Denair Trustees Hear Update on Superintendent Search

Denair Unified School District trustees heard an update Wednesday night from the consulting firm leading the search for a new superintendent. The current superintendent, Aaron Rosander, announced in February he will leave the district at the end of June after 4½ years.

In late February, a representative from McPherson & Jacobson held stakeholder meetings with 72 people representing community members, students, teachers, classified staff, administrators and parents. Each participant was asked to respond to four questions:

  • What are the good things about your community?
  • What are the good things about your schools?
  • What issues should the superintendent be aware of as he/she comes into the district?
  • What skills, qualities or characteristics should the new superintendent possess to be successful here?

Respondents to the first two questions frequently mentioned the tight-knit nature of the Denair community and its bond with the school district. Many referred to the relationship as reflecting the closeness of a “family” and believe the bond formed through generations of Denair residents is an important asset.

In terms of key issues the new superintendent should understand, enrollment – particularly at Denair High School and Denair Middle School – was a common theme. Both campuses have seen fewer students in recent years, offsetting consistent growth at Denair Elementary Charter Academy.

Teachers cited complete salary restoration after pay cuts were imposed in 2013 as well as what they view as a high turnover rate among teachers as well as administrators.

Some in the community expressed concern that the new superintendent will be at a disadvantage because he or she is not available now to help guide the Board of Trustees’ decision to write a new charter for the district as well as seek a parcel tax, which would provide money for salary increases. Continue reading “Denair Trustees Hear Update on Superintendent Search” »

‘Buddy Bench’ Dedicated in DECA Teacher’s Memory

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Mark Selee was known for the special bond he formed with students at Denair Elementary Charter Academy. Not only was he a popular fourth-grade teacher, he also was a frequent presence on the playground, often joining basketball games or other activities with youngsters. He promoted inclusion, interaction and respect among students.

All of which makes the memorial bench recently dedicated in Selee’s honor so appropriate. Known as a “buddy bench,” it is a way to promote kindness and foster friendships on the playground.

“If someone is sitting on the bench, they want to be included in whatever is happening,” explained DECA Principal Kelly Beard at Thursday’s monthly Denair Unified Board of Trustees meeting.

Selee’s sudden death from a heart attack during Thanksgiving break in 2015 rocked the DECA campus and the saddened the Denair community. But the memory of his energetic, positive presence remains for his peers as well as some of the students who were first- and second-graders then.

The bench installed Monday provides a tangible way for all to carry out Selee’s legacy. It is on the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade playground. It has Coyote paw prints, but rather that sport a shade of purple like most items on campus, the bench is painted in gold and black – the colors of Selee’s favorite professional sports teams from Pittsburgh (Pirates, Steelers and Penguins).

“As a staff, we decided we wanted it those colors,” Beard said.

A second memorial bench for Selee is on order, she said. In addition, there is a memorial plaque for Selee in the gym. “Some of our teachers touch it every time they walk in,” Beard said.

DECA also has a memorial bench for a former student on its kindergarten playground.

In other action Thursday night, the board:

  • Heard a budget update that estimates the district will end the year with a cash balance of more than $3.5 million, but still is on track to have as many as 44 fewer students than a year ago. Most of the decline has come at Denair High School and Denair Middle School. Chief Business Officer Linda Covello also told trustees that rising pension costs continue to challenge the district. She estimated that contributions to CalSTRS (teachers) and CalPERS (classified staff) will cost the district an additional $151,000 this year.
  • Unanimously approved a contract for $237,102 with Stanislaus County Office of Education for business and human resources services, early childhood education training for teachers, special education and health services, instructional support services, college and career planning, outdoor education, student wellness and school safety, technology and learning services.
  • Voted 5-0 to approve school calendars for the next two years. In 2018-19, school will start Wednesday, Aug. 8 at all campuses. Winter break will be Friday, Dec. 21 through Friday Jan. 4. Spring break will be Friday, April 19 through Friday April 26. And high school graduation will be Friday, May 24.
  • Approved a trip for FFA students later this spring to the 90th annual Leadership Conference on April 22-25 in Anaheim. High school students will be exposed to workshops and seminars on eight ag-related careers, hear from speakers, take tours and meet other future leaders. They also get to go to the nearby Disney California Adventure.

Stakeholders Survey Available on the DUSD Web Site

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District, Board of Trustees, Denair, CA, is soliciting input in the superintendent selection process. Numerous meetings have been scheduled with the consultants from McPherson & Jacobson L.L.C. to receive input. We realize not everyone’s schedule allows attendance at one of those meetings. Please provide your input by answering the questions in the survey by visiting www.dusd.k12.ca.us. The survey is available in both English and Spanish. The last day to participate in the Stakeholders Survey is Monday, March 12, 2018.

Gaslight Community Conservatory to Host Shabby Chic Sign Design Fundraiser

Submitted by Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory

Join the Gaslight Community Conservatory for an afternoon of creative fun and get your spring decorating started!

Step 1:  Choose one of the two sign designs available

  • Option 1: Bunny Kisses and Easter Wishes
  • Option 2: Hello Spring.

Step 2: Email your sign selection to info@denairgaslight.com by 8:00 pm, March 7th, to allow for preparation of materials.

Step 3: Come and enjoy an afternoon of treats, beverages, and fun!  Tickets can be purchased at the door. The cost of the event is $45.

Gaslight Community Conservatory to Host Red Pony Band

Submitted by Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory

The Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory will host local musicians, the Red Pony Band, on Saturday, March 17, 2018.

The Red Pony Band is an acoustic instrument and vocal group whose music revisits the original Louisiana Hayride Radio tradition but with a creative tendency to wander far and wide stylistically; from their original compositions, to any song genre that suits their interpretive fancy. All this in a joyous celebration of life that’s sure to keep audiences dancing, entertained, and engaged. This versatile group of creative musicians are joined at the hip, fronted by master storyteller Dr. Blue (Michael Rojas Jr.) – vocals, mandolin, and guitar; Joni Valponi – vocals, ukulele, guitar and accordion; Phil Rojas – vocals, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele; Paul Danielson – bass guitar; and Dave Takvorian – drums and percussion.

Doors will open at 6:30 pm. A social time will be held at 6:30 pm for those who prepurchase their ticket. Prepurchased ticket will include one drink and hors d’oeuvres. Cost of the show is $25. All proceeds support the Gaslight Theater

There will also be a 50/50 raffle. The winner will take home half of the raffle proceeds.