Rowland Unified surprises students on first day of school

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Rowland Unified started the new school year Monday with the usual hustle and bustle of students looking for their classrooms.

Killian Elementary in Rowland Heights even welcomed the kids back with 10 tables of free books.

But older students will notice the biggest changes in the district’s high schools.

Nogales High students were greeted by the steel skeletons of the massive new front wing being added to the school. Giant cranes continued to lift the steel into place for the complex.

The project will provide new administration offices and classrooms, as well as multipurpose rooms and food services. Four new buildings will revitalize the school at a projected cost of $30 million to $35 million. It will open in the fall of 2015.

Meanwhile, students are already enjoying the new classrooms renovated over the past two years. New walls and ceilings provide quiet, comfortable classrooms that save energy and lighting. A new digital infrastructure permits the latest technology for teachers and students.

Teacher Jane Richey certainly appreciates her new culinary center. Richey welcomed students to her Introduction to Cooking. The popular elective will have the young chefs cook in the eight modern kitchens featuring Jenn-Air gas stoves and microwave ovens.

The teens can watch four big-screen televisions as Richey demonstrates a cooking technique under the watchful eye of a digital camera.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SCHOOL.

Rowland’s Family Resource Center offers fresh start for homeless

Rowland Unified’s Family Resource Center will join many community partners to make sure that our homeless students have backpacks, school supplies, shoes, uniforms and dental supplies.

More than 250 students from across the district will receive these supplies on on Thursday at Hurley Elementary in La Puente and on Friday at Jellick Elementary in Rowland Heights.

Special thanks to Kiwanis Shoes That Fit and Faith Community Church for their volunteers.

Would you like to volunteer to help? Call the Family Resource Center at (626) 854-2228

New teachers receive orientation in Rowland Unified

New teachers pose for photo at Rowland Unified.

New teachers pose for photo at Rowland Unified.

New teachers from across the District participated this week in a two-day orientation to the Rowland Unified School District. Teachers engaged in collaborative learning around RUSD’s mission statement, efficacious instructional practices, Common Core standards, and ELD standards.

Rowland Unified launches new website

websiite

Fresh Look to District Website!

Today we launched the new District websitewww.RowlandSchools.org

RUSD Employees – You now have access to helpful staff services and resources under the Staff Services Directory: Find links to Outlook Web Access, Aeries.Net, Aesop Sub Management, RUSD Forms, Rowland Blogs and Wikis, the District Staff Only Section of the website and more!

 

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.

Rainbow Preschool creates circus at Rowland High in Rowland Heights

This Thursday from 8:30 – 10 a.m., the Rainbow Preschool located at Rowland High School will have the high school students create a circus for the preschooler’s in Portable 33.

There is still space for the summer program that runs until July 11 for children ages 21/2 to 4 years old. (Hours are Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)

The preschool is also taking Fall enrollment now – fall semester begins on Aug.  19 for the cost of $385 per month. For more information, call Pat Hakim at (626) 965-3448.

John Roach named interim superintendent at Rowland Unified

Educational and leadership consultant John Roach, Ed.D., (John Roach & Associates) will be the Interim superintendent at Rowland Unified this summer while the superintendent search process continues.

John Roach

John Roach

Roach is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California teaching the courses “Leadership” and “Accountability.” He was superintendent of Carlsbad Unified from 2004-12 and at Charter Oak Unified 1998-2004, and is known for his leadership while also serving in Brea Olinda Unified and East Whittier City School Districts.

He serves on the Dean’s Superintendents Advisory Group of the University of Southern California. Roach has been active in the Association of California School Administrators Association, serving as charter president and on various state committees.

Roach received his Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Southern California and his M.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University.

“The Board is delighted to have Dr. John A. Roach join the Rowland Unified School District.  Dr. Roach comes with a broad range of experiences to assist the district during this transition process,” said Board President Heidi L. Gallegos.

Roach will serve as Interim Superintendent on a part-time basis, approximately three days per work week, during the summer months pending completion of the current search for a permanent superintendent.

The timeline for the superintendent search process includes advertising and applications for the position concluding on July 11.  Interviews will take place in August with the hiring of the new leader expected in September.

Rowland Basketball Camp has spots open for June 16-20

Looking for a fun summer program for your kids? Rowland Basketball Camp held at Rowland High School  is seeking boys/girls ages 7-14 interested in developing a solid foundation in the fundamentals of basketball for players of all levels.

There is still space left for the second session, June 16 – 20, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Early drop-off at 8 a.m. and late pick-up at 1 p.m. available free of charge.) The cost is $100 for the week.

Beginners will be given an opportunity to grow in a positive environment, while advanced players will be challenged to improve their skills in a more competitive environment.

Camp Directors are Jason Villanueva, the new head basketball coach at Rowland High School, along with Lindsey Brewer and Matthew Tumambing. They will provide instruction in the areas of Ball Handling, Passing, Shooting, Individual Moves, Footwork, Defense, and Rebounding.

In addition to on court skills, an emphasis will be put on Team Work, the importance of Positive Interaction, and Work Ethic. Shooting Contests, Free Throw Contests, Team Games, and 1 on 1 Championships will also be conducted. Players are asked to bring basketball shoes, white T-Shirt, blue or black shorts (preferably, bottled water and a great attitude!

Registration forms are available at www.RowlandBasketball.com or please email  jasonzvillanueva@gmail.com

Rowland High School is located at 2000 S. Otterbein Ave. in Rowland Heights. (626)965-3448

Rowland Unified superintendent resigns

Rowland Unified School District Superintendent Ruben Frutos resigned his position Tuesday night, hours after the board fired Ajay Mohindra, the interim assistant superintendent of business who was hired by Frutos.

Frutos will end a 20-month term in the top spot on June 30, according to district board members. Mohindra also will leave at that time.

His tenure as interim superintendent and then as superintendent was marked with tension that included hundreds of people regularly attending board meetings and picketing of district headquarters by teachers and classified workers demanding his resignation.

In March, the board initiated a search for a new superintendent. But in attempt to keep him on, the board amended his contract to allow him to become deputy superintendent of administrative services. However, last month, the board pulled an item that would’ve approved the down-ladder move.

Some say the resignation was a way for Frutos to bow out gracefully after new board members Lynne Ebenkamp and Angelena Pride pushed for him to leave. Both were elected in November with teacher support on a platform to consider a new superintendent and increase board transparency.

“We finally have closure on the whole issue of Ruben. Now we also have the challenge of finding the right person to lead the district,” said John Petersen, president of the Association of Rowland Educators.

Frutos, in a summarized statement released by Gina Ward, district spokesperson, said he assured the board he was not interested in applying for the superintendent position but did say he hoped to serve RUSD in another capacity. He declined to be interviewed Wednesday.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story FRUTOS.

Rowland Unified dismisses interim assistant superintendent

Ajay Mohindra was dismissed from his job by a unanimous vote of the five-member school board, announced Board President Heidi Gallegos

“The board unanimously decided to not re-employ the district’s interim assistant superintendent of business,” Gallegos announced to a board room packed with teachers, parents and community members.

Mohindra, listed as the interim chief financial officer on the district’s website, sat at the table in front of the board after the announcement. When asked by a reporter if he still had a job at the district, he remained silent.

Mohindra’s name was confirmed by Gina Ward, RUSD spokesperson, who also attended the board meeting.

Mohindra was participating in negotiations with the district’s teachers represented by the Association of Rowland Educators. The two sides are in impasse and is now working with a mediator.

He was put into the spot last year by Superintendent Ruben Frutos, who previously occupied the position.

The district is in the process of looking for a new superintendent. Frutos’ contract ends June 30. There was no word on whether he would become the assistant superintendent of business.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story DISMISSED.