April 4, 2011

posted Apr 3, 2011, 1:49 PM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Apr 3, 2011, 1:54 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,

What a treat for me to listen to our students sing and share their video at the Sing-out last Friday! Our dynamic music teacher, Mrs. Ryken, does an awesome job of preparing our students for their shared performance and watching our students’ citizenship video was heartwarming.  I am so proud of their modeling, acting, directing and script writing prowess! Some of our older students independently created their own video vignettes that highlighted internet and global citizenship, while the younger students, with the help of our talented director/cameraman (and site tech), Patty Galindo, modeled citizenship in the classroom, in the MUR and on the playground.

It should be noted that our students don’t just talk about citizenship, they own it! Did you see the Walnut Acres newsletter that interested 4th and 5th grade students developed?  They hope to create two more before the end of the school year with the help of their supportive coach (and instructional assistant), Sandy Villers. Meanwhile, our student council (again enabled by Sandy) is holding a fundraiser for the people of Japan this week in conjunction with some of our scout troops. We also have a group of students piloting design thinking with innovative facilitator (and parent), Chris Walsh. The design thinking group selected a real-world problem and they are working collaboratively to create and implement a solution for it. Right now they are taking on the student-selected challenge of enhancing school lunches. I will pass along their results...better yet, they’ll do it!

Good citizenship is alive and well at Walnut Acres!

I wish I could tell you that the some sort of ownership, problem solving and collaboration that makes for a good citizen is being modeled in Sacramento, but as you know the educational budget situation continues to worsen. The district must now develop the annual May budget revision with the realization that there will not be a June vote on tax extensions. MDUSD will prepare to add another potential reduction of $400 per child to the $350 cut per child that we just completed.  That means that we need to plan for the possible loss of another $21 million in the next budget revision. Library and music teachers will remain for the 2011-12 school year because the deadline has passed for laying off certificated personnel. A variety of previously considered budget reductions will need to be reconsidered and new ideas may be added. Please see the district website for a list of potential budget cuts previously discussed by the board and the District Newsroom for updated information about district activities. (As of this writing the latest monthly update is not yet posted, but that will happen soon.)  I also recommend the monthly PAC meetings (Parent Advisory Committee) for an opportunity to meet with district leaders, ask questions and make suggestions.

As Walnut Acres braces for the next wave of cuts, I am once again reminded that we are a very lucky community to have our active parent group dedicated to shoring up our educational program despite drastic district financial losses. The work that you do raising funds, donating to WAEF, and volunteering at our school, directly enhances our ability to provide daily support for student learning. Most recently, the auction committee once again provided our community with a model of a fun and very financially successful party! The larger community, too, through PEAK, has recently provided a donation to support our 21st Century work.

While nominations are now being solicited for crucial positions that will continue the valuable work of the PFC, I encourage you to consider taking a leadership role. You will be supporting labors of love that lead to funding for our site technology expert, our music teacher, our reading intervention teacher, our science lab assistants, instructional assistants, as well as materials and supplies!

All parent volunteers who work on site and/or behind the scenes raising funds for our children’s programs are invited to attend the PFC meeting on April 19th at 7:00 p.m. in the library. We will have a relaxing Volunteer Appreciation Party to share some tasty treats and I will have the opportunity to thank you all formally for the commitment of time, energy and love that you bring to our learning community. 

There is no silver cloud on the horizon for education yet; it will come someday, but at Walnut Acres we are continuing to evolve as a dynamic learning community. That is only feasible because of our hard-working staff and because you give your heart everyday to this school. I know you do it because our wonderful children deserve no less! 

Come by on 4/19 so I can thank you for your invincible spirit of giving. You quietly and tenaciously keep us moving forward…or as one of my favorite authors so eloquently stated…“Unless someone like you cares a whole, awful lot. Things aren't going to get better, they're NOT!”                             -Dr. Suess, The Lorax


Colleen Dowd