NUSD Spotlight
 Community Newsletter
  -- December 17,  2018  

Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's community newsletter. Contact Director of Communications Jim Sanders, (916) 561-5267, if you have comments, concerns or story suggestions. Thank you for your support of Natomas schools.
We wish everyone a happy, healthy, safe and joyous holiday season.

NUSD's schools and Ed Center will be closed to the public from Friday, Dec. 21, through Friday, Jan. 4.

Emergency and urgent calls can be made during Winter Recess to our after-hours line, (916) 561-5253. Classes and business as usual will resume on Monday, Jan. 7.
How often does a 7-year-old win $45,000?
Witter Ranch Elementary student wins the

often does a 7-year-old win $45,000? Meet Glenn Hackett, a 2nd-grader at Witter Ranch Elementary who was surprised to learn at a school assembly last week that he had won the national "Ben's Beginners" rice-cooking contest.

Glenn and his mother, Yolanda, submitted a broccoli, beef and rice dish to the contest, spearheaded by Uncle Ben's rice and designed to encouraged parents and kids to cook together. 

Glenn $15,000 for his family and $30,000 for his school. His mother said the family expects to tuck part of their winnings toward Glenn's education and spend a chunk of the rest, perhaps, to help buy a house. They currently are renting. 

Future career? Glenn smiles and says he wants to be a "cooker." Read more here.
EDITOR'S NOTE:  Length of a newsletter can cause stories at the bottom to be clipped from display. If that happens to this newsletter, click " View Entire Message " prompt at the bottom of the page. Thank you very much.
NUSD sends Measure L letter of appreciation to Natomas parents & community members
With the November election now history, we want to thank the parents and community members who supported our students by passing Measure L. We appreciate the community's trust in NUSD to manage those facility funds in the future to benefit all schools. We take that responsibility very seriously.

The voter support means that Natomas Unified can continue to address its most urgent current facility needs while the community grows in the years ahead, requiring new schools and new classrooms along with providing all students with 21st century learning environments to prepare for college and career.

Interim Supt. Bill Young sent a Measure L letter of appreciation to the Natomas community on Friday, Dec. 7. 

Please check it out by clicking here.
Newcomer Jag Bains & incumbent Lisa Kaplan start four-year terms on Board of Trustees 

Newcomer Jag Bains and longtime incumbent Lisa Kaplan took their oath of office Dec. 12 and began four-year terms on the NUSD Board of Trustees that they won in last month's election.

Kaplan and Bains finished first and second, respectively, in a field of five candidates. Both are parents of children currently attending schools within Natomas Unified School District.

Kaplan, an attorney, runs a strategic law firm providing representation on various education issues. An NUSD trustee since 2002, she is a longtime delegate of the California School Boards Association. Her resume also includes service in the Natomas Rotary Club, Jewish Federation Board, American River College Foundation Board, and as president of the Sacramento Regional Chapter of Women Lead.

Bains has lived in Natomas for 17 years and works as an engineer for Sacramento County. He is vice president of the Sacramento County Association of Professional Engineers and a member of the City of Sacramento Parks Commission, appointed by  Councilwoman Angeligue Ashby. His campaign website noted that he was actively involved in the development of an area charter school with support from local officials and the Indian-American community. 

Thank you both for serving NUSD kids!  
And the new NUSD Board President is ... 
And the new year begins now ...

Dr. Susan Heredia was elected President of the NUSD Board of Trustees Dec 12 by her colleagues on the panel. She will wield the gavel throughout 2019. Lisa Kaplan was named vice president and the Board's newest member, Jag Bains, was selected clerk. Please join us in wishing them well in their new positions.
American Lakes School
Let it snow ... let it snow ... let it snow --
Eagle 7th-graders to be weather watchers
"Good Day Sacramento" aired a story recently from the American Lakes School classroom of science teacher Alex Wright, who had emailed Channel 13 to ask if his 7th-graders could be amateur "weather watchers" for the TV station. ... Yes!

The station gave Wright a portable "Weather Station" for monitoring rain, wind, temperature, and other data. The class also received a "Weather Science" kit with materials for experimenting with static electricity, making mini-clouds, building a desktop water cycle model, and studying the greenhouse effect. ( Here's a link to the "Good Day Sacramento" segment.)

Wright plans to use the gifts to make science learning more interactive and fun. His 7th-graders not only will gather weather data, they'll interpret it, analyze it, and compare it with historical trends to study key environmental issues, such as whether climate change is occurring. Their work will involve Math as well as Science. It will require collaboration, discussion and critical thinking. ... Terrific idea, Mr. Wright ... Way to go, Eagles!
SELPA -- final in a series
Enhancing supports & learning environment
for Natomas Unified s tudents with disabilities
(As Natomas Unified moves toward becoming its own Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA), we want the community to know about progress we've made in recent years to enhance services and supports to students with disabilities. This communication focuses on improvements to learning environment and programs.)

Higher English and Math test scores by NUSD students with disabilities over the past two years followed launching and implementing inclusive practices in which students of all abilities learn together in classrooms at their own neighborhood schools, with support from staff and programs to help them prepare for a bright future.

In recent years, NUSD has enhanced its Special Education support system by increasing staffing - from teachers to instructional aides - and by expanding its social-emotional services. NUSD promotes differentiated instruction, from student to student, based on individual needs and learning styles. Students with disabilities have increased their English and Math scores by 9 and 6 percentage points, respectively, in California's academic testing program, CAASPP, since 2016.

By creating our own SELPA, the future looks even brighter. Federal and state funds are allocated through a SELPA, so school district's governing boards must either belong to a multi-district SELPA or form their own. As a single-district SELPA, we can continue placing a high priority on Special Education services while having more funding to do so.

Here are some highlights of NUSD's enhancements since 2014 to learning environment and supports that benefit students with disabilities:
  • A full-time Psychologist and Health Assistant have been assigned to every school
  • Nearly $2.5 million has been spent on facility improvements for students with disabilities, including learning centers at four schools and renovation of the Adult Transition Program at Natomas High School
  • NUSD staffing increases have included Special Education teachers, 7.89 full-time equivalent positions (FTE); Instructional Aides, 43 FTE; Speech and Language Pathologists, 5 FTE; and assistants to Speech and Language Pathologists, 1.38 FTE
  • A wide-ranging K-12 Continuum of Social-Emotional Support has been created to provide early detection, intervention, treatment, and academic options for students with behavioral problems or mental health needs
  • A Kindergarten-Transitional Kindergarten class for students with autism was launched at H. Allen Hight Elementary to provide intervention at a very young age. Read more here.
Keep the Faith? No, she's headed to Oregon!
Seventeen-year-old Faith Cobb made history last week in becoming the answer to a Leroy Greene Academy trivia question for decades to come: Who was the first LGA athlete to sign a letter of intent to play college sports?

Faith was honored at a brief campus ceremony today, where she committed to playing softball next year for the Willamette University Bearcats in Salem, Ore.

LGA, the district's newest high school, graduated its first senior class only two years ago. Its sports program was launched five years ago, but initially had only underclassmen, not likely to attract many college sports recruiters. Today's signing is a big feather in LGA's cap.

Faith, who has been playing softball since she was 7 years old, characterized today's signing as a dream come true. Her father, Steve, who coached her in softball for years, said he felt overwhelmed with emotion. "It's an awesome feeling," he said, smiling. Read more here.
Free lunches to be served at Winter Recess 
No NUSD student should go hungry in coming weeks. We'll  serve free lunches from 11:30-Noon daily during Winter Recess, except holidays, at four schools -- American Lakes, Jefferson, Natomas Park Elementary, and Witter Ranch Elementary. 

This two-week free lunch program will serve anyone 18 or younger. It will extend from Dec. 21-Jan. 4. Meals will not be served on three holidays: Christmas Eve, Dec. 24; Christmas Day, Dec. 25; and New Year's Day, Jan. 1.

Click here to check out our flyer, in Spanish or English. Questions? Call  (916) 567-5472.
Know someone who wants to attend NUSD? 
Do you know a family member, friend, or acquaintance who wants to attend an NUSD school next year?

Enrollment is now open for any NUSD school for the 2019-20 school year. Parents and guardians can enroll their students online at Requests to transfer from one NUSD school to another next year also are being accepted. Charter schools within NUSD boundaries oversee their own enrollment.

For details on how to enroll, click here.
Message to the Community
District-Teacher Collaborative Committees 
We value feedback, ideas, concerns and classroom experience, so we want you to know about NUSD committees that enhance opportunities for our more than 1,200 staff members to be heard in district decision-making to benefit your child and students throughout Natomas.

We recently announced that NUSD administration and representatives of classified staff, the California School Employees Association, had formed a Joint Leadership Team to resolve issues together, with civility and respect, in a culture of trust.

In a similar vein of cooperation and joint decision-making, teachers are playing a key role in NUSD committees formed to identify, discuss and collaborate on matters ranging from elementary report cards to Special Education programs, professional development courses, Professional Development Day, instructional operations, and K-8 school conversions. Teachers also are spearheading selection of new History-Social Science textbooks for next year. Read more here.
Student & parent opportunities and info 
TODAY'S the Day!
Eat a meal, help a student on Monday, Dec. 17
Join us TONIGHT (Monday, Dec. 17) for a tasty meal at Dos Coyotes Natomas that will help raise funds for NUSD students and give you a peek at a sure-to-be-popular restaurant before it opens to the general public.

Dos Coyotes, 2701 Del Paso Road, will donate 100% of its proceeds from 5-8 p.m. TONIGHT to the Natomas Schools Foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit group that raises money for college scholarships, Chromebooks, and other student assistance. 

Dos Coyotes is located at 2701 Del Paso Road, in the Safeway parking lot near Panera. See you there? ... Thanks! 
Help us spread holiday cheer 
Deadline near for NUSD Toy Drive: Wednesday! 
NUSD's annual holiday Toy Drive is people-helping-people at its finest. Simply by donating a toy, you can be an anonymous hero to a child who otherwise might receive no gift at all during the holidays.

Please donate a new, unwrapped toy through next Wednesday, Dec. 19, at any NUSD school or at the Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd.

Some families in need have older children, too, in middle or high school. So we welcome, encourage, and very much need gifts for teenagers -- such as boa rd games, gift cards, movie passes, sports equipment, sunglasses, earbuds, electronics, sports equipment, etc.

For more  information, check out this flyer . Questions? Call NUSD's Rosa Rijo at (916) 561-5287. We wish you all a healthy, happy, holiday season!
Boost deserving kids at no extra cost to you!
Holiday shopping season is a perfect time to remind NUSD families that there's a simple way to contribute to college scholarships and Chromebook computers for deserving students -- at no cost to you!

AMAZON SMILE : This e-commerce website operated by Amazon will donate a half-percent of your purchase price to a charitable organization. Simply start your shopping at and designate Natomas Schools Foundation as your charity of choice. Eligible merchandise you buy will not cost extra - and you will receive the same product choices and shopping features as on Amazon-dot-com.

The Natomas Schools Foundation is an all-volunteer, nonprofit charity organized solely for the purpose of helping students within NUSD boundaries. Not a penny of its money is spent on salaries or administration. Over the past two years, the foundation has awarded $16,000 in scholarships and 33 Chromebooks to deserving students.

We appreciate your considering this worthy cause.
Recent NUSD signup event
Parent calls free Internet & WiFi 'awesome' 
Varnell, father of four kids, called it an "awesome" opportunity. "It seems like everything kids are doing in school these days uses the internet, so this will definitely help my household."

Varnell's family signed up for free home Internet and WiFi service Dec. 8 through an innovative program in which NUSD will pay the bill for up to 1,000 families who lack online access to receive it through Comcast for one year. The goal is to narrow the digital divide and expand learning opportunities.

Other parents interviewed at the Natomas Middle School signup event, which included a free pancake breakfast, said their kids struggle to make it to the library for after-school research online. Candelaria said her 4th-grade daughter tries to complete internet studies via cellphone.

We hope our "Connecting Homes to the Internet" program serves all of them well. It strikes at the heart of our mission to prepare all students for college and career. We're happy to help in this way.
Natomas Middle/H. Allen Hight Elementary
Posada Night honors holiday spirit of giving and celebration with free food, games & fun
Reflecting the true spirit of the holiday season, everything was free at Posada Night, a celebration organized by Natomas Middle School staff with help from H. Allen Hight Elementary School colleagues. The annual event, held Dec. 6 this year, attracted dozens of students, parents and staff with a festive, fun-for-all-ages, Spanish-themed ambiance that promoted campus unity and honored the tradition of holiday giving.

Participants enjoyed free food, games, crafts, and a "Winter Wonde rland" light display for taking photos. Lively music attracted some students to the stage for dancing. The event's Spanish theme was very much in keeping with the IB program offered by Natomas Middle School and H. Allen Hight. In addition to a strong academic core, IB promotes intercultural understanding and respect. The ultimate message was very clear: Happy Holidays!
Please 'Like' us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter 

Let's work together to educate your child. We urge parents to get to know our district. We provide multiple opportunities to learn about NUSD successes, plans and events throughout the school year. 

Two key sources are Facebook -- we're listed as "Natomas Unified School District" -- and Twitter, under @NatomasUSD.  District and school websites also are a good source of information ranging from lunch menus to parent opportunities. Thanks for taking a look. We're honored to serve you.
NUSD Spotlight 
Brought to you by NUSD communications team of Jim Sanders, Lauren Schnitzler and Jeff McPhee. If you have questions, comments or story tips, please call (916) 561-5267.