School board meets to discuss 2012-13 school year

Samantha P. Hawthorne
Staff Writer

  With the commencement of the 2012-13 school year, Plumas Unified School District and Plumas County Office of Education boards met Sept. 12 in Chester for their regular board meeting.

  The first item on the agenda was a progress report on the newly formed partnership of Greenville High School (GHS) and Plumas Charter School (PCS).

  A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between PUSD and PCS was approved at the district’s June board meeting. The MOU specified GHS and PCS would share space, teachers and resources at the start of the new school year.

  During the August board meeting, changes to the MOU were suggested by board members. The changes were incorporated during the Sept. 12 meeting. The board was concerned, however, that the two schools might have conflicting policies. The decision was made to address possible conflicts as they arise and a unanimous vote was made to approve the final MOU.

  PCS Student Services Coordinator and Indian Valley Academy Director Sue Weber and GHS Principal Gary Miller were very optimistic about the merge.

  “Because of the partnership, we have been able to offer a lot more options for our students. It has been very positive and it’s only the beginning,” said Miller.

  “The most important part to me is that the students are getting along very well with each other. It is going to take a lot of work, this year in particularly, to really develop systems to make everything work properly,” said Weber.

  Director Bret Cook asked what the demographic of students taking classes at PCS is.

  Miller gave an example: some eighth-graders are ready for Algebra 1, but the class overlaps other core class requirements.

  Thanks to the merger, those students are able to take both classes by picking up the second class at the charter school during a time that fits their schedule.

  PCS offers electives such as robotics and martial arts that GHS does not offer. They are trying to get the kids at GHS interested in taking those subjects.

  By merging the schools, students have more opportunities to take the classes they want and the ones they need. “The idea is to have electives all day to fit the kids’ schedule,” said Weber.


PCS charter renewal

  During the meeting, PCS Academic Director Janet Wolcott, and PCS President Ramona Hill, presented a request for renewal of the school’s charter.

  At this time, the request was presented for information purposes only.

  According to Wolcott, the school attracts students who are “independently minded” and want to accelerate their schooling by taking extra classes.

  “Our focus this year is making sure kids really care about results,” said Wolcott. The staff is working to develop an incentive program that will entice students to focus, which will help improve test scores.

  They also plan on moving the “end of the year” test to April instead of May so the school can have more control over results.

  The board is required by law to provide a response to the school within 60 days. Members scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 10 to allow community members to comment on whether or not the charter should be renewed.

  Since the next board meeting following the hearing would be 62 days from the initial request, the board asked Wolcott and Hill to allow them a two-day extension. The PCS liaison agreed to the extra two days so the board tabled final action to Nov. 14.


FRC Upward Bound grant

  Feather River College currently offers academic support to high school students who meet their guidelines. 

  The Upward Bound program gives these students the chance to excel in higher education by preparing them for college.

  Audrey Peters, director of Upward Bound, presented an overview to the PUSD board and requested renewal of the program’s grant.

  The board agreed to renew the FRC Upward Bound grant award for another five years.


Forest Service settlement

  The Plumas County Board of Supervisors met Sept. 4 to discuss the 2007 Moonlight Fire settlement paid to the Forest Service.

  Under the Act of May 23, 1908, and the Secure Rural Schools Act of 2000, a letter was written to the Forest Service outlining the county and school district’s entitlement to a portion of the settlement.

  Board members thought it would be a good idea to introduce the idea of a joint letter from both the school district and the county.

  Bill Wickman, chairman of the Plumas County Economic Recovery Committee, presented the idea to the PUSD/PCOE boards and a decision was made to fully support the recovery efforts.

  “This involves funds that should be rightfully coming your way from three fires (Storrie, Rich and Moonlight). The settlements total almost $300 million.

  “Historically, we have lost just over $7 million since 2009. Counties that have public lands were to receive 25 percent of the settlements and we have not seen a penny of it,” said Wickman.


2012 STAR testing

  “We need to celebrate our teachers and students,” opened Tori Willits, educational services director for PUSD, when presenting the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results.

  The results for the district went up overall and “the percentage of students going on to secondary education saw a dramatic increase, said Willits.

  She said 94 percent of PSUD students go on to a two- or four-year college. According to the Postsecondary Education Commission on average only 72 percent of California high school graduates go to a two- or four-year California college.

  For a detailed report on STAR testing results visit

  The next PUSD meeting will be held Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. at Portola High School, immediately followed by the PCOE meeting at 7 p.m.

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