New Program Intended to Make Access to College
 Even Easier for All Denair Students

Submitted By Denair Unified School District

High school and middle school students in the Denair Unified School District have a new ally in their efforts to prepare for, apply at and help pay for college.

It’s called the California College Guidance Initiative. It is the state’s official college and career planning platform, which is free to all California educators, students and families.

Thursday, Denair trustees unanimously decided to make the district one of the first in Stanislaus County to enroll in the program.

CCGI is a nonprofit — funded in part by the state of California — that partners with school districts across the state to advance local college and career readiness goals. CCGI wants all high school seniors in California to graduate with clear postsecondary goals and a plan for how to achieve them.

Its website is packed full of useful tools that allows students, their parents and school advisers to access all kinds of college-related information and requirements, upload transcripts and college-prep test scores, search for universities and application forms, take career profile surveys, and learn more about financial aid.

Each student – beginning as early as sixth grade — creates a profile that includes his or her coursework, academic accomplishments and even extracurricular activities. Students who aspire to attend a University of California, California State University or even a community college can see exactly what it will take to potentially be accepted.

If a family moves or a student changes schools, the profile follows him or her anywhere in California.

“One of the things I like as a parent and a principal is there is a parent portal,” said Denair High Principal Kara Backman. “It’s the same information for students, parents, teachers and administrators.”

Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger said another important CCGI feature is its ability to position students to enroll in the right classes as college freshmen. Many students end up in remedial courses they don’t need or have to drop a class they’re not prepared for.

“The transition will be better for them and they’ll be better placed in classes,” she said. “Colleges don’t want to do assessments and students don’t want to end up with a wasted first semester. This helps us better align all those components.”

Metzger said district officials will meet with CCGI representatives in December in hopes of rolling out the program for all high school and middle school students after the first of the year.

Earlier in the meeting, Metzger quickly ran through a range of recent test results and student performance measurements. She also recapped some of the highlights of her first few months on the job and talked about some of her goals for the remainder of the school year.

The relevant test results included:

  • 194 Denair students are classified as English learners. More than half – 53% — are achieving at the top two levels for oral (listening and speaking) and written (reading and writing) abilities, said Metzger, adding that more analysis is needed to determine why “our reading scores are lower than our writing scores for the same students.”
  • Roughly half of Denair’s fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders met five out of the six healthy fitness zones requirements (aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extension strength, upper body strength and flexibility). Tests are taken in the spring.
  • The California smarter balanced assessment test, known as CAASPP, measures English and math proficiency. The results indicate Denair students need improvement in both areas, Metzger said. She intends to work with principals and teachers at all the campuses to ensure all students routinely exposed in class to the types of problems they see on the test. “The test is not our purpose; it’s just a measure,” Metzger said.

The new superintendent, who came to Denair in July from a large district in Santa Rosa, said she has spent much of her first few months building relationships among staff members and the community. Her strategy, she said, is to listen, learn, share and plan.

“My motto is, ‘Everyone is on a journey you know nothing about. Be kind,’ ” she told trustees and the audience.

Among Metzger’s goals are to improve student achievement, build a budget for 2019-20 that includes salary restoration for staff, find the right balance between centralized district control and autonomous campus decision-making, and even more thoroughly integrate technology into every classroom.

“I’m feeling really good about the work we’ve accomplished so far,” she said.

In other action Thursday, trustees:

  • Approved a contract for $96,276 with BZ Construction of Ceres to install two portable classrooms on the Denair Elementary Charter Academy campus on Nov. 28. The cost will be paid with extra state money received and saved for one-time projects.
  • Added six minimum days to the Denair Middle School calendar. They are all Fridays – Dec. 7, Jan. 11, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5 and May 10. Students will be let out at 12:38 p.m. Teachers will use the extra time in the afternoon to analyze student data and plan instruction that will benefit all students through the further development of a responsive multi-tiered system of support.
  • Approved plans for the Class of 2019 to take their Senior Trip to Disneyland on May 10.

Denair Trustees OK $14.7 Million Budget for 2018-19

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

With little comment, the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously passed a 2018-19 budget Thursday night that projects continued enrollment growth at the lower grades but increasingly expensive state-mandated contributions to employee retirement funds.

The district expects to spend $14,782,733 in the next school year – about $1.5 million less than the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The difference, explained Chief Business Officer Linda Covello, is one-time investments made this year in salary payouts to staff, technology upgrades, textbooks, and teacher training and other professional development.

The 2018-19 budget projects district enrollment at 1,225, broken down this way:

Enrollment is critical for school districts because state funding – their largest revenue source – is based upon how many youngsters there are on each campus.

Continue reading “Denair Trustees OK $14.7 Million Budget for 2018-19” »

Denair School Trustees Honor Outgoing Superintendent, Reward Teachers and Refinance Long-Term Debt

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees said goodbye to its popular superintendent, approved a one-time salary increase for teachers and agreed to refinance its debt to save money at a busy meeting Thursday night.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander – who inherited a district threatened with state takeover in 2014 – leaves it in much better financial shape than we he arrived. Enrollment has stabilized, new programs and an energetic leadership team are in place, and employee morale is definitely on the rise.

“Mr. Rosander, you changed the face and name of Denair. We were down and out and almost taken over. Thank you,” said Trustee Kathi Dunham-Filson.

Echoed Board President Ray Prock Jr.: “We wouldn’t be here today without you. … We are forever grateful.”

Rosander, whose daughter recently graduated from Denair High School, intends to move to the Bay Area to be closer to his elderly parents. He called educators “dream builders” who provide inspiration and guidance to students.

“It’s been a nice ride the last 4½ years,” he said. “Denair has been very good to my daughter and I. … It has been my honor and pleasure to work with you.”

Before the tributes to Rosander, trustees unanimously approved a one-time 4.31% payout to teachers based on their 2017-18 salaries. It is not a raise in their base pay, but “continues to show the board’s commitment to and respect for our teachers,” Rosander said.

Prock, Dunham-Filson and John Plett supported the proposal. Trustees Crystal Sousa and Regina Gomes were not at Thursday’s meeting.

Teachers took an 8% salary cut in 2013 when the district was in financial crisis. Some of that money since has been restored, with permanent increases tied to specific gains in enrollment. Thursday’s action will cost the district $207,500.

Earlier this year, trustees agreed to a similar one-time payout to non-teaching staff. Continue reading “Denair School Trustees Honor Outgoing Superintendent, Reward Teachers and Refinance Long-Term Debt” »

Silva Hired as Next Principal at Denair Middle School

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District didn’t have to look very far to find its next principal for Denair Middle School. Trustees voted unanimously Thursday night to hire Amanda Silva, who currently serves as the district’s assistant director of special education.

“She’s dedicated to Denair. She empowers others. She’s forward thinking. She’s passionate about kids,” said Kara Backman, the district’s director of secondary education and high school principal. She served on the hiring committee will be Silva’s direct supervisor.

Backman said Silva stood out among the seven internal and external candidates who were interviewed. Silva will become the middle school campus’ fifth principal in the past four years, a trend she intends to do her best to end.

“The biggest thing is building culture and pride in community, school and students,” she said. “We need to be positive, think positive and work hard.”

Silva has been with the district since February 2016 and has worked with staff and students across all four campuses to develop special education programs. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and an administrative credential and master’s degree from College of San Joaquin.

Confronting a steady decline in enrollment will be among her first challenges, she said.

“We need to become a team,” said Silva, who believes the relationships she already has forged with the DMS staff will benefit her. “We’ll be focused on doing our best for all our students.”

Silva will replace Brian LaFountain, who will return to the classroom teaching high school math in Ceres. Continue reading “Silva Hired as Next Principal at Denair Middle School” »

Terry Metzger Hired as New Superintendent of Denair Unified School District

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District announced Thursday night that it has hired Terry Metzger as its new superintendent.

Metzger has been the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Rincon Valley Union School District in Santa Rosa since 2012, but she is no stranger to Stanislaus County or the Central Valley.

She has two degrees from CSU Stanislaus – a master’s in education administration as well as a doctorate in educational leadership. She also has taught classes there as an adjunct faculty member.

Before she moved to Santa Rosa, Metzger was a teacher and elementary school principal in Galt. She also taught various grade levels in Lodi and Stockton, and has served as a principal coach for the Education Leadership Institute in Sacramento.

She is thrilled to be coming to Denair.

“I’ve been looking for a superintendency for a couple of years,” she said. “I’ve been picky. It was important to me to find the right match. I’m honored to have this opportunity.”

DUSD Board President Ray Prock Jr. said she emerged after an extensive search that included in-depth interviews of the four finalists by trustees as well as a committee made up of staff and community members.

“Terry was our No. 1 choice,” he said.

Metzger will officially start work in Denair on July 1, but intends to make as many trips as possible to the area before then to become familiar with the staff and community. She will be paid $145,753 annually, which includes the same 2.75% salary reduction as all other district employees.

She will succeed Aaron Rosander, who will leave in June after four years as superintendent. Continue reading “Terry Metzger Hired as New Superintendent of Denair Unified School District” »