Local school districts grapple with growing shortage of teacher graduates

Natalie Pempek Teacher's Name: Natalie PempekSchool: St. John the Evangelist SchoolSchool District: Lake CentralTell about this teacher and why he/she should be recognized?: Mrs. Pempek is incredibly devoted to her first grade students, teaching them in the best possible way. She loves making school fun by creating experiences and activities to make learning exciting. Mrs. Pempek loves art and helped lead art club activities for artists in the lower grades.What did he/she do that stands out this year?: This year she dressed up as a train conductor and created a train ride for students to make the story, "Gus Takes a Train" come to life. She also turned her classroom into a bat cave to teach students all the interesting facts about bats. Katelyn Barta Teacher's Name: Katelyn BartaSchool: Winfield ElementarySchool District: Crown Point Community School CorporationTell about this teacher and why he/she should be recognized?: Miss Barta excels in the area of classroom management. She strives to create an environment where children are focused, determined, and sustaining growth. Her students not only learn the academic standards, but perseverance and setting high goals as well.What did he/she do that stands out this year?: Miss Barta transitioned to a second-grade classroom from a Kindergarten assignment the previous year. Her skills were easily transferred despite the change in curriculum. Parent compliments for her doggedness are plentiful. She does not give up on students and works to seeks out resources to ensure all children learn. Jim Saksa Teacher's Name: Jim SaksaSchool: Colonel John Wheeler Middle SchoolSchool District: Crown PointTell about this teacher and why he/she should be recognized?: He is the best team leader in the building and always a favorite of the students. He has been teaching in Crown Point for 34 years.What did he/she do that stands out this year?: He organized an interactive, engagin, and hands-on Winter Olympics event in the media center for Continue Reading

School district looking to bring back popular sixth-grade camp

Sixth-Grade Camp has been a rite of passage for 11- and 12-year-olds in San Diego County for more than 70 years, but the rising price to send kids to the great outdoors for a few nights has made it challenging for some school districts. The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District is one of those districts that found the cost prohibitive, cutting participation in the Cuyamaca Outdoor School from the budget in 2009. But it is looking to bring back the experience of studying stars, streams and science while hiking and doing hands-on crafts in the backcountry. The district’s board on Feb. 20 heard a presentation by Bob Mueller, executive director of Outdoor Education and Student Support Services for the San Diego County Office of Education. Mueller and several other associated with the Outdoor School gave an overview of the camp and talked about fees, scholarships and funding opportunities. Mueller said the county works with districts to help with discounts and contracts. As the economy has improved, a number of districts have reinstated Sixth-Grade Camp, including the Lemon Grove School District, which returned to the Outdoor School in 2017 after a nine-year absence. Several speakers said they wanted the district to bring the program back. Superintendent Brian Marshall and the governing board made no hard promises, but they said they were aware of the interest and would bring it back for further discussion. The County Office of Education runs the program at the 25,000-acre Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, hosting more than 11,000 kids every year. It typically costs $320 per student to attend the five-day, four-night camp located off Highway 79 in the mountains of East County. The program seeks to connect students to science and nature, offering lessons in astronomy, biology, botany, geology, meteorology, outdoor skills and Native American lore. There are campfires and even a talent show. The school recently added archery, geocaching, and rock climbing. The largest and Continue Reading

Crazy housing market partly blamed for closure of 3 Bay Area schools

By Alyssa Pereira, SFGATE Updated 1:22 pm, Monday, February 5, 2018 Now Playing: Families in one southern San Jose school district are coming to grips with the news that three of their schools will be closing, part of a consolidation plan to deal with dwindling enrollment. Christien Kafton reports Media: KTVU Three elementary schools in the South San Jose area will soon shutter, apparently due in part to the fact that it's extremely expensive to live in the South Bay Area. On Wednesday, the Oak Grove School District board voted 4 to 1 to close three schools ahead of the 2018-2019 school year: Del Roble Elementary, Glider Elementary and George Miner Elementary. Teachers and students attending these schools will be transferred to one of 13 other schools in the district, including Julia Baldwin Elementary, which was also at risk of closure but will be kept open for now. "School districts throughout the state are facing painful reductions and possible school closures," reads a letter from Superintendent José L. Manzo to the school district. "This school closure process allows us to maximize diminishing resources and deliver quality education at the highest standards to all of our students." window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = Continue Reading

Lemon Grove considers Adopt-a-Park program

Adoption may be a new option in Lemon Grove — at least when it comes to its parks. The city is looking into adopting out some of its 14.2 acres of parks to local groups that can help keep them neat, clean, green and safe. The City Council last year said it wanted to offer residents the opportunity to care for one of its six parks — Berry Street Park, Civic Center Park, Dan Kunkel Park, Firefighters Park, Veterans Park, and Lemon Grove Park — similar to what Chula Vista and Poway do for some of their parks. It plans on bringing the matter up when it deliberates about the 2018-19 budget later in the spring. Staff time will be involved as well as minimal costs for signs (about $50 apiece) that would recognize groups who have adopted a park. The “Adopt-a-Park” initiative allows volunteers, usually those who live or work near a park, to pitch in and help cities provide clean parks for everyone. Volunteers also sometimes repair and paint park tables and benches, check for broken sprinklers; report vandalism; and assist with weed abatement. The Lemon Grove City Council heard a report from Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Mike James last week that discussed pros and cons of an Adopt-a-Park initiative, which would be managed by the city but voluntarily run by outside non-political organizations, corporations or groups. Some of the benefits of implementing an Adopt-A-Park program, James said, include: Supplementing city forces by cleaning a park for a set amount of time; Increasing community involvement to enhance the city’s resources; Providing volunteering opportunities to multiple groups that may not otherwise exist. The drawbacks of the program, James said, include: Liability exposure such as injuries to volunteers; An additional time investment by Lemon Grove’s Community Services staff; Lack of a method in place to hold a volunteer group accountable after they start the program. Typically, the adopting group will Continue Reading

California schools: Painful cuts around the corner, despite windfall

By Sharon Noguchi | [email protected] | January 17, 2018 at 12:35 pm Despite an unexpected $3 billion infusion in K-12 revenue for the coming school year, schools throughout the state are honing their electronic blue pencils to slash budgets. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to boost school funding to $56.7 billion “is not likely to be enough to mitigate any of the other crises districts are facing,” said Mary Ann Dewan, interim superintendent of the Santa Clara County Office of Education. In San Jose, the Oak Grove School District still plans to close three to five elementary schools in the fall. The East Side Union High School District board resolved to eliminate 66 jobs over two years. And Oakland Unified isn’t reversing the $9 million in painful cuts for this school year — although state funds could soften $11.2 million in trims laid out for next year. As they cut spending, school officials will face a tough sell to constituents wondering what happened to the new “extra” cash — especially when the combination of federal, state and local funds for K-12 are expected to total a record $95.6 billion in the next fiscal year, a 2.5 percent increase. That comes to $16,085 per pupil. However, of the $3 billion excess designated for schools, half is for cost-of-living increases and the other half simply completes a 2013 promise two years early — to restore schools’ pre-recession purchasing power. For a decade schools have been struggling to catch up to where they were in 2007-’08. Meanwhile, costs of benefits, salaries and operations have escalated. And under a deal to help keep the state retirement systems afloat, school districts must devote a greater chunk to pensions — 16.3 percent of teacher payroll next year and likely a similar percentage for support-staff pensions. In recent years, many districts granted employees generous raises to make up for Continue Reading

Houston-area school districts close again Wednesday after Tuesday’s icy road conditions

By Shelby Webb Updated 9:25 pm, Tuesday, January 16, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 40', target_type: 'mix' }); Continue Reading

Hali Flickinger encourages Spring Grove students to chase goals

Hali Flickinger can't help but feel overwhelmed when she talks about swimming in the Rio Olympics this summer.Not just because she competed against some of the best athletes in the world, but because she had the opportunity to represent the United States.Speaking at her alma mater Spring Grove Area High School on Tuesday morning, the Olympic swimmer told students how important wearing red, white and blue in Rio was to her. She became choked up when talking about representing her country.So while Flickinger hopes to make it back to the Olympics in four years, she'd also like to see another kid from her hometown make it someday."I hold being an Olympian so, so dearly to my heart ... I get really emotional talking about it," Flickinger said during the early morning assembly. "I mean, I represented our country, which is so awesome."I encourage you guys to try and work really hard in everything you do, and maybe one day you can represent our country or you can fight for our country. Just wearing the American flag on you is something that is really special, and I'll forever hold dear to my heart."It's been a hectic two days for Flickinger, who was honored with a parade, signed autographs and appeared at the York Revolution game on Monday. But while she admitted to not having prepared a speech Tuesday, she spoke passionately about the hard work it takes for an individual to achieve their goals.Flickinger started swimming at the age of 7 and always wanted to be an Olympian, but it wasn't until she was 12 that she really started to chase that dream.That was when she realized winning doesn't come easy."Around the age of 12 was when I started getting beat by people, and I wasn't OK with that," Flickinger said. "That's when I realized I really, really wanted to be good at what I did."She talked about her decision to swim at the York YMCA and how coach Michael Brooks made her a better swimmer. She also said Continue Reading

Anti-Muslim school board member should resign (editorial)

Matthew Jansen, who recently “spouted off” via social media and a ranting voicemail about a Dallastown church’s sign that wished a “blessed Ramadan” to its Muslim neighbors, is a perfect example of the old adage that “elections have consequences.”When you walk into the voting booth, you have the power to choose someone who could do great credit to your country and your community – or great discredit.It’s important to do your homework. Who are these candidates? What do they stand for? Do they truly represent your values? Are they thoughtful, responsible and disciplined in their rhetoric? Are they well-informed?Many voters are guilty of not doing their civic duty – particularly when it comes to local elections: school board, township supervisor, etc. For one thing, many people don’t bother to vote in those elections – not realizing that in Pennsylvania, with its vast local government structure, these small-town officials have almost as much influence on our daily lives as the president. For another, many local voters don’t bother to learn about the candidates.So, perhaps it’s not surprising that Mr. Jansen last year won a seat on the Spring Grove school board.In retrospect, though, it’s deeply disappointing that someone with such overt and virulent antipathy to Muslims was elected to a board that makes policies for students of ALL races and religions.What’s even more disappointing is that he was also recently elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention – vowing in his campaign to vote for Donald Trump on every ballot.A quick scroll through Mr. Jansen’s Twitter feed should give pause to any fair-minded person – no matter what political bent.It’s rife with bigotry and vitriolic political rhetoric.Are his views really the views of York County Republicans – who chose him to choose their nominee for president?Maybe Mr. Jansen’s Continue Reading

Spring Grove board member ranted against Muslims (column)

As a pastor, I receive unusual phone calls. Sometimes they’re the expected sort of unusual phone calls, but sometimes they’re the not-so-nice calls. I received one of them last weekend; I was out of town, and I allowed the caller to go to my voicemail.The message was in response to the message on the sign at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dallastown, “Wishing a blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors,” and it was a message of disapproval.According to the man on the line, I hear that Islam is a pagan, godless religion, you make me sick, you’re despicable, this is unbelievable that a church would be tolerant of another religion. He threatened to put the picture of the church’s sign on social media, I suppose, to invite more shaming and outrage.The guy who left the message didn’t realize that I can see the number of who is calling on my mobile phone. I Googled the number and found it:  Matt Jansen, delegate from York County to the Republican National Convention, and school board member of Spring Grove Area School District.Mr. Jansen made good on his threat. He publicly posted a photo of the church’s sign along with our phone number on Twitter, and tagged Ann Coulter. At first, I thought, ironically, he is spreading the message of tolerance. But then the phone started ringing. I had to disconnect the phone and answering machine at church. As I write this, five days later, we’re still getting calls.Yes, Mr. Jansen had encouraged people to harass a local congregation for speaking words of tolerance.Yes, York County, this is who we have elected to represent you at one of the major party’s conventions this summer and who we have elected to a school board, which makes policies for the education of children and teenagers.A look into Mr. Jansen’s Twitter account is helpful in terms of context; the profanity can’t really be shared in the newspaper. Muslims, here called Continue Reading

New schools mean new feeder patterns for Appoquinimink School District

Always assume your first-grader would go to Cedar Lane Elementary School? Or that your freshman would attend Middletown High School? Thanks to a large referendum approved in December, students in Middletown, Odessa and Townsend may soon end up attending different schools. Every residential address in Delaware has a school feeder pattern, which indicates the school the children living in that household will attend. But the Appoquinimink School District is in the midst of building three new schools, which means soon those feeder patterns will change. A committee of district staff, a school board member and parents has been meeting since the spring to decide which schools students will attend once construction is done. "A lot of time and thought went into this and what's best for kids in the district, which will have over 11,000 students by that point," Superintendent Matt Burrows said, adding that during the transition, all of Appoquinimink's high schoolers will be able to start and graduate from the same school.  STORY: Court papers: Man charged in Townsend arson argued with family, ransacked child's room STORY: Saturday's Literacy festival offers speakers, screenings, advice, freebies The first new building, Lorewood Grove Elementary, opens in fall 2019 and will serve grades 1-5. It is in the Village of Whitehall, just south of the Delaware & Chesapeake Canal and west of Del. 1 at Mapleton Avenue and Raleigh Street.It will draw students from a fairly broad area, both north and south of the canal and west and east of Del. 1, easing overcrowding at Olive B. Loss Elementary School; Old State Elementary School; and Cedar Lane Elementary School, which currently has eight temporary classrooms. The other elementary school's feeder patterns will change slightly, as well. The second school, Odessa High, will open in fall 2020, though in its first year, it will serve only ninth-graders. Grades Continue Reading