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Early campaigning

Hayward city and school candidates are starting to gear up for the 2014 elections.

Hayward school board President William McGee has had a website, www.williammcdgnee.com, set up for quite awhile. McGee has mostly used it to inform the community about school issues, but there has been some mention of fundraising events.

Hayward Councilman Mark Salinas has started hosting fundraisers, and Councilman Francisco Zermeno has announced his intent to run for mayor. The two councilmen mostly have been using Facebook to advance their campaigns.

Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney said he would wait until the council’s summer recess before deciding if he will seek re-election. Zermeno has a “safe seat”: If he loses the mayoral race, he still would retain his council post, which is not up for re-election until 2016.

Still unannounced (at least to us): Hayward Councilman Marvin Peixoto and Hayward school Trustee Lisa Brunner. Both are up for re-election in 2014.

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Scholarship Inc. honors 14 students

HAYWARD — Scholarship Inc. handed out $33,050 in scholarships to 14 seniors from Hayward schools earlier this month.

The students include:

Clint Evangelista, Cristian Castello, Kathleen Parra (Moreau Catholic High);

Jessica Camacho, Dana Carter, Jing Liang (Hayward High);

Siyou Song, Maryell Abella, Cameron Clerkley (Mount Eden High);

Mendelssohn Vargas, Gerardo Duran, Dolores Vargas (Tennyson High);

Falconery Barba and Jonish Hudson (Brenkwitz High).

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Hayward foundation recognizes school heroes

HAYWARD — The Hayward Education Foundation is honoring school heroes at a dinner on April 23. Every school in Hayward, public and private, was asked to nominate one person as its hero, someone who had gone above and beyond to enrich students’ lives.

If you’d like to attend the 5:30 p.m. dinner at Golden Peacock Restaurant, 24989 Santa Clara St., tickets are $25 at the door. Call 510-881-0890 or email Admin@HaywardEd.og

Elementary school:

BOWMAN Patricia (Trisha) Garcia Attendance Clerk
BURBANK Jason Brown Playworks Recess Coach
CHERRYLAND Jason Arenas Project EAT Coordinator
EDEN GARDENS Thu Tran Volunteer
ELDRIDGE Martie Canterberry Teacher
FAIRVIEW Tina Lagdamen Teacher
FAITH RINGGOLD Jill Strother Office Manager
GLASSBROOK Maria Radilla Volunteer
HARDER Jean Hakanson Attendance Clerk
LONGWOOD Kim Turner Parent Volunteer
PALMA CEIA Dorothy Stredic Volunteer
PARK Linda Lanthier Teacher
RUUS Felecia Chapman Office Manager
SOUTHGATE Maggie Albarran Teacher
STONEBRAE Frankie Smith Noon Supervisor
STROBRIDGE Diana Ingalls Volunteer
TREEVIEW/
BIDWELL Linda Brune Breakfast & Noon Supervisor & Volunteer
TYRRELL Adam Boettcher Teacher

Middle School:
BRET HARTE Jorge Zarate Senior Custodian
M.L. KING JR Austin Bates MLKing Graduate/Mentor
OCHOA Russelle Obee Campus Supervisor
WINTON Erik Waite Teacher
High School:
BRENKWITZ Shan Chu Teacher
HAYWARD Rev. Dr. Arlene Nehring Community Volunteer
TENNYSON Melissa Morris Nutrition Educator
MOREAU CATHOLIC Petar Zegura Teacher
IMPACT ACADEMY Patricia Ramirez Volunteer

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Hayward school board considers sending pink slips to all principals, vice principals

A proposal to send out potential layoff notices to all Hayward Unified principals and vice principals will be taken up by the district trustees on Wednesday, March 13, their last scheduled meeting before the state-mandated March 15 deadline.

Trustees talked about the idea for more than two hours this past Wednesday without taking action. But before they went into closed session, they got an earful from angry teachers who said the notices would be demoralizing. Several teachers spoke about how after years of high turnovers of principals, the district seemed to be moving forward and there was starting to be a sense of stability and team-building.

All of the principals and vice principals were evaluated, and the school board earlier approved dismissal notices for five principals and two vice principals. However, the notices discussed this past Wednesday would go to administrators who received good reviews. An email that was sent to administrators said the move would allow the superintendent more flexibility in any restructuring.

Several people said it appeared that the board had taken action of some form in closed session without reporting it, resulting in allegations of lack of transparency. Trustees are not allowed to disclose closed-session discussions.

Trustees only allowed 20 minutes for public comment, and limited each speaker to one minute at Wednesday’s meeting. Board president Will McGee, with the approval of the rest of the trustees, extended the comment period so that everyone who had asked to speak could.

The meeting was packed, with the conference room where trustees were meeting full and others in an overflow room.

Under the state Brown Act, trustees could not respond to comments made.

Sending out pink slips, as it is commonly referred to among educators, to all principals and vice principals in a school district appears to be an unusual move. It is true that Oakland did it a couple of years ago, but that district was having to close schools for financial reasons, and it didn’t have a plan in place by the March 15 deadline.

Those I spoke to at several state agencies and groups said sending out the notices was not something that they tracked, but many agreed informally that it seemed to be out of the ordinary. None would go on the record, because they didn’t have any data, but a spokesperson at one expressed surprise that pink slips would be sent out for reasons other than financial.

Hayward, like all school districts, is preparing its students for state standardized testing that will start soon. The district also has begun contract talks with its teachers union. Many of those who waited outside the more than two hours of closed session expressed concern that sending out the pink slips could disrupt things at an important time for Hayward schools.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 5 p.m. at Hayward City Hall, 777 B St.

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More info on Hayward City Council candidates

UPDATE: Here’s the story.

Our  story on who’s running for Hayward City Council come June should be posting online soon. And as promised at the end of the story, you can find more information on each candidate here, as collected from the City Clerk’s Office, candidate statements, websites and interviews. Candidates in order per Secretary of State’s randomized alphabet, starting after the jump.

Continue Reading

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Tax resolution passes, with some reservations

Correction: Oops, the link below isn’t to the final story after all, but this one is.

 Here is the final story on the board’s approval of the parcel tax measure. I had a voice mail from Trustee Luis Reynoso this morning, he wanted people to know that he tried to get a low-income exemption added to the measure but the addendum was not accepted by Trustee Maribel Heredia, who made the motion on the item.

He said at the meeting that when he was a teacher he stockpiled granola bars and snacks because a lot of kids were coming to school unfed because they lived in poverty. He added that includes homeowners, and said to look at the number of foreclosures as evidence.

“So when you tell me it’s only $58, go tell people who lost their homes that it’s only $58,” he said. “Tell them when they can’t feed their kid when they send them to school.”

Also of note: Trustee William McGee said he’s wary of the tax because of the “way the school board conducts business.” He expressed disappointment earlier in the meeting because he has requested a demographics study be taken up by the board, and it has yet to happen. Also said they have yet to address the matter of new schools opening, some of which will be underenrolled.

“I hear the community wanting us to support this, but I’m not hearing the board talking about agenda construction, and the schools opening up,” he said. “I’m not sure staff has direction.”

He wanted to discuss the matter, but Board President Jesus Armas said the matter at hand is the resolution concerning the parcel tax.

“Wow,” McGee said. “This is an issue. I’m asking when are we going to start talking, as a school board, about how to maximize dollars if this gets passed. … I’m looking for an answer and not getting it.”

For the sake of school district comparison, here are stories on what’s going on in Castro ValleySan LorenzoSan Leandro and New Haven.

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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.