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Live barn owl webcam at Sulphur Creek Nature Center

Two barn owls, that's whooo!

UPDATE 4/9: Got this from Wendy on Thursday, haven’t had a chance to blog. 

“Just a quick up date on the Owl Cam at Sulphur Creek. Five eggs have hatched to date and we expect the 6th egg to hatch on Good Friday, April 6th.  All the babies seem to be doing well.   The male had been bringing in food at night and mom has been patiently feeding the little babies (owlets) little pieces of rodent that the dad brought in.   The owl cam has been a huge success.   Since put onto the web three weeks ago, we now have had over 35,000 hits by 4,000 viewers from 25 countries.  Images of the babies show that the owlet the first hatched is substantially bigger than his siblings, but all are doing well.”

Feel like snooping on some feathered friends? Sulphur Creek Nature Center set up a camera to record what’s going on with a pair of wild, nesting barn owls and their six eggs. They expect them to hatch any day, and you can take a real-time peek at what’s going on right now on the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District website.

The small camera was placed in a nesting box that is used every year, said Wendy Winsted, an coordinator at the center. It is equipped with infrared light, so activity in the box can be watched 24 hours a day.

Winsted said the first egg is expected to hatch between now and Monday, and the others will follow at two-day intervals.

That’s different than for, say, ducks, because owls lay an egg and immediately start incubating it, Winsted said. Ducks also lay an egg every two days or so but wait until they’re all done before they incubate the lot of ‘em. So they all hatch at once.

With owls, Winsted said, the first egg out will contain an owl with considerable advantages over its peers. It will always be the one that’s a bit bigger.

Winsted is very excited about the owl-cam, and said they tried something similar  years ago with a system wired to a VCR. But going public with it brings an all new element.

“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Winsted said, adding that technological assistance was provided by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park Department, funding from the Castro Valley Rotary Club.

More info on press release after the jump.

Continue Reading

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The Armas Theorem: A proof to a parcel tax

While the Hayward Unified school board didn’t actually vote on whether to place a $58 parcel tax before voters come June, they indicated at Wednesday night’s public hearing that a majority of trustees support it.

Board President Jesus Armas laid it out in a manner reminiscent of a geometric proof, asking questions to hear givens from Asst. Supt. of Business Services Stanley “Data” Dobbs that led to his conclusion that yes, a parcel tax should be placed before voters.

Did state triggers recently mean another $900,000 hit to the district? Yes.

Has the district seen a loss of funding to the tune of $26 million over the past three years? Yes.

Has the district taken steps that could be considered Draconian to deal with those cuts? Yes.

Is an increase in classroom size one of the ways that the cuts have been reflected? Yes.

Have employees already made concessions? Yes.

“We’ve already grabbed all the low-hanging fruit,” Dobbs said.

“I have no reservations,” Armas said, adding that as leaders, they need to go forward with whatever measures possible within the district because the state has trashed public education funding to the point where it “is not acceptable.”

The tax would collect $58 annually from about 35,000 parcels in Hayward, with an estimated 5,000 opting for the senior exemption, according to Dobbs. That adds up to $2 million a year for the district, or $10 million over the life of the parcel tax.

While that’s not going to cover an ongoing $7.4 million deficit  cited in the staff report for this fiscal year, Supt. Donald Evans called it a “beneficially small yet significant first step to bringing the community together to support local schools.”

Trustee Maribel Heredia agreed with Armas, saying they “can’t wait for the state to do the right thing, we have to take matters in our own hands.”

Trustees William McGee and Lisa Brunner were also supportive, albeit with more reservations. Brunner said the tax must be coupled with an audit of programs so they can make sure the money is being spent wisely and not on things that haven’t been working. She compared it to a house that needs a new roof.

“You can add three roofs before you get rid of the old one, but sooner or later you’ll have to get rid of it,” she said.

Trustee Luis Reynoso said the district is wasteful and that the $2 million that would be reaped annually is about the same as what is “squandered.” He pointed to the hire of Asst. Supt. Francesca Sanchez in the fall as money that wasn’t budgeted but spent without due process, and said the district’s project bidding process is faulty. He also said that homeowners are in trouble, with many foreclosures and vacancies, and that it is also a period of underemployment.  He concluded that the tax “might be necessary, it might not be but the way it was put together was very fast and sloppy.” He said they should go to the community first, “find out their needs, not just look at bullet points on a poll.”

About a half dozen teachers and the head of the HEA spoke in favor of the tax. Opposition included John Kyle, who vowed to fight it and said trustees need to go after the parents of truant students.

The tax would need two-thirds approval. Draft text of what would appear on the ballot:

To protect critical education programs, with funds that cannot be taken by the State, including:

  • math, reading, writing and hands-on science classes/lab;
  • enhancing library services, technology and college preparation programs;
  • providing programs for all students to meet State academic standards; and
  • attracting and retaining qualified teachers;

shall Hayward Unified School District be authorized to levy $58 per parcel annually, for five years, with an exemption for senior citizens, mandatory citizens’ oversight and all money used for classrooms in the Hayward schools?

Story to come, vote is expected at the next meeting in March. The New Haven district decided this week to go ahead with a much larger parcel tax. Castro Valley trustees said earlier this year that they would not.

 

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Nominees sought for history honors. Winners get an obelisk!

Here’s some news from the Hayward Area Historical Society. Each year, they honor local residents, organizations and businesses that are history minded, and for 2011 they’re seeking the public’s help in coming up with some candidates. They’d like to hear from you by the end of the mo nth.

Click on the link at left to cue the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey."

The Daily Review received one in 2006, a few years before I landed at the paper. I took a photo of the black obelisk award, attempting for some kind of dramatic perspective.

Submissions can be made by mail:

ATTN: History Award Nominees

Hayward Area Historical Society

22392 Foothill Blvd.

Hayward, CA 94541-2710

By phone: (510) 581-0223 ask for Alison

By email: alison@haywardareahistory.org

Find press release after the jump, but feel free to also bounce some ideas around in the HayWord comments, too, it could be fun!  Continue Reading

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API links. Hayward story in the works

UPDATE, 9/6: Here’s the story that came out yesterday

We had an overview story about the API scores coming out, with emphasis on No Child Left Behind. Oakland education reporter Katy Murphy also blogged about it, asking readers what they think of NCLB and whether it should be revamped.

There was a full chart on all schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in today’s paper. You can find a link to the results in the above story, or find the state’s API report for Hayward here.

I spoke with the principal at Longwood for a while yesterday, will be talking with district regarding HUSD results for a Hayward-specific story slated to run over the weekend. Notables: Longwood, Burbank and Harder, which all underwent a transformation, made significant improvements, with Burbank being the biggest gainer at 79 points. Longwood rose by 75, Harder by 50. New to the Program Improvement list this year are Fairview and Strobridge Elementary and Ochoa Middle schools, although all made their API improvement goals, Strobridge and Ochoa for all subgroups. Ochoa, in fact, saw a gain of 46 API points. Compare that to the district as a whole, which rose by 8 (still making target). Faith Ringgold has the highest score in the district, while Leadership Public Schools – Hayward is tops for all schools within the city, including charters.

Dept. of Ed press release is after the jump, with more links to data.  Continue Reading

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Aerial HUSD construction photos

March11SchaferParkIn addition to a budget revision and report, various items related to employee reduction and a public hearing on HUSD’s contract proposal to the teacher’s union, there will be an update on the progress of school construction related to Measure I funds at Wednesday’s meeting. Still on schedule and under budget, as it was in the January update story. But the packet included some interesting aerial shots of the current state of the sites, here they are. Continue Reading

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Share your story for Hayward museum exhibit

It’s oral and written history time over at the Hayward Area Historical Society, where they want to hear your fondest memories of Hayward, Cherryland, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Mt. Eden, Ashland, Fairview or old Russell City. They’re putting together an exhibit for the new museum space, which is under construction in the former Kumbala building at Foothill and Russell in downtown Hayward. The exhibit, scheduled to open in the fall, will feature memories of residents tied to the Hayward area, both of the recorded and written variety.

We were just talking about good ideas for the Hayward mural, here’s another chance to share some of your treasured or poignant moments. Deadline is April 30.

Read some examples, find out how to submit after the jump. Bonus: Historical photos, courtesy HAHS! Continue Reading

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HARD honors its volunteers of the year

hardawardThe Hayward Area Recreation and Park District held its annual volunteer celebration, and chose Frances Horn as HARD Volunteer of the Year. She’s in the photo at left, holding the plaque with a photo of Frances Horn on it, surrounded by family members.  Horn has volunteered at the Kenneth C. Aitken Senior Center since 2001, and is in charge of the Senior Health Screening program. She sounds like a good candidate for one of the Review’s Senior Journal profiles, but for now find the HARD press release after the jump.
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Statement from family of Hayward twins

You’ve probably heard the tragic story that happened last week involving the Hayward High School students. We’re keeping an ear out for updates, but I received a press release  that was e-mailed to me by relatives of the twins. We’re not releasing any names at this point because of the nature of the case.

Here’s the family statement, which they want to be shared: Continue Reading