Carmen Wilson Sworn in as Newest Denair Board Trustee

The Denair Unified School District is back to full strength with five members after Carmen Wilson was formally sworn in Thursday night.

Wilson was the other four trustees’ unanimous choice last month after they interviewed three candidates to fill the seat vacated when longtime board member John Plett resigned Aug. 8. Wilson’s appointment is until November 2020, when her term and those of Ray Prock Jr. and Kathi Dunham-Filson will be up.

Wilson has two children in Denair schools and has participated on school site committees. She has been a board member for the Stanislaus County Youth Development Committee and the Turlock American Little League, and taught Sunday school at Connection Point Church in Denair. She works as a certified public accountant at the Center for Human Services in Modesto.

Between her selection last month and her swearing in Thursday night, Wilson met with Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger and board President Regina Gomes to begin learning about key issues in the district.

“I think she’s going to make a terrific board member. She asked some very good questions in our meeting,” Metzger said.

In other action Thursday, the board:

  • Approved the unaudited final financial report for the 2018-19 school year. The district spent $17.10 million, Chief Business Officer Linda told the board. That was about $1.6 million more than the previous year because the district had saved additional money from the state for one-time purchases like additional modular classrooms at Denair Elementary Charter Academy and Chromebook computers for every student at Denair Charter Academy. It also included pass-through money from the state directed toward employee retirement contributions.
  • Heard a presentation from Metzger about the Local Control Accountability Plan, known as LCAP, which sets out specific goals for the district and its students. Parents and community members are invited to come to a stakeholder meeting Oct. 17 to begin to lay out new goals for next year.
  • Approved an agreement to share a school nurse with the Hickman Charter School District. The nurse will work at Hickman on Monday and Tuesday, and in Denair the rest of the week. The deal will save Denair $7,217 a year from its general fund.

Agreed to contribute $300 per participant for eight students and two teachers to attend the national FFA convention Oct. 28 to Nov. 3 in Indianapolis. The Denair High Ag Boosters cover the cost of lodging, transportation and other expenses.

State Board Unanimously Sides with Denair Unified in Dispute with Turlock Over Boundary Lines

Submitted by Denair Unified School District:

The California State Board of Education unanimously sided with the Denair Unified School District on Wednesday in a boundary dispute involving the neighboring Turlock school district.

The issue dates to 2015, when developer Ron Katakis petitioned the Stanislaus County Office of Education to transfer about 91 acres from the Denair district to the Turlock Unified School District. Katakis envisions nearly 300 homes at the northwest corner of Tuolumne and Waring roads, which has been in the Denair district since the boundary lines were drawn many decades ago.

Public hearings were held in the fall of 2015 and a county commission unanimously voted in February 2016 to keep the property within the Denair district. Turlock appealed the decision, which finally was heard Wednesday in Sacramento by the 10-member State Board.

“We’re thrilled,” said Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger, who spoke at the hearing along with Trustees Kathi Dunham-Filson and Ray Prock Jr. as well as the district’s legal counsel.

Two officials from the Turlock district also spoke.

The boundary dispute has major financial implications, especially for Denair. The district will receive $1 million or more in developer fees when news home are built on the currently vacant property, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in state funding based upon student enrollment.

“We explained the financial significance,” Metzger said. “We estimate it’s about $980,000 a year. That’s 6% of Denair’s $15.3 million budget. It’s six-tenths of 1 percent of Turlock’s $162 million budget.”

Metzger said state trustees also seemed reluctant to overturn a unanimous local decision or set a precedent that favored a larger school district over a smaller one. Turlock has more than 14,200 students while Denair has 1295.

The Stanislaus County Committee on School District Organization weighed nine factors required by the State Education Code before voting 9-0 in February 2016 to deny Katakis’ petition. Turlock appealed the county decision in March 2016. The matter has been waiting to be heard at the state level ever since. The State Board’s staff recommended denial of Turlock’s appeal, saying, “The California Department of Education finds that there are no compelling educational reasons to overturn the unanimous action of the county committee to disapprove the proposal to transfer territory from the Denair USD to the Turlock USD.”

Denair Farm & Family Celebrates 10 years on Sept. 14

Submitted by: James Shehan, or (209) 480-1533

The 10th installment of the annual Denair Farm & Family Festival promises to be the best one yet. There will be music, food, a tractor parade, dozens of booths and fun for the whole family when the community comes together on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“There is truly something for everyone,” said James Shehan, the chairman of the Denair Farm & Family Association, which organizes the event.

The festival typically draws 5,000 or more visitors to Denair each year. They are treated to a host of fun activities on Main Street between Sante Fe Avenue and Gratton Road.

The day starts with the Farm Run 5K. Registration opens at 7 a.m. and the race begins at 8 a.m. The route winds from downtown out into the country and back.

“They can walk or run with their dog, they can bicycle, whatever they’d like to do,” Shehan said of participants.

At 9 a.m., the festival truly kicks off with an antique tractor parade down Main Street. There are more than 20 vintage tractors owned by local farmers scheduled to appear. All the tractors later will be on display at the Farm Discovery Zone at the Community Center, which also will have an exhibit of hay harvesting equipment from the turn of the century to modern times.

After the parade, visitors can browse among more than 100 booths featuring jewelry, home decor, information on local companies and organizations, clothing, toys, gifts and plenty of food. There also will be a children’s play area with a bounce house and other games.

At 10:30, the music begins. California Creedence will perform the hits of Creedence Clearwater Revival as well as other popular songs from the 1960s and ’70s until 1:30 p.m. Later in the afternoon, the popular local ukulele band Sunshine Strummers also will take the stage.

Shehan said the Denair Farm & Family Association annually raises $2,500 to $3,000, which it gives out as scholarships each spring to graduates of Denair High School.

When the festival is over, visitors who still have an appetite are invited to stick around for the annual Denair Volunteer Fire Department barbecue that follows.

Even as Dual Language Program Grows, Multiculturalism is an Important Goal for all Students at DECA

One of the primary goals at Denair Elementary Charter Academy is to provide a learning environment with a multicultural emphasis. Exposing students to Spanish is a key component of that, both in the traditional program as well as the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program.

Of DECA’s 576 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, 409 are enrolled in the traditional program. That means they receive 30 minutes of Spanish instruction up to three times a week. The 167 children in the DLI program are taught in a mixture of English and Spanish, depending on the grade level.

“DECA’s Dual Language program has been well-designed and is well-supported. It is also an integral part of the broader course of study at DECA,” said Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger. “Students in our English-only classes also participate in many of the activities, assemblies, and learning opportunities provided through the Dual Language program. All students benefit, whether they are in a Dual Language or English-only classroom.”

All DECA students also are part of the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program, which includes schoolwide rules and behavior expectations. Students are rewarded in various ways for helping to create a positive school culture and modeling positive behavior.

Another thing that sets DECA apart is its focus on promoting college attendance, even at the lowest grade levels. Each classroom adopts a college. Students are taught about different universities and what going to college means.

The children in the traditional and DLI programs share time on the playground, in the cafeteria and at schoolwide events.

It’s what happens in their classrooms that separate the traditional and DLI students.

In DLI classes, instruction in English and Spanish is precisely calculated. Starting in kindergarten, 90% of instruction is done in Spanish and 10% in English. That ratio adjusts by 10% each year until by the fourth grade, each language is used half the time.

Continue reading “Even as Dual Language Program Grows, Multiculturalism is an Important Goal for all Students at DECA” »

Denair Overcomes Long Trip, Flu Bug to Stay Unbeaten

Submitted by Denair High School:

Denair’s bus rolled into the Woodland Christian parking lot just after 6:30 Friday night. Kickoff was scheduled for 7 p.m. Thick traffic driving north meant the Coyotes were in a crawl much of the way, adding a half-hour onto what should have been a 2½-hour trip.

Kickoff was delayed 15 minutes or so while Denair warmed up in a small stadium carved like a bowl into the earth. The topography made a hot night feel even more humid. And the proximity of the nearby freeway coupled with the exhaust of portable generators for the lights created semi-smoggy breathing conditions on the field. The poor air didn’t help a handful of Coyotes already battling a late-summer flu bug.

No matter.

A late start and queasy stomachs still weren’t enough to slow Denair, which got three more touchdowns from Dylan De Silva to coast to an easy 34-7 victory over the Cardinals.

Coach Anthony Armas was pleased with the outcome, but not completely satisfied with how it was achieved. He was proud of his players for mentally getting into game mode after the long bus ride as well as stepping up when some of their teammates became sick. But he felt Denair could have scored more points.

Twice the Coyotes (2-0) were stopped on fourth down inside Woodland Christian’s 10-yard line. Another time, they lost a fumble deep in Cardinals territory.

“We left a couple of touchdowns on the field,” Armas said. “We had two fumbles. We definitely can’t put the ball on the ground, so that’s something we’ll be working on in practice this week.”

Despite the turnovers, Denair’s offense still hummed along. Much of that is thanks to De Silva, a senior fullback who has scored six touchdowns in the first two games.

Most of De Silva’s yards come on power plays up the middle behind an offensive line missing its two starting tackles – Derek Starkey (concussion) and Zach Cherry (arm). Into their places stepped Ulysses Corrales and Derek Coleman. They joined guards Carlo Morales and Jose Lopez, center Christian Obando and tight end Will Knox in consistently opening holes for De Silva and his backfield mates to run through.

“We were dinged up, but as a whole, I thought they played well,” Armas said of his offensive line.

Denair led 21-7 at halftime and then scored TDs in the third and fourth quarters to put the game away. The defense forced an interception by Elvis Silva and did a nice job of keeping Woodland Christian (0-2) out of the end zone.

“We played our style on defense – bend but don’t break,” said Armas.

JV Game: No game held This Week: Denair has a bye, which probably couldn’t have come at a better time for the Coyotes. Armas canceled Monday’s practice because a number of players still were dealing with the flu bug. He plans to have light practices Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before giving the team Friday off. … Denair’s next game will be in much cooler conditions. The Coyotes will travel to Santa Cruz to play Soquel on Sept. 13.