By Heidi Emerson, President
I can barely believe it . . . we have 2 months of school to go - this year is flying by!
There are two really hot topics right now with education in California that I'd like to share with you. One is the governor's proposed Local Control Funding Formula, which will change the way schools in California are funded, and the other is Common Core. The National Common Core Standards have been adopted by our State and our district is working diligently preparing our teachers for implementation.
While the Local Control Funding Formula can be a great thing for our district, as we all know there is much room for improvement with the way our schools are funded, there is a flaw in the formula which would negatively affect districts with a growing population, such as ours. I had the privilege to attend an Assembly Budget Subcommittee hearing in Sacramento last week and provide comment as to why we would like our legislators to get the formula right, for all our students. This was an amazing opportunity and they were listening and we are hopeful, but we need your help.
For 33 years, our PTA has held Advocacy Day - sometimes traveling to Sacramento by the bus loads and for the last few years, by bringing the legislators here, locally. You have the opportunity to learn so much more and make an influence on these decision makers, next Friday, April 19th at the San Ramon Community Center. Click on the link below to find out much more and register! Legislators like numbers and with your support, we can fill the room and show them that our kids' education is a top priority!
Click here to register for more information and to register for Advocacy Day TODAY - registration closes soon!
Advocacy Day will also include the topic of Common Core. Our district is working hard to train our teachers and prepare for implementation. Many of our schools are holding evening meetings for parents to come out and learn about the new standards, assessments and ways that Common Core will be different from what we know today. I encourage you to attend a meeting and find out about the exciting changes ahead.
A wealth of information can be found here, which is the district's new website dedicated to Common Core with information specifically for parents, educators, presentations, FAQs and transition steps for implementation. The changes that are taking place in education are monumental - I encourage you to get involved, ask questions and support our schools.
Our Parent and Community Concerns, Special Needs and Inclusion and Diversity Committees continue to provide our communities with amazing events, information, resources and networking opportunities. Be sure to check out their upcoming events on our website.
A quick shout-out to all the parent volunteers that have stepped up to be PTA leaders for the 2013-14 school year. I look forward to meeting you all soon and am excited about the work we do for all kids here in the San Ramon Valley. State PTA, district and council all provide wonderful training opportunities and I encourage you to take advantage of these resources.
Thank you for reading and please visit our website at http://www.srvcouncilpta.org/ to keep abreast with what resources and support we provide.
By Robin Peoples Klau, VP of Legislative Advocacy
The 33rd Annual PTA Advocacy Day for Education, next Friday, April 19 at the San Ramon Community Center is one of those opportunities where your input and presence will make an impact. You're invited. In fact, we need you to attend! Legislators are influenced by your attendance; showing up shows you care.
Join other parents, teachers, staff and community members as we hear from our state and federal legislators and local superintendents. Advocacy Day is from 9:00am - 2:30pm, Register online here: http://fs9.formsite.com/SRVPTAs/form5/index.html
The agenda for this year's Advocacy Day for Education, also available on the website: http://srvcpta-ca.schoolloop.com/AdvocacyDay2013 is as follows:
Setting a Foundation of Understanding about Education Funding, LCFF, and Political Climate - John Fensterwald, Editor, EdSource
Common Core Implementation & State Education Policy - Craig Cheslog, California Department of Education Principal Advisor
State Legislator Panel - Assemblymember Buchanan, Assemblymember Bonilla, Senator DeSaulnier
PTA Response - Denise Jennison, 32nd District PTA President
Federal Legislator Panel - Congressman Miller, Congressman Swalwell
Local Superintendents Panel Shelton, SRVUSD, Nicherson, AUHSD, Burns, MSD
Break-out: Common Core Implementation for Special Needs Students - Moore, Rowley-Thom, Taylor
CA State PTA Legislative Priorities and Positions - Carol Kocivar, California PTA President
Legislatively, there is much going on right now that will impact our children. The Governor's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) continues through Budget Committee Hearings. SRVUSD Superintendent Shelton joined SRV Council PTA President Heidi Emerson and myself to testify at the Education Budget Subcommittee #2 Hearing last week. The top two issues we have with LCFF are the adequacy of the base number and a newly identified flaw in the formula with regard to growth that hurts districts like ours
In a press release dated Friday, April 12, Superintendent Shelton noted that "districts that are growing actually lose money". She went on to point out that SRVUSD is the "fourth lowest funded unified district in the State, and if this flaw is not fixed, districts like ours will continue to lag further and further behind in per-pupil funding. Not only is this inadequate, it is inherently wrong to consider implementing the formula before the flaws have been fixed." Here is the actual math from the press release:
"According to the new formula, SRVUSD's projected State funding level for 2013-14 is $5,994 per student, an increase of approximately $146/student from the current 2012-13 level. If the District grows by its projection of 500 students next year, however, the per-pupil revenue from the State would be adjusted to $5907/student, an increase of only $60/student."
We are making progress with our advocacy efforts, however. Many of you participated in our recent letter writing campaign asking for a policy review of LCFF and I'm very excited to share your efforts paid off. TWO new bills have been introduced this month which will bring LCFF into Education Policy Committees in both the Assembly and Senate. Great write-ups from EdSource on both bills can be read here:
SENATE BILL 223, by Senate Education Policy Committee Chair Carol Lui
ASSEMBLY BILL 88, by Assembly Education Policy Committee Chair Joan Buchanan
Let's continue our efforts to make a difference. Your attendance at Advocacy Day in San Ramon this Friday, April 19 will help us continue to move these important conversations about LCFF base number adequacy forward as well as help persuade the Governor and Legislators to fix the flaw in the formula that will give SRUVSD even less funding per student next year
Questions about this or other Legislative Advocacy issues? Comments? Email me or attend Advocacy Day to learn more directly from education experts and our elected officials.
PARENT & COMMUNITY CONCERNS
"It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning." -Claude Bernard
Our committee continues to organize parent education events that are worth attending. We hope you take advantage of the following parent education and community concern opportunities:
- Internet Safety and Our Children: Come learn how to protect your children, and teach them how to be safe while staying active users of the Internet. Presented by Officer Steve DeWarns.
- Raising Creative Children: Creative children think outside the box and are driven by curiosity and innovation. Parenting them, however, can be both exciting and exhausting. Participants will learn strategies for cultivating and supporting creativity, as well as parenting strategies for nurturing the social and emotional development of their creative children. Presented by Dr. Dan Peters.
- Got Drugs?: Parents throughout the San Ramon Valley are highly encouraged to participate in the DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 27th. Help protect our youth and environment by disposing of medications that are expired, or no longer needed.
- How to Prepare Your Child for Middle School: Is your child soon to be a 6th grader? Are you curious and even a bit anxious about this transition? Then come hear from Phyllis Gordon, a former middle school teacher, and Educational Coach at Gordon Achievement Center in San Ramon. Jason Law, Pine Valley Middle School principal, and Julie Damgen, counselor will also join in the discussion.
- Preparing Your Kids for Social Media... Before they Get to Middle School: Join us to learn about peer pressure, bullying, gossip, substance abuse, and more.
Want to learn more about these parent ed nights? We invite you to check our webpage where you will find flyers, details, and links to sign up.
For a printable calendar showing all of the upcoming events, go to our webpage, and look for the LOCKER on the left hand side of the screen.
Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you!
SPECIAL NEEDS UPDATE -
APRIL 19 ADVOCACY DAY, SAN RAMON - An informed advocate is a good advocate!
This year at the PTA's 33rd Annual Advocacy Day for Education: Unparalleled Opportunity, Unparalleled Risk, there will be a
SPECIAL BREAKOUT: Common Core Standards and Students with Special Needs
SRVUSD Director of Instruction Toni Taylor, Elementary Special Education Director Linda Rowley Thom, and Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Moore, will provide an overview of SRVUSD's plan for Common Core implementation for students with special needs as well as considerations for the new assessments.
They welcome your attendance, interest, and participation in this breakout session. There will be a question and answer segment in this session.
Register now at http://srvcpta-ca.schoolloop.com/AdvocacyDay2013
A message from the SNC Chair, Marilyn Lucey
This month, the Special Needs Committee will co-host its final event of this year's Special Needs Parent Education Nights. This past year, our SNC Parent Education Night Coordinators Pam Elardy and Melissa Rapela planned and arranged for speakers to address our community on a variety of topics. Some topics addressed were new and some were old recurring themes. This year our speakers addressed severe food allergies, anxiety in our brightest and most sensitive, the transition to employment for our older students, support for siblings of children with special needs, and striving for harmony at home with ADD/ADHD kids. I would like to take this opportunity to THANK Pam Elardy and Melissa Rapela. This pair of volunteers work all year long to bring speakers to our community and organize the night events, in addition to their busy lives and other volunteer roles. The SNC cannot provide the programs it does for our community without valuable volunteers like Pam and Melissa - it takes a village, indeed!
Our final installment is the 2013 Special Needs Summer Resources, to connect families with camps, classes, services, resources that can help with the question, "What are your kids going to be doing this summer?"
Our co-host is the Community Advisory Committee (CAC). Do you know who they are? If you have a child receiving services in our district, you should. I have to admit that I only recently attended my first meeting. The CAC would like to have 15 parents on the committee; currently they have six. Parents of both regular education and special education students are invited to apply for a seat on this committee. Here's some information from their website:
The Community Advisory Committee is a forward-thinking, productive body that advises the Board of Education and works in partnership with the District and community toward:
- greater awareness of special needs issues;
- continuous improvement of special education processes and programs;
- and improved outcomes for all students;
in support of the special education local plan.
The CAC performs the following activities:
◾Advises the district administration and Board of Education regarding special education policy issues as related to implementation of the SELPA Local plan;
◾Makes recommendations on annual priorities to be addressed under the plan;
◾Assists in parent education and disability awareness activities;
◾Acts in support of individuals with exceptional needs.
Every CAC meeting will focus on a specific topic and include time for "Public Comment" where anyone can speak to a given topic or let the CAC know of a general concern. If the concern raised is case specific, the CAC will refer the question to a Parent Support Network volunteer or appropriate district staff.
You can find out when the CAC meets, how you can apply to be on the committee (both parents of regular education and special education students are welcome to apply), and more information about the CAC on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District website: http://www.srvusd.net/CAC
News, community events, support groups and additional resources for our special needs community, including gifted learners, are available at the San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs' Special Needs webpage http://srvcpta-ca.schoolloop.com/specialneeds . To receive the quarterly Special Needs Newsletter, click the 'Subscribe' button on the Special Needs.
Upcoming events in our district:
- April 11 - Incoming 6th grade parent night at CW. 6:30pm - breakout for parents of GATE students. Visit the Charlotte Wood website for more information.
- April 13 - Ribbon cutting ceremony for the redesigned Athan Downs Park. It has been renovated to be accessible and appropriate for children of all abilities. All are welcome!
- April 17 - Special Needs Summer Resource Fair. View the event flyer in the Locker at www.srvcpta-ca.schoolloop.com/specialneeds.
- April 19 - Legislative Advocacy Day with Special Breakout : Common Core Standards and Assessments and the Implications for Students with 504s and IEPs. www.srvcpta-ca.schoolloop.com/legislative
- April 23 - Gale Ranch Middle School invites incoming 6th grade parents with children receiving Special Education services to a coffee, 8:30-9:30 am, Room C107. The GRMS Principal will be there to meet you, answer questions and address concerns.
- May 8 - Special Needs Liaison, Todd Gary hosts an "Open Topics" Brown Bag Lunch, final in this school year's series. The Brown Bag Lunches are informal, and no registration is required. Bring a salad or sandwich and pick up some information to help you navigate this journey. Lunches are at the SRVUSD District Office, Boardroom A (699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville, CA 94526).
- May 15 - Charlotte Wood Incoming Special Needs Parent Coffee, 8:30-9:30 am. All families with children attending Charlotte Wood in the fall are invited to attend this coffee and meet the Principal, Assistant Principal, Special Day Class Teacher, Resource Teacher, and Support Staff.
Mission of the San Ramon Valley Council of PTA's Special Needs Committee:
To view additional community programs and events available to our Special Needs community, please visit http://srvcpta-ca.schoolloop.com/specialneeds .
We welcome your questions, volunteerism, and constructive feedback: email@example.com
SISTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
I accompanied students from San Ramon Valley High School a few weeks ago when they delivered boxes of books donated by the SRV community to their Sister School, Peres in Richmond. The book drive was held to celebrate "Read Across America Day." Each student at Peres received two books to bring home. SRV students also had the opportunity to read to all the classes. It was a really fun and educational day for all the students.
Montair Elementary held a successful supply drive for their Sister School, Meadow Homes in Concord. Montair also collected gently used books from their community to help fill the shelves of Meadow Homes' classroom libraries. Thanks to Montair for all their hard work!
Greenbrook Elementary is holding a bake sale April 19, to raise funds to purchase uniforms and books for their Sister School, Ford Elementary in Richmond. Greenbrook Girl Scout Troop 30225 is hosting this great event. Be sure to support these amazing Girl Scouts Greenbrook families!
Quail Run Elementary held a very successful popcorn, lemonade and hot chocolate sale to help their Sister School, Bayview Elementary. The treats were sold after school during the Book Fair. Great job, Quail Run!
Gale Ranch Middle School has done so many wonderful things for their Sister School, Lincoln Elementary in Richmond. At the end of the last year school year, Gale Ranch students collected gently used backpacks and donated these to Lincoln at the start of this school. In October, they ran a highly successful school uniform drive and were able to provide many of Lincoln's students with new uniforms. Gale Ranch also had a warm clothing and coat drive and brought bags of winter wear to Lincoln. Finally, in February, Gale Ranch brought a box of Valentines for each student at Lincoln, so the students could have the fun of giving Valentines to their friends. Huge thanks to the wonderful students and community at Gale Ranch for all they are doing!
Be sure to check your school's communications to see if there are any upcoming Sister School events at your school. As the year winds up, many schools may be collecting gently used school supplies. The like-new backpack that our children may not want to use for a second year would be gratefully received by a needy student!
If you have any questions, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
A number of schools in San Ramon Valley School District are successfully holding various Inclusion and Diversity events be it Heritage day or Multicultural night or International night! Through all these events we hope there is an increased sense of community, understanding of other cultures and appreciation of all the similarities and differences in our lives. Jennifer Wright, John Baldwin Elementary school IDC co-chair narrates below the details of the first International Night held in their school
Maria Vandarakis watched nervously and the police car slowed to check on the burgeoning event at John Baldwin Elementary. She didn't know what the MP room capacity was, but she was pretty confident it was currently exceeded for the first annual International Night. The Festival Around the World, held February 7th with an estimated headcount of over 700 people in attendance, was more successful than Maria and Co-chair, Jennifer Wright, could have imagined.
Student council members from our school under the direction of one of our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Allin were rotating during our international event handing out passports tied with yarn so children could carry them around their necks without losing them. Then families were able to visit 12 different countries separated under 10x10 outdoor tents set with artifacts, games and activities, samples of traditional food and a host dressed in traditional clothing. Passports were stamped as children entered each country. Information boards contained colorful pictures and interesting facts and trivia about their country.
"The country hosts really made the event so wonderful for everyone," Vandarakis says. "They really went all out with the food and decorations. We had a flat screen TV slide show at one country and a few had photo ops set up for guests."
Entertainment hit the stage in 10 minute intervals where children performed songs and dances from various international backgrounds and concluded with a near professional lesson on Hawaiian dance that had even the younger children on their feet and dancing.
"This event means a lot to our school and our families," Wright says. "Many don't see Baldwin as having a great deal of diversity, but tonight showed us that we are truly a school of many nations."
The co-chairs actually had to turn away some hosts at the end for lack of space in the MP room. They hope to move to a larger venue next year where there is space for all who want to host a country and all who want to attend.
The evening event was one part of a week long celebration of diversity at Baldwin. Multicultural art, music, P.E. and library books filled the week along with an International Dress spirit day with prizes for the classes with the most participation. "Where in the World Does Baldwin Come From?" was launched first thing Monday morning where students were asked to color a flag from a country in their families' heritage and post it on the map. Each participating student was entered in a drawing for prizes awarded on Friday. The map was covered in flags by the end of the week.
Planning has already begun for next year's festival.