DOWNEY - Of all the evident efforts, developments and progress made of late by the Downey Unified School District in practically all relevant areas of its educational enterprise, none has the potential to affect its future course more than the Board of Education's choice of a replacement for retiring superintendent Dr. Wendy Doty.This thought was expressed by no less than a member of the board, and is shared by people in the know in the community. At the moment, the process of searching for the right superintendent for DUSD, following a succession of dynamic and successful superintendents, is proceeding on schedule. The district's annual report for school year 2011-12 has just come out and presented to the board at its Tuesday meeting. "It is," said board member Willie Gutierrez, "full of information." Among the wealth of information that can be found in its tightly-written pages are these: *The retirement as of July 31, 2012 of Assistant Superintendent-Educational Services Jerilyn King-Brown, Dr. Doty's longtime sidekick in matters pertaining to educational services; *The CBEDS's (California Basic Educational Data System) finding, as of October 2011, of the district's demographics: 86 percent Hispanic or Latino; 7 percent white; 3 percent African-American; 2 percent Asian; and 1 percent Filipino; *The graduation of 1,862 students, and DUSD's graduation rate as tops in the area; *The over-achieving CTE (Career and Technical Education) students recognized for their accomplishments in competitions at the local, state, and national levels; *The district's Technology Plan, including the use of social media, meeting state requirements as well as federal E-rate funding (discounts on Internet and internal computer connection for schools); *The district-wide intensified focus on math training, with 49 teachers in Grades 3 through high school Algebra I at least receiving professional math instruction in collaboration with UCLA; *Student Services' efforts at maximizing daily school attendance through its many forward-looking programs ("Revenue based on attendance rates is the primary and essential source of funding for local school districts"); *The announced retirement effective December 29, 2012 of Kevin Condon, Assistant Superintendent-Business Services. The huge steps taken (and gains) in the rest of the areas of educational services, in curriculum, instruction and assessment, specially-funded federal and state programs, special education, financial services, in maintenance, operations and transportation (MOT) service, purchasing and warehousing, student information systems, and certificated human resources-are all documented in the annual report, each worthy of full treatment. Because the process of finding a suitable replacement for Condon may also take a while, he has agreed to serve after his official retirement on an interim basis until a successor is found: it is generally agreed that his specialized skills, especially in budget and fiscal matters, are needed by the district in aligning future expected revenues and costs. The immediate impact of the passage of Proposition 30, he says, is the staving off of the $640 per pupil cut had it not passed. Otherwise, he says, all funds levels found in last year's district budget are budgeted for school year 2012-13. At any rate, Condon, as mentioned, will still be around to monitor the situation. Condon, it will be recalled, is a Brown University graduate and served more than five years in the U.S. Naval Supply Corps. He earned an MBA from Cal State Long Beach in 1980 and joined DUSD in 2004. A varsity football and baseball player at Brown, he says that after some time to decompress after his replacement is found this spring, he hopes to travel and spend more time with family back in new England, "get my golf handicap down a few strokes and avoid weekend golf!" Also Tuesday, the board heard Edward Vasquez, board of directors president of the Central Basin Municipal Water District, recognize Warren High School's Glenn Yamasaki with its High School Teacher award. The board also recognized Robin Martin, Lewis Elementary School principal, as she presented kindergarten teacher Heidi LaCommare-Epp on her selection by DUSD as the Masonic Teacher of the Year. Martin said that Heidi began her college studies in physical therapy while working three jobs to pay for her education. One of those jobs was working in a preschool at her church. "It is there that Heidi fell in love with children, a love affair that ultimately changed her life forever," said Martin. In her kindergarten class, continued Martin, "While she sets and hold her students to high standards of behavior and academic study, she is loving, patient, kind and caring, always putting the children and their needs first. Heidi's influence as an invaluable teacher is not only felt at Lewis but in the district as well."
********** Published: November 15, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 31