Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bill Cirone receives state association's highest honor

April 10, 2013

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) has bestowed its highest honor on Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone in recognition of his work’s significant impact on numerous facets of public education over a wide geographical area during his 30 years in local elected office.
The selection committee for the Ferd. J. Kiesel Memorial Award for Distinguished Service, made in memory of ACSA’s founding president, cited Cirone’s “long track record of leadership in education, business and civic affairs at the county, state and national levels” as well as his consistent emphasis on “partnership, collaboration and communication” with school districts, government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that has “been admired and emulated statewide.”
Cirone is the longest-serving county superintendent of schools in California, having filled a series of four-year terms since first being elected in 1982. Those nominating Cirone noted his office’s statewide reputation for offering high-quality services to the students, teachers, and administrators in local school districts and his prolific efforts to keep the public informed about education through civic involvement, personal appearances, newspaper columns, radio commentaries, and television shows. The county superintendent interviews educators and local decision-makers on public-access television programs that include “Talking with Teachers,” “Local Leaders,” “Schools of Thought,” “Cirone on Schools” and “Innovations in Education.”
His national involvement includes participation in the White House Summit on Children and Families and in a White House dialogue on national standards and testing; two decades of service as board chairman for the national Teachers Network program; board chairman of the National Commission for Learning and Citizenship, a project of the Education Commission of the States; and board member of the Hazelden Foundation. He also co-chaired the California Arts Task Force for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
Locally, he serves or has served on numerous boards and commissions, including board chairman of the Santa Barbara County First 5 Commission, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Partners in Education, Community Action Commission, KDB, and the Fighting Back Task Force.
Among many other honors he has received the Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Community Service Award, California State PTA Honorary Service Award, Santa Barbara News-Press Lifetime Achievement Award, and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) Outstanding County Superintendent Award. 
The Ferd. J. Kiesel Memorial Award for Distinguished Service will be presented formally on Nov. 8 at ACSA’s Leadership Summit in San Jose.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mental Health Matters, Looking to the Stars

Innovations in Education- April 2013

Mental Health Matters- Monte Vista School
Looking to the Stars- Solvang School

Friday, April 26, 2013

Using time well

Radio Commentary

            No matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children succeed in school.
            To start, it’s important to organize your time. Try to plan work and activities around school and practice schedules.
            Also plan to do a few things at once. A child could start doing homework in the car while the family is waiting for an older sibling to get out of school. 
In fact, the car is a quiet place where parents and children can talk together uninterrupted.
            It’s also a good idea to find other people to help. A babysitter can sometimes help with homework. Grandparents who live nearby can often help with carpooling.
Friends and neighbors are often willing to trade services and pitch in when needed.
            Alternative scheduling can also make a big difference. Though many parents check homework at night, it sometimes works better for parents to do it in the morning, while a child is eating breakfast.
            If work schedules make it possible to only have a quick dinner in the evenings, try to compensate in the mornings with a big, hot breakfast.
            Also remember that weekend schedules can make up for weekday shortfalls. 
And finally, it’s a good idea to figure out a way to help at school even if your work schedule is complicated.
Be flexible and creative. But find ways to stay involved.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Classified Employees of the Year

Olsen and Chavez named 2013 Classified Employees of Year 

Cindy Olsen, accountant for the Goleta Union School District, and Richard Chavez, custodian at La Patera Elementary School, have been named 2013 Santa Barbara County Classified Employees of the Year. They will be honored at a ceremony during the meeting of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education on April 4.
Olsen was nominated in the office and technical category, and Chavez was nominated in the maintenance, operations, and facilities category.
The county recognition is part of the California School Employee of the Year Program.
“We are very happy to take part in this program,” County Superintendent Bill Cirone said. “Each year we honor the Teacher of the Year and outstanding schools; it is fitting that we also include the school staff members who play such a key role in supporting children’s achievement, safety, and health.”
To qualify, the employee must have been in the same service category for at least five years. 
The nomination process started at the district level, where each district was invited to select employees from six categories, including child nutrition, maintenance/operations/facilities, transportation, para-educator/instructional assistance, office and technical, and support services and security. A county committee reviewed the nominations and selected the county’s nominees.
Cindy Olsen has been the accountant for the past 13 years at the Goleta Union School District, where she began 23 years ago as an accounting technician. Her supervisor, Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal Services Ralph Pachter, called her “one of the most beloved employees in the district” and praised not only her accounting skills but also her commitment, leadership, and patience in training other employees. “Cindy exemplifies focused effort, always meeting deadlines and prioritizing her time to ensure that critical business functions operate smoothly. This extends from maintaining district books and managing audits to monitoring site budgets, fielding many questions from site staffs and supporting other Fiscal Services staff members. Cindy retains an easy grace in this effort, and is always cheerful and helpful.”
“Cindy is someone you can count on, no matter what the situation. If there are deadlines to be met she will always ask if there is anything she can do to help, in spite of her own work load,” said Accounting Technician Lupie Muñoz.
Added Christine Blaney, the district’s buyer, “Cindy is hard-working, reliable, patient, friendly, intelligent and beyond helpful. … No job is beneath her, and you can always count on her to have the solution or answer. Cindy has an extraordinary way of taking a very difficult accounting subject and putting it into laymen terms for others who don’t understand.”
"Cindy Olsen is a superb employee — loyal, diligent, smart, ethical, and compassionate. Day in and day out, she does her job and all the little things that make the Goleta district a better place in which to work,” said a former colleague.
Richard Chavez has been custodian for five years at La Patera Elementary School in the Goleta Union School District. His colleagues praise his knowledge, work ethic, efficiency, dedication, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
School Principal Patricia Santiago said, “Richard is an incredibly hard-working custodian. He completes tasks quickly, thoroughly, and conscientiously. He even comes to school on the weekends sometimes just to check to make sure the campus is safe and clean. He takes the initiative and foresees problems before they develop. He is always one step ahead of what needs to be done. … He is very much respected by the students and staff.”
Added Robert Matheny, the district’s director of operations and maintenance, “He understands and respects students, teachers and parents. He has received accolades from some of the school parents, a rarity for a custodian. He is a very valued member of the school community.”
Custodial Supervisor Tim Berry called him “a role model for the other custodians in the district … He takes pride in maintaining a clean, efficient school campus … Richard is a leader both at the school site and with the district custodial staff. … His commitment to the school and his job is admirable.”
Further information is available from Dr. Albert Zonana at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, 964-4710, ext. 5279.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Radio Commentary

            When state funds gets tight, people often ask what happened to lottery money for schools? Originally billed as the salvation for education, the lottery has become what columnist Dan Walters dubbed “the big lie.”
            It is a “smoke and mirrors” illusion that vast sums are going to schools when in fact state funding to schools dropped by the same amount the lottery raised, and no one claims this was a coincidence.
The funds seem vast, but it’s important to remember that by law, half the money goes to prizes, 9.5 percent goes to administration, and 6.5 percent goes to retailers as commissions.
About 1/3 goes to schools. But that 1/3 of the “pot” must be divided by the more than six million students in the state.
How much money do schools get? During the lottery’s peak many years ago, it gave schools $179 per student, or about 3 percent of their budgets. That fell to $77 a few years later. On average, it’s about $100 per student.
            A study of the lottery confirms our worst fears: Lottery money is shrinking, state money is not making up the difference, and basic education programming is being starved.
What’s more, I’ve always opposed the lottery as a funding source for education because it encourages gambling while we try to teach values to youngsters.
            I believe it is fundamentally wrong to encourage people to gamble to support schools. The lottery is risky business and the money raised provides very little reliable support for educational programs. In my view, it’s a bad deal all around.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Working hard

Radio Commentary

            It is one of life’s great truths that success in almost any arena comes from effort, not just ability.
            We must make sure our children know that “smart” is not something you simply are. “Smart” is something everyone must work hard to achieve.
            Too many people believe that success in school is mostly a factor of inborn intelligence and aptitude. But the fact is that children who work hard at a subject often learn more than bright students who don’t put in the effort.
            The message carries over to the rest of a child’s life, as well.
Certainly all students are born with different aptitudes and abilities. But the true key to success is how they use the strengths they have, and how they work to overcome any shortfalls.
            Even the most gifted athlete can’t be a winner without training hard every day. Even the greatest artists need to study their craft.
            The highest achievers, inside the classroom and outside as well, are those who work the hardest and do the most with the gifts they have.
Parents can help motivate children by telling them that success in school really is something everyone can achieve. It is not beyond anyone’s grasp.
But it requires effort, attention, and hard work. It requires listening carefully in the classroom, completing all assignments, and studying hard. It also requires an honest awareness of where weaknesses lie, and a determination to overcome those weaknesses. Students who do this truly ARE smart.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reducing stress

Radio Commentary

Children cope better with stress in their lives when they don’t feel helpless. So teach them how to care for themselves and take on family responsibilities as they grow. 
Show them to balance chores and play. Help them plan schedules that are do-able. Show them the importance of adequate rest and proper nutrition. These precautions help prevent stress from erupting in the first place.
            Encourage your children to ask for help when they need it, analyze their problems as they arise, and plan their alternatives for coping.
            It’s been demonstrated that children who enjoy learning have good defenses against stress, so encourage your children to do their best in schools. 
But remember that too much academic pressure is a chief cause of childhood stress, so don’t go overboard.
            If you child is having a problem at school, support the school’s efforts to correct the problems. 
Confide in your child’s teachers and principal if you sense there is a problem with stress.
These professionals are trained at mixing coping skills into classroom activities like group discussions, role playing, films and problem-solving exercises.
            Keeping in touch with a child’s school is an important safeguard for combating stress. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Prop. 13

Radio Commentary

           An editorial in the Sacramento Bee some time ago provided a very provocative analysis of Proposition 13. It is appropriate to raise those points again as our state finances continue to present challenges.
Some 35 years ago Prop. 13 was passed to curb runaway property taxes. But, the editorial stated, voters didn’t know they also were weakening their ability to understand and control government.
The Bee’s editorial pointed out that as a control on property taxes, Prop. 13 has been a popular success. Voters stopped the inflation-driven rise in property taxes that caused taxes on homes to double and redouble.
“But that success was obtained at a big price — in tax fairness, in lost services and declining schools, in distortions in land use,” it said.
The Bee then asked a provocative question: “If California set out to design its tax system anew, would even Prop. 13’s most avid defenders choose to recreate what we have now?”
As a result of Prop. 13, The Bee said, big houses in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods get tax bills lower than starter homes bought last week by young families.
It showed that established firms pay lower taxes than upstart competitors down the block. And more importantly, the law moved power away from local communities to the state Capitol, which now controls how money is divided among schools, counties, and cities.
It claimed this adds to cynicism and discontent because communities no longer have input on funding for schools or roads.
It’s an interesting perspective.