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The News Gallery

June 2005

TAKING AN ACCOUNT - Williams Settlement Sends TCOE Teams to Assess 66 Tulare County Schools

News Gallery - June 2005 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Garyalynn Wilhelm, Jeanne Croson, Brian Roberts, Jeanne Nava, Pansy Ceballos, Sonia Pavao and Nariman Ajluni.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at chrisc@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.


Cover Photo:
~ During class visits, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Dr. Pansy Ceballos reviews each teacher's instructional materials.



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Teams Assess School Facilities, Instructional Materials and Teaching Staff
Six Teams Visit 66 Tulare County Schools in Seven Weeks


Last summer, Governor Schwarzenegger settled a four-year-old class action suit brought on behalf of students in several urban school districts against the State of California and state education agencies. The basis of the lawsuit (known as the Williams case) was that the state agencies failed to provide public school students with equal access to instructional materials, safe and decent school facilities, and qualified teachers.

Williams legislation assessments Legislation funding the acquisition of instructional materials and improvements to school facilities was signed into law in late September 2004. Nearly $1 billion has been set aside for facility repair, materials acquisition and oversight. Regulations outlining the oversight of school assessment were then put into place with the California Department of Education (CDE) by early 2005. The legislation gives oversight authority for implementing the new law to California's County Superintendents. "Late last year, we began organizing personnel from many of our divisions into evaluation teams," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "As the new regulations were made available, we also held a series of informational meetings with the principals and superintendents of the schools affected by the Williams legislation, so that they knew what to expect from our visits to their sites." Not all Tulare County schools required visitations. Only schools in the lowest three deciles (rankings) as determined by the state's 2003 Academic Performance Index (API) Base were evaluated. In Tulare County, 66 schools fall into these categories.

Williams legislation assessments As a result of the Williams case, the CDE changed the School Accountability Report Card (SARC) template that all schools must update and publish annually. The changes, contained on a document called the Interim Evaluation Instrument (IEI), helped schools report the overall condition of their facilities, the number of teacher misassignments and vacant teacher positions, and the availability of textbooks or instructional materials. IEIs were submitted to Mr. Vidak prior to surprise site visits from six TCOE evaluation teams, which began in early April. School sites were also required to post a complaint procedure notification in each classroom with instructions on how parents could notify administration of their concerns about the facility or its teachers. Tulare County schools reported no complaints filed.

Williams legislation assessments Teams are responsible for checking the condition of every ancillary building band rooms, storage closets, offices, cafeterias, kitchens and restrooms plus one classroom from every grade taught at the site. In each room, a few of the things team members check are that the buildings are clean, safe and maintained at a proper temperature. In the the classroom, teachers are surveyed about their class size and instructional materials, while students are polled to ensure each has his or her own textbook or educational materials in core subject matters to use without sharing with another student.

While site visits were being conducted, TCOE's Human Resources division, credentialing staff reviewed teacher staffing to report any lack of qualified teachers. "The kinds of things we were looking for are that teachers hold proper credentials for their teaching assignment and that in classrooms where 20 percent of the students are English Language Learners (ELL), their teacher has a proper ELL certification," says Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeanne Nava. Schools where teachers are found to be misassigned have 30 days to correct the assignment. Misassignments are also reported to the state commission on teacher credentialing.

Williams legislation assessments Following the visits, any discrepancies found by evaluation staff are noted on the IEI. A report is then sent to the CDE and a copy given to the school principal. The teams will return to each school site in August to note whether corrective action has been taken. Currently, the law provides site visits to continue on an annual basis.

"The Williams law is a fine tool for ensuring schools get the resources needed to make necessary corrections and that all students have equal access to quality education," says Mr. Vidak. "The visits have confirmed that our schools are doing a good job with their facility and instructional resources, and that we are prepared to assist them with any required improvements," he says.

Photos above:
~ During class visits, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Dr. Pansy Ceballos reviews each teacher's instructional materials.
~ Nariman Ajluni (center) keeps the team on track checking randomly selected classrooms and all ancillary offices, storage and restrooms.
~ General Services Administrator Rich Graham visits classrooms to determine whether each student has a core subject text book.
~ ERS Shipping/Receiving Clerk Ray Palomino inspects a student restroom.



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2005 Community Advisory Committee Honors
Organization Recognizes Individual's Commitment to Scpecial Education


The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Annual Luncheon is always an emotional affair as numerous teachers, aides, administrators and parents receive heartfelt recognition for their service to Special Education. The annual event, held in Visalia May 18, was also a chance for the CAC, the Directors of Special Education Committee and the Superintendents' Governance Committee to report on progress made in serving Tulare County students with special needs. After the business portion of the meeting, Cherry Avenue's Jazz Band, under the direction of Susan Burley, performed three lively numbers, followed by poems from students of the Lindsay Special Education Preschool, under the direction of Marta Bassett.

Donna Martin and Janet Rogers Dr. Marilyn Rankin, assistant superintendent of Special Services, honored retiree Marshall Mumford, director of Special Education, for the Tulare Joint Union High School District for the past 22 years. Dr. Rankin praised Mumford's kindness and personal attention to students and parents and his dedication to classroom responsibilities along with all of his administrative duties. "Marshall moves with such energy and speed that others have to run to keep up with him," said Dr. Rankin. "And he never worships a problem; he just gets busy and solves it," she added.

Karen Andersen, chairperson for the CAC and a resource specialist for Dinuba Unified, presented certificates of appreciation to 19 other teachers, aides, administrators and Lindsay High School student Jeremy Moreno, who continues a remarkable academic career despite severe disabilities caused by meningitis. "This ceremony is one of the most rewarding recognitions we host," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "There are so many people each with different roles brought together because of their dedication to students with special needs. Despite their students' physical and intellectual disabilities, these men and women are still putting them first."

Following the presentation of certificates, Janet Rogers, teacher of the severely handicapped at L.B. Hill Learning Center in Porterville, was awarded the Brent Rast Award. The award, given annually in memory of Mr. Rast who was also a teacher of the severely handicapped, recognizes teachers for exemplary service. Dr. Michael Stephens, administrator for Severely Handicapped Services, presented the award. He said that he was particularly pleased to honor Ms. Rogers as she had been instrumental in implementing the Movement Opportunities Via Education (M.O.V.E.) program in Tulare County (profiled in The News Gallery May 2005). Stephens summed up Ms. Rogers' teaching philosophy: "Janet was told that many of her students would never sit, stand or walk. Through M.O.V.E., she made it her mission to prove those people wrong."

2005 CAC Honorees

Tom Rooney
Principal, Washington Elementary, Lndsay
Lu Hilliard
Instructional Aide, Visalia Unified
Willa Jo Adams
Special Education Teacher, Dinuba Unified
Bonnie Wolfe
Speech/Language Specialist, Maple Elem., Tulare
Karol Clevenger
General Education Teacher, Hurley Elem., Visalia
Jeremy Moreno
Student, Lindsay High School
Jan Akins
Speech/Language Specialist, TCOE employee, Pixley
Melissa Morales
General Education Teacher, Earlimart Elementary
Brenda Sierdsma
Special Education Secretary, Tulare H.S. District
Judy Gregory
Special Education Teacher, TCOE employee
Palm School, Cutler-Orosi
Lisa Oyervidez
Instructional Aide, TCOE employee
Palm School, Cutler-Orosi
Amy Scofield
General Education Teacher, Liberty Elementary
Robert Taylor
Principal, Farmersville High School
Barbara Breshears
Special Education Secretary, Visalia Unified
Ann Haxton
Speech/Language Specialist, Exeter Public Schools
Tracie Stearns
General Education Teacher, Exeter Public Schools
Sandy Wileman
Resource Specialist, Exeter Public Schools
Sherry Rhoten
Special Education Teacher, Doyle Elem., Porterville
Randi Kestner
Parent, Porterville Unified


Photo above:
~ Janet Rogers (right), winner of the Brent Rast Award, along with L.B. Hill program manager Donna Martin.



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Stagecraft Classes Earn Students Credit
High School Students Build Beauty and the Beast Sets


The assignment: Build a theater set for the summer production of Beauty and the Beast complete with an "enchanted" castle and all the special effects audiences expect in a hit Disney musical. No small task, as past audiences attending summer Theatre Company productions are accustomed to seeing amazing sets whether it's a palatial court from The King and I, or a gritty downtown ally from West Side Story.

Stagecraft Classes Over the past four months, students in the Theatre Company's new Stagecraft Technology class have learned how plywood, lumber, iron, plaster and paint and a little theater magic become a first-rate set. "What started out as a lot of manual labor, has become a real source of pride for these students," says Theatre Company Director Brian Roberts.

Stagecraft Technology is the latest endeavor of the Tulare County Office of Education's Theatre Company. The 90-hour course is designed to give students hands-on experience in set design, construction and scenic painting. In addition to work on the set for Disney's Beauty and the Beast, instructor Dave Wood and students have also supported a number of local high schools with sets and scenic elements, including El Diamante, Redwood, Tulare Union, Dinuba and Golden West productions.

Stagecraft Classes Stagecraft Technology is a partnership between the TCOE Theatre Company, Tulare County Organization for Vocational Education (TCOVE) and Visalia Unified. Students who complete the course earn five units of high school graduation credit. "Through this partnership, Tulare County students now have another avenue for creative learning not just in the arts, but in team-building and problem solving," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Enrollment in Stagecraft Technology is now open for the 2005 fall semester. Interested students who are 16 years or older may call the Theatre Company at 651-1482 for more information. Beauty and The Beast will be performed at the L.J. Williams Theatre July 22-30, 2005 (see calendar listing).

Photos above:
~ The concept model (foreground) gives a sense of the set's enormous scale, as students work to complete a stair railing ...
~ ... and the Beast's dungeon.



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Excellence in Education Award Winners Selected
Eleventh Annual Event Attracts More Nominations


Fifteen Tulare County business, community and educational leaders met last month to choose the Administrator/Manager of the Year, Teacher of the Year and School Employee of the Year in the 2005 Excellence in Education Awards competition. Applications are reviewed and scored individually by every member of the committee. "It is a lengthy process that ultimately produces the worthiest individuals," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We are delighted with the participation and appreciate the efforts Tulare County schools invest in honoring each and every nominee," Mr. Vidak adds.

The Administrator/Manager of the Year honor goes to Rick Mitchell, administrator for TCOE's outdoor education program SCICON. Mr. Mitchell, a 15 year veteran of the program, was cited for efforts to make the program accessible to all Tulare County students. Jeff Cozad has been named the 2005 Teacher of the Year. A science teacher with Porterville High School, Mr. Cozad was instrumental in acquiring and maintaining Porterville College's SMART Lab, a mobile laboratory that travels to schools throughout the county. The School Employee of the Year is Glenna Haley, an RSP Instructional Aide at Mulcahy Middle School in Tulare. She has devoted herself to a career of assisting students with challenging academic and social needs. Award recipients and finalists will be honored at a recognition breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m. on October 12, 2005, at the Visalia Convention Center.


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Support Staff Conference Draws 425
Conference Emphasizes Creativity in Communications


If you walked through the doors of the Visalia Convention Center Exhibit Hall on April 29, you would have seen over 425 classified and confidential management employees from throughout the Valley enjoying the 2005 Tulare County Support Staff Conference, an event sponsored annually by the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. Alluding to the Hawaiian theme with a stage surrounded by palm trees, County Superintendent Jim Vidak welcomed participants and said: "This is a day to enhance communication skills, learn to overcome challenges and ignite your creativity."

Support Staff Conference Speaker Richard Cummings, communications director of the Great Valley Center a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the Central Valley gave the audience a "reality check" about the Valley's future, with hypothetical scenarios based in large part on the social, economic and resource choices its citizens and leaders make today. National Speaker Joel Zeff, an improvisational actor and former public relations executive, energized the audience in his presentation, "Creativity in Communication and Making a Choice." Attendees also visited over 22 vendor booths and were entertained with performances by TCOE's Nutrition Network Coordinator and professional Polynesian dancer, Nani Rowland, and Jeremy "Elvis" Pearce.

During closing remarks, Darlynn Billingsley, administrative assistant and coordinator of the event, praised classified and confidential management and said: "Be proud of your accomplishments and role in education. In your 'golden years,' you can sit back in that comfy beach chair on the shores of Waikiki and know you made a difference."

Photo above:
~ Keynote speaker Joel Zeff engages conference participants in a humorous communications exercise including TCOE Internal Business Services Technician Gwen Coughran (center).



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Gallery Notes

The California Department of Education awarded a $104,550 grant to Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) in April 2005. With the funds, TCOE and California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) will implement a program to recruit and train single-subject mathematics, science and special education teachers. The target population served by the program are the extremely at-risk students in rural Tulare, Kings, and Kern Counties.

The Tulare County Farm Bureau honored TCOE School-to-Career Project Director Randy Wallace with the Farm Bureau Service Award at their 88th annual meeting held on May 19. Mr. Wallace was cited for his dedication to motivate, educate and increase awareness of Tulare County agriculture. He was instrumental in coordinating the "Ag in the Classroom" teacher inservice beginning in 1994 and has also been involved with the Farm Bureau Calendar Art program for the past 10 years.

The Tulare County Child Care Planning Council is recruiting new members, with openings in all service categories. Members are appointed for two-year terms. For additional information, those interested can contact Tina Shirley at 651-3026, or view the website at www.tularecountykids.org.


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Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219

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