NUSD may need to cut as much as $6 Million

I attended the Newark Unified School District’s budget workshop meeting last night — a session that drew more than 50 people, most of whom were members of the teacher’s and district employee unions — and Chief Business Official Steven Shields told the board of directors that they may need to cut as much as $6 million from the district’s existing and future budgets. The district’s finance team is still interpreting the budget that was passed last week by the governor, so it is unclear exactly how much Newark Unified will need to trim. But Shields projected that it could be as little as $4.5 million and as much as $6 million to be safe.

Shields also spent 90 minutes discussing areas where cuts could be made within the district. This information was almost identical to that which was released during a special session last week. But what was made clear is that the information he was discussing was not a recommendation of what items or programs should be cut, rather options available to the board. Among the hot button items are the class size reduction program, salary reductions and teacher layoffs.

The meeting on Tuesday was informational in nature, so no decisions were made about where to trim the budget. However, decisions are expected to begin to be made at the next board meeting, scheduled to be held March 3. At that time, the district may have an idea if it will need to layoff teachers. If that avenue becomes a possibility for the board, the district will have to notify by March 15 the teachers whose jobs may be changed or cut. Those notices can be rescinded.

Several members of the audience were given a chance to address the board before the workshop. One teacher said that if class sizes significantly increase he may consider quitting his job.

“This isn’t what I signed up for,” he said. “I would consider leaving teaching.”

Additional information about the district’s budget can be found on Newark Unified’s NEW Web site (link). From the home page click the “Budget Crisis” icon near the top. There also are a few avenues in which parents, teachers or community members can voice their concerns or make suggestions about how to solve the impending issues. Those options are available on the Web site.


Pothole cities?

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission today released a report ranking pavement conditions of local roads in the Bay Area. The average three-year pavement condition index (PCI) score for 2005-07 was 65 out of a possible 100 points.

Here’s how the various cities stacked up:

* Union City: score of 75

* Newark: 71

* Fremont: 68

Union City and Newark fell in the “good” range (70-79) while Fremont was in the “fair” range (60-69).

Newark was among the cities that saw its score plummet 4 points from last year. Only one other city, St. Helena, saw a greater decrease (-5).


image from Mark Griffith’s site at flickr.com

Seal in Newark

UPDATE: The seal crossed the road and made it the water by the time our photographer got there. We might have some pictures of a seal in water, though. Hot Stuff. No facial scars on this seal, reportedly. 

Scanner chatter says a seal is trying to cross Thornton Avenue in Newark. We’re sending someone to try to get a picture.


Tri-City gang stats

I attended a gang and drug awareness info meeting at Washington High last night, put on by members of the Fremont PD and Southern Alameda County gang task force. Here are a few stats I picked up from the meeting:

* There are 3,105 known gang members in Fremont, Newark, Union City and parts of Hayward as of last month.

* About 98 to 99 percent of these gang members reside here.

* About 230 of these gang members are 14 to 17 years old.

* Some gang members are as young as 9 years old.


Intersted in future housing developments in Newark?

Development leaders are hosting a community meeting Wednesday night at the Newark Community Center to share and discuss some of the proposed plans for housing development within the city.

By 2014, Newark will have to accommodate for 1,800 new housing units, a third of which is required by the state to be of the high-density (aka: apartments) fashion. Spoke to Terrence Grindall, director of community development, and he said this is meeting is an opportunity for residents to share their comments and concerns about such projects, which could involve tearing down shopping center(s) or abandoned school site(s) currently being used for other purposes. Continue Reading


Torrico’s Safe Surrender bill vetoed

Just got a press release stating that Alberto Torrico’s Safe Surrender bill was vetoed this week by Governor Schwarzenegger. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed both the state Senate and Assembly, would have extended the time that mothers have to safely surrender their newborn to designated agencies. As it is right now, the bill, signed in 2001, gives mothers 72 hours to surrender their newborn to fire stations and emergency rooms, an alternative to abandoning the child. The proposed bill would have given mothers a week to make that decision, and would have placed the state Department of Social Services in charge of the Surrender program.


Newark Days

By Chris Amico

I caught Shirley Sisk at an awkward moment. After chasing her around, trying to nail down my last interview at Newark Days, we caught each other at the Supercuts booth. Someone had talked her into putting a little color in her hair, as you can see in the video.

Kevin Tate calls himself a “local boy done good.” He grew up in Newark, went to Snow Elementary and Newark High. Now he runs California Carnival Co., based in Sacramento, and has been making sure the rides run at Newark Days for a decade.

Tate does events like this every week from February to November. He’s a pro. There’s a science to arranging Ferris wheels and bumper car circuits. This year’s festival featured 15 carnival rides, fewer than last year, because Tate wanted wider midways to keep people from jostling too much.

And every ride is aimed at families. “”Every ride out here, even if you’re not tall enough, as long as you have someone with you, you can ride. It forces the family to act as a unit.”

If you watched the crowds this weekend, you’d notice they tended to move counterclockwise around the field. That’s no accident.

“It has a certain flow to it. People move in a certain direction, and I decided that direction when I got here on Monday.”

So what’s it like bouncing from fair to fair?

“It’s monotony without the monotony. It’s the same every week but it’s different. Every week we’re doing the same thing, but we’re entertaining a different group of people,” Tate said.

“When your job lets you look out there and see smiles on kids faces, what more can you ask for? You get to be the good guy.”

If you were at Newark Days, tell us what you thought in the comments below.

A note on me: I work at the Argus on Sundays, so if you’re hosting a community event, chances are I’m the guy covering it. If you see me trolling for interviews, come say hi.

– Chris


Cisco Field already exists?

It does according to the Newark Chamber of Commerce Web site.

I was checking out the site this week and happened to notice that Saturday, Sept. 13, is Newark Day with the A’s. I clicked the item on the organization’s calendar and learned that the game is being played at “Cisco Field, Oakland.” Oops. As we all know Cisco Field does not exist. That is the planned future home of the A’s should they move to Fremont. The A’s currently play in McAfee Colliseum, or as I like to remember it, Oakland-Alameda Colliseum. I loved that place before Mt. Davis was erected.


Newark’s cheapest gas

I decided to take an hourlong drive through the city today (Sept. 12, about 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.) and log some of the gas prices I saw. I started in the north-end of town near Jarvis Avenue, and then worked my way to Thornton and Mowry avenues. I keyed mainly on the high-level gas (i.e. the most expensive grade) because that’s what I use in my car. Let’s face it, we in the media always play games with these numbers. When we’re trying to sell you on a story about prices dropping, we’ll key in on the low grade because it is cheapest. And when we feel “prices are through the roof” we’ll go for the high end. I always like to know what effects me.

Here’s a list of stations I passed along with the price for the high-grade gas. This list goes from highest to lowest, you know to build suspense.  Continue Reading