Yoda gets his own trading card

Miss out on this, do not. Yoda, Stockton Unified School District Police Department’s new K-9, now has his own trading card. And, a quick read of the back reveals, he’s a Giants fan.

Yoda’s a Jack Russell terrier and was rescued  from a shelter. He has been trained to sniff out drugs, his handler, Officer Curtis Jue, said.


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Hague condemns Stockton Kids First mailer

Patricia Hague is the latest to condemn a recent spate of mailers that were sent out last week by a newly formed group calling itself Stockton Kids First targeting her and three other candidates for Stockton Unified’s Board of Trustees .

Her campaign issued a statement Thursday evening under the headline “DIRTY POLITICS ANOTHER FAILURE OF THE LEADERSHIP OF SUSD” and said the mailer “seeks to undermine the credentials of the most qualified candidate for the upcoming election – Patricia Hague. The mailer has numerous false statements and outright lies.”

Hague, a longtime educator who also served as principal at Franklin High, said last week that the photo the group used on the mailer wasn’t even her – and that they had the number of years she’d been principal wrong as well.

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SUSD releases schedule of upcoming flu clinics

District officials are sending home flu vaccination consent forms for parents and hope more will sign up to prevent  outbreaks from keeping students out of school this winter. Here’s a schedule of upcoming school site vaccination clinics:

Download the schedule here: FLU CLINIC SCHEDULE

For more information, visit susd-ca.schoolloop.com/health or call Health Services at (209) 933-7060.



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Big turnout for STA rally

Roused by online notices from the Stockton Teachers Association such as “STA IS PREPARING TO STRIKE!” and “Showing up NOW means you’ll show up when it’s TIME TO WALK,” a vocal overflow crowd of union supporters turned out for Tuesday night’s Stockton Unified board meeting, holding signs, stomping their feet and shouting “We will walk! Union strong!”

Several spoke out during the meeting, cheering each other on and applauding – and sometimes booing members of the board.

“Angry constituents will testify during public comment segments of the meeting, blistering the school board majority for its refusal to allocate Proposition 30 education funds to the classroom for purposes including reducing class size and underwriting more parent-teacher collaboration time,” a pre-rally notice sent to the media read. Proposition 30  gives districts and parents the flexibility to locally decide how to spend Local Control Funding Formula money.

Contract negotiation sessions are scheduled for Friday and Nov. 13.

Also Tuesday night, interim Superintendent Julie Penn announced that the district is providing teachers with an extra $200 to spend on classroom supplies and will pay teachers for an hour’s worth of voluntary collaboration time each week while negotiations continue.






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Union plans rally at SUSD board meeting

STOCKTON – The Stockton Teachers Association is planning to protest at Tuesday night’s school board meeting ahead of a contract negotiation session scheduled for Friday, according to a rally notice on their website.

“HELP SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE TO SUSD: STA IS PREPARING TO STRIKE,” the notice reads. “We cannot tolerate SUSD’s lies and shenanigans any longer. ATTENDANCE is CRUCIAL.  Showing up NOW means you’ll show up when it’s TIME TO WALK.”

The association and the district have been at an impasse after negotiations, which have stretched longer than a year, broke down over the summer and have since gone into mediation. The union filed charges at the end of September with the Public Employment Relations Board, and talk of a strike has increasingly appeared on the STA’s website and Facebook page.

The rally is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 701 N. Madison St.

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Who’s behind SUSD candidate hit piece?

The race for seats on Stockton Unified’s Board of Trustees just veered into ugly territory when a last-minute mailer sent by a group calling itself “Stockton Kids First” hit some local households Saturday.

That’s perhaps not entirely unexpected, given the hotly contested race for a voice on a board that has the potential of overseeing selection of the next superintendent and a contentious contract dispute between the teachers union and the district.

What is unusual is who is – or isn’t – behind the mailer, as well as a succession of emails sent out the night of Oct. 14 from the group claiming four candidates – Patricia Hague, Angela Phillips, Andrea Burrise and Marc Zamarippa – support a 19.5 percent raise for teachers.

The flier and email list an address of 1502 St. Marks Plaza in Stockton, but with no suite number. A call to San Joaquin County’s Registrar of Voters revealed the group is registered to CPA Ted Bestolarides, a trustee on the Lincoln Unified School District. The California Secretary of State lists Bestolarides’ phone number with the group’s state registration under the name “STOCKTON KIDS FIRST SUPPORTING  FLORES, MENDEZ, MIDURA AND SMITH AND OPPOSING BURRISE, ZAMARIPPA, PHILLIPS AND HAGUE FOR SCHOOL BOARD 2014.

Contacted shortly after the initial emails went out, Bestolarides declined to speak with me, but he directed his receptionist to tell me that he is not formally associated with the group and had only done it a favor by completing registration paperwork and allowing the group to use his mailing address. He referred me to SUSD parent and activist Cecilia Mendez, whom both he and Republican Dean Andal identified as the official spokeswoman for the group. (Andal, also a former Lincoln trustee, and Bestolarides worked to fight Stockton’s ¾-cent sales tax and Bestolarides’ wife, Kelley, was campaign coordinator for Andal’s state Assembly race in 1992.) Surprising, Burrise said, since Mendez had been campaigning on her behalf.

Mendez has not returned repeated phone calls and text messages for comment over the past 10 days, but she has repeatedly denied to Burrise that she is associated with the group and told Burrise on Oct. 16 that she “demands an interview with the newspaper.” On Monday, she claimed to Burrise that she did in fact speak with me (she did not) and, crying, “insisted she was not behind this.”

So far, no one is stepping forward to claim responsibility for the group – or answer what candidates are saying are patently false claims on teachers’ raises, evaluations, and candidates’ stances on class size. The mailer cites two Sept. 21 Record articles as a source; nowhere in either are there any mention that any candidate supports what the flier claims they do.

“This experience has revealed just how deep Stockton political corruption runs, much deeper than I could have imagined,” Burrise said in an email Saturday. “It’s makes me both angry and sad for our community. We can do better.”

Something indeed is “rotten to the core” – it just may not be who you’d expect.

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Putting the class in classical

Music educator Paul Reisler works with students in the Harmony Stockton program at Marshall Elementary School in Stockton to create a song that will be performed by the Stockton Symphony on Jan. 17. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD


Grammy-nominated Kid Pan Alley creator Paul Reisler has been working all week with local students ahead of a Stockton Symphony concert in January in which the orchestra will perform the world premiere of the children’s original compositions.

Third-grader Lovely Ventura sings part of a song that she and other Harmony Stockton program students created with music educator Paul Reisler at Marshall Elementary School in Stockton. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD

Reisler is the symphony’s artist in residence and has been working with students are from Stockton’s Marshall Elementary School and Lodi’s Vinewood Elementary School. Among them are nearly 70 from Marshall’s Harmony Stockton program, a daily after-school enrichment program that combines music instruction with academic tutoring.

The students who worked with Reisler will perform in-school concerts Monday at both schools.

The January 17 Stockton Symphony concert, at Atherton Auditorium on the San Joaquin Delta College campus, will include El condor pasa, a work by Robles made famous by Simon & Garfunkel, and Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, Symphony No 6, “Pathétique.” The Stockton Symphony is under the baton of Peter Jaffe, who is celebrating his 20th season with the orchestra.


Students in the Harmony Stockton program at Marshall. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD


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Art contest for Red Ribbon Week!

Here's all the contest details - entries due by Saturday.

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California’s after-school programs top in nation

Kindergartners Adryana Young, left, and Amiah Banks work in August on a construction paper tree at Maxine Hong Kingston Elementary as part of an arts project in the school's wait-listed after-school program. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD

California leads the nation in after-school programs, placing first in a national survey, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday.

The Afterschool Alliance gave California its top ranking in the 2014 edition of its America After 3 p.m. survey, singling the state out for both strong participation among students and high satisfaction with after-school programs among parents. It found that expanded learning participation in California had increased to 25 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2009, with more than 1.6 million students enrolled.

After-school programs provide homework assistance and tutoring, sports and arts activities, as well as a safe place to go after school before parents arrive home from work. Stockton Unified has a robust K-8 program but lost funding at the high school level earlier this year.

“From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the danger zone,” former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, honorary chairman of the Afterschool Alliance, told EdSource.  “Juvenile crime, teenage pregnancy, gangs, alcoholism and drugs cost society a lot of money.”

“Superintendent Torlakson has spearheaded efforts to make California number one in the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “He created a statewide after school initiative within the California Department of Education that has increased quality and access to after school programs across this state. …  From extraordinary STEM programs, to service learning, to its trailblazing literacy programming, California has done an amazing job with afterschool programs.”

California’s expanded learning programs today reach about 4,500 schools around the state. They are, in large part, funded through voter-approved Proposition 49, which guarantees $550 million annually for the state’s After School Education and Safety Program. California administers another $120 million in federal after school program funds, according to the California Department of Education.

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Digital Chalkboard offers wealth of resources for teachers

A new website aimed at teachers offers a virtual meeting place to collaborate, get training to improve their skills, find research, and share best practices so they are better equipped to help students.

Digital Chalkboard has more than 400,000 digital resources, everything from training modules and videos to model lesson plans to researched-based data. Teachers can also use the website to join discussion groups to share success stories and help each other improve their teaching.

“The Digital Chalkboard gives teachers the support they need to become better educators as we embark on exciting changes this year with the Common Core and online testing,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. It is faster and easier to navigate and provides more assistance to teachers who are implementing Common Core as well as consolidating help for teachers who are educating English learners and foster children. It replaces the Brokers of Expertise website.

To access the Digital Chalkboard, visit http://www.mydigitalchalkboard.org.

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