Independent Auditor Gives DUSD Thumbs Up

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

An independent auditor praised the Denair Unified School District for the accuracy of its financial projections Thursday night while cautioning trustees to pay close attention to future spending.

In particular, Debbie Fry of School Services of California advised school board members to avoid making long-term financial commitments without a corresponding revenue stream to pay for them. Those dollars from the state, she explained, are directly tied to enrollment – which has been flat or declining in Denair. Enrollment is projected at about 1,300 students this year, down from nearly 1,600 10 years ago.

The district’s $16.2 million budget for 2017-18 includes about $1 million in so-called “one-time money” collected and saved over the past three years, said Linda Covello, chief business officer. The additional money has been Gov. Jerry Brown’s preferred method of funding schools beyond what is legally required.

Denair will use that money to add modular buildings on the fast-growing Denair Elementary Charter Academy campus, buy new textbooks at all four campuses, and pay for computers and other technology to better prepare those students.

Saving the extra state dollars to spend on specific projects is a key part of the district’s strategy to attract more students, Covello said. By law, the one-time funds cannot be spent on ongoing expenses such as employee salaries.

“The top priority for the district has been to increase enrollment … to generate additional ongoing revenue and be able to increase ongoing expenses (salaries and benefits) in a way that is sustainable,” she explained. “So over this year and the next, the district plans to spend down all of the one-time moneys sitting in the ending fund balance on one-time expenses that can improve and/or increase programs.”

Added Superintendent Aaron Rosander: “This is all planned. The one-time money is going to disappear as we invest in technology, infrastructure and other programs.” Continue reading “Independent Auditor Gives DUSD Thumbs Up” »

Rachel’s Challenge Coming to Denair Schools

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Argued by many as the most powerful intervention to ever be seen in public schools, Rachel’s Challenge will be presented to DHS and DMS students and staff on Aug. 29 in the Coyote Center. That evening, there will be an encore presentation for community members, also in the Coyote Center.

Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, provides a stunning and inspiring story that holds the power to transform lives. More than 23 million people have heard Rachel’s story in live settings around the world. It is reported that, as a result, at least eight school shootings have been prevented and more than 500 suicides have been averted.

Rachel’s Challenge exists to equip individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying, discrimination and negative activity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion.

School Presentation9 a.m. Coyote Center

Community Presentation: 6:30 p.m. Coyote Center

Join us on Aug. 29 to start a chain reaction of kindness, compassion and positivity across our community and beyond.

School Starts Thursday! Back to School Nights Next Week

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Where did the time go? For nearly 1,300 students in the Denair Unified School District, summer vacation ends Thursday with the resumption of classes.

School begins at 8 a.m. on all four campuses – Denair Elementary Charter Academy, Denair Middle School, Denair High School and Denair Charter Academy. At DECA, there is a modified schedule for students in kindergarten and transitional kindergarten; start times have been mailed to parents.

The first day of school is always an exciting time as students are paired with new teachers at a new grade level. Each campus has special activities planned to mark the new school year.

And next week, parents are invited to meet their child’s teachers at a series of Back to School nights at DECA, DMS and DHS.

  • DECA: Tuesday, Aug. 15, 5:15 p.m.
  • DMS: Wednesday, Aug. 16, 6 p.m.
  • DHS: Thursday, Aug. 17, 6:30 p.m.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander welcomed the staff back earlier this week with a note. There also were two days of training for teachers and administrators.

“Whether you are new to the district or returning, you will sense a feeling of high energy and great anticipation when you step on your campus,” Rosander wrote. “With many new and wonderful colleagues joining our incomparable veteran staff, this year promises to be an exceptional experience for everyone connected to Denair schools.

“Like all successful organizations, DUSD continues to better understand and celebrate our strengths, while continuously reinventing that which will better serve our customers. We exist in an era of choice and, as a result, we take nothing for granted, particularly our enthusiastic mission to make Denair schools a destination district of choice! I am proud and emboldened to say that we are well on our way.”

School Board Candidate Forum Scheduled for August 10

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

There will be two vacancies on the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees for voters to fill in the November election. Prospective candidates are invited to a forum Thursday, Aug. 10 that will be occur at the end of the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the district board room, 3460 Lester Road.

Trustees Sandi Dirkse and Robert Hodges already have announced they will not seek re-election. Two years remain on the terms of the three other board members – Kathi Dunham-Filson, John Plett and Ray Prock Jr.

Prospective candidates for the Nov. 7 election have until Thursday, Aug. 16 to file their paperwork with the Stanislaus County Office of Elections.

Trustees meet monthly and help set policy for the 1,300-student district, which includes four campuses.

New Principal Naranjo Brings Personal Experience to DCA; LaFountain Takes Over at Middle School

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

More than most school administrators, David Naranjo knows what it’s like to be a teen-ager struggling to make his way in high school. That empathy comes from personal experience. Naranjo was once a high school dropout himself. He has felt the uncertainty and the disillusionment, and sensed the lowered expectations that others have for teens in that situation.

And he’s living proof that there is a way out. That difficult family or financial circumstances or poor choices made as a teen don’t have to determine the rest of your life. There is hope.

As the new principal at Denair Charter Academy, Naranjo wants to be a role model for his independent study high school students, many of whom confront similar challenges as he once did growing up in San Diego County.

“I tell them, ‘I was a high school dropout,’ ” Naranjo said. “I had a tough family situation, but I went back and graduated from a continuation school. I started college when I was 23 and became a straight-A student.

“I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school or college. If I was going to break the cycle of not graduating, that was on me. I took it very seriously. That’s the example I want to set today for our students.”

Officially, Naranjo’s title is senior director of student support services. In addition to his duties at DCA, he will oversee various state-mandated responsibilities for all of Denair Unified’s four campuses. But much of his initial focus will be on the staff and students at DCA, which offers home-school options for parents of students up to eighth grade in addition to independent study for high schoolers.

Naranjo replaces Brian LaFountain at DCA. LaFountain moves across the street to Denair Middle School as principal.

Naranjo comes to Denair from the Tuolumne County Office of Education. His new role reunites him with Denair Superintendent Aaron Rosander. Naranjo was principal of Mariposa High School and Woodland Elementary School when Rosander was the schools superintendent in that county. Continue reading “New Principal Naranjo Brings Personal Experience to DCA; LaFountain Takes Over at Middle School” »