School board issues commendations

DOWNEY - Describing the heightened level of activity discernible on the district's campuses a month after the start of the 2011-12 school year, and noting that the first students' progress report had just come out, DUSD board chairman Martha Sodetani Tuesday said: "We in the district have hit the ground running!"The meeting meanwhile featured the first in the series of monthly commendations and recognitions, in acknowledgment of unusual and/or exemplary accomplishments and projects in the district. The board first heard a presentation by Gauldin Elementary's Alex Gaytan (representing the Kiwanis Club of Downey) recognizing students actively involved in the activities of the Kiwanis Green Team. Then it was East Middle School principal Brent Shubin's turn to present longtime music teacher Andrea Keen as DUSD's choice as the very prestigious Masonic Lodge #352 Civic Recognition Award winner. Shubin praised Keen, who obtained her bachelor's in instrumental music and her teaching credential from Cal State Long Beach, as "a woman of integrity, a model of trustworthiness, compassion, and perseverance, [truly] a wonderful model for her students and colleagues." Shubin said that besides being an outstanding music teacher, talented at playing many instruments, Keen has taken on many other responsibilities as well, including serving on the school Leadership Team, as fine arts department chair, and ASB advisor to the student senate. As a measure of her qualities of professionalism and "angelic" patience, he said: "She graciously includes students of all ability levels, including kids with learning disabilities, while organizing student concerts at the Downey Theater and entering her bands (three levels) into regional band festivals and competitions." In short, he said, Keen is "a stellar example of what being an outstanding educator is all about." Alyda Mir, the new principal at West Middle School, meanwhile presented 8th grade counselor AndaJo Hayes, and algebra teachers Jim Hollon, and Carolyn Katsufrakis, as the recipients of the superintendent's Vision Award in the area of student achievement. Both Katsufrakis and Hollon are excellent teachers, Mir said, "with a clear understanding of algebra and how to teach the curriculum to their students. They reorganize with Mrs. Hayes, who is a vital and key member of the team, after school homework help and intervention time to re-teach lessons and give individualized attention to students who need extra assistance. Data is carefully examined to ensure students are meeting the expectations for all algebra standards." "I am proud to have [these] three dynamic individuals be a part of my staff that are willing to collaborate with others and work as a team to continuously improve their skills as well as their students' math skills. The CST scores speak for themselves: 90 percent of the algebra students scored proficient or higher because of their dedication. They are truly deserving of this award." In other action, the Board: *Acknowledged with thanks several cash and in-kind donations from a number of solicitous individuals and parties, benefiting the educational/other supplementary programs at some elementary schools, led by a $24,000 donation from Kaiser-Permanente Financial Services in support of the TLC Family Resource Center; *Ratified routine but otherwise significant district business, including: payment of convention and conference attendance; general agreements with outside entities providing a miscellany of educational support and specialized services such as autism, intensive behavior intervention consulting, etc.; special education placements; 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 August; payment of B warrants; contracts with Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) 2011-02 participation in marine education programs, science and conservation education for one elementary school and one middle school; agreements between Downey Adult School Career and Education Center and several facilities to furnish practical experience to students enrolled in various adult school programs; authorized advertisement for bids for electrical supplies; adjustments of the 2011-12 general fund restricted and unrestricted funds, as well as the transfer of funds ($5,360,496) from the unrestricted general fund to the restricted general fund (for special education); and routine personnel items until subsequent action is taken by the Board of Education; *Accepted as complete, backhoe services, concrete, electrical, roofing, and fencing work performed by various performers; *Ratified the abolishment of a number of non-priority positions at the high schools, as well as at a couple of middle schools, and at a few elementary schools, meanwhile approving the establishment of a few higher level/specialist positions benefiting Technology, special education, TLC Center, and a couple of elementary schools; *After a public hearing appointed John Kennedy, the DUSD's appointee, as personnel commissioner for a three-year term ending Nov. 30, 2014; *Approved the 2011-12 Downey Adult School course of study, *Approved the Test Administration calendar for the 2011-121 school year, *Received the 2011-12 annual report, which is discussed in a little more detail elsewhere; and *Met behind closed doors to take appropriate action on a couple of student cases. The next meeting of the Board of Education will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Gallegos Administration Center, 11627 Brookshire Ave.

********** Published: October 20, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 27