Is School Board Addressing the Issue of Program Improvement?

"Can you give an estimate as to what percentage of time is spent at school board meetings talking about what individual campuses are doing to get out of PI status? I’m not there for the meetings but it just seems to me that this should be a big issue for board members and they should be grilling the superintendent and principals on a pretty regular basis about this. Are board members complacent about this? Are board members getting this type of information privately during closed sessions because it’s embarrassing to the district?"

- Submitted by Fillmore Resident via email, (requested to stay anonymous because of connections to the District*)

For an explanation on Program Improvement see:

My read of this question is that it is asking for my opinion based on what I have seen. So please keep in mind that this particular post is essentially my opinion.
As I prepare to answer this question I find that I want readers to know that I am no fan of “standardized testing”. I feel that those bubble tests have numerous problems, and surely fail to assess the “whole child”. That being said, standardized tests are in fact a part of the current system of public education. The tests are not only used to assess students in grade and high school, but also for entry into many colleges and universities. This is changing. Some colleges are moving away from the SAT. Progress is happening. You will see in my response below that I think changes are needed throughout the public education system, and surely rethinking standardized testing is one of them. But because our local district must adhere to the “laws of the land”, we must continue to operate within the world of standardized tests, not matter how much we wish them gone. But I think both the environment and students can benefit from a discussion of how to better prepare our students to not only do better on those assessments, BUT to learn how to better understand concepts and ideas, think critically about problems put before them and to think outside the box or bubble. If our students get better at those things, they are sure to improve on many levels, and those nasty standardized tests just may be one of them. The folks, who study how people learn, have this information; our schools have access to the current information about how we all learn. We just need to demand the effective processes be implemented. And many of them cost little or no money. (More on that later)

1. Give an estimate as to what percentage of time is spent at meetings talking about what individual campuses are doing to get out our PI status?
At most meetings, I have seen very little if no attention, discussion or direction given regarding the fact that all schools are currently in PI status. So far this year, the Board HAS heard once from each principal regarding his or her plans, goals and changes currently being implemented. From what I have heard most changes are based around the idea of "collaboration", including an emphasis on writing throughout subjects, targeting assistance to each students needs and for the elementary schools to learn what Principal Chrissy Schieferle and staff are doing at Mountain Vista in order to mirror that schools improvement. All plans sounded great although I did not see any clear expectations laid out by the Board for the Principals.
To be frank, I saw a slight shift occur during the recent campaign (disclosure: I was a candidate, in case you didn't know) and following the election. Last year, when parents brought concerns regarding "program improvement" to the Board, Board members seemed to not know anything about it, and to state that all the schools were "excellent". Some Board members seem to still be clinging to the idea that the schools are excellent while at the same time calling for more discussion on how the schools are improving. I am closely watching how the new Board members add to the conversation, and whether or not the Board as a whole either faces this head on or continues to stick its head in the sand.
In my opinion the “PI” issue is so much more than curriculum and collaboration. It is about a true change at the very core of the entire District, here is a quote from the CEO of Baltimore Schools (similar position to superintendent) Andres Alonso “"We have very, very consciously looked at the history of the district, look at what has been done in the past, and we have very, very intentionally tried to do things in a very different way." ( Alonso was quoted in an interview he gave about the changes he oversaw in that District, which according to the article turned an underperforming District into one of the best in the state.
Now, all that being said, today, Tuesday January 18th the Board will have it’s first ever (to my knowledge) study session on “Program Improvement”. The title of the session is “ Program Improvement: What it is? What it means? And what we are doing about it?” I will be there. And a full report will be made in the paper this week. So the Board will spend one hour learning about Program Improvement. I hope that it grabs their attention and they grasp the seriousness. No one wants the state to take over one of our schools. No one.

2. Are Board members complacent about this? In my opinion they are. Some Board members might be waking up a bit, but the jury is still out on this one. I really think this is an issue that should have folks asking more tough questions, and being much clearer with administrators about what the Board expects to see each and every year. Ask this again in June. And remember, a big part of “PI” is the school choice conversation as well. This year FUSD had declining enrollment. Board members were presented with the numbers. In this tight financial situation each student that leaves the District means less income for the District. Not one question was asked about WHY students were leaving the District. Not one. I would really like to see the Board get interested in the “PI” issue not because it means the schools are “failing” the state standards, but because it means that the schools are “failing” the students, and the community. Remember, the quality of our local schools affects what businesses fill our business parks, it affects property values, crime levels. It affects community. When all schools are in PI that means that students have the right to transfer to a non-PI school outside of the District. That is a right that the law guarantees. The Board should be vigorous about addressing this issue first because of what it means for the students, but second because of the affects that on going “PI” designation has on the number of students enrolled in FUSD schools.

3. Are board members getting this type of information privately during closed sessions because it’s embarrassing to the district?” This is a tougher question to answer since the public is not privy to what is discussed in closed sessions. If I understand the restrictions pertaining to closed sessions, any general discussion regarding Program Improvement SHOULD be happening in open session. Again I want to emphasize, that I know of nothing indicating that this is being discussed in closed session, I’m simply responding to this question. I think it would benefit the Board and District as a whole to shed more light on this issue not only because the public should be fully informed about the true state of the schools, but because it would improve the public's perception that the Board is knowledgeable on this and is demanding improvement at all schools, and is prepared to hold administrators accountable. *Keep in mind that employee evaluations made by the Board are generally protected, and MAY be discussed in closed session, and therefore need not be released to the public. BUT the public may participate in evaluation processes. Some Boards do hear from the public regarding administrator and superintendent evaluations.

I hope that answers your questions. Feel free to send a follow up, or post a comment here.

What do you think? Are the School Board members taking this issue seriously? Is it really that ‘big” of an issue? Do you care whether or not your child’s school is in “PI” status?

Thanks for reading, post a comment because School Matters.

Kimberly Rivers
School Matters Blog at
Mail to: Fillmore Gazette, attn: School Matters, 408 Orchard Street, Fillmore, 93015


Special study session on "Program Improvement" at 5:30 p.m.




The public may review or request a copy of support materials provided to the Board Members where the word materials appears.
5:30 p.m.
This is the time and place to address the Board. State law prohibits the Board from acting on issues not included on the agenda; however, requests may be made for discussion of specific topics at subsequent meetings.
D. STUDY SESSION Program Improvement
6:30 p.m.



What: FUSD School Board Study Session on "Program Improvement"; What it is? What it means? What is the District doing about it?
When: Tuesday, January 18th, 5:30-6:30pm
Where: School Board meeting room at FUSD offices on Sespe in Fillmore
Why: This meeting is open to the public. It will be a good time to come and hear about what the District is doing about the fact that ALL seven schools are currently in "PI".

The School Board general meeting will begin at 6:30 following the study session.


"Between a Rock and a Hard Place" by Shane Cohn

Here's a portion of the article, see the full piece at :

“What we’ve tried to do in Ventura County is keep chaos away from kids and families,” said Mary Samples, special education local plan area director. “We have worked so hard and diligently with the mental health department to keep everything intact.”

The cash-strapped Office of Education will owe approximately $2.5 million for mental health services and up to another $5 million in residential social services during the span of the MOU, Samples said.

“Additional money will now be coming out of school districts, and something else will have to be given up on the general education side of things,” said Samples.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget spared additional cuts to K-12 public education, if a five-year extension of temporary tax increases is approved by voters in June.

But unless an increase in state revenue is provided by the voter-approved tax extension in June, the 2011-12 school year for K-12 California public schools is forecast to lose $2 billion in funding due to the cuts Schwarzenegger had enacted, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Extending the higher tax rates on sales, vehicles and incomes would offset some of the $2 billion in projected school district losses, Brown said.

Ok this is Kimberly again, What do you think of this? Surely special education is a vital and important part of pur public education system, and these program are mandated by the State, but notice that according to this article the "estimated price tag is $7.5 Million" of special education programs in the County serve "550 students". And when we do the math, this comes out to $13,636.36 is being spent per student. See the article for the wide range of services provided, again ALL valuable and needed by these students and families, but note that (according to the article) even Mary Samples, "special education local plan area director" indicates that "something else will have to be given up on the general education side of things".

What are your thoughts on this?



Camarillo, CA. - CSU Channel Islands was recently selected as one of 115 institutions nationwide chosen by the Carnegie Foundation to receive their 2010 Community Engagement Classification. This is an elective classification which recognizes exemplary practices among all populations in a university-wide commitment to community engagement and service learning. Service learning is a teaching and learning method linking course content to “real-life” experiences that center around a community need or issue.

The Carnegie Foundation requested broad information which required a thorough and comprehensive examination of the University’s programs and relationships. The Community Engagement Classification recognizes that CI lives up to its mission and commitment to serve the region. This classification will not be awarded again for another five years.

CI featured a number of efforts to engage young people in STEM careers and majors (science, technology, engineering and math). An example is the Summer Science Institute, which is designed to encourage Oxnard College students to pursue STEM majors and to transfer to a four-year university. This past summer 60 students enrolled in 3 week classes, working with faculty research mentors, to study either the health of the ocean from a tall ship or investigate “crime scenes” set up on the CI campus. CI students served as peer mentors.

“At Channel Islands, we share a strong commitment to give back to the community in which we live,” stated President Richard R. Rush. “Alexis de Tocqueville, in his 1830 account of Democracy in America, called the acts of service he observed “habits of the heart.” Integrating service into student learning, faculty research, and staff activities not only provides better prepared students, but also strengthens the entire community. I am proud of our campus efforts and our ‘habits of the heart’.”

Since its inception, CI has been building the infrastructure for community engagement and service learning on campus. This effort has been supported by funding, by curriculum and faculty development, by student interest and opportunity, and community partnerships.

The ultimate test of service learning and community engagement is the impact it has on both the University and the wider community. Pilar Pacheco, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement, mentioned that, “Through community engagement students begin to understand civic responsibility, which contributes to their learning. They develop leadership skills and a clearer vision of their social responsibility. The relationships they make in this program help them feel more a part of the community and give them a sense that there is application for their studies and that their participation has an impact,” she explained.

Pacheco stressed that this was a University-wide distinction because these concepts permeate every facet of life

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research.


January 27th

VENTURA CA. - Jill Buckley, Esq., a nationally known expert in the growing field of animal law, will be the guest speaker at a community lecture to be held January 27 at the Ventura campus of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law.

Buckley currently serves as senior director of government relations and mediation for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Founded in 1866, ASPCA was the first humane organization established in North America and, today, remains one of the largest in the world.

The Jan. 27 event is sponsored by the law school's student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Since 1979 ALDF has advocated for stronger enforcement of anticruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals.

The lecture will be held from 5:30 - 6:20 p.m. at the College of Law at 4475 Market Street in Ventura. The public is invited to attend. Space is limited and reservations can be made at or by calling 805-658-0511.

Since 1969 the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law have offered a State Bar-accredited part-time evening program leading to the Juris Doctor degree and academic eligibility to sit for the California Bar Examination.
With a faculty comprised of judges and practicing attorneys who bring real-world experience into the curriculum, classes are taught in a supportive and practical learning environment. The Colleges' more than 1,700 graduates include judges, court commissioners and numerous elected officials as well as hundreds of lawyers practicing throughout California. Further information on the law school may be found at


"Superheroes Go For Run In the Park on New Year's Day", Rockwall Herald Banner

A fun and hopefully inspiring bit of news.

View the whole article here:

By Jim Hardin

A Portion:

The event was sponsored by Rockwall Running Center, but Lee Chatham, a Rockwall Running Club member, came up with the idea for a Superman run on New Year’s Day.

Chatham was inspired by the sad financial state of the education system and a movie, “Waiting For Superman.”

Proceeds from the race will go to, described as “an online charity connecting you to classrooms in need.” Promotional material for the race stated that a mission of the effort was “to save America from the cycle of violence and poverty by supporting education at the source — the classroom.”

And how does Superman come into play with this effort to meet financial needs — like providing funds for school supplies and basic classroom needs?

The Superman 5k Web site stated that “America’s system requires a heroes rescue — an entire army of heroes.”

The running bib worn by each runner proclaimed, “I Am Superman.”

“I realized we don’t have to wait on Superman,” Chatham said, referring to the movie title. “We are Superman. We are the super hero saving the day.”

I've got a few great questions from community members, working on responses. Check back soon.
Happy Wednesday, Kimberly Rivers


Judge Opens NYC Teacher Evaluations to the Public, by Max Folmer

Wow, here is a hot topic right now. What do you think?
Here is a portion with the full article here:

January 11, 2011

A New York judge ruled Monday that parents and community members had a right to see 12,000 teacher performance ratings based on their students' test scores.

Judge Cynthia S. Kern ruled that the public interest in how public employees perform outweighed the teachers' right to privacy....

See complete article at link above.

"Rethinking Advanced Placement" By Christopher Drew

Here is a wonderful story about coming changes to many of the the AP tests, along with curriculum changes. Notice how the goal is to move away from having students just memorize a bunch of facts to spit out for the test, but to actually learn and understand concepts and emphasize critical thinking.

Here is a portion of the article, with the complete text at the New York Times:

"Rethinking Advanced Placement" by Christopher Drew for the New York Times,
January 7th, 2010

WHEN Joan Carlson started teaching high school biology more than 30 years ago, the Advanced Placement textbook was daunting enough, at 36 chapters and 870 pages. But as an explosion of research into cells and genes reshapes our sense of how life evolves, the flood of new material has been staggering. Mrs. Carlson’s A.P. class in Worcester, Mass., now confronts a book with 56 chapters and 1,400 pages, along with a profusion of animated videos and Web-based aids that supplement the text.

And what fuels the panic is that nearly every tongue-twisting term and microscopic fact is fair game for the year-end test that decides who will receive college credit for the course.

“Some of the students look at the book and say, ‘My gosh, it’s just like an encyclopedia,’ ” Mrs. Carlson says. And when new A.P. teachers encounter it, “they almost want to start sobbing.”

As A.P. has proliferated, spreading to more than 30 subjects with 1.8 million students taking 3.2 million tests, the program has won praise for giving students an early chance at more challenging work. But many of the courses, particularly in the sciences and history, have also been criticized for overwhelming students with facts to memorize and then rushing through important topics. Students and educators alike say that biology, with 172,000 test-takers this year, is one of the worst offenders.

A.P. teachers have long complained that lingering for an extra 10 or 15 minutes on a topic can be a zero-sum game, squeezing out something else that needs to be covered for the exam. PowerPoint lectures are the rule. The homework wears down many students. And studies show that most schools do the same canned laboratory exercises, providing little sense of the thrill of scientific discovery.

All that, says the College Board, is about to change.

Next month, the board, the nonprofit organization that owns the A.P. exams as well as the SAT, will release a wholesale revamping of A.P. biology as well as United States history — with 387,000 test-takers the most popular A.P. subject. A preview of the changes shows that the board will slash the amount of material students need to know for the tests and provide, for the first time, a curriculum framework for what courses should look like. The goal is to clear students’ minds to focus on bigger concepts and stimulate more analytic thinking. In biology, a host of more creative, hands-on experiments are intended to help students think more like scientists.
Read the rest of the article at:


This is a new blog called “School Matters” hosted by the Fillmore Gazette. The Gazette responded to my request for a way to inform the public on various school related issues and to respond to questions from the community. I am honored to be able to moderate, facilitate and write for this blog because School Matters. It is my hope that this blog will be a resource for the community and create another avenue for residents to get engaged with our local schools. The state of our schools affects the entire community, not just families. Property values, new business, quality jobs, crime rates, all are affected by how our schools are doing. Everyone needs to care about our local schools.

I want to hear from everyone. Students. Parents. Alumni. Family Members. District Staff. Residents. Business Owners.

What do you want to know about our schools? What do you think the community should know about our schools?

****Did you know that FUSD has an annual budget (2010-11) of $35 Million? That is your tax dollars (state and federal) at work. Is that money being spent wisely? What do you think?

**** What is great about FUSD? What do you love about your schools? What do you wish was different? What do you want to see happen at your local school?

****Is FUSD evolving to meet the needs of our changing economy? If you are worried about the state of our economy, and want to see it “fixed”, education must be at the foundation of any “fix”. More students must graduate. More students must be minimally proficient, and more must excel. This is needed to create the business leaders and owners of the future. What can local Districts and School Boards do to better prepare current students to succeed?

****Currently all of our seven schools are in “Program Improvement”. This is a label assigned by the state for schools that are failing to meet certain benchmarks for the number of students testing at a “minimally proficient” level. Do you know what FUSD is doing to improve the schools? What do you think FUSD should do?

This Blog is for you, the community. Send in your questions.
1. Post your question as a comment on this blog.
2. Send in questions by email:
3. Write your questions and mail to: Fillmore Gazette, attn: School Matters, 408 Orchard Street, Fillmore, CA 93015

Some guidelines for submitted questions and comments:
1. Please include your name. While I prefer that I have permission to list your name with your question, I am willing to respond to questions submitted anonymously. But in the event that I need to clarify the question or don’t understand what you are asking, having a way to contact you can be helpful.
2. For all online comments: Feel free to challenge, question and provide alternative views. That is what good dialogue is all about. BUT I will be very quick to delete and remove any comments that are derogatory, libelous, or disrespectful. Keep in mind it is perfectly OK to criticize when our intention is to help improve it. Just always err on the side of being respectful and forthright. That is why I prefer all comments include your full name, we tend to behave a bit better when our name is attached to our words. Any comments that detract from a respectful dialogue will be deleted.
3. Please state your question clearly. And provide any “context” for your question.
4. Let us know “who” you are: student, parent, guardian, family member, teacher, staff, resident, or business owner.

Once I have your question and I think others will be interested in it, I will do my best to find the best answer. I will research, interview, read and examine various sources to come up with a response. It is my intention to always provide “sound” information from “good” sources. If I am stating my opinion, I will let you know it.

From time to time I would love to have “guest writers” submit an essay (any students interested? District staff, what’s on your mind?) on a topic, or an editorial on an issue they feel passionate about that has to do with education, schools, FUSD etc. Just submit it. For these submissions I MUST have your name and contact information. If you are interested, send me your “topic” idea for approval and word limit.

**Note: I do not speak Spanish, but if I receive a question in Spanish I am able to get it translated. I am looking for folks interested in helping me translate (Any bi-lingual students want to volunteer with the local paper?) the entire blog. Contact me if you’re interested.

So here we go… a new year, a new blog, because SCHOOL MATTERS!

Welcome to the Blog and I look forward to reading and responding to your questions.
Best, Kimberly Rivers

Student Sleepout, shelter overnight, discussion slated
Cathy Brudnicki, executive director of the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition (VCHHC).
Cathy Brudnicki, executive director of the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition (VCHHC).

THOUSAND OAKS, CA. - A public panel discussion and a Sleepout and shelter overnight for students are planned as part of California Lutheran University’s Homelessness Awareness Week.

Experts and activists will discuss “Housing and Homelessness in Ventura County” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, in the Roth Nelson Room. The panel will feature Cathy Brudnicki, executive director of the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition (VCHHC), Leonard Schneiderman, professor emeritus of social welfare at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, and Darlene Mees, Southern California area director for Lutheran Social Services (LSS). In addition to local issues, they will also discuss homelessness at the regional, state and national levels.

Other activities coordinated by CLU’s Community Service Center will provide students with experiences where they can learn more about homelessness. On the evening of Jan. 27, a Sleepout will be held on campus. Students will build housing from cardboard and participate in activities that look at the demographics, stereotypes and causes of homelessness.

On Jan. 28, students will help run the overnight shelter that LSS coordinates with seven Conejo Valley churches. The students will eat dinner with the guests, set up sleeping areas, watch a movie, spend the night, set up breakfast and clean up the sleeping areas.

There are 1,815 people, including 200 children, who are homeless on a given day in Ventura County, according to the VCHHC. There are 117 families who are homeless and nearly three-fourths of them are single-parent families. The number of families affected by homelessness and those at risk of having inadequate or unstable housing is growing with the increase in foreclosures and other economic challenges.

CLU’s Center for Equality and Justice is sponsoring the free panel discussion. The Roth Nelson Room is located on Mountclef Boulevard between Olsen Road and Memorial Parkway on the Thousand Oaks campus. For more information, contact Sam Thomas at or (805) 493-3693.

The Fillmore High School "S" Club

The Fillmore High School "S" Club brought Christmas cheer to over sixteen local senior citizens. With the help of Fillmore Auto Electric, Michelle Patterson, Dr. Johnston, Soroptimist of Fillmore, Joe & Terri Aguirre, George Golden, Mail Stop-Kathy Vargas, Cookie Lee Jewelry-Ari Larson, State Farm-Bill Herrera, Edward Jones-Kyle Wilson, Central Station Bar & Grill, Treasure Station, and The Scented Path.

The "S" Club was able to present each senior citizen with a Christmas care package. The "S" Club wrapped and delivered all the gifts. They sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas as they rang the door bell. Although the rain caught up with them that didn’t' stop them from bringing smiles and some tears to our local senior citizens. Special thanks to Sarah Hansen for providing the list of senior citizens!

The "S" Club enjoyed this project immensely and touching our senior citizens in such a warm positive manner brought them a good feeling. They plan on making this a yearly project. For more information on the "S" Club visit their website at or call Mrs. Herrera at (805) 794-1900. New members are welcome.

Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District


5:30 p.m.
This is the time and place to address the Board. State law prohibits the Board from acting on issues not included on the agenda; however, requests may be made for discussion of specific topics at subsequent meetings.
The Board of Education will meet from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to consider matters appropriate for Closed Session in accordance with Government Code Sections 3549.1, 54956.7 through 54957.7 and Education Code Section 35146. If the Board does not complete Closed Session discussions at this time, the Board may adjourn to Closed Session at the end of the regular meeting. DISCLOSURE OF ITEM(S) TO BE DISCUSSED IN CLOSED SESSION School District Pupils (Education Code 35146)
o Expulsion Case Number 10-11-04
o Consideration of Recommendation for Readmission of Students Who Have Completed Term of Expulsion Labor/Negotiations (Government Code 54957.6)
o Update; Direction to District Negotiators (Jeff Sweeney, Mike Bush, Todd Schieferle, Margaret Chidester) for negotiations with the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association (FUTA), the California School Employees Association (CSEA), Confidential Employees, and District Administration. Personnel Matters (Government Code 54957)
o Hiring, Evaluating, Discipline, Dismissal Conference with Legal Counsel - Anticipated Litigation Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to subdivision (b)(3)(A) of Government Code Section 54956.9 (one potential case)
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance to participate in this meeting, please contact the Superintendent's Office at (805) 524-6038. Notification 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the district to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility to this meeting. [In accordance with Government Code 54961 and Board Bylaw 9320(a).]

E. RECONVENE TO OPEN SESSION Any Action From Closed Session School District Pupils (Education Code 35146)
o Expulsion Case Number 10-11-04
o Consideration of Recommendation for Readmission of Students Who Have
Completed Term of Expulsion

Sespe School held their Christmas program last Thursday. Several classes participated and the program was enjoyed by many.
Sespe School held their Christmas program last Thursday. Several classes participated and the program was enjoyed by many.
Enlarge Photo
Good citizens Cory Cole and Chris De La Paz, senior football players from Fillmore High School, spoke to the students about the importance of positive character traits at December’s Peacebuilder assembly.
Good citizens Cory Cole and Chris De La Paz, senior football players from Fillmore High School, spoke to the students about the importance of positive character traits at December’s Peacebuilder assembly.
Enlarge Photo

On Monday, December 6, 2010, San Cayetano School recognized good citizenship and character at their Peacebuilder Assembly for the month of December. Cory Cole and Chris De La Paz, senior football players from Fillmore High School, spoke to the students about the importance of positive character traits. Each teacher chose a student from his or her class whom showed excellent character and peace-building skills. ASB President, Cali Wyand,and Vice President, Lizzie Castaneda assisted Cory and Chris in handing out the Peacebuilder Awards. The Peacebuilders for December are: Briant Chancon, Pryscilla Priebe, Mariah Johnson, Chris Mendez, Kayleen Jacinto, Xitlali RoblesJazmin Patino, Tatiana Esquival, David Anchondo, Joseph Flores, Anateresa Jimenez, Jason Martinez, Hannah Ransom-Fairall, Victor Jimenez, Ariana Martinez, Cesar Lopez, Shania Leon, Jared Dewey, Evelyn Cabrera, and Marlen Garcia-Cano. Cali and Lizzie then announced to the students that John Paul Pet is sponsoring the San Cayetano Character Counts Award of a $100.00 savings bond. Cory and Chris presented the Character Counts Award to a deserving fifth-grade student. Alina Cardenas, from Mr. Maus’s class, was chosen by the fifth grade teachers as a model of outstanding behavior and responsibility to the other students. To conclude the assembly, students were reminded to turn in their Perfect Attendance tickets. Each month all students who come to school, each day, on time, are given an orange raffle ticket. The students place their tickets in a box and one ticket is drawn. The student whose ticket is drawn is given a NASA backpack with Max Goes to the Moon in it. Each month, the tickets will be put into a larger box that will be kept until the end of the year. In June, Mrs. Marholin, the principal, will draw from the tickets to give away two new bicycles. Alyssa Andrade, a first grader from Mrs. Swensen’s class, won the Perfect Attendance Award for December.


The third grade classes of Mrs. Bergamo and Mr. Barrera planted a Phenology garden this fall. The new garden is an addition to the existing ornamental butterfly garden installed, 2007-08, by Mr. Schaper’s and Mr. Barrera’s second grade classes. A Phenology garden is used to study the relationship of weather to plant blooms and insect activity. In Piru’s case, the plants installed are a combination of native and ornamental plants which will focus on attracting native wildlife such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and native bees (which are not as aggressive as honey-bees).

The Phenology garden will part of larger area to be completed later this school year. Piru students will record the first flower blooms and measure the plant growth from year to year. The goal of the garden is to have students record weather trends and predict insect activity. We are excited to have our students interact with their natural environment and use the scientific process to make predictions.

The garden was a part of a grant issued by the U.S. Fish and Game Wildlife Services. Kristin Lairson, Special Projects Coordinator, and Michael Glenn, a biologist with the F.W.S, worked together to bring this exciting garden and concept to not only Piru but also other schools in Fillmore. The Piru Farm Committee, parents volunteers (Beatriz Ruiz, Josefina Velgara and Vikki Galen provided healthy snacks), and the third graders worked together to help complete the first phase of the garden. It was fun to see our students excited to plant and work with nature to understand they can influence their natural environment in a positive way.

The Rev. Alexia G. Salvatierra is social justice leader

THOUSAND OAKS, CA. - The first California Lutheran University Peace Prize will be presented in January to the executive director of a faith-based movement for social justice.

The Rev. Alexia G. Salvatierra of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California (CLUE-CA) will speak during the Martin Luther King Jr. service at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, in Samuelson Chapel. The service will celebrate the life and legacy of the late civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Following the service, Salvatierra will accept her award at a ceremony at the CLU Peace Pole, which was dedicated last year in the rose garden outside the chapel. The Peace Prize recognizes the contributions of an individual or organization in the region whose service to humanity builds the foundation for peace and justice in the world.

Salvatierra’s organization, CLUE-CA, is a statewide alliance of interfaith groups and religious leaders helping low-wage workers in their struggle for a living wage, health insurance, fair working conditions and a voice in the decisions that affect them. It is one of the coordinating agencies of the national New Sanctuary Movement, in which congregations support immigrant workers and their families facing deportation.

Salvatierra is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with more than 30 years experience in ministry, community organizing and legislative advocacy. The Los Angeles resident has focused on helping the homeless, migrant farm workers and inner-city youth. Before coming to CLUE, she started a gang-prevention program for at-risk immigrant youth as a pastor in Fresno. In Oakland, she integrated her congregation with block parties, a community computer center and a garden where the elderly taught at-risk youth to grow produce. In 1998, she became the founding director of the Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless, a program that was replicated in six other cities. She has also worked on projects in the Philippines, Central and South America, and Northeast Africa.

She has received the Changemaker Award from the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Stanton Fellowship from the Durfee Foundation, and the Prime Mover Award from the Hunt Alternatives Fund.

The chapel is located south of Olsen Road near Campus Drive in Thousand Oaks. Additional parking is at the corner of Olsen and Mountclef Boulevard.

CLU’s Office of Campus Ministry, Black Student Union and Multicultural Programs are sponsoring the free event. For more information, contact Ashley Patterson at (805) 493-3489 or


New memorial scholarship funds at the Ventura County Community Foundation will help aspiring language teachers and volleyball players achieve their goal of receiving a college diploma.

One honors the late Stephen Devron Resnik, owner of the iconic Somis Nut House; the second was established in the memory of Ronald Mack Adams, an esteemed teacher at Fremont Intermediate School in Oxnard.

Rebecca Pecsok and her mother, Joyce Resnik, established the Stephen Devron Resnik Memorial Scholarship to honor Stephen Resnik, the Somis businessman who died in December 2009.

"My dad was a really good mentor. He was kind and gentle and willing to teach someone to learn," Pecsok said.

She believes her father would be pleased the scholarship that bears his name aids volleyball players since he was an avid beach volleyball player well into his 60s. Although others can apply for the Resnik scholarship, volleyball players are given a preference.

"We wanted to establish something for local kids, and volleyball is an under-represented sport for scholarships," Pecsok said.

"Many local people, children and adults, first learned volleyball on Carpinteria Beach because my husband cared enough to introduce them to the game," said Joyce Resnik. "He had infinite patience and enjoyed watching the players mature."

Resnik helped found the Somis Nut House with his parents in 1959. When not on the sand in Carpinteria playing volleyball, Resnik frequented the fairways of the Las Posas Country Club.

The Ronald Mack Adams CONTINUED »

CSU Channel Islands alum Antonia DiLiello (second from left) presents a check to (l to r) Frank Barajas, Associate Professor of History; Jose Alamillo, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies; Marie Francois, Chair of History and Chicana/o Studies, Associate Professor of History.
CSU Channel Islands alum Antonia DiLiello (second from left) presents a check to (l to r) Frank Barajas, Associate Professor of History; Jose Alamillo, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies; Marie Francois, Chair of History and Chicana/o Studies, Associate Professor of History.
Enlarge Photo

Camarillo, CA. – In 2006, Antonia DiLiello graduated from CSU Channel Islands (CI) with a bachelor’s degree in History. This would not have been so extraordinary if she had not been 80 years old, the oldest graduating student in the University’s brief history.

On Monday, Dec. 13, DiLiello returned to CI to present a check to Dr. Jose Alamillo, Associate Professor of Chicano/o Studies, in the amount of $1,100 to benefit the Chicana/o Studies program. DiLiello had asked her friends, on the occasion of her 85th birthday, to donate to this program instead of buying her gifts.

DiLiello mentioned that her father had come to El Paso, Texas in 1918 with his brother and brothers-in-law. They worked for the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad. He moved his family to Oxnard in 1932, when DiLiello was four.

When DiLiello married she moved to Los Angeles but six months later her husband was killed in a car accident, so she returned to Oxnard where her first baby was born. DiLiello remarried and the family moved to Camarillo where they lived for 20 years and her second husband worked at Camarillo State Hospital, now CSU Channel Islands.

In 1991, DiLiello went to Arizona for a year to teach bilingual orphans in a residential facility. “I really loved working with the kids and I think they loved me,” she said. “I would have stayed but I got homesick and, at the end of a year I moved back to Oxnard. I always move back to Oxnard.”

DiLiello was motivated by a love of learning and began taking classes at CI not because she wanted a degree but simply because learning gave her great pleasure, particularly history classes. She recounted that in one class someone asked the professor a history question to which the professor responded, “Ask Antonia. She is history.” To this day she can’t understand how she did it. “I worked eight hours a day, ran a house and cared for a family, and went to school.”

When asked why she chose to give her gift to the Chicana/o Studies program DiLiello said, “I’ve seen so many kids who wanted to go to school and couldn’t afford it. My brother wanted so badly to stay in school but he was ashamed that he didn’t have the right clothes to fit in. Isn’t it a shame not to go to school because of clothes? I hope my gift will help others in some way.”

CSU Channel Islands is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

CI Mission Statement
Placing students at the center of the educational experience, California State University Channel Islands provides undergraduate and graduate education that facilitates learning within and across disciplines through integrative approaches, emphasizes experiential and service learning, and graduates students with multicultural and international perspectives.

Encourages Local Charter Schools to Apply for $96 million Fund

SACRAMENTO – State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) announced that, as a temporary appointed member of the State Allocation Board, he participated yesterday in a vote to fund $1.4 billion in approved public school construction projects throughout California. Moreover, Assemblyman Gorell joined in voting to make $96 million available immediately specifically for charter school construction projects, and a timeline will be made available shortly for schools to apply and compete for these project funds.

Assemblyman Gorell strongly encourages local charter schools to apply and compete for these vital capital improvement and construction funds. To find out more about this special allocation, including criteria, timeline and guidelines is State Allocation Board c/o Department of General Services, Office of Public School Construction at (916) 375-4751.

The school construction funds are made available from bonds approved by voters over the past six years, including Proposition 1A and Proposition 55. The funds became available to the Allocation Board after the California Treasurer recently completed a successful bold sale.

Summarizing his votes on the allocation, Assemblyman Gorell offered “This is a great opportunity for local charter schools to fund new construction at a time when California benefits from the type of innovation that these schools offer. Both of these allocations – the $1.4 billion for approved public school projects and the $96 million for future charter schools projects – will help create thousands of jobs immediately and over the next three years.”

Additional information about Jeff Gorell, his legislative priorities, and the 37th Assembly District can be found on Gorell’s Assembly web page: