School board honors high school mentors

DOWNEY - Two organizations - Warren High's Teen Connection Club (formerly known as the Lunch Bunch) and Downey Council PTA H.E.L.P.S. - received recognition from the Board of Education for their positive impact on children and families who need help.Warren principal John Harris briefly recounted how special ed teacher Christine Spino and a small dedicated group of student volunteers in 2008 started trying to enable kids with special needs (those with Down syndrome, autistic, orthopedic problems, etc.) to come out of their shell and participate actively and openly in campus life via tailor-made activities, and how both mentors (now numbering a healthy 40 members or so) and beneficiaries have grown in number and quality, leading board member Mark Morris to remark that this could turn out to be the most meaningful experience of the participating students' high school life. It was even suggested that it could perhaps be adopted also at Downey High. Harris at the same time made reference to the coverage of the extra-curricular activity in the Patriot's issue of Dec. 30, 2010. The Board also heard an account of the Downey Council PTA H.E.L.P.S.'a "tremendous" charitable work from Board president Martha Sodetani, who said that through two main food drives during the year district PTAs are able to furnish food to those in need in the community, even as she lauded its close links with Gangs Out of Downey and the TLC Family Resource Center. In other action, the Board: *Profusely and gratefully acknowledged cash and in-kind donations, both large and small, from various donors, including $6,600 from Imperial PTA for field trips by students at Imperial Elementary School; $1,000 from Mrs. Beth Nickel to purchase a CD/DVD publisher at Lewis Elementary School; $700 from Target to be used also for field trips by the AVID students at East Middle School; a donation of G & B soil worth $700 from Kellogg Garden Products, Inc. to be used in the garden at Downey High School; and a number of assorted contributions from Darryl Browning, Scanlon-Guerra-Burke, Downey Education Association, Downey Association of Realtors and Porto's Bakery-benefiting TLC Family Resource Center which was to receive the mayor's service award at the city council meeting later that evening; *Ratified usual district business including: the payment of convention and conference expenditures and other fees; special education placements; purchase orders by the purchasing department; the issuance of payroll orders for hourly, overtime, and Civic Center performed by classified personnel, Adult School and Food Services; the agreements between the Downey Adult Career and Education Center and some clinics/medical groups to furnish practical training in the medical assistant as well as medical billing and coding programs; accepted as complete concrete, electrical, and roofing work performed by various contractors; approved adjustments to the unrestricted and restricted budgets of the General Fund, to the unrestricted budgets of the Adult Education, Cafeteria, Deferred Maintenance, and Capital Facilities Funds, to the restricted budget of the County School Facilities Fund, and to the unrestricted budgets of the Special Reserve for Capital Outlay Fund, as well as the Self Insurance, Self Insurance Workers Compensation, Self Insurance Health and Welfare, Self Insurance Dental, and Self Insurance Vision Funds; routine personnel items until subsequent action is taken by the Board; *Approved the Special Education settlement agreement regarding OAH and federal cases, and authorized payments as set forth within said agreement; *Ratified the Memorandum of Understanding with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, that provides for educationally-related health services to children and youth with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; *Adopted the new board policy (BP) and administrative regulation (AR) 2109 on Open Enrollment Act (Romero Bill); the new policy "offers enrollment options and standards (no negative impact, say, on the capacity of a program, class, grade level , or school building) to provide children with opportunities for academic achievement and that meet their diverse needs, especially allowing a student attending a district school on the Open Enrollment List as identified by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to transfer to another school within or outside of the district, as long as said school has a higher Academic Performance Index (API)"; *Approved the Williams, Valenzuela/CAHSEE lawsuit settlement quarterly report on Uniform Complaints 2010-11 (no complaints were filed with any school in the district during the quarter, Oct. l to Dec. 31, under review); *Approved the Title I waiver application, which will exempt the district from the 14-day requirement to provide parents of eligible students with notice of their public school choice (in this case Imperial, Lewis and Old River schools, which were identified for improvement for the 2010-11 school year) before the start of the school year, as the official notification from the California Department of Education was not received in time; *Approved the Title I application for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and authorized submission of the application of the California Department of Education; *Approved Part II of the consolidated application for funding categorical aid programs; *Approved the abolishment of one vacant instructional assistant (bilingual) position at West Middle School, effective Jan. 28, 2011, another at East Middle School, effective June 23, 2011, while establishing one new limited term position with duties corresponding to the current classification of senior instructional assistant, for assignment to Lewis Elementary School four hours per day, effective Jan. 4, 2011-March 31, 2011; *Approved the changes to the basic function of Custodian and Grounds Equipment Operator, as shown in pertinent duty statements, *Reviewed revisions to BP and AR 1221 - Use of School Facilities; this policy covers who may use school facilities, the fees and the question of gratuities involved and when payment is expected, activities permitted and not permitted and supervision of same, other restrictions, etc. (Its general policy is to "allow groups and organizations which, in the estimation of the district, will use the school facilities which will contribute to the education, political, economic, artistic, and moral welfare of the citizens of the community, and as long as such use shall not conflict with the school program)"; *Approved the Single Plans for Student Achievement and Title I school parent involvement policies, in which "all schools wrote goals, objectives and activities to improve student achievement (school plans were updated and revised after new assessment data was received along with the state and federal approved categorical budget funding allocations)," along with several strategies involving parents (their participation in the planning, review, and implementation of the program, etc.) in the education of their children; The next regular meeting of the Board will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave.

********** Published: February 10, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 43