Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for April, 2010

PTA Rally for Education in Pleasant Hill

By Theresa Harrington
Parents, students, educators and community members plan to gather at College Park High School at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 15 to rally for education funding.
Speakers will include St. Mary’s basketball star Omar Samhan, Survivor veteran Yau-man Chan, DVC President Judy Walters, state legislators from Contra Costa County, state PTA President Jo Loss, county Teacher of the Year Joelle Marchese and county Superintendent of Schools Joe Ovick.
Districts throughout the county are facing massive budget cuts resulting in large numbers of pink-slipped teachers. In the Mt. Diablo district, about 422 teachers and other credentialed employees received preliminary layoff notices. Another 55 temporary teachers were told they may not be rehired.
College Park librarian Kit Hein spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting to mark National Library Week and invited trustees to attend the rally. She was one of five district librarians who received a pink slip, but she told me today she has learned that it will be rescinded.
The board has agreed to slash $229,712 a year by cutting 3.6 librarian positions starting in the fall. This likely means high school libraries will be closed three days a week and middle school libraries will be closed four days a week, Hein said.
“It doesn’t really make sense to any of us because we teach, we collaborate with teachers,” said Hein, who has worked in the district since 2006.
She currently works at College Park three days a week and at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point two days a week.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “There’s no consistency and then the teachers forget when I’m here.”
If the budget gets worse, she fears libraries could close altogether. Other librarians who received pink slips were Raychael Knighten, Ryann Brooks, Ruth Shumate and Barbara Torrres.
Layoffs are determined by seniority and credentials. The district will hold administrative hearings from 1-6 p.m. April 27-29 at the Willow Creek Center in Concord to sort out credential and seniority questions before final pink slips are sent out in May.
A complete list of teachers and other credentialed employees who received preliminary pink slips is on the district’s Web site in a legal document about the hearings, exhibits A and B, at http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Documents/certlayoffinfo.pdf.
Hein said she hopes the rally helps raise awareness about how budget cuts are affecting schools.
“I’m kind of excited,” she said. “I hope lots of people show up and it hits the news so that people in Sacramento wake up. I think our local legislators are pretty supportive, but I don’t know what they do when they go up there behind closed doors.”
The high school is at 201 Viking Drive in Pleasant Hill, across the street from Diablo Valley College. More information is at www.32ndpta.org.
Do you think rallies like this make a difference?

Posted on Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

Summer school for juniors and seniors in MDUSD

By Theresa Harrington
The Mt. Diablo school board has agreed to reduce summer school due to budget cuts.
Beginning this summer, only juniors and seniors who have failed classes that will prevent them from meeting graduation requirements will be able to attend summer school. Sophomores who are significantly behind in credits will be placed on a priority waiting list.
The district expects to save approximately $400,000 by reducing summer school, which is equivalent to laying off one teacher at each of the district’s six comprehensive high schools. This decision is expected to help high schools retain AP classes with fewer than 28 students. However, the board continues to require minimum enrollment of 20 students.
The board was able to reduce summer school by cutting the number of credits required to graduate from 220 to 200. Trustees also reduced the math requirement from three years or 30 units to two years or 20 units. District officials anticipate fewer students will need to take summer school to make up credits, based on these reductions.
Some teachers, administrators and trustees opposed the reduced graduation requirements, saying the district appears to be lowering its standards. But trustees who voted in favor of the plan said students can still take three or four years of math, if they wish.
What do you think about the change? More information is in the March 9 board meeting agenda packet at http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=2260&mtgId=264.

Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

Pittsburg school district gets new superintendent

This just in from Pittsburg reporter Paul Burgarino:
In hopes of keeping the Pittsburg school district on course, trustees have selected a new superintendent from within.
Linda Rondeau, the current deputy superintendent, will replace Barbara Wilson effective Aug. 1.
Rondeau has worked in several Contra Costa districts over the past 35 years, the last five in Pittsburg.
Pittsburg trustees say they felt confident — following a public survey and thorough input from district stakeholders and the community — that Pittsburg schools are going in the right direction.
Board President Vince Ferrante backed that up, saying Rondeau: “could hit the ground running and build upon the momentum of the past few years.”
Contract terms still have to be settled.
Watch for more information Thursday in the East County Times.
Reach Paul Burgarino at pburgarino@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pittsburgarino.

Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Under: Education, Paul Burgarino, Pittsburg | No Comments »

Math competition fast breaks into learning

By Theresa Harrington
 
I visited teacher Sol Henik’s classroom at Prospect High School in Pleasant Hill today and watched the exciting Final Four round of his students’ “Math Madness” competition.

He models it after the NCAA basketball “March Madness” tournament, with students facing off against each other doing math problems. “Sweet 16″ turned to eight on Monday and Tuesday. The “Great 8″ was held Wednesday and the winners of today’s Final Four will compete for the championship on Friday.

This morning, semi-finalists Alexis Bunyard and Jake Jaramillo answered one set of questions, while Russell McKeown and Robert Banchero answered a second set of questions.

The person who answers the most questions correctly within 15 minutes wins. If there’s a tie, the person who finishes first wins.

Jake and Robert won today. Watch for the story in the Contra Costa Times this weekend.

Here’s a sampling of problems both teams were given. Each set of questions is similar, but most use different numbers.

If you’d like to have your own Math Madness competition, cut and paste each set of questions onto a separate page and print them out. Get a friend, set a timer for 8 minutes, then start doing the problems. (The actual competition included twice as many questions in 15 minutes.)

You’ll find the answers at the bottom of this post. Good luck!

Sampling of questions given to Jake and Alexis:

1. -y = -2x + 1: What is the y intercept and the slope?

2. Garcia borrowed $8,000 from his cousin Susan at the rate of 4.5 percent a year. He repaid the amount after three years. How much did he repay?

3. Jana bought a car for $6,300 and later sold it for a 15 percent profit. How much did Jana sell her car for?

4. What is the probability that you’ll roll a seven with a pair of dice? Reduce, if possible.

5. 1/4, 2/5, 3/10, 3/8. List from greatest to least.

6. A pair of Jordan’s shoes regularly selling for $145 is marked 20 percent off. What is the sale price?

7. Test 1: 91 percent, Test 2: 84 percent, Test 3: 92 percent. What is the lowest score you can get on the fourth test and still get an A (90 percent) in the class?

Sampling of questions given to Robert and Russell:

1. -9x + 3y = -18: What is the y intercept and the slope?

2. Garcia borrowed $4,000 from his cousin Susan at the rate of 8 percent a year. He repaid the amount after two years. How much did he repay?

3. Jana bought a car for $4,200 and later sold it for a 30 percent profit. How much did Jana sell her car for?

4. If you roll a number cube labeled 1-6 once, how likely is it that you would randomly roll a number more than 4?

5. A pair of Jordan’s shoes regularly selling for $135 is marked 20 percent off. What is the sale price?

6. Solve: 4y – 3 = 3y + 4

7. Test 1: 91 percent, Test 2: 84 percent, Test 3: 92 percent. What is the lowest score you can get on the fourth test and still get an A (90 percent) in the class?

To help relate his Math Madness lessons to basketball, Henik also had students shoot hoops and track how many baskets they made, compared to attempts.

They then converted these numbers into percentages, decimals and fractions. You could also do this with a friend. The one with the highest percentage of shots made wins.

Final Four Answers:

Jake and Alexis test: (1) y intercept is -1 and the slope is 2 (2) $9,080 (3) $7,245 (4) 1/6 (5) 2/5, 3/8, 3/10, 1/4 (6) $116 (7) 93 percent

Robert and Russell test: (1) the y intercept is -6 and the slope is 3 (2) $4,640 (3) $5,460 (4) 1/3 (5) $108 (6) y = 7 (7) 93 percent

How did you do?

Posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »