Quiroba is filling the vacant seat of long-time board member Ruben Piña, who resigned officially June 30 of this year. Piña moved out of Patterson in the midst of a four-year term.
“I have grandchildren in school, and I feel like I’ve been around the system for so long, so I figured that, you know, what’s a few more years,” joked Quiroba during her interview with the board at the July 21 meeting.
Also covered on Aug. 4 were staff presentations of summer school results, an end of the year report by Superintendent Philip Alfano and the approval of the PJUSD and Patterson Association of Teachers’ “sunshine” proposals for the 2014-15 school year.
Additionally, daily wages for substitute teachers were increased by 14-percent, from $105 to $120, in order to keep Patterson on a competitive level with other districts in the area.
The board meeting opened on a contrastive note, however, with a frustrated presentation by PJUSD teacher Chris Nunnemaker. A district employee for 25 years, Nunnemaker voiced concerns about teacher salaries stagnating over recent years as work expectations have become more demanding.
“The district thinks that [a] 1 and ½ percent [raise] is adequate after six years of giving monies back and time,” said Nunnemaker to the board. “If that’s what you truly think about us, then we have your message loud and clear. If, on the other hand, you want to say you value us, you’ve done a less than adequate job of doing that. As an employee, I was sickened by that.”
The district expanded its summer school program beyond high school and Grayson Charter to cover students of all elementary schools this year.
For elementary, the focus was on kinder, first- and fifth-grade levels. Out of the 352-plus kids invited, 294 students from Northmead, Apricot Valley, Las Palmas and Walnut Grove Elementary Schools participated. Alma Romo’s report of the 20-day session had a theme of positivity.
“I don’t know how many years it’s been since we offered summer school [to all elementary school],” said Veronica Miranda, assistant superintendent of educational services at the end of Romo’s presentation. “So, as far as a trial run ... it gave us really good feedback for next year as we look at expanding.”
Grayson Charter principal Arturo Duran reported on Grayson’s summer session, during which the pre-kindergarten attendees received free backpacks packed with four books as well as crayons, paper, pencils and other supplies.
“The pre-k kids that are going into kindergarten are just very prepared,” said Las Palmas principal Sandra Villasenor, who helped Duran run the second half of the summer school session. “They were like kindergarteners already in their classroom.”
At the high-school level, Cathy Aumoeualogo reported that five seniors were able to graduate this summer; one student who had previously failed geometry three times was able to pass the class in summer school and receive her diploma.
End of Year Report
Patterson’s high-school graduation rate for the 2013-14 school year was 7.5-percent higher than the state average, according to the California Department of Education, though Alfano stressed that it is important for parents and students to understand that graduation from high school cannot be where students’ educational or career goals stop. To this end, the Graduation Coach and No Excuses University programs are continuing to be implemented.
A challenge going forward is the current teacher shortage. As a result, Alfano and assistant superintendent of human resources, child welfare and attendance Shawn Posey are “dusting off” Alfano’s recruitment plan that was shelved as the economic decline hit.
Alfano closed his report by saying that, in his career, he has never been more excited about a new school year as he is about this upcoming school year.
In addition to this Saturday’s Back to School Block Party and Safety Fair, PJUSD has two events on the horizon. The district will be hosting a presentation on No Excuses University Friday, Aug. 8 at 8 a.m. in the Clara Johnson Memorial Auditorium, a program that encourages students to have a plan post-high school—whether that entails a four-year university or trade certification.
The Grand Opening for PJUSD’s new Professional Development Center is Sep. 4, the day of Patterson High School’s centennial celebration. On the morning of Aug. 4, the training day for new teachers was held in the center. To RSVP for the Grand Opening, call Susan White at 209-895-7789.
Nathan Duckworth can be reached at 209-892 6187 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.