DOWNEY - The portion allowing the public to speak on items not appearing on the agenda of the Downey Unified School District board of education on Tuesday became a lively and often contentious one as a bunch of speakers spoke pro and con on the subject of AYSO soccer games held at Griffiths Middle School.A number of neighbors in the area complained bitterly about the "noise, the traffic, the trash, and the vandalism" that they say have characterized AYSO activities on Griffith's grounds. Cooler heads agreed to solve the problem through compromise, even laying out a program to transfer some of the soccer games to different district and city venues, but that this can be accomplished only at a later date. This did not pacify the vocal neighbors. Superintendent Wendy Doty assured everyone that she was aware of the problems at Griffiths and had met with several concerned groups to craft a workable solution, and pointed out that the only practicable solution would be to wait out AYSO's presence until early December. After that, she said, the complaints raised by the complainants should be resolved. Meanwhile, the school board heard Vision Award presentations honoring three teachers in the area of student achievement, as well as the selection of Caryn Fetzer as Masonic Teacher of the Year. West Middle School math teacher Robert Kaplinsky was extolled by principal Craig Bertsch as a "fantastic educator" whose creative contributions and engaging personality have "forever left a mark on the culture of West." The UCLA math and computer science major was especially cited for his contributions to the district's Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) programs. Alameda principal Lisa Rawlings introduced Vision Awardee in the area of student achievement Maureen Sary as one of Alameda's "exemplary 3rd grade teachers," who has contributed greatly to Alameda's recent API score of 835, the school's citation as a California Distinguished School, as well as the school winning a 2010 Title I Academic Achievement Award. Maureen, she said, not only has been an effective classroom teacher but has also served as team leader, Mentor Teacher, Master Teacher, meanwhile contributing her many talents and her time by serving on several district-level committees. The third Vision Awardee was fourth grade Gauldin teacher Jennifer Toledo who, according to Gauldin principal Dolores Goble, has been a team leader, the ELD teacher, the site SIOP coach and a member of the district's curriculum committee, among other activities, and epitomizes what an outstanding teacher should be as well as an exemplar of the 6 pillars of character. What she says she heard about Jennifer prior to joining Gauldin as "excellent, driven, dedicated, professional, a leader, and so on," has all been proven to be true. Jennifer has been honored as Masonic Teacher of the Year, as well as being given the Honorary Continuing Service Award by the Gauldin PTA. In other action, the Board: *Gratefully acknowledged cash and in-kind donations from various parties, including $5,000 from Kaiser Permanente, $2,000 from Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis Foundation, $1,000 from anonymous donors-all in honor of Kent Halbmaier's retirement, as well as a number of varying amounts, to be used in support of TLC Family Resource Center; and another $1,000 from Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis Foundation to support DUSD's Character Counts program; •Ratified/approved usual district business, including: the payment of convention and conference expenses and other fees; the general agreements with a number of consultants/firms providing specialized services; special education placements; purchase orders by the purchasing department; the issuance of payroll orders for hourly, overtime, and Civic Center work performed by classified personnel, Adult School and Food Services; B warrants covering the month of September; the agreements between the Downey Adult School Career and Education Center and several clinics/medical groups to furnish practical training in the dental assistant, medical assistant, pharmacy technician, and phlebotomy technician programs; the declaration and sale and/or recycling of district surplus property and abating the income to the General Fund, and/or pick up by a local e-waste recycler for proper recycling; the change order involving the DHS modernization of buildings J/K/N & L, with P. W. Construction (deferred maintenance fund); adjustments to the General Fund unrestricted and restricted budgets; the transfers of some funds from the General Fund to the deferred maintenance fund and the restricted general fund (Special Education); routine personnel items until subsequent action is taken by the Board of Education; the abolishment of two vacant Senior Instructional/ Assistant Behaviorally Challenged positions at Rio Hondo Elementary, and the establishment of various new positions, mainly at the Senior Instructional Assistant level, at East Middle School, Griffiths Middle, Rio Hondo, Imperial, Gallatin, and Downey High (food service assistant); •Denied the claim of Deivy Leon, in compliance with Gov't. Code Section 911-15 and 945; •Accepted the Williams/Valenzuela/CAHSEE lawsuit settlement quarterly report on uniform complaints, 2010-11; •Ratified the 2010-11 Community Development Block Grant subrecipient grant agreement with the city of Downey (re use of funds for 10-20 Club and True Lasting Connection), from August, 2010 through June 30, 2011; •Ratified the contract for a southeast consortium community day school division of student programs (for grades 7-12) with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), effective July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011; •Adopted a resolution in support of Character Counts Week (Oct. 17-23); •Approved the Test Administration Calendar for the 2010-11 school year, including the schedules for the California High School Exit Exam, California Alternate Performance Assessment, and Standardized Testing and Reporting tests; •Approved the (slightly revised) Downey Adult School 2011-12 course of study, •Received the 2009-2010 annual report; •Approved the addendum to the employment contracts for the asst. superintendent-business services and asst. superintendent-instructional services, amending the effective date of medical benefits; •Accepted as complete work performed by various contractors; and •Endorsed the actions of the superintendent on student cases. The next regular public meeting of the Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. on Nov. 16.
********** Published: October 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 27