NUSD Spotlight
 Community Newsletter
  -- November 13,  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.
Health issue sidelines Supt. Chris Evans temporarily: Deputy Supt. Bill Young to fill in
Supt. Chris Evans announced last week that he is stepping away from being a Superintendent, until January, to recover from a health issue. In a letter to staff and the community, Evans explained that he has been addressing a sinus problem for the past five months and recently underwent a surgical procedure for it. After consulting with a doctor, it was determined that he needed time to recover post-surgery.

With the election now over, Evans will be off for the remainder of November and for December, which are shorter work months due to the holidays. In his letter, Evans said that he would prefer to recover in private. As a Natomas resident and Dad, however, he may be seen out walking, or at the grocery store, or elsewhere in the community during his recuperation. "I felt that I needed to share this information with you to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding," he wrote.

Deputy Superintendent Bill Young will serve as acting superintendent during Evans' absence. The superintendent's complete message can be read 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.
Sign up Thursday! NUSD to pay for home Internet
and WiFi access for 1,000 students who lack it 

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: This  Thursday, Nov. 15!

NUSD is thinking outside the box to narrow the digital divide: We think that home Internet and WiFi access are so vital to a 21st-century education that we'll pay the bill, for one year, for students who lack it. Our program will serve up to 1,000 NUSD families in partnership with Comcast, which is offering a discounted rate through its Internet Essentials program.

Eligible families from throughout NUSD can sign up at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Natomas High School, 3301 Fong Ranch Road. A free spaghetti dinner also is planned, along with a 6:30 p.m. "Student Success Workshop" providing tips on motivating your child in the classroom. Families at the signup event can apply for a chance to win a Chromebook donated for that purpose. For more information about this unique event, click here to see flyer. 
NUSD & classified staff leaders
Joint Leadership Team formed to tackle issues
Superintendent Chris Evans and classified staff leader Pamela Rothwell, president of the California School Employees Association at NUSD, announced this month the creation of a Joint Leadership Team (JLT) to "resolve issues t ogether, with civility and respect, in a culture of trust."

This decision stemmed from three positive and productive meetings in which district and CSEA leaders shared a desire to work together, valuing each other's opinions to solve problems and brainstorm new ideas to benefit students, staff and schools.

The JLT will examine what is working in NUSD, what is not working through the lens of classified staff; focus on district culture; then search for shared solutions that contribute to or enhance our focus on providing a 21st century education that prepares students for college and career. Read the full message here.
Never know where
you'll find inspiration --
maybe on a school door!
Spotted on a classroom door at Heron School, pretty cool words to live by for Michelle Stellmacher's 6th-grade students -- and for all of us: "In a world where you can be anything, be Kind."
Still unbeaten! Tigers climb in football playoffs
Keeping its unbeaten streak alive, Inderkum High beat the Downey High Knights, 69-29, in a Sac-Joaquin Section D-II playoff football game last Friday.

The game started as a see-saw battle, but the Tigers eventually wore down the high-powered Modesto squad, which scored more points against Inderkum than any other team has this year.
Inderkum's season record now stands at 11-0. It has outscored opponents 594-111. You can't get much better than that ... Impressive!
Serving Students with Disabilities
Staff added since 2014 to enhance supports 
(As Natomas Unified moves toward becoming its own Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA), we want staff and families to know about progress we've made in recent years to enhance services and supports to students with disabilities. This communication focuses on staffing increases.)

In recent years, we've created a Special Education support system that provides enhanced assistance, offers wider-ranging programs, and serves 99.7% of all of our students in NUSD schools. Only 43 of our 1,637 students with disabilities are served by county regional programs and facilities. By creating our own SELPA, the future looks even brighter.
Here's how we've increased staffing since 2014 to serve students with disabilities:
  • Special Education teacher staffing has risen by 7.89 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, or 11%
  • Instructional Aides have risen by 51% -- from 84 to 127, up 43 FTE
  • A full-time Psychologist and full-time Health Aide have been assigned to every school
  • Speech and Language Pathologists have increased by 42% the past four years, or 5 FTE
  • Assistants for Speech and Language Pathologists have risen by 1.38 FTE
  • Sign Language Interpreters are up 1.5 FTE
  • Bus Drivers and Bus Aides have risen by 4.94 FTE, a 27% increase

    Federal and state funds to support students with disabilities are allocated through a SELPA, so school districts must either belong to a multi-district SELPA, where funding is not distributed equitably, or form their own. By leaving Sacramento County's SELPA next year, we can continue placing a high priority on Special Education services while having more funds to do so. We already have staff expertise to operate our own: Assistant Supts. Josh Harris and Tom Anderson are former SELPA leaders. Read more here.
. Teaming Up to Help for the Holidays
Please donate to Joey's Food Locker for Thanksgiving  
SOS! ... Joey's Food Locker needs your help as Thanksgiving approaches. Hundreds of needy families are expected to seek groceries from the food locker to provide a holiday meal at home. The facility has commitments for an ample number of turkeys, but it badly needs other non-perishable food items, particularly cranberries, stuffing, pudding, corn and beans. Other canned goods always are welcome. Let's spread the holiday joy!

Food items can be dropped off at any NUSD school or at the Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd. Deadline is Thursday (Nov. 15) because distribution is the following day, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the food locker, located near Natomas High School's tennis courts at 3301 Fong Ranch Road. Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity. We're honored to be part of this Natomas community!
' Tis season for giving -- and Natomas Unified shines
'Tis the season for giving.

And that spirit shines in NUSD.

Several schools have launched food or clothing drives to help needy families as the weather gets colder and the holiday season looms.

At Heron School, for example, students have been contributing to two helping-hands projects: A stockings donation campaign organized by the school itself, and a coat drive led by a local Girl Scouts troop.

Other examples abound.

At Witter Ranch, 2nd-graders in teacher Ana Reilly's class have organized a canned-food drive and drawn posters displayed throughout the school to publicize it. Proceeds wil benefit Joey's Food Locker, a community food closet located at Natomas High School and run by adult special-needs students there.

By reaching out to help others, Witter Ranch Hawks practice civic engagement and learn that they can make a difference. Reilly said the canned-food drive also is consistent with values that students are discussing at school - the importance of being responsible, considerate, caring and achieving.

"Next Tuesday (Nov. 14) is World Kindness Day," Reilly said. "Wouldn't it be great if everyone brought a can of food?"

At Leroy Greene Academy, students are continuing an annual tradition: Generating food for Joey's Food Locker. Students who donate two non-perishable food items will receive a raffle ticket for prizes donated to the school.  

At Paso Verde School, students began bringing canned food items to school in a drive that will continue until Thursday (Nov. 15). The class contributing the most canned foods will win a pumpkin pie party.

NUSD's Student Services and Support Department also is promoting the giving spirit: District staff are urged to buy and donate a coat this month for one of the district's 70 foster boys and girls.
Student & parent opportunities and info 
NUSD Closed to the Public During Thanksgiving week
NUSD's schools and Ed Center will be closed to the public during Thanksgiving recess from Monday through Friday, Nov. 19-23.

Emergency calls can be placed to the district's after-hours Constituent and Customer Services line, (916) 561-5253. We wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
15 Chromebooks to be awarded by NSF - apply now!
Natomas Schools Foundation is giving away 15 Chromebooks to students who need one to further their education -- and the timing is perfect, coinciding with NUSD's announcement that it will pay for home Internet access for up to 1,000 students who currently lack it. 

The two programs are not directly connected, however, and the foundation's Chromebook grants are open to any deserving and eligible student in grades 5-12 who needs the technology to maintain or improve school performance.  Apply now!

Applicants must attend school within NUSD boundaries and have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher. They will be evaluated on academic performance and potential, leadership potential, service to others, and need for a Chromebook. Applications, due Nov. 30, are available here.
Your opinion sought on H istory-Social Science books
We're holding a series of information nights to give parents and stakeholders a chance to review and provide input about textbooks under consideration. Your opinions will help guide decisions that can impact classrooms for years to come.

The next session is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the Inderkum High theater, 2500 New Market Dr.

Parents and guardians are welcome to come alone or bring their students to any of the sessions, where they can examine competing textbooks at three grade spans - K-5, 6-8, and High School. For more information, click here. Questions? Call (916) 567-5828.  
One-stop shopping webpage for college & career info
We started with some simple questions: How can we help families navigate through the college admissions process? Avoid mistakes? Identify potential grants or scholarships? Apply for college aid? How can we share do's and don'ts for scholarship writing?

Beyond that, how can we help students in lower grades prepare year-by-year for college and career? What can students do in elementary and middle school to pursue a bright future? What can their parents do? What is NUSD doing? How do families monitor that their child is on track?

It can be complicated, we know ... So we brought an NUSD team together, brainstormed, collaborated, and -- voila! -- please click here to check out the fruits of our labor, a new College and Career Readiness webpage, designed to be easy-to-read, one-stop shopping for information every family can use. Thanks for taking a look.
Reward a great kid! Nominate for '50 Bikes for 50 Kids'
North Natomas residents, here's a chance to nominate an outstanding youth for the chance to win a brand-new bicycle based on outstanding character...

"50 Bikes for 50 Kids" is an annual contest by North Natomas Jibe -- formerly North Natomas Transportation Management Association -- that is open to youth in 5th-12th grades who live, work or attend school in North Natomas.

Winners will be chosen for exemplifying outstanding character traits: respect, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, citizenship and responsibility. Selected youth will assemble the bicycle themselves, with help from local volunteers, at a special event on Jan. 21, 2019.

Relatives cannot nominate youth family members, but if you know of someone else deserving of this award, submit your online nomination here by Thursday (Nov. 15).
New sports added to NUSD lineup this year
Natomas Unified is creating several new team sports opportunities this year, with each providing a different way that athletes can connect to their school and classmates.

Inderkum High launched separate varsity water polo teams for boys and girls. This debut season primarily was a time for learning and progressing, setting the stage for a winning future. Because Inderkum does not have a pool, water polo games were played at Natomas High. Kasey Coughlin and George Bitter were Inderkum's varsity boy and girl Players of the Year, respectively.

Other new additions are coming soon. 

Both Inderkum and Natomas High plan to offer a form of competitive cheerleading, "Stunt Cheerleading." Discovery High plans to field a basketball team to compete against other local alternative high schools. And Natomas High plans to add a boys volleyball team in the spring. Win or lose, we hope participating athletes have fun and learn from the experience. Good luck to all! 
Dia de los Muertos
LGA sure knows how to throw a school party!
Leroy Greene Academy -- Dia de los Muertos

Colorful student art, Aztec Indian dancing, face painting, a community altar, and lots of delicious food were highlights of Leroy Greene Academy's Dia de los Muertos festivities Nov. 1. Nice weather, big crowd, lively party.

The Mexican holiday is celebrated annually by LGA in appreciation of student diversity. Dia de los Muertos remembers and honors family members who have died.

The holiday's graphic images are a perfect fit for LGA, which offers an academic pathway in Visual Arts and Technology that attracts plenty of budding artists. To join the fun, simply click on this video ...

Soccer Go-ooooooooooooo-al!
Did you hear the ROAR of the LGA Lions?
The curtain has dropped, but let's put some perspective on a fantastic season by Leroy Greene Academy's boys soccer team: After going undefeated in league, then winning two Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII playoff games without giving up a single goal in either game, the LGA Lions lost a 2-1 nailbiter to Cristo Rey recently in the winner-take-all grand finale -- the section championship game.

But here's what we'll remember: 16-2 cumulative record, 7-0 in league, and a 14-game winning streak along the way. Even more amazing, some schools never make it to the section finals in a sport, yet LGA's soccer team has done so twice in two years ... And here's the kicker: LGA launched its sports program only five years ago ... Incredible!
Nighthawks to Bee: Here's what we think ...
We encourage students to be civic-minded, engaged, articulate, thoughtful, analytical, and to be aware of the world around them and issues affecting their lives.

So it's no wonder that Natomas High School teacher Lyn Bigelow is thrilled with her Expository Reading and Writing Course students. The 12th-graders read stories in The Sacramento Bee's editorial pages, considered pros and cons, took stands, and practiced persuasive writing by submitting their own "Letter to the Editor."

The Bee published the opinion letters of students Shivesh Jaswal, Tiffany Scott, and Braulio Vasquez-Macias. The teens wrote about PG&E's recent better-safe-than-sorry power shutoff, about the need for child-proof packaging for cannabis, and about whether Kanye West and Taylor Swift have much political influence. Well done, Nighthawks!

You can check out their thoughtful comments here.
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.