Rowland thanks community for its generousity

Photo courtesy of Rowland Unified

Photo courtesy of Rowland Unified

The Rowland Unified School District would like to thank the community for participating in the annual Adopt and Shop program organized by the Family Resource Center.

On Dec. 13, there were gleeful smiles of joy as more than 100 families and 300 children in need across the Rowland Unified School District were given gifts to open thanks to the generosity of others.

Rowland Unified readies holiday boutique on Dec. 4

The community is invited to shop at Rowland Unified’s annual holiday boutique on Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the board room at the district offices on Nogales Street.

Don’t forget if you want to order the popular Tamales, complete order form before Nov. 25 for pick-up at the boutique on Dec. 4.

Some of the many hand-made items you will find at the Boutique are: holiday decorations, country and Victorian gifts, jewelry, doll items, purses, hair items, hats, duct tape crafts, Tupperware, books, knitted and crocheted items, sports novelty items, candied apples, pottery and tamales!

Tables Still Left for Vendors!  


Rowland Unified offers bus transportation to town hall meeting tonight

Rowland Unified will offer bus transportation to the Town Hall meeting tonight from selected school sites. The Rowland Board of Education invites the community to share their input on the characteristics desired in the next superintendent. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in Telesis Academy, 2800 E. Hollingworth Street, West Covina.


(Transportation for Adults Only Due to Limited Space.)

Hurley             4:45 p.m. 

Northam        5:00 p.m.

Yorbita            5:15 p.m.

La Seda/Santana HS   5:20 p.m.

Rorimer          5:30 p.m.

After Meeting Buses will Return to Schools.

*ONLINE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH SURVEY: The Board of Education also invites all RUSD employees and community members to provide their feedback by taking part in the Online Superintendent Search survey through May 25. It is available in English, Chinese, Korean and Spanish. **Click HERE.**


Nogales High Noble Regiment selected for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Nogales High Noble Regiment picked for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Photo courtesy of Rowland Unified)

Nogales High Noble Regiment picked for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Photo courtesy of Rowland Unified)

Today in a surprise announcement inside the Nogales High School Gym, the Nogales High School Noble Regiment received the news that they have been selected to perform in the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The Noble Regiment will join the line of march and begin their performance to the sound of Let’s Have a Parade, the iconic phrase that has signaled the start of every Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1924.

They will join nine other marching bands from across the country as well as fantastic floats, sky high giant character balloons, wacky clowns and superstar performers on Thanksgiving Day 2015.

With more than 3.5 million live spectators and 50 million at-home viewers, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is considered the beginning of the holiday season and the ultimate Thanksgiving Day treat for fans of all ages.

“Macy’s Band Committee is thrilled to have Nogales High School Noble Regiment return to our event for the second time in 2015. Representing the fine bands of California, Nogales will bring a sleek and modern style to the streets of New York on Thanksgiving morning,” said Wesley Whatley, creative director, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Brad Pollock, band director, Nogales High School Noble Regiment said, “Amazing, stunned, excited are just a few words that can barely explain the honor that has bestowed upon the Noble Regiment to represent California in the Macy’s Parade in 2015. The students should get all of the credit. The memory of the event will last a lifetime. The opportunity to perform in the Parade once was incredible, but to be invited back really is something special. It is a true indication of consistent hard work, dedication, and a love to perform, paying off. We look forward to this event and can’t wait to get our groove on, down Broadway. Go Nobles!”

“I am proud of the dedicated effort of our students, parents and staff of the Noble Regiment. They have all invested valuable time into making our band a nationally recognized band; this honor of being invited back to the Macy’s Parade is indicative of this recognition.  The Noble Regiment will represent Nogales High School and the Rowland Unified School District, not to mention the West Coast, with great pride,” said Nogales Principal Sergio Canal.

For more than 86 years, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has given thanks to what Macy’s values most – its loyal fans.  More than 5,000 Macy’s employees and dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to create a spectacular event that entertains the cheerful crowds and provides joy to millions at home watching on Thanksgiving Day.

The Parade marches down a more than two-mile long New York City route gleaming with color, music and cheers that fill the autumn sky.

Nogales High School Marching Band was selected to be one of 10 marching ensembles to perform on Thursday, November 26, 2015 beating out of more than 175 applicants nationwide.

Each year, the Macy’s Parade Band Committee looks for bands that have the stage presence to captivate a national audience and bring cheers to millions watching along the Parade route.

Before the band marches down the streets of New York City, they will spend the next 18 months planning for their big debut. Rehearsals and creative fundraising events not only bring the school and the community closer, but prepare the students for the march of a lifetime.

For more information on the Nogales Noble Regiment visit


About Macy’s

Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc., delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at more than 800 locations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Macy’s stores and offer distinctive assortments including the most desired family of exclusive and fashion brands for him, her and home. Macy’s is known for such epic events as Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks® and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, as well as spectacular fashion shows, culinary events, flower shows and celebrity appearances. Building on a 150-year tradition, Macy’s helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities that make a difference in the lives of our customers.


Rowland Unified breaks ground for new family center in La Puente

Family Resource Center Coordinator Jennifer Kottke, left, and Community Liaison Irma Almanza have fun saying goodbye to the old portable by painting on it before it is torn down.

Family Resource Center Coordinator Jennifer Kottke, left, and Community Liaison Irma Almanza have fun saying goodbye to old portable by painting it before it is torn down.

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

It’s been 35 years, but the Family Resource Center and medical clinic in La Puente is finally getting a new building. Rowland Unified broke ground for the new facility this week next to Northam Elementary.

Bulldozers have already demolished the two old trailers used by the dental and medical clinic, as well as the district family resource staff.

Everyone is looking forward to moving into the new 3,200 square-foot facility this summer. The modular building will allow the district to expand its services to students and their families.

“I’ve been dreaming of having our own building for the past 35 years,” said Jane Rosser, director of the Children’s Dental Program.

Rosser remembers the clinic opening in an old Army trailer. She jokes about holes in the roof that would let the rain drip in.

Later, the dental program moved into a much larger trailer where it served thousands of children in the La Puente area.

The district’s dental clinic still serves more than 600 students a year. It offers low or no-cost screening and treatment services for low-income students.

“We help a lot of single parents, as well as large families whose parents already work two or three jobs to support their children,” Rosser said.

She and dentist Lester Lim are very excited about the new building. It will have two dental treatment rooms, with a third room for expansion later.

Next door, the medical clinic will have its own new home. The clinic provides free immunizations. It also offers medical care on walk-in basis to uninsured, low-income children 3 to 18 years old.

Read more in CENTER.

Rowland Unified teachers, administrators far apart on salary talks

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

Rowland teachers have declared an impasse in the stalled contract negotiations with the Rowland Unified School District. The Association of Rowland Educators is asking the state to send in a mediator to handle further negotiations. “We’re filing the paperwork now to declare an impasse with the state,” said ARE President John Petersen on Monday.

Union officials say the contract talks broke down during the eighth bargaining session last Thursday. In an email to teachers, Nadine Loza, bargaining chair, explained what happened.

“The ARE bargaining team was disappointed (but not surprised) when the district presented their counterproposal after lunch. The district’s proposal was not significantly different from their last proposal. Overall, the district has not moved significantly from their initial proposal especially on critical issues like salary, benefits, planning time, adjunct duties and combo classes.”

District officials were surprised by the sudden impasse, but they say they remain open to fair negotiations with the union’s 700 members.

“We’re still committed to negotiating with them in good faith,” said Superintendent Ruben Frutos.

Both sides say pay raises remain the largest stumbling block. The teachers want a 10 percent pay raise next year, the district has offered 2.5 percent the first year and 2 percent the next.

“Originally, the teachers wanted a 12 percent raise, 6 percent the first year, then 6 percent the second,” recalled Assistant Superintendent Douglas Staine. “We were surprised when they changed to 10 percent for one year.”

Rowland Unified had originally offered a 3.5 percent raise, 1.75 percent the first year and the same the second year.

Read more in SALARY.

Rowland superintendent to step down, search is on for replacement

 By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

After a tumultuous year, Superintendent Ruben Frutos has indicated he is willing to step down into his old position while the district searches for a replacement.

The school district directed its staff Tuesday night to send out proposals for search firms to begin the process. The “request for proposals” will be in the mail next week, according to the district.

Board President Heidi Gallegos said the board may have a list of search firms by its next meeting on March 25.

A search for a new superintendent could take between four and six months, she estimated.

Board members, parents and members of the teachers union said Wednesday the move toward securing a new superintendent ended a year of tension that often resulted in hundreds of people attending board meetings and picketing on the street, and union members waving signs demanding Frutos step down.

In February, the Association of Rowland Educators formerly asked the board to search for a new superintendent, after a survey of its members revealed only 3 percent of teachers who responded wanted him to stay.

“The association definitely got what we wanted. Absolutely,” said John Petersen, ARE president. “But it was really a community issue and the community was pretty vocal (Tuesday) night.”

Read more in ROWLAND.

Rowland Unified teachers want a 10 percent raise

By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

Raises for teachers are just some of the major issues before the school board Tuesday night.

The board Tuesday will hear from Douglas Staine, assistant superintendent of human resources, on the status of ongoing labor talks with Association of Rowland Educators (ARE)  and with the California School Employees Association (CSEA).

The district and its teachers are moving closer on the issue of salary hikes.

ARE moved from 12.5 percent over two years to 10 percent over one year. The district moved its offer from 3.5 percent to a 4.5 percent salary increase over two years.

The district also proposed increasing its maximum health benefits contribution for teachers by $850 over two years.

The district is concerned about the teachers’ proposal for a one-year pay hike for this year, retroactive to July 1, 2013. “This was a significant departure from prior sessions because both teams had been exchanging two year compensation proposals for 2013-14 and 2014-15,” according to the district’s “Negotiation Update” released Feb. 25.

Petersen said the union negotiators consolidated their offer into one year because the teachers are not sure what to expect from the district next year. He was positive about the district’s funding presentation from Ron Bennett, a consultant hired by RUSD.

But the teachers said there is too much uncertainty in scheduling of teacher training days and in other aspects of work days. “We are trying to develop a system where we have a plan. In this district, in the last decade, plans change from month to month.”

Petersen added: “It is the culture of the district. It has everything to do with trust and controlling our working conditions.”

Beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience earn an annual salary of $45,180 at RUSD, which is ranked 18th out of 47 school districts, according to a salary survey from the Los Angeles County Office of Education dated June 2013. Arcadia Unified was No. 1 with starting salaries at $49,874; Bassett Unifed was near the bottom at $38,776. Charter Oak was last at $38,495.

Teachers with a master’s degree and listed as the maximum salary step for RUSD earn $69,216, for a ranking of 21 out of 34 districts for which there was comparable data, according to the LACOE report.

RUSD operates 19 schools in Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, Industry and West Covina — with 15,000 students. Board meetings are held at district headquarters, 1830 S. Nogales St., at 5:30 p.m. for the closed session and 7 p.m. for the regular session.

Rowland school board to “discuss” superintendent’s contract

By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

The fate of the Rowland Unified superintendent — including the next phase of his contract —is one of the major issues before the school board Tuesday night.

Board members of the Rowland Unified School District are scheduled to vote on an amendment to Superintendent Ruben Frutos’ contract. The district is tight-lipped about whether that means retaining Frutos for a longer period of time. His contract runs out June 30.

For almost a year, teachers, parents and community members have staged protests, wrote letters and emails and pleaded in person before the five-member board to open the superintendent’s position to other applicants by conducting an extensive search.

The Association of Rowland Educators officially asked for an open search on Feb. 4, saying the 700-member teachers union has no confidence in Frutos. He has not served as a teacher or principal and has not proven himself a worthy leader, according to ARE President John Petersen.

The request for a superintendent search, however, is only a discussion item and not scheduled for board action.

“A member of the community brought this forward and under our board policy, we are respectfully putting it on the agenda,” Board president Heidi Gallegos said Monday. “We will have a discussion.”

Gallegos declined to elaborate on the amendment of the superintendent’s contract, only to say it will first be discussed in closed session.

RUSD operates 19 schools in Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, Industry and West Covina — with 15,000 students. Board meetings are held at district headquarters, 1830 S. Nogales St., at 5:30 p.m. for the closed session and 7 p.m. for the regular session.

Rowland Unified teachers demand new superintendent

By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

Eleven months after filling the superintendent’s position with its business manager, the issue of who is going to lead the Rowland Unified School District continues to make waves.

On Thursday, the Association of Rowland Educators, the local chapter of the California Teachers Association representing about 700 members, demanded the board open up a search committee to look for a new superintendent.

The position comes after a survey conducted by the teachers union in December revealed a lack of trust and respect for Superintendent Ruben Frutos.

About 68 percent of the respondents answered no to the question, “Would you like to see Mr. Frutos continue as superintendent of RUSD,” according to an email blast sent by the union obtained by this newspaper. Only 4 percent responded yes, and 28 percent said: “I don’t know/care.”

Nearly 50 percent of the teachers — about 334 people — responded to the survey, one of the highest response rates in the history of the union, said ARE President John Petersen.

Many of the respondents took the time to write written responses, of which the overwhelming majority were negative, he said.

“Ninety percent of them were leadership-related and had to do with their perception of how the district is run,” Petersen said.

He declined to release the survey or its comments in its entirety to the public. He said CTA legal staff advised the union not to expose themselves to a defamation lawsuit.

“In my opinion, he has had nine months to prove he is the right guy for the job. We haven’t seen any evidence he has been able to convince the teachers of that,” he added.

Frutos did not return two phone calls over two days and did not respond.

The ARE will present its position at the board meeting on Tuesday. The email said they have learned the board will put Frutos’ contract extension on either Tuesday’s board agenda or take it up March 4.

The agenda is drawn up by Board President Heidi Gallegos and Frutos, said board member Angelena Pride. Gallegos also did not return phone calls. Gallegos was the only board member to vote against the Frutos appointment.

Pride and Lynne Ebenkamp, both elected to the board in November, did not know if the superintendent’s contract was coming up for a vote. His contract expires June 30.

“I don’t know what’s on the agenda,” said Ebenkamp on Tuesday When asked about the teachers’ union demand to begin searching for a new superintendent. She said: “I can’t say I’m surprised. I am surprised they are doing it right now.”

Pride had a similar reaction on Tuesday. She said the ARE survey results were mailed to each board member and she looked them over. “Part of me was surprised by some of those results,” she said.

As to whether she supports searching for a new superintendent or extending the contract of the current one, Pride wouldn’t say. “The only decision I’ve made is whatever the process is that determines the outcome of his contract, it would be transparent.”

One Chu, president of the Rowland Parents and Educators Association, a community group, said his group supports the call for a search. He said Bassett Unified School District began a search for a deputy superintendent and attracted 45 candidates. “They have the normal, transparent process,” Chu said.

The superintendent issue may be spilling over into the negotiations between the district and the union over teacher salaries and benefits.

According to Rowland’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Douglas Staine, the average hourly rate for the district’s teachers is $63.83 and the average daily rate is $382.95. The average benefit contribution is an additional $8,730 per teacher.

In the email, the ARE says it is not happy with the progress of the talks. The district has reserves of at least $50 million and will be receiving more money if the governor’s budget is approved, Petersen said.

The Rowland Unified School District approved a $132.5 million budget on June 25. The budget projects an $8 million deficit that will be covered by the district’s $52 million balance going into the next school year.

“The district doesn’t want to increase class size or cut more programs,” Superintendent Ruben Frutos explained in an earlier interview. “So the school board decided to use some of our reserves.”

Frutos expects the district to receive $2 million more from the state.

“We will also use other cost cutting measures over the next year to cut the deficit down,” the top administrator said at the time.

Last year’s adopted budget anticipated a $20 million deficit, but actual figures show that deficit shrank to only $2 million. Revenue actually increased $4.5 million than expected, while expenditures were $14 million less than budgeted.

“The cost of our proposal is less than the new revenue they are getting,” Petersen said.

He cited a school district in Rosemead in which the teachers received a 6.4 percent raise and one in Ontario where the teachers received a 5 percent raise this year and next year.

The RUSD teachers want salary levels and benefits to reach the median of those in Los Angeles County. “Right now we are below the median,” Petersen said. He declined to be specific.

RUSD operates 19 schools in Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, Industry and West Covina — with 15,000 students.

Staff Writer Richard Irwin contributed to this story