District honors TLC, school psychologists

DOWNEY -- The Downey Unified School District Board of Education last week heard two presentations, both in the area of culture, that saw the True Lasting Connections (TLC) Family Resource Center staff of four and the district's 17 school psychologists honored with the superintendent's Vision Awards.In introducing the four "fabulous" women who make sure TLC's services (low-cost dental care, counseling, medical/eye exams, emergency food and shelter, etc.) are made available to the district's 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools, the Adult School, and even the community-at-large, Dr. Robert Jagielski, director of pupil services, said people are amazed at the extent to which the 4-member team's work has gone. TLC, he said, is part of the solution of providing health coverage to numerous millions in the U.S., starting with work within the district. He cited certified insurance enroller Veronica Gonzalez, Healthy Start assistant Lori Roman, bilingual clerical assistant/receptionist Claudia Ramirez-Garcia, and on-site supervisor/TLC coordinator Lucy Perez for "providing a true lifeline that assists our students and their families with their physical and emotional well-being beyond what on-site school personnel can deal with." TLC was initially funded by a State Healthy Start Grant in 2000; "the grant money expired in 2005, [but] the need for services needed by families did not"; now in its 9th year, TLC has been kept alive through fundraisers and donations. Kent Halbmeier, director of special education, lauded the school psychologists for their "professional talents, dedication, and contribution" in support of teachers, students, and parents. They provide specialized instruction, as well as counseling, he said, even addressing the psychological needs of school staff members and teachers themselves. In additional comments, Dr. Wendy Doty said they have been known to respond to tragic events impacting district personnel. Board president D. Mark Morris said "so much of what they do is behind-the-scenes, one-on-one, and we really appreciate their work very much." Boardmember Nancy Swenson said the new cafeteria at Warren is "absolutely beautiful," while Board vice-president Barbara Samperi said neither words nor photos of the new library "do enough justice to it. I was so impressed by it." Board clerk Martha Sodetani meanwhile congratulated Doty for her forthcoming honor as County Soroptimist of the Year. Boardmember Donald La Plante said the state's fumbling of the long-overdue budget is "an embarrassment," relegating California to 50th place in school (per pupil) spending, behind even Mississippi and because of it "we are forced to economize…" Downey Educational Association (DEA) president Jeff Orlinsky meanwhile endorsed the district's handling of the budgeting process, saying it has maintained a "spare, lean" budget, and avoided the adverse fate of a neighboring district, Paramount, which has had to issue dreaded pink slips to a substantial number of teachers. "I appreciate representing the California Teachers Association (CTA) here," he said. In other action, the Board: •Accepted with gratitude cash and in-kind donations from various individuals and organizations/groups, including cash donations of $3,500 from Carpenter Elementary School PTA, to be used for field trips at the school; $4,333.04 from Lewis Elementary PTA, the bulk of the funds to be used for student field trips, and the rest for awards and office supplies, at Lewis Elementary; several small cash donations from various sources in support of the TLC Family Resource Center; as well as in-kind donations of speaker systems for 50 classrooms throughout the district, valued at $69,596.75, from the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation; dictionaries for 3rd grade student use, valued at $2,760, from Downey Elks Lodge; and miscellaneous paper products valued at $1,000, for school-wide use at Old River Elementary School, from Alpine Paper Company; •Approved the payment of expenses for convention and conference attendance; •Ratified the general agreements with Beacon Day School and Behavior Education for Children with Autism (BECA) for FY2009-09 effective July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009; •Ratified the payments for special education placements; •Approved the revisions to BP/AR 3155, combination-grade classes, so they are aligned with the California Content Standards; •Formally named the new two-story Downey High School classroom (Building "D"), "D. Mark Morris Hall."; •Ratified purchase orders by the Purchasing Department; •Ratified the issuance of payroll orders for hourly, overtime, Civic Center work performed by classified personnel, Adult School, and Food Services, through February, 2009; •Ratified B warrants; •Ratified the student teaching agreements with Loyola Marymount University (effective Jan., 2009 through June 31, 2010); with Point Loma Nazarene University (eff. Jan. 1, 2009); and with the University of North Dakota (eff. Feb. 12, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2010); •Approved the student fieldwork agreement with the University of Redlands, effective July 1, 2009; •Approved the community-based English tutoring (CBET) program for FY2009-10, such approval required by the California Department of Education; this new agreement affords the funding to continue providing for free adult English language instruction for parents and other community members who have pledged to provide personal English language tutoring to K-12 English learners; •Authorized the advertisement for bids for Warren High School modernization, phase 3 - Bldgs. P, Q, R, and S, to be charged to Bond Funds; •Ratified the awarding of bids to Fleming Environmental, Inc., Buena Park, in the amount of $64,350 for the purchase and installation of an enhanced vapor recovery (EVR) system for Transportation Services, to be charged to M.O.T. Funds; to TruGreen Companies, Anaheim, in the annual contract amount of $65,000 for weed control services, to be charged to M.O.T. Funds; and to Inland Building Construction Companies, Inc., San Bernardino, in the amount of $2,816,100 for Warren High School modernization (Phase 3-Bldgs. O, P, Q, R, and S., to be charged to Bond Funds; •Approved the change orders involving various work by various vendors doing the Warren High School new library, classroom building and modernization, as well as the Downey High School new classroom building (Bldg. "B"); and the educational services products contracted with the Downey Adult School; •Reduced the retention amount being held for specified prime contractors against Bid #06/07-09, Warren High School new library, classroom building, and modernization, from 10 percent to 5 percent; •Accepted as complete concrete, electrical, roofing, fencing, backhoe, and paving work performed by various contractors; •Approved the purchase of equipment (Fortigate filtering units), as listed and costing more than $5,000 each; •Ratified routine Personnel items until subsequent action is taken by the Board; •Ratified the establishment of new positions at Downey Adult School and at Warren High School, as well as new limited-term positions, to be assigned to Alameda Elementary School and Downey High School; •Received the 2008-09 2nd Period (AR) Interim Financial Report as of Jan. 31, 2009, and approved the positive certification that DUSD can meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the 2008-09 fiscal year; Kevin Condon, asst. superintendent for business services, said the exact ramifications of the state budget vis-?†-vis the district budget are not fully clear yet, but he cautioned that there might be a few cost reductions here and there ("to maintain fiscal soundness, we cannot spend down our General Fund reserves; under the circumstances, we'll do the best we can"); and •Endorsed the actions taken by the superintendent on all student cases. The next regular meeting of the Board will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7 at the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave. ********** Published: March 20, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 48