Rowland Unified passes $147 million budget with $9 million deficit

The Rowland Unified School Board has approved a $147 million budget for 2014-15 with a $9 million deficit. That amount could increase millions more if both sides approve the 8 percent raise reached in Tuesday’s tentative agreement with the teachers’ union.

In March, Rowland teachers declared an impasse in the stalled contract negotiations. The Association of Rowland Educators asked the state to send a mediator to handle further negotiations.

The school district announced the tentative agreement on Thursday. They said it had been reached 8 p.m. Tuesday during the fourth mediation session.

Under the multi-year agreement, teachers will receive a 4 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2013, as well as another salary increase of 4 percent effective July 1, 2014.

The school district’s maximum contribution to employee health and welfare benefits will also increase to $11,000, effective January 1, 2015. And there will be a $1,500 cash-in-lieu payment for eligible employees who elect to opt out of the district’s health and welfare benefits coverage.

“The association is pleased that after a very long struggle that a fair agreement has been reached and can be sent to membership for a vote,” said ARE President Shay Lohman.

“I am thrilled that the teams reached an agreement yesterday,” said Interim Superintendent John Roach. “The school year will begin with all employees focused on meeting the needs of our students.”

During the negotiations, the school board had to approve a budget for the coming school year, which will now have to be amended when the teachers’ new contract is approved.

Ajay Mohindra, Rowland’s interim chief financial officer, pointed out that 82 percent of the revenue next year will come from the new Local Control Funding Formula. Another 10 percent will come from the state, with the federal government kicking in 7 percent.

Total revenues should top $138 million, up from the $133 million received in the last fiscal year. As the new formula kicks in, revenues are projected to grow to $146 million in 2015-16 and more than $149 million in 2016-17.

But Rowland will still have to draw from its ending balance of $52 million to cover the double-digit deficit. That will draw reserves down to $41 million by the end of the next fiscal year, even more depending on the salary settlement.

“Nearly half of our expenditures is for teachers’ salaries and benefits,” Mohindra explained. “When you add the other classified salaries and benefits, that’s 79 percent of our budget.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story BUDGET.

Rowland Unified settles contract with teachers’ union

By Rowland Unified School District

The Rowland Unified School District Board of Education announced today that a comprehensive three year (2013-2016) tentative agreement was reached at approximately 8:15 p. m. on July 8 by the RUSD and Association of Rowland Educators (ARE) negotiation teams after meeting with the State-Appointed Mediator for a fourth mediation session.

As a result, there will be no formal negotiations during the 2014-2015 school year and only limited negotiations during the 2015-2016 school year.

“The tentative agreement reached clearly recognizes the dedicated work of our Rowland teachers while leaving the district in a solid financial position for the future. I would like to acknowledge the hard work done on both sides of the aisle by our bargaining teams,” said RUSD Board President Heidi L. Gallegos

Highlights of the Tentative Agreement include: multi-year agreement (2013-2016); salary increase of 4%, retroactive to July 1, 2013; Salary Increase of 4%, effective July 1, 2014; District’s maximum contribution to employee health and welfare benefits increased to $11,000, effective January 1, 2015; $1,500 cash- in-lieu payment for eligible employees who elect to opt out of District health and welfare benefits coverage; late start to continue at high schools for 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years; and reduced counselor ratios.

“The Association is pleased that after a very long struggle that a fair agreement has been reached and can be sent to membership for a vote. We are very grateful for the leadership provided recently by interim Superintendent Dr. Roach and we are excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for RUSD,” said ARE President Shay Lohman.

The tentative agreement will be presented to ARE members for ratification within the next 2-3 weeks. After ratification by ARE members, it will be presented to the school board at its’ Aug. 12 meeting. As part of the District’s review process, the economic provisions of the Tentative Agreement will also be shared with the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Each team vowed to work diligently to implement the terms of the agreement once the tentative agreement is ratified/approved by all parties.

“I am thrilled that the teams reached an agreement yesterday,” said Interim Superintendent, John Roach. “The school year will begin with all employees focused on meeting the needs of our students.”

Bargaining team members for the School District were: Ajay Mohindra, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services; Melissa Neal, Director Pupil Services; Jason Gass, Principal Killian; Sergio Canal, Principal Nogales High School; and Douglas Staine, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.

ARE negotiation team members were: Eileen Fetters, Executive Director of ARE; John Petersen, Teacher Rowland High School; Clare Ruesga, teacher

Rowland High School; Gilbert Navarro, Teacher Oswalt Academy; Sharyn Sigler, Teacher Oswalt Academy; and Yvonne Martini, Teacher Hollingworth Elementary.

Walnut High students compete at Future Business Leaders of America meeting in Nashville

Clockwise from top left: Ricci Lam, Henry Ao, Howard Chen, Adviser Neil Jacoby, Kevin Chen, Zachary Woo and Rhea Lin.

Clockwise from top left: Ricci Lam, Henry Ao, Howard Chen, Adviser Neil Jacoby, Kevin Chen, Zachary Woo and Rhea Lin.

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Valley Unified

More than 10,000 of America’s best and brightest youth traveled to the historic city of Nashville to make some history of their own as they showcased their talents as future business leaders and vied for the opportunity to win over $165,000 in cash awards.

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), the largest and oldest student business organization, held its National Leadership Conference in Nashville on June 29–July 2.

Four students from Walnut High School received national recognition at the FBLA Awards of Excellence on July 2.

Kevin Chen competed in Business Calculations and brought home 7th Place. Howard Chen, Ricci Lam, and Henry Ao competed as a team in Network Design and took 9th Place in the nation.

“All of the students worked extremely hard, and I am very proud of their accomplishments,” said Neil Jacoby, Walnut High FBLA adviser.

Participants from across the United States and two countries were in attendance for this exciting conference to sharpen their core business skills, expand their networks, and participate in more than 60 business and business-related competitive events.

The awards were part of a comprehensive national competitive events program sponsored by FBLA-PBL that recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas.

For many students, the competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers. In addition to the competitions, students immersed themselves in educational workshops, visited an information-packed exhibit hall, and attended motivational keynotes on a broad range of business topics.

Walnut Solar Car ready to roll in Solar Car Challenge in Texas

Walnut’s solar car looked like a miniature aircraft carrier as it floated down Pomona Boulevard. I expected small jets to land on its flight deck at any minute.

But this futuristic car was only making another test run before the Walnut Valley students load it up for the annual Solar Car Challenge in Texas next week.

The sleek, aerodynamic vehicle was testament to clever engineering by two dozen students from Diamond Bar and Walnut high schools, as well as Suzanne Middle School.

The team will be the only challenger from California in the challenge. But hopes are high that the Walnut Valley team will do well again. Last year, the team captured second place in the open division.

 

 

And the students have learned from their mistakes, building a new car from the ground up. It’s taken a full year to design and develop, but the car, dubbed Horus after the Egyptian sun god, is ready.

The petite pilot, co-captain Rhea Lin, was all smiles as she slid into the sleek shell. Clambering under the large solar panels, only her helmeted head appeared in the custom tear-shaped canopy.

“We’ll do well, the Walnut Solar Car team has worked really hard to finish our new car,” said Lin from the safety of her three-point harness.

In fact, the local teens have been meeting every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to build their solar sailor. Horus is powered only by the rays of the sun.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SOLAR.

Online registration for Mt SAC begins July 16

Online registration for Mt. San Antonio College’s fall semester credit classes begins July 16.  Classes begin on Monday, Aug. 25.

New and continuing credit students must register for classes online at my.mtsac.edu. New students must also submit an admission application online. For students who do not have computer access, computers and assistance are available in the Student Services Center during business hours.  The Admissions Office is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Before registering, new students are required to activate their personal Mt. SAC portal account at the same website, which provides set-up instructions.  Students will be able to view a registration date and time in their portal account and will not be allowed to register before their assigned time.

New students must also sign up for their assessment tests at the Assessment Center.  Appointments can be made atwww.mtsac.edu/assessment, by calling 909-274-4265, or in person at the Assessment Center.  

In addition, new students must also contact the Counseling Center to sign up for the required orientation session before registering for classes. For more information about required orientation sessions, call the Mt. SAC Counseling Department at (909) 274-4380.

The enrollment fee is $46 per unit for California residents, and all fees are due upon registration. 

For more registration information, call the Mt. SAC Admissions & Records Office at (909) 274-4415, or visit www.mtsac.edu.

Music teachers at Walnut and Diamond Bar highs named quarter finalists by Grammy Foundation

Four Inland Valley educators were among 222 music teachers from 208 cities in 41 states who were selected as quarter finalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

They were selected from more than 7,000 nominations from all 50 states.

The local honorees are Steven Acciani of Diamond Bar High, Anthony Allmond of Kaiser High in Fontana, Buddy Clements of Walnut High and Eufemio Escalante of Vina Danks Middle School in Ontario.

In September, a list of semi-finalists will be announced after which 10 finalists will be selected.  One recipient will be selected from the 10 finalists and will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.

The other nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants.

 

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten to college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

 

Link: http://www.dailybulletin.com/social-affairs/20140605/four-area-educators-nominated-for-national-award

Mt SAC health career students win gold medals in Orlando

 Mt. San Antonio College health career students recently won eight gold medals at the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) national competition in Orlando, FL. More than 6,000 secondary and post-secondary students competed in 56 different health-related events at the national leadership event held June 25-28. 

 Deborah Delgado (Norwalk), Felicia Dunn (Upland), Jessica Munoz (Riverside), and Cecily French (Pomona) all won gold medals in the biomedical debate competition. 

        Nichole Campos (Covina), James Nma Onwuka (Highland), Blanca Tovar-Garcia (Mira Loma), and Denise Workman (Diamond Bar) all won gold medals in the creative problem solving competition.

Mercedes Hamilton (Pomona), Darlene Cabrera (Rowland Heights) and Lori Osterman Fructuoso (La Verne) were finalists in the creative problem solving event. 

 “We had 11 competitors this year, and all 11 ranked nationally as finalists. That is quite an achievement,” said Mt. SAC psychiatric technician professor and HOSA advisor Mary Ellen Reyes. “Being involved in and competing in HOSA is a life-changing experience for students.”

HOSA, established in 1976 by the U.S. Department of Education, is the national organization for secondary and post-secondary health career students. The organization provides students in 40 states with skills, leadership development, and career development. 

Summer Arts Academy ends with singing, dancing and art in Rowland Unified

The Summer Arts Academy celebrated the first days of summer with its annual arts showcase at Hollingworth Elementary in West Covina. The students were doing their final rehearsals before the big show last week for friends and family.

The Rowland Unified students were in fine voice as they rehearsed their musical numbers. Others were mounting the student artwork in a large exhibit in the hallway.

The kids had the “Eye of the Tiger” as they launched into one of their big numbers. Though the choreographed tiger claws were a little scary.

Three college students watched closely as their students roared through the pop song. Rebeka Joson, 19, and her 21-year-old brother, Matthew, had been working with the Rowland students for the past three weeks in the popular summer program.

Matthew knows his stagecraft, finishing his first year with the Young Americans show group. The local singer performed in three of their productions last year.

The Rowland High grad was back to share his expertise with the younger students. He was also helped by Erika Larracas, a 21-year-old communications major at Cal State Long Beach.

“I enjoy working with the youngsters, they’re lots of fun to work with,” Joson said.

The Summer Arts Academy was held June 9-27 for elementary students. Classes were held weekday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ARTS.

Music family day camp held at Hurley Elementary in West Covina

Education Through Music Fine Arts Family Day Camp

Hurley Elementary School

June 30 – July 3

Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Ages 6-13 Tuition: Ages 9+ $95 Ages 6-8 $75

Wee Ones Program Ages 3-5

9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Tuition $40 per person (Parent MUST attend with child)

About the Camp: Inspired by Richards Institute Master Teacher Dr. Randy McChesney, institute staff will guide camp participants in song and play through the song experience games of ETM, visual arts activities and storytelling. Participants from all generations learn by watching, listening and observing while they play, create and interact together.

Rainbow Preschool looking forward to new room at Rowland High

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Rainbow Preschool at Rowland High is literally a three-ring circus. While clowns entertained the tots outside, workers are finishing up the new preschool facilities inside.

The tiny preschoolers were treated to some circus fun on Thursday. The La Puente Valley ROP students decided to entertain the youngsters with feats of daring.

Meanwhile, work crews were getting ready to lay cement in the new tot lot on the Rowland High campus. They have spent the past year rebuilding the old preschool classroom.

Contractors began by tearing the walls out down to the original studs. Crews installed new wiring and plumbing, before adding new insulation and sound deadening material.

“We’ve waited more than 30 years for this remodeling,” said preschool director Patricia Hakim. “But it was worth the wait!”

Hakim credited district officials and Principal Mitch Brunyer, who actually attended the preschool when he was young.

“Our new preschool center is actually bigger because they took out an office and storage area next door,” Hakim noted. “Now, we’ll have enough room to separate the 3- and 4-year-old groups.”

The new carpeting, walls, windows and lighting are just the beginning. The preschool also received new furniture for the popular ROP program.

Tiny, bright red chairs sat stacked against the classroom wall. Small blue cots will replace the vinyl mats the tots used to take naps on. The sturdy little cots have plastic legs and canvas bedding.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PRESCHOOL.