washington, D.C., two years ago. After detailing her successes and challenges, the program ends by questioning whether tremendous test score gains could be attributed to widespread cheating.

USA Today first reported in 2011 that, during Rhee's tenure, there were a high rate of erasures at Washington schools with high test score gains.

The Frontline segment questioned whether enough was done to investigate the erasure irregularities.

Rhee's statement said the probe by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General supported previous inquiries and findings by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General and two private investigations.

"At StudentsFirst we believe it is incredibly important to take all allegations of wrongdoing seriously and we thank both offices for doing so," Rhee said in her statement.

January 7, 2013
Cheating scandal resurfaces in Rhee film airing Tuesday

Rhee.JPGEducation reformer Michelle Rhee is in the news today and will continue to be as a Frontline television documentary is scheduled to air Tuesday.

The hour-long program, which The Bee reviewed, mostly recounts Rhee's time as the chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system two years ago. After detailing her successes and challenges, Frontline ends by questioning whether tremendous test score gains could be attributed to widespread cheating.

USA Today first reported in 2011 that, during Rhee's tenure, there were a high rate of erasures at D.C. schools with high test score gains.

Tuesday's Frontline raises the question of whether enough was done to investigate the erasure irregularities.

The documentary is scheduled to run Tuesday at 10 p.m. on KVIE channel 6.

(Photo courtesy of Frontline.)

January 2, 2013
Group says it won't fight Sac City Unified's trustee appointment

It's starting to look like newly appointed Sacramento City Unified trustee Jay Hansen will not have his seat challenged through a petition calling for a special election.

Prior to Hansen's selection, the district's five bargaining groups and an outside coalition urged the school board to reconsider their decision to appoint someone to resigning board member Ellyn Bell's seat. However, board members said they did not want the district to have to pay up to $274,000 for a special election, particularly in a time of budget cuts.

Annette Deglow of the coalition Citizens to Elect School Boards by Areas said she was ready to challenge any appointment to the board because it did not allow the voters of Area 1 to select who would represent them for the remaining two years of Bell's term. Area 1 includes Land Park, downtown, midtown and Curtis Park.

However, Deglow said Wednesday that she has decided not to initiate the petition.

"There is no way to do it without it being personal," said Deglow, one of the original petitioners of measures that created trustee area elections in Sacramento City Unified.

"The only thing I wanted was for the community to select their candidate," she said. "My time at this point would be better spent fixing the problem, instead of muddying the waters. I oppose the process, but not one candidate over the other."

Deglow said her issue is that she could not challenge the district's decision to appoint a candidate prior to trustees making a selection. That, Deglow said, makes it seem like she opposes Hansen, when, in fact, she opposes the appointment process.

State Education Code allows for 30 days to challenge a trustee appointment. In Sacramento City Unified, a successful petition would need 2,500 signatures by Jan. 19 turned into the Sacramento County Office of Education.

Washington Unified in West Sacramento recently went through a similar process. Petitioners gathered 345 signatures to force a special election after trustees appointed a board member to fill a vacated seat. The special election is scheduled for March 5.

December 3, 2012
Torlakson selects Mira Loma student for national honor

Kao.jpgGolden Apple: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson selected two California high school students to the highly competitive United States Senate Youth Program, including Mira Loma High School student Josephine Kao.

Torlakson selected Kao and Deeksha Goyal of Redlands East Valley High School in San Bernardino County for their "outstanding scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and strong commitment to their schools and communities," according to a press release from the California Department of Education.

Two alternates - Anna Page of San Diego and Stefano Rumi of Los Angeles - were also selected.

"I'm amazed at what these four outstanding young people have accomplished," Torlakson said in a press release. "They are among California's - as well as the nation's - top scholars, and I applaud their achievements, both inside and outside the classroom."

Kao, who lives in Roseville, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to be the student board member of the California State Board of Education.

She is a synchronized figure skater with a 4.83 weighted grade point average, a former president and current commissioner on the Placer County Youth Commission; speech captain of the nationally acclaimed Mira Loma Speech and Debate Team; second-place winner at the 2012 California State Speech Tournament for Original Oratory; teen councilmember of the Roseville Teen Library Council; outreach manager and grant writer for the Arden Creek Project Natural Resources (internship) and founder of the local Literacy is for Everyone!

Kao plays the harp as a volunteer for the Kaiser Permanente Spiritual Healing Program. She plans to pursue economics and international relations in college.

"I am interested in pursuing a career that will incorporate my love for motivational public speaking, global economic development, and research," she wrote in her USSYP application. "It is a goal of mine to one day start a nonprofit organization that supports educational opportunities for youth in developing nations."

High school principals nominate students for the Senate Youth Program. Students are then reviewed by a state Department of Education committee and sent to Torlakson for selection.

For more information on the U.S. Senate Youth Program, click HERE.

October 19, 2012
Sac City school trustee Ellyne Bell will resign

AOC_SchoolConference_105w.JPGSacramento City Unified School District trustee Ellyne Bell announced Thursday night that she will be stepping down from the school board at the end of the year.

Bell gave a 60-day deferred resignation after completing two years of her four year term.

After taking a job in San Francisco six months ago, Bell said she plans to relocate there at the beginning of the year.

"The work is increasing all the time and to run an organization and do this work to the best of my ability, I need to commit to being here in the city," said Bell, who is the executive director of the SAGE Project, an anti-human trafficking organization.

October 15, 2012
No blue ribbon for local schools

For the second consecutive year, there were no schools in the four county region named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Statewide, 23 public schools and one private school received the honor from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for the 2011-2012 school year.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools where students achieve at high levels or have made significant progress to close the achievement gap.

The last school named a National Blue Ribbon School in Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado or Placer counties was in 2010 when Aspire's Capitol Heights Academy and Camellia Basic Elementary School, both in Sacramento City Unified, received the award.

October 11, 2012
Folsom Cordova school leads local API gains with 90 point jump

Theodore Judah Elementary in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District increased its Academic Performance Index score by 90 points, marking the largest gain in the four county area among schools with at least 150 students.

State data released today shows 45 of 54 districts in the four-county area saw their scores improve, with a median improvement of eight points, or about 1 percent.

Among local leaders in API gains, Theodore Judah Elementary was followed by Folsom Cordova's Mather Heights Elementary (77) and Cottage Elementary in San Juan Unified (69).

Among schools with at least 150 students, John D. Sloat Elementary in Sacramento City Unified saw the largest decline (79 points), followed by San Juan's Greer Elementary (60) and Fairbanks Elementary in Twin Rivers (51).

Statewide, 53 percent of schools scored at or above the state target of 800, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year. Twenty percent of schools met or surpassed the API target 10 years ago.

"We've set a high bar for schools and they have more than met the challenge, despite the enormous obstacles that years of budget cuts have put in their way," State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a written statement. "The incredible efforts of teachers, administrators, school employees, parents, and students should serve as an inspiration to us all. While there's still more work to do, California's schools have earned a vote of confidence."

Related story: More than 50% of California schools hit academic score.

For more, read The Sacramento Bee on Friday.

October 5, 2012
Petition may force West Sac district to hold special election

A recently appointed school board member in West Sacramento could be ousted from her seat after a petition was submitted Friday.

If 345 signatures on the petition are verified, the Washington Unified School District will be forced to hold a special election, which could cost the district around $100,000.

"This is a two year appointment," said Elizabeth Bagdazian, whose appointment has been called into question. "Our schools, our kids can't afford this."

Bagdazian was appointed Sept. 5 following the resignation of trustee Sandra Vargas.

After the appointment, Mayor Christopher Cabaldon alleged that the school district broke the law to keep the seat vacated by Vargas off the November ballot. Cabaldon said it was well known Vargas had moved out of the district and that her resignation was pending for many months.

He said her resignation arrived right after the deadline that would have put her seat on the November ballot.

"That magically gave the board the ability to appoint the seat," Cabaldon said recently. "The board is required by law to vacate the seat and take appropriate action. That would have been to put it on the November ballot."

For more on this story, read The Sacramento Bee on Saturday.

Get caught up on issues facing the Washington Unified district by reading this story HERE.

October 1, 2012
Rocklin superintendent disappointed in retaliation ruling

Rocklin Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Brown said he is disappointed in last week's Public Employment Relations Board decision that found the school district retaliated against four nurses.

Brown said he will recommend that school trustees appeal the ruling here RocklinPERB.pdf, which ordered Rocklin Unified to reinstate the nurses with two years of back pay, plus 7 percent interest.

Brown said the PERB Administrative Law Judge Robin Wesley "took the latitude to assume what our motivation was and then developed an argument to support her conclusion in spite of the evidence that was presented."

Wesley's ruling, which was reported by The Bee on Friday, found the Rocklin district violated the Educational Employment Relations Act by laying off nurses Jennifer Hammond, Genevieve Sherman, Susan Firchau and Jennifer Bradley.

September 28, 2012
Rocklin Unified retaliated against school nurses, judge says

The Public Employment Relations Board found Rocklin Unified School District retaliated against four nurses and ordered the district to reinstate them with two years of back pay, plus 7 percent interest.

In a ruling released today, Administrative Law Judge Robin Wesley found Rocklin school district violated the Educational Employment Relations Act by laying off nurses Jennifer Hammond, Genevieve Sherman, Susan Firchau and Jennifer Bradley.

"We've always been very unhappy with what happened and we feel vindicated," Hammond said today. "I'm ready and willing to take my job back."

The Rocklin Teachers Professional Association filed an unfair practice charge against the school district in 2010, alleging the four nurses were laid off in retaliation for asking their union for assistance regarding workload and safety issues.

In PERB documents, the district argued that the nurses routinely said no to many requests and claimed their nursing licenses would not let them perform certain work.

For more on this story, read Saturday's Bee.

September 27, 2012
Sacramento Police may lead Twin Rivers cops, district says

The Twin Rivers Unified School District is working on a contract with the Sacramento Police Department to have a police captain and lieutenant help the school district's police department with short term oversight.

Sacramento Police Captain James Beezley would be assigned to the Twin Rivers Police Department for administrative functions at the request of the district's school board, said Assistant Superintendent Tom Janis.

Janis said he did not know who the lieutenant would be.

"We are trying to work together," Janis said. "We have common goals and our jurisdictions overlap."

Beezley has been with the Sacramento Police Department for 20 years and is currently the fiscal and personnel captain.

The Twin Rivers school police force has faced a year of continued scrutiny, from allegations of excessive car tows in order to generate profit to a former officer facing criminal charges for allegedly assaulting detainees.

September 26, 2012
How did your school do on SAT and AP exams?

Some great new data was posted this morning on The Bee's website by reporter Phillip Reese showing how public high school students in California scored on the SAT and Advanced Placement exams in 2011.

Standouts include Mira Loma High School, where the average SAT score is 1852 and 92 percent of kids taking AP exams earned college credit, and Davis Senior High School, where the average SAT score is 1815 and 85 percent of students taking AP exams earned college credit.

However, it's interesting to note the number of students taking the exams.

At Mira Loma, 48 percent of seniors took the SATs, while 78 percent of seniors at Davis Senior took it. As for AP exams, 15 percent of Mira Loma seniors and juniors took the tests, compared to 56 percent at Davis Senior.

One of the highest SAT participation rates in the state goes to Sacramento Charter High, where 83 percent of seniors took the test. However, the school posted one of the lowest average score in the region of 1221 out of 2400.

Click HERE to visit the database and look up schools.

September 25, 2012
Groups partner to fund Sacramento literacy projects

Do you have an original idea on how to foster literacy in the Sacramento region? Three organizations are teaming to launch the Sacramento Literacy Challenge, which will award $50,000 to support local educational projects.

The University of Phoenix Sacramento Valley Campus, in partnership with online charity and media platform GOOD Worldwide LLC, are encouraging community members to submit their ideas before Oct. 26. Projects will be voted on by the public between Oct. 30-Nov. 13, with the top-voted submission receiving a $10,000 gift card and 10 runner-ups receiving $2,500 in gift cards.

Additionally, the first 100 approved submissions will receive a $100 gift card with the chance to win $1,000 in a random drawing each week. For more information, visit

"Together with University of Phoenix, DonorsChoose and the people of the Sacramento region, we are ready to take a stand against illiteracy," said Jen Chiou, general manager of GOOD.

September 20, 2012
Win a ride to school on a fire engine

fire.jpgThe Sacramento Metro Fire Department has come up with the ultimate prize for its contest promoting fire prevention week, a ride to school in a fire engine.

To win, local third- through fifth-graders who live within Sacramento Metro's area can enter the fire department's drawing contest.

The theme this year is "Have Two Ways Out," which promotes the importance of fire escape planning and practice. For more information and to enter, visit

September 18, 2012
Crocker Riverside principal takes leave amid allegations

Crocker Riverside Elementary School Principal Carl Westphal will take a medical leave for the remainder of the school year, a move that comes after a sexual harassment complaint and two investigations into his recent actions.

At a parent meeting tonight at 6 p.m., the Sacramento City Unified School District will announce the name of an interim principal to replace Westphal, who will not return to the school after his medical leave, said district spokesman Gabe Ross.

A permanent replacement will likely be named at the end of the school year, Ross said.

September 17, 2012
Sac City Unified offers free bully prevention trainings

The Sacramento City Unified School District will host free bully prevention trainings for anyone in the community wanting to learn how to identify bullying behaviors and what to do when a child is being victimized.

The school district will host the first of five community trainings beginning Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Luther Burbank High School, 3500 Florin Road.

"We're working hard to raise awareness of bullying so our students can better advocate for themselves when bullying occurs," said Sheila Self, a bullying prevention specialist at Sacramento City Unified.

The trainings coincide with the school district's anti-bullying policy that aims to reduce incidents of bullying on campus and on the Internet.

"Bullying is such a high-profile issue," Self said. "We want to make sure families have the tools to recognize it and get help."

September 12, 2012
Schools must sign up for student mock election by Sept. 21

The deadline is approaching for California schools to sign up for student mock elections that allow teens to cast unofficial votes for president, U.S. senator, as well as 11 statewide propositions on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The 2012 MyVote California Student Mock Election program for middle school and high school students has a teacher's guide, election materials and tips for broadening civics lessons. Schools must sign up by Sept. 21 and student votes are cast one week prior to the official election.

"I love these mock elections because they prepare students to become active voters and encourage them to make voting a lifelong habit," said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, California's chief elections officer.

Sign up here.

September 10, 2012
New name for school honoring explorer, slave owner

Jedediah Smith Elementary School will be renamed in honor of school volunteer Leataata "Tata" Floyd following a unanimous vote by Sacramento City Unified School District trustees last week.

School leaders at Jedediah Smith Elementary began pushing earlier this year for a name change, citing the fact that the explorer, among other things, owned slaves.

Floyd, 70, hosts a popular after-school tutoring and hula dance class at Jedediah Smith Elementary, at 401 McClatchy Way next to two sprawling low-income public housing developments south of downtown.

"In the month of October, we will do a soft roll out with the name change," said school principal Billy Aydlett. "We will have a block party at the school celebrating what Leataata has done for the neighborhood and school."

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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