Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 15, 2010

Teacher training highlighted at school board

State budget and Hearst mold project also discussed

by Glenn Wohltmann

While teachers across the country have been getting lambasted for poorly performing students and failing schools, their counterparts in Pleasanton have been addressing the problem for nearly a decade.

The Pleasanton school board heard an overview of three programs Tuesday night: two to help struggling teachers or teachers who just want to be their best, and a third for school administrators.

PAR, the district's Peer Assistance and Review program, was established in 2000 and began in the 2001-2002 school year, working with both referred teachers -- those who have received an unsatisfactory evaluation -- and voluntary teachers.

Those teachers work with consulting teachers, both singly and in groups. PAR includes classroom observations and peer support, and makes sure teachers are competent in their subjects. Among the topics set for group discussion this year are time management, lesson planning, learning to say "no," and defusing difficult situations.

A second program, TV/TIP, the Tri-Valley Teacher Induction Project, began in 2004 and is a two-year voluntary program for teachers from seven districts: Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, Sunol, Castro Valley and two local private schools, Carden West and Quarry Lane.

TV/TIP also includes coaching, and it works collaboratively with PAR. It also incorporates a professional development component, with area colleges and universities, and seminars like 6-12 Classroom Management and Active Learning Instructional Practices.

The third program is for administrators, such as new principals. Like TV/TIP, it involves other schools and runs two years. It includes topics such as recruitment and working with new teachers, understanding school culture, and leadership styles.

All three programs have been successful, according to Kim Ortiz, who began TV/TIP. She said 90% of the teachers who have been through that program are still teaching.

With the new state budget in place, the school board also got an update on funding from Assistant Superintendent Business Services, Luz Cázares.

Cázares said the budget was 100 days late, the latest in California history, and contains what she described as a number of "shaky assumptions" including banking on federal funds that may not materialize and a "rosy" prediction of the economy. She said it also includes money from the sale of state property that may not occur and assumes $7.5 billion in expenditure reductions, although the first quarter of the state's fiscal year has already passed.

On the positive side, Cázares said $400,000 in cuts that were part of the governor's May revise were restored, and that the district will also see $500,000 in mandate reimbursements, something she said she hasn't seen in years. The state also passed along $2.7 million in federal stimulus money; Cázares had worried that the state might take all or part of that funding.

The district will still have to deal with deferred payments that were part of the budget. Instead of disbursing money in April and May, the state won't make that payment until July. That will require the district to borrow money to get through those months.

In other matters, the school board:

* Heard an update on the Hearst Elementary mold remediation project, which is now 90% complete. Principal Michael Kuhfal and a number of teachers and staff were thanked for their work in keeping the school running smoothly from the time the mold was discovered and doing the necessary work with a minimum of problems. As of Sept. 30, that project has cost more than $1 million, although the district is hoping to recoup some of that money from the original builder.

* Proclaimed Oct. 10-16 as Disability History Week. The request came from the Disability Action Network for Youth (DANY); Jack Nespor, a member of that group, was recognized for his work in bringing the resolution before the board.

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