NUSD Spotlight
 Community Newsletter
  -- October 29,  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.
NUSD targets digital divide by offering 
home Internet & WiFi to up to 1,000 kids 
Thinking outside the box to narrow the digital divide, Natomas Unified launched an innovative project Friday that will pay for up to 1,000 new subscribers to receive Internet and WiFi access at home.
Jefferson School got the program kick-started with family signups at its Harvest Festival. Other startup events will be held in coming weeks as NUSD's program, in partnership with Comcast, intends to serve students district-wide.
Josie Martinez jumped at the chance to apply, saying Internet access will help the 6-year-old in her household and NUSD's offer was one she couldn't turn down. She once subscribed to the Internet, she said, but rate hikes forced her to quit. "I had to either pay my bills or let go of the Internet," she said.
Through its investment, NUSD is going to bat for kids of all ages whose online learning stops once the final school bell rings each day. The digital divide persists year after year, but rather than just lament that, NUSD is trying something new and creative to attack it. 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.
Outperform peers by large margin
English Learners excel on new state exam
NUSD's English Learners are outperforming their peers statewide and countywide - by large margins - in proficiency at reading, writing, speaking and understanding English, according to new state data.

More than seven of every 10 NUSD English Learners passed the state's exam. Our passage rate of 71.49% was 6.5 percentage points higher than the state average and 10 points higher than Sacramento County's average.

Results from the state's first-ever English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) indicate that NUSD's focus on enhancing English Learner proficiency in recent years through strong staff and multiple actions is paying off.

For English Learners, gaining proficiency is a big step toward college and career readiness because it enables access to courses required for college admission and beneficial to future success. Read more here.
'Good Day Sacramento' spotlights NUSD's IB 
International Baccalaureate Program

Asst. Supt. Heather Garcia discussed NUSD's International Baccalaureate program on "Good Day Sacramento" recently as part of a wider-ranging look at how IB serves students. NUSD offers IB related classes from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade. Three NUSD schools are authorized as IB World Schools -- H. Allen Hight Elementary, Natomas Middle School, and Inderkum High School. Paso Verde School is working toward becoming an IB-authorized school. Click on the video to hear what Asst. Supt. Garcia told "Good Day Sacramento."  
'Fast facts'
What is Measure L on the Nov. 6 ballot?
Measure L is a $172 million school facilities bond on the Nov. 6 ballot that would serve all Natomas schools - charter and non-charter. It would support the following actions in the Facilities Master Plan:

* Expand academic choice and parent options by improving facilities at neighborhood schools and providing more K-8 options with specific academic focus
* Build new schools and classroom buildings to meet growth needs
* Enhance science, technology, engineering, arts, math, college prep, career technical and other education by adding classrooms, labs, and other facilities
* Support college and career readiness by enhancing Career Technical Education facilities and pathways
* Upgrade technology systems for student access and operations

Other potential impacts include:
* Upgrade safety and security systems
* Improve accessibility for students with disabilities
* Improve school grounds and physical environment, including playgrounds and athletic fields
* Develop joint-use aquatics facility in partnership with the city of Sacramento

Measure L would void and replace the remaining $30 million bond series of Measure D (2006). For more information, click here.
Kaplan+Xiong+Lyon = $5,000 for food locker
Joey's Food Locker has 5,000 reasons to be thankful today - starting with NUSD Trustee Lisa Kaplan, Facebook, Lee Xiong, and Lyon Real Estate.

Five thousand is the sum that Natomas High School's food closet will receive as a grant from Lyon Cares Foundation, a charitable fund created from the generosity of Lyon Real Estate agents.

"It makes us feel good, any time we can help those less fortunate," said Lyon's Lee Xiong.

Here's how the Joey's grant came together: On the personal Facebook page of Xiong, Kaplan spotted a post last month stating that Lyon Cares Foundation was accepting nominations of worthy charities. Kaplan jumped at the chance, suggesting Joey's Food Locker, which provides bags of groceries to hundreds of needy families each month. The rest is history.

And here's the kicker: The $5,000 grant is the largest ever won by Joey's Food Locker. "I love this community - it's about the greater good," Kaplan said. "Truly, thanks go out to all the Lyon agents." Read the full story here.
Special Education
Message from Superintendent Chris Evans
In a message to NUSD families this month, Supt. Chris Evans discussed plans to generate increased funding for Special Education. He wrote:

"It is not often a school district can generate new money and new resources for schools. The 5 other large districts in Sacramento County have already taken action. It is time for Natomas Unified to do the same. It is time for Natomas Unified to become its own (Special Education Local Planning Area, or SELPA)."

What's a SELPA? Federal and state funds for students with disabilities are allocated through a SELPA. Districts must either be a member of a multi-district SELPA or operate as its own SELPA.

Supt. Evans noted that:
1) Sacramento's five largest school districts are or will be their own SELPA by July of this school year. NUSD is the sixth largest district and plans to leave Sacramento County's multi-district SELPA and create its own single-district SELPA next year.
2) Currently, if the Sacramento County SELPA shrinks overall, even if NUSD grows, our school district could lose funding. We can't allow NUSD once again to be unprepared for financial challenges that have brought this district to the brink of financial reckoning before.
3) By creating our own SELPA, we can keep our momentum in Special Education services through more local control and collaboration, including a Community Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations.
4) Special Education students would not experience any disruption or loss in services through creation of a single-district SELPA.
5) NUSD has the staff expertise necessary to make the change successfully. Assistant Supt. Josh Harris was hired by NUSD from his position as leader of Sacramento County's SELPA and has prior experience as Yuba County's SELPA administrator.

Read Supt. Evans' complete message here.
'New Faces in Natomas'
A focus on Natomas Unified teacher staffing 
Good teachers are vital to your child's education, and there has been a lot in the news about California's teaching shortage. So we've compiled information about growth of our teaching staff in recent years, why new teachers were hired, why former teachers left, and creative ways that we're tackling the statewide teacher shortage.

What we've found is that we've hired 223 new teachers or certificated positions since 2012, and that the vast majority were necessary because of class-size reduction, Natomas growth, or new programs such as International Baccalaureate (IB), more secondary school counselors, and a psychologist at every school. We'll continue to be innovative in hiring a diverse and exemplary staff. To keep you informed, we emailed our teaching-staff information -- titled "New Faces in Natomas" -- to all families Oct. 23 and posted it on our district website. You can read it here.
R aley's grant supports creative program
Pumas in kitchen & garden? Don't be surprised 
Paso Verde School had a whole lot to celebrate last week, starting with announcement of a $13,150 grant from Raley's of Natomas. Store official Harley Cantrell is shown telling students the good news at a school assembly Thursday.  But what that money will support is huge, too...

Paso Verde launched an edible school garden last year, so beginning this month, every student from Transitional Kindergarten through 6th grade is participating in 30-minute monthly cooking and gardening classes.

Not only will Paso Verde's Pumas learn valuable life skills, they'll also study science, ranging from nature's life cycles to environmental sustainability. Both in the kitchen and garden, they'll predict, plan, observe, calculate and measure, consistent with the school's International Baccalaureate (IB) focus.

Best of all, students can use the fruits and vegetables they grow in Paso Verde's garden to create edible food items in their cooking class. To top off the special day when the Raley's grant was announced, Paso Verde's cafeteria served a "California Thursdays" lunch, meaning the food was purchased from local farms as part of a statewide campaign through the Center for Ecoliteracy ... A win-win-win all around!
Inderkum's Broadcast Media Pathway leader
Teens talk about Ms. May's impact on them ... 
SEVA Teacher of the Week: Melissa May

Inderkum High's Melissa May, who oversees the Broadcast Media pathway, was "Teacher of the Week" recently in a series for Comcast local cable TV channels 15 and 16. 

She and other video instructors countywide are being spotlighted by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium, which produces school-related programming for the two channels. The cool thing about this video is it features kids talking from the heart about how Ms. May has impacted them... 
Nighthawk 'biggest win' 
Letters from home score TDs of the heart 
Not a single pass was thrown, yard gained, or point scored - yet Natomas High Nighthawks Coach Don DeRosa said his football team's biggest win of the season came last Thursday -- a night there was no game.

After practice, DeRosa handed his seniors a letter from their parents, expressing heartfelt, deeply personal feelings.

DeRosa said his goal is to "make these guys not only better football players, but better men." And it starts with knowing that someone has your back. Many of the Nighthawk seniors cried upon reading their parents' words of love, appreciation and respect.

One player described a childhood in which he remembers waking up to his parents' arguing, then eventually, their divorce. Tears welled in his eyes as he talked about his dad's letter. "Just knowing they still care," he said, "through all the bad times."

Another Nighthawk said his mother was single and, at times, homeless. Her letter touched him deeply. "She said she liked how I grew as a person, and how I didn't go off to the streets and go do other stuff. That I'm respectful and a good young man."

The following night, Natomas High played its final game of the season, beating Johnson High, 50-20. Truly a game to remember in a week the Nighthawks will never forget.  Read more here
'Crunch Day' encourages students to eat fresh fruit 
To encourage kids to sample delicious fresh fruit harvested from local farms, NUSD Nutrition Services staff led a "Crunch Day" activity Oct. 24 in which slices of watermelon from Vierra Farms in West Sacramento were given away at our schools and Ed Center.  For NUSD students already familiar with watermelon, the sweet treat simply was a tasty surprise. But for students who don't ordinarily eat much fruit, the sampling could be a game-changer, opening their eyes to juicy new possibilities ...
Student & parent opportunities and info 
Deadline Nov. 30
NSF to award 15 Chromebooks to students 
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. (See story at top of this newsletter.)

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.
Reminder: Next session Nov. 28 
What H istory-Social Science book do you like?
There's still time to let us know what you think about our proposed History-Social Science textbooks for use in all grades next year.

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 first public session was held Oct. 17 in the Natomas High School library, but others are planned from 6-7:30 p.m. on:

* Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the Inderkum High theater, 2500 New Market Dr.
* Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the Jefferson School library, 2001 Pebblewood Dr.
* Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Natomas Park Elementary library, 4700 Crest 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. 
Reminder: Inderkum session Jan. 23
Seniors can apply now for college financial aid

How can I support my student when applying for financial aid?

High school seniors can apply  now for  college financial aid -- and there are plenty of  resources to help.  "Cash for College" workshops are scheduled throughout the Sacramento area to assist 12th-graders in filling out applications for federal FAFSA and California Dream Act funds. Click here for a list of dates and times.

Two of the workshops were scheduled in NUSD -- one already has been held, Oct. 18, and the second is planned from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Inderkum High School, 2500 New Market Drive. Please mark your calendar now.
NUSD also has a new webpage detailing our college and career efforts.
For even more information, check out the NUSD Parent University video above, which focuses on applying for college financial aid.
Secondary Showcase Night helped teens pick a middle or high school to attend next year
Secondary Showcase Night

For students picking a middle or high school to attend next year, Secondary Showcase Night was a chance to kick the tires a little bit.

Participants got to hear what makes each secondary school unique or special, including programs ranging from International Baccalaureate to AP Capstone, California Early College Academy, and Career Technical Education Pathways in Engineering, Health, Culinary Arts, Business, Broadcast Media, and others.

The annual showcase, held Oct. 16 at Natomas High this year, gave the nearly 200 visitors an opportunity to learn CPR from Natomas High EMT students. Eat cupcakes from Discovery High's Culinary Arts program. Some got photographed by student photographers. Some viewed engineering and other classroom projects. Students and parents could wander from table to table, getting questions answered. Check out this brief video to see how the night went ... 
Red Ribbon Week
Schools celebrate healthy, drug-free lifestyles
Red Ribbon Week ends Wednesday, but we encourage students to commit to its message to stay drug-free throughout their lives.

Throughout NUSD, schools scheduled Red Ribbon Week activities ranging from poster contests to door-decorating competitions, school assemblies, and guest speakers. 

Heron School, for example, planned activities that included a student pledge to stay drug-free and daily school-spirit activities tied to the healthy-living theme, such as inviting students to dress as their favorite "Superhero" against drugs.

Little red ribbons were tied by Heron Flyers onto campus entrance gates. Each ribbon carried a student's handwritten message about drugs or about a personal goal that could be threatened by using them. Some read: "Drugs can hurt" ... "I want to be a Marine" ... . "Go to college" ... "I will not do drugs (or) drinking. I will tell my mom to stop."

Reinforcing the drug-free message has become a tradition for us, so even after Red Ribbon Week is long over for this year, please continue to help us spread the word ... Thank you very much!
Great California ShakeOut
If a real quake ever hits, they're readier now
Reacting to a mock earthquake, students and staff throughout Natomas Unified practiced "drop, cover and hold on" during the "Great California ShakeOut" safety drill at precisely 10:18 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18.

After huddling under their desks for 60 seconds, students evacuated to an open area on school grounds. Millions of Californians, including those at NUSD facilities, participated in the annual exercise.

The Great California ShakeOut is a reminder that the best immediate reaction to a major quake is to get under a sturdy desk or table, not to run, which can expose you to flying glass or falling objects.

The ShakeOut is organized by a coalition that includes the California Department of Education, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, U.S. Geological Survey, American Red Cross, and California Earthquake Authority.

Similar earthquake safety drills were held throughout the nation and in various other countries. For more information about the ShakeOut, click 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.