DOWNEY - After the members of the Board of Education Tuesday heartily welcomed one another back from their summer diversions, it was apparent they were eager to get the business of the 2011-12 school year rolling.First off, they recognized Estela Salas-Sarmiento, the Downey Unified School District's candidate for the Los Angeles County Office of Education's Teacher of the Year award. Joe Webster, principal of Sussman Middle School, said she began as an instructional assistant at Imperial Elementary, then taught at Carpenter, and has been with Sussman for the past seven years. "She is a very special and gifted teacher," he said. "Her passionate and caring approach [with the kids] is evident, but she at the same challenges her students to excel, both academically and socially." "She is living proof that teachers have the ability to change lives," he said. "If you ask her what she loves about teaching, she will tell you that she loves her students first and foremost" and that each day represents "a different challenge and an opportunity to be able to accomplish something new." Dr. Mary Stauffer then presented and paid tribute to Linda Kennedy for her dedicated work running the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation, dispenser of innumerable scholarships and countless other goodies to the community over the years. Kennedy said the foundation, in collaboration with the American Association of University Women, sent five middle school girls to the 5-day Sally Ride Science Camp held at Caltech this summer. The sponsorship was worth $899 per girl. The classes aimed at encouraging the girls' interests in science through hands-on science learning and activities in a supportive, enriching, and fun environment. The girls, representing their middle schools, then took turns describing their most memorable experience in camp. While most of them said it was meeting and making friends with other campers, one participant mentioned her intriguing exposure to the mechanisms of rocket ships in one science experiment. In other action, the Board: *Acknowledged cash donations of $200 from Verizon Foundation for educational supplies at Rio San Gabriel Elementary; $1,000 from Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis Foundation in support of the district's Character Counts program; and - all in support of the TLC Family Resource Center - $2,000 from the Jerome Foundation; $2,000 from the Downey Kiwanis Foundation; and $250 from John and Ruth Hesketh, in memory of Marilyn Mogan; *Ratified routine matters, including: payment of convention and conference attendance; general agreements with various outside entities for providing a variety of specialized services, such as for autism, pediatric care, behavioral sciences, language therapy, youth/family services, the hearing impaired, personal coaching systems, speech therapies, etc.; special education placements, including the final settlement/payment agreements; purchases by the purchasing department; payments for hourly, overtime, and Civic Center work performed by classified personnel, Adult School and Food Services for the month of July, 2011; payment of B warrants; the abolishment and establishment of various instructional positions, reflecting specific needs and changing teaching dynamics in different schools (including the change in hours in one instance thereof), within budget parameters; routine personnel items until subsequent action is taken by the Board of Education; *Accepted as complete fencing, backhoe services, concrete, and electrical work performed by various contractors; *Approved the changes to the duties of food service supervisor/operations specialist as well as that of information systems administrator (pending approval by the Personnel Commission); *Authorized the amended signatories of various departments and schools, to take effect starting July, 2011 and to remain in effect until subsequent action is taken by the Board of Education; *Adopted a resolution in support of Character Counts Week October 16-22. The resolution began by affirming that "Young people will be the stewards of our communities, nation and world in critical times, and the present and future well-being of our society requires an involved, caring citizenry with good character." Further, the resolution pointed out: "The character of a nation is only as strong as the character of its individual citizens, and the public good benefits when young people learn that good character counts in personal relationships, in school, and in the workplace." It goes on: "Scholars and educators agree that people do not automatically develop good character and, therefore, conscientious efforts must be made by youth-influencing institutions and individuals to help young people develop the essential traits and characteristics that comprise good character." Citing the nexus with the Aspen Declaration, the resolution then states: "The character and conduct of our youth reflects the character and conduct of society; therefore, every adult has the responsibility to teach and model the core ethical values and every social institution has the responsibility to promote the development of good character." And: "The Downey Unified School District declares the week commencing the third Sunday in October as Character Counts Week, and calls on the people of Downey and interested groups to embrace these Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship) and observe that week with appropriate ceremonies and activities." *Declared and formalized into a resolution, after the requisite public hearing, the fact that sufficient textbooks and instructional materials are available and consistent with the cycles and content of the curriculum frameworks, and that these were provided to each student, including English learners, in mathematics, science, history-social science and English/language arts, including the English language development component of an adopted program; *Adopted a resolution, in accordance with Article XIII-B of the state constitution, establishing DUSD's "Appropriations Subject to Limitation" of $86,121,444.l5 for FY2011-12: this refers to the establishment of an appropriations limit on the revenues from tax proceeds that applies to pubic agencies, including school districts; *Adopted a resolution, as a result of AB 114, requesting the legislature and the governor to immediately restore the decision-making and budgetary flexibility that local educational agencies need to deal with midyear budget cuts, as they are likely to occur; *Announced the intent of the Board of Education to appoint John Kennedy as personnel commissioner for the term ending Dec. 1, 2014; *Reviewed the proposed 2011-12 Downey Adult School course of study; *Approved the certification of the provision of standards-aligned instructional materials; *Approved the unaudited actual financial report for FY2010-11; and *Met behind closed doors to take appropriate action on four student cases. The next public meeting of the Downey Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2011 at the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave.
********** Published: September 22, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 23