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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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September 26, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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September 26, 2012
 

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2A Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 Feather River Bulletin School board meets to discuss 2012-13 year Samantha P. Hawthorne Staff Writer shawthorne@plumasnews.com With the commencement of the 2012-13 school year, Plumas Unified School Dis- trict and Plumas County Of- fice of Education boards met Sept. 12 in Chester for their regular board meeting. The first item on the agenda was a progress report on the newly formed partnership of Greenville High School (GHS) and Plumas Charter School (PCS). A memorandum of under- standing (MOU) between PUSD and PCS was approved at the district's June board meeting. The MOU specified GHS and PCS would share space, teachers and resources at the start of the new school year. During the August board meeting, changes to the MOU were suggested by board mem- bers. The changes were incor- porated during the Sept. 12 meeting. The board was con- cerned, however, that the two schools might have conflicting policies. The decision was made to address possible con- flicts as they arise and a unanimous vote was made to approve the final MOU. PCS Student Services Coor- dinator and Indian Valley Academy Director Sue Weber and GHS Principal Gary Miller were very optimistic about the merge. "Because of the partnership, we have been able to offer a lot more options for our students. It has been very positive and it's only the beginning," said Miller. "The most important part to me is that the students are get- ting along very well with each other. It is going to take a lot of work, this year in particu- larly, to really develop sys- tems to make everything work properly," said Weber. Director Bret Cook asked what the demographic of stu- dents taking Classes at PCS is. Miller gave an example: some eighth-graders are ready for Algebra 1, but the class overlaps other core class requirements. Thanks to the merger, those students are able to take both Classes by picking up the sec- ond class at the charter school during a time that fits their schedule. PCS offers electives such as robotics and martial arts that GHS does not offer. They are trying to get the kids at GHS interested in taking those subjects. By merging the schools, stu- dents have more opportunities to take the classes they want and the ones they need. "The idea is to have electives all day to fit the kids' schedule," said Weber. PCS charter renewal During the meeting, PCS Academic Director Janet Wol- cott, and PCS President Ra- mona Hill, presented a request for renewal of the school's charter. At this time, the request was presented for information purposes only. According to Wolcott, the school attracts students who are "independently minded" and want to accelerate their schooling by taking extra classes. "Our focus this year is mak- ing sure kids really care about results," said Wolcott. The staff is working to develop an incentive program that will entice students to focus, which will help improve test scores. They also plan on moving the "end of the year" test to April instead of May so the school can have more control over results, The board is required by law to provide a response to the school within 60 days. Members scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 10 to allow community members to com- ment on whether or not the charter should be renewed. Since the next board meet- ing following the hearing would be 62 days from the ini- tial request, the board asked Wolcott and Hill to allow them a two-day extension. The PCS liaison agreed to the extra two days so the board tabled final action to Nov. 14. FRC Upward Bound grant Feather River College cur- rently offers academic support to high school students who meet their guidelines. The Upward Bound pro- gram gives these students the chance to excel in higher edu- cation by preparing them for college. Audrey Peters, director of Upward Bound, presented an overview to the PUSD board and requested renewal of the program's grant. The,board agreed to renew the FRC Upward Bound grant award for another five years. Forest Service settlement The Plumas County Board of Supervisors met Sept. 4 to discuss the 2007 Moonlight Fire settlement paid to the Forest Service. Under the Act of May 23, 1908, and the Secure Rural Schools Act of 2000, a letter was written to the Forest Ser- vice outlining the county and school district's entitlement to a portion of the settlement. Board members thought it would be a good idea to intro- duce the idea of a joint letter from both the school district and the county. Bill Wickman, chairman of the Plumas County Economic Recovery Committee, present- ed the idea to the PUSD/PCOE boards and a decision,was made to fully support the re- covery efforts. "This involves funds that .should be rightfully coming your way from three fires (Storrie, Rich and Moonlight). The settlements total almost $300 million. "Historically, we have lost just over $7 million since 2009. Counties that have public lands were to receive 25 per- cent of the settlements and we have not seen a penny of it," said Wickman. 2012 STAR testing "We need to celebrate our teachers and students," opened Tori Willits, educa- tional services director for PUSD, when presenting the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results. The results for the district went up overall and "the per- centage of students going on to secondary education saw a dramatic increase, said Willits. She said 94 percent of PSUD students go on to a two- or four-year college. According to the Postsecondary Educa- tion Commission on average only 72 percent of California high school graduates go to a two- or four-year California college. For a detailed report on STAR testing results visit http://tinyurl.com/956czyz. The next PUSD meeting will be held Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. at Por- tola High School, immediately followed by the PCOE meeting at 7 p.m. Board 'respectfully' disagrees with grand jury report Laura Beaton Staff Writer Ibeaton@plumasnews.com The 2012 grand jury find- ings regarding student safety blasted Plumas Unified School District (PUSD) and Plumas County Office of Ed- ucation (PCOE) boards of ed- ucation for their failure to conduct and consider safety- related issues. In a collective response to the report, the board (five residents from the county's five districts are elected and serve four-year terms on both boards) "respectfully disagreed" with the two pri- mary areas of concern of the Plumas County grand jury report: student safety and hiring practices in regards to the superintendent position. "A safe, nurturing envi- ronment is necessary for learning," Board Policy (BP) 100(a) clearly states, accord- ing to the response. It further states: "The board routinely takes ac- tions to safeguard our stu- dents and has implemented a wide spectrum of policies governing student safety, and the safety of our students was a primary concern in the recent deci- sions on school closure and consolidation." The governing board's re- sponse said the grand jury findings were inaccurate and based on Education Code ap- plicable to the acquisition or purchase of schools or school sites. The board had been charged with consideration of the closure and consolida- tion of the Pioneer and Quincy elementary school campuses. The school board's re- sponse continued: "The board considered all aspects of student safety including traffic, noise, hazardous ma- terials and commercial Open 7 days Hwy 89, Crescent Mills THE GRAEAGLE LIGHTING COMPANY ENJOY GIRLS NIGHT OUT with our STOREWIDE SALE! 50% OFF Clothing Racks and... operations in proximity to both Pioneer and Quincy elementary schools." In addition to these safety considerations, the boards said the quality reports is- sued by the 7-11 committees (which the grand jury praised) were of immeasur- able help in making a decision. Those reports singled out Quincy E1 as being the site more conducive to student safety. The board defended its de- cision to not conduct further safety studies (another find- irig of the grand jury), which would have incurred consid- erable expense that, it said, the district can ill afford. Finally, in regard to stu- dent safety, the board refuted the grand jury's conclusion, "that student safety went un- addressed in the PUSD re- sponse to the 2010-2011 re- port, and that the board re- sponse was not timely submitted." The school board said school safety was addressed in reports submitted Aug. 25 and Sept. 14, 2011, well with- in the specified time frame. The grand jury's other major concern was regard- ing hiring practices. The board begins its re- sponse to these findings: "Al- though it is not entirely clear from the language used in the 2012 grand jury report, the grand jury appears to be raising concerns about the hiring of the former superin- tendent (Glenn Harris)." The school board's re- sponse noted that only one current member was in- volved in that hiring process. The board disagreed with finding F6: !'to the extent that it implies that no pre- employment background check was performed." "The board's understand- ing is that the hiring firm, CBSA, did conduct all neces- sary checks, and the fact that the grand jury found no evi- dence of that doesn't mean the background checks weren't conducted." Confidentiality guidelines prohibit such information from being disclosed to the public the governing board's response said, Those same confidentiality guidelines prohibited the school board from responding DRIVEWAY MAINTENANCE SLURRY SEALCOATING SS1 H OIL HOT CRACK FILLING PATCHING SERVING ALL OF PLUMAS & LASSEN COUNTIES FREE ESTIMATES C-12 CA LIC. #762465 530 - 284 - 1474 1377 ARLINGTON RD, TAYLORSVILLE, CA 95983 with 10 / DISCOUNT ,,,, ad i, a Exquisite Lighti ng Carpets Hardwood/ Laminate Flooring Lighting Repairs Blinds and Shutters www.graeaglelightingcompany.com Winter Hours: Open Tues-Sun, 9:30AM - 4PM to finding F7, regarding evi- dence of background checks the response said. The board respectfully dis- agreed with findings F8 and F9, which found the board had "no policy in place re- quiring the vetting of infor- mation and holding of per- manent records by the PUSD/PCOE" and "no exist- ing policies for hiring a superintendent." PUSD/PCOE's response cites BP 2120, which specifi- cally addresses the selection of a new superintendent and mandates verification of qualifications through refer- ence checks. It also cites BP 4112.5 and 4312.5, which govern crimi- nal background checks and BP 3580 and 4112.6, which govern retention of the docu- ments referenced in those findings. In response to the grand ju- ry's commentary regarding lack of cooperation from dis- trict personnel and board members and the necessity of sending out formal sub- poenas to compel those indi- ' viduals to appear before the jury, the school board said it is unfair and unprofessional to imply any wrongdoing. The response says the ne- cessity for formal subpoenas was for said individuals to be excused from work without penalty or loss of pay and that is the proper procedure and should not be regarded as a lack of cooperation. Regarding additional mat- ters, the board "was sur- prised to read the amount of specific detail revealed in the grand jury report regarding comments given by specific people called to testify before the grand jury." "Penal Code 929 specifi- cally prohibits the grand ju- ry's release of information that may lead to the identity of any person providing in- formation to the grand jury." The governing board "re- spectfully asks the grand ju- ry to exercise caution and prudence in any future in- vestigations with respect to the release of information that may lead to identifica- tion of individuals who ap- peared before the grand jury." The response concludes with thanks to the grand ju- ry and an assurance that "PUSD and PCOE will strive to use this critique as a tool for continuing to improve services we provide and to further enhance a safe and healthy atmosphere for our students and staff." To read the full response in, go to pcoe.kl2.ca.us and look under public informa- tion updates. 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