It was a tip of the cap to the best of the present and a nod to an exciting future Wednesday night at the Manhattan Beach Unified School District’s board meeting.
The school district honored top teachers and employees and unanimously approved adoption of a 2011-2012 iPad Pilot Program that will introduce mobile technology into select classrooms in the coming year.
The board also agreed to move forward with the Athletic Facilities Master Plan Committee’s recommendation to remodel a parking lot on Peck Avenue and gave direction to increase an existing bond rate from $52 to $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value for Manhattan Beach homeowners, a scenario that would save taxpayers a projected $500,000 or more over the life of the bond.
Both recommendations will be included in the upcoming budget presentation on June 15.
“Dr. [Michael] Matthews [MBUSD superintendent] has a great vision and is working closely with the [school] board to bring the best to MB,” said Nancy Doyle, Robinson Elementary principal of the iPad pilot program. “Finding what we need to put in the hands of kids so that they have the tools to be successful is very important.”
Anne Marie Johnson and Hilary Mahan, whose children attend Robinson Elementary, addressed the board with new information from a fact-finding research visit to Silicon Valley area schools, where iPads are integral parts of the student learning experience.
“It was an eye opener to actually see the technology in the hands of the students, said Johnson. “We are changing daily. The kids grasp technology so quickly now they don’t see it as a tool, they just go straight to the information.”
School Board President Bill Fournell said he is proud to be part of an effort to bring a growth opportunity to the school district, a rarity in recent years due to budgetary constraints and economic stress.
“In the past four years, this [the iPad pilot program] is one of the first fairly large-scale initiatives directed at curriculum,” he said. “As opposed to cuts, giving students and teachers new opportunities is really exciting.”
The impact of the ever-changing issue of the state budget on the school district’s 2011-2012 budget was discussed by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Steven Romines and Superintendent Dr. Michael Matthews. According to Governor Jerry Brown’s May revised state budget, schools should count on funding to be the same as it was for 2010-21011. Matthews told MB Patch that this may be good news since previous budgets from the governor’s office were predicting a revenue drop of $349 per student (more than $2.1 million for MBUSD) for the 2011-12 school year. The unknown factor in the budget is whether or not the governor will be successful in extending the temporary taxes, which is key to his May revised budget proposal.
The budget and its associated factors will be presented at the June 15 board meeting.
“We are being told two things,” said Matthews, “budget the revenue, but don’t spend it because we’re not certain that it will be there for us next year.”
The meeting also included teacher of the year honors for eight teachers from preschool level to high school.
Pacific Elementary’s Linda Okumura was named as the District Teacher of the Year.
Okumura, a first grade teacher, was serenaded by her first grade students who performed a tribute to her excellence in the classroom to the delight of a packed boardroom.
“We have so many people who could be recognized, but this is a very deserving group and it’s great to be able to acknowledge to the public everything they do so well,” said Matthews.
Mira Costa English Teacher Diana Sieker appreciated being honored in just her sixth year at Mira Costa:
“It is overwhelming; it’s a privilege to work at Mira Costa in itself, so to be honored is a whole other level. It’s incredible,” said Sieker.
2011-2012 Teachers of the Year:
- Lauren Smith, preschool, preschool teacher
- Kelly Spondike, Grand View, kindergarten teacher
- Karla Yates, Meadows, third grade teacher
- Linda Okumura, Pacific, first grade teacher
- MaryChristine Daly, Pennekamp, special education teacher
- Shannon Henderson, Robinson, second grade teacher
- Deborah Medlicott-Wilson, Manhattan Beach Middle School, sixth grade humanities teacher
- Diana Sieker, Mira Costa High School, English teacher
Classified Employees Recognized
- Robin Page, senior accountant, business
- Tighe Mishler, computer lab specialist, Mira Costa High School
- Janet Wilson, health assistant, Manhattan Beach Middle School
- Carey Sokol, occupational therapist, Grand View Elementary
- Isabel Giovati, special education instructional assistant, Meadows Elementary
- Donna Kim, health assistant, Pacific Elementary
- Judy Kelly, special education instructional assistant, Pennekamp Elementary
- Joni Wianecki, office manager, Robinson Elementary
- Arcelia Zapata, food services assistant, Food Services
- Ed Jozefecick, building trades technician, maintenance and operations