Sunday, December 23, 2012

Castle Park Elementary, scene of multiple fiascoes, finally gets some help

I'm happy that the Castle Park area in Chula Vista has been chosen for $60 million in grants. Castle Park Elementary, where I attended as a child and as a teacher, desperately needs assistance after having been managed poorly by the CVESD board and administration. Before the current principal arrived, the school had 11 principals in 11 years, during which time there was a crime wave among the ruling clique of teachers and a $20,000 embezzlement by the PTA president who was hand-picked by those teachers.

Perhaps Maria Guasp, board member of South Bay Community Services, chose Castle Park Elementary because she feels somewhat guilty for her role in damaging the school when she was an Assistant Superintendent at CVESD, promoting Libia Gil's discredited agenda.

Unfortunately, sticking on band-aids won't fix the basic problem: the underlying culture of the district. Long-term board members Pamela Smith and Larry Cunningham have maintained a culture of carelessness, making decisions reflexively and refusing to engage in serious assessment of problems.

Larry Cunningham and Pam Smith covered up illegal actions at Castle Park Elementary

Then the CVESD board and administrators depend on the lawyers at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz to silence critics. Stutz law firm managed to find a judge, Judith Hayes, who doesn't mind violating the constitution to help CVESD silence me. Even after I won in the California Court of Appeal, CVESD's lawyers and Judge Judith Hayes are still trying to quash legitimate criticism. Here's a recent court transcript.

Nonprofit one of 7 nationwide to receive federal Promise Neighborhood funding to revitalize schools, area
Caroline Dipping
Union-Tribune San Diego
Dec. 22, 2012

$60M--Total in grants and matching funds for programs to help South Bay students improve.

Selected from more than 200 applicants nationwide, South Bay Community Services has been awarded a grant of nearly $30 million to improve schools in Chula Vista’s Castle Park neighborhood and revitalize the area.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced in Washington, D.C., on Friday that the nonprofit organization was one of seven winners to receive a 2012 Promise Neighborhood implementation grant.

South Bay Community Services will receive $4.9 million to fund the first year of the five-year $27.8 million grant for cradle-to-career programs that improve schools and inspire students, provide health services for families and fight crime in the neighborhood. The Castle Park area has some of the lowest test scores in Chula Vista and a median household income of $41,000 — 30 percent lower than the countywide median.

Not to be outdone, 28 local government agencies, nonprofit organizations and businesses, including Manpower, United Way and Parker Foundation, have signed on to provide more than $33 million in matching funds, for a total investment of more than $60 million. The grant will also create about 100 jobs the first year alone, according to South Bay Community Services.

“The community really came together and worked so hard to get this grant,” said Kathryn Lembo, president and CEO of South Bay Community Services. “What makes it so special is knowing how much the schools, parents, and kids are going to benefit.

“This will give our young people an incredible opportunity to be healthier and more successful in school and in life.”

The target is the area served by Castle Park Elementary School. Funds will also be used to create improvements at Castle Park Middle School and Castle Park High School designed to inspire all students to stay in school and aspire to a college and career track, Lembo said.

“It’s a great thing because it means they are going to be able to fund a lot of extra academic intervention and academic assistance,” said Manuel Rubio, spokesman for Sweetwater Union High School District. “It’s the holistic approach of educating the student, but assessing what their family’s needs are, too. It has the potential to make a pretty significant impact.”

South Bay Community Services will lead the project. It was chosen in part because of its 41-year history providing bilingual, culturally competent social service, education and community development programs for youth and families.

Last December, the agency received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a plan to revitalize.

Nancy Kerwin, executive director of Chula Vista Elementary School District’s Student, Family and Community Services, said the grant will create an “infusion of services and support, from newborns to high school youth.”

“At Castle Park Elementary, we will see more in-class tutoring for students, an enhanced wellness program for students, and bullying prevention activities,” she said.

The other recipients of the 2012 Implementation Grants are the Boston Promise Initiative, East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood, Five Promises for Two Generations in Washington, D.C., Indianola Promise Community in Mississippi, Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood, and Mission Promise Neighborhood in San Francisco.

The Promise Neighborhoods program was created in 2010 to give at-risk children wraparound community services to help them close the achievement gap between them and their more affluent peers. To date, the program has awarded nearly $100 million to more than 50 communities representing more than 700 schools.


Anonymous said...

Having k-6 tutoring would greatly help a kid learn his lesson more. at those age, they need focus and tutoring just gives them that.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.