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Targeting segregation: Santa Rosa school board to study ‘full unification’ of its 10 districts

in Education

The Santa Rosa City School Board met in a special meeting Jan. 18 to address a familiar, thorny issue: the proposed unification of its many school districts.

After weighing the trio of consolidation choices offered by an independent auditing firm, board members took a surprising step ― voting unanimously to further study the riskiest, most challenging option.

That option calls for “full unification” of the Santa Rosa City Elementary and High School Districts with all eight of its elementary feeder districts. It comes with considerable and immediate fiscal pain, according to a study by the firm Christy White & Associates.

But full unification would also do the most, argued Board Trustee Omar Medina, to break down the segregation existing in the city and its public schools.

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5 Sonoma County schools named among California’s most distinguished in 2023

in Education

Five Sonoma County public schools have been included among the state’s distinguished schools program, which celebrates the California schools that best champion students.

Corona Creek, Meadow, West Side, Alexander Valley and Liberty elementary schools were part of the 356 schools across the state named in the 2023 California Distinguished Schools Program, which returned this year after temporarily being suspend due to the pandemic.

The program evaluates schools’ test scores, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and socioeconomic data, which can be found on the 2022 California School Dashboard.

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Sonoma Valley Unified School District has high graduation rates, but low test scores

in Education

The Sonoma Valley Unified School District has a 92.8% high school graduation rate, exceeding the state average of 87.4%, yet it was rated “low” on English language and mathematics in 2022, according to California School Dashboard data released this month.

This was among the key findings released about the local school district on the dashboard, an online tool that shows how educational agencies and schools are performing in relation to state and local indicators in California’s school accountability system. The data seems to suggest that many SVUSD high school students are graduating with insufficient skills, but the district’s acting superintendent, Dr. Elizabeth Kaufman, says the situation actually is more complex.

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Hundreds of teachers to strike in Sonoma County school district

in Education/Schools

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KRON) – More than 300 educators in the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District will strike on Thursday.

This comes following months of negotiations with the school district and board to invest in the student and teachers.

According to the Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association, teachers, nurses, and other school employees will participate in the strike to help retain the best teachers in the district and provide a better liveable wage for employees to live in the county.

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Sonoma County school officials worried about viral TikTok challenges

in News

Three weeks into the school year, items began disappearing from bathrooms at Lawrence E. Jones Middle School.

Custodians and other staff discovered a series of missing soap dispensers, soap containers, paper towels and toilet paper, said Melissa Quinn, the school’s principal.

“Anything that sticks to the wall that could be removed was fair game,” Quinn said.

The missing items signaled the “devious licks,” a challenge on social media app TikTok, had spread to the school in southwest Santa Rosa, campus officials said. The challenge encourages youth to commit theft and vandalism and record and post their actions.

Nationwide, it’s resulted in arrests of students for theft of items such as paper towel dispensers and fire extinguishers, or vandalism to bathrooms or fire alarms.

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Santa Rosa City Schools’ teachers: progress needed before return to campus

in People

As Santa Rosa City Schools officials push forward on plans to ready facilities and staff for a potential return to the classroom March 1, the vast majority of district teachers who took part in an internal poll have signaled they will not return under conditions as they stand currently.

District and union officials met Thursday to begin negotiating an update to an agreement inked last summer that set standards for how, and under what conditions, teachers, nurses, counselors and others will return to in-person instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic. While district officials have said they’ll be ready to reopen classrooms March 1, many of those standards have not yet been met, according to labor leaders.

The outcome of the negotiations — and the success or failure of efforts to reduce the rate of COVID infections in Sonoma County — are crucial pieces to returning the district’s nearly 15,700 students and 1,600 staff to campus.
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Santa Rosa school board trustee asks families managing distance learning to keep students home

in News/Schools
John Burgess / The Press Democrat
John Burgess / The Press Democrat

It’s a bold ask. Santa Rosa City Schools trustee Jenni Klose does not particularly want to make it and yet she has, publicly, in successive school board meetings.

Her request? The most veteran board member of Sonoma County’s largest school district is asking parents to keep their kids home, if they are able, when schools reopen classrooms for in-person learning. At least for now.

“What I’m asking is not easy,” Klose said. “Right now we are all asked to make some sacrifices for our own family’s health and the community’s health and well-being.”

No schools in Sonoma County are permitted to open for in-person learning while the county remains on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist. But even as districts are preparing to open the year with 100% distance learning, many of the county’s 40 individual school districts are also readying hybrid plans — typically two days on, three days off — that they will move to when given the OK by public health officials.

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Santa Rosa High choir alumni reunite with former director for virtual performance amid pandemic

in Schools
Picture Source: Ryan Brady/YouTube
Picture Source: Ryan Brady/YouTube

Cassady Glass Hastings didn’t expect her Instagram post about a Santa Rosa High choir reunion to reach hundreds of alumni or spur a virtual performance.

Glass Hastings, who graduated in 1999, initially thought the post would lead to a “little virtual choir reunion” during the pandemic, she said. Instead nearly 300 alumni responded, and 183 of them recorded a rendition of “The Lord Bless You And Keep You” from their homes.

The performance was posted to YouTube, where it has been watched more than 9,000 times.

“The main goal is to gather, catch-up and make music,” Glass Hastings wrote in an email. “If we end up with a beautiful recording, that’s a bonus.”

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