The Grade Blog

Wednesday, Apr 09 2014 06:11 PM

THE GRADE: Solar panels, gay kids and bad teachers

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. Reach her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter@TBCTheGrade.

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By LAUREN FOREMAN, Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

SOLAR PANELS COMING?: The Kern High School District is taking a serious look at energy efficiency options that could save the district millions in the long run.

The district spent approximately $8.7 million for electricity in 2013, and costs have increased between $200,000 and $300,000 each year for five years. KHSD is considering proposals to address those increases and funding options to pay for them.

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ABOUT YOUR REPORTER

Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. She writes in this spot every Thursday. Contact her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter @TBCTheGrade.

Russ Shipley, KHSD director of business administration, pitched ideas at a school board meeting Monday. The options include a roof mount system that is popular locally for residential and commercial buildings; shaded parking structures similar to those at Bakersfield College and Cal State Bakersfield; and a ground-mount structure housed off-site -- the least expensive of the three.

Martha Miller, a KHSD board member, said she likes the option that would provide added shading.

Mike Williams, vice president of the board, said although a shaded structure would be nice, there's something to be said for choosing the cheapest option -- an off-site location. Aesthetics are nice, he said, but money matters, too.

Funding options include an outright purchase, financing and a power purchase agreement that would lock in a flat utility rate with minimal costs up front. Various vendors proposed financing options that allow KHSD to spread costs over time -- but would also increase the expense. If the district chooses a leasing proposal that combines a shade structure and roof-mount system, it would take 20 years for the energy savings to surpass the $4.6 million expense.

Another proposal to finance a ground-mount system shows a cost of $2.4 million and a 20-year savings of $3.5 million.

TEACHER OF THE WEEK: Kim Woolf, a science teacher at Independence High School since 2008, has educated children throughout Bakersfield for 23 years.

She coordinates a career academy and college prep program at Independence that Abel Maldonado, the former lieutenant governor, praised in 2010 for producing students who can become "a critical part of the state's economic recovery."

Students in the program explore various career fields, shadow businesses and partner with mentors.

Woolf said it's a fusion of career and classroom that she prioritizes.

"I love connecting the career part to the classroom part," she said.

She added that teaching means preparing students for the future, not just taking tests.

SILENCE OR DIALOGUE?: Two national initiatives are picking up little steam in Bakersfield: One is the Day of Silence, held to symbolize the silence many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids live in daily.

The other is the Day of Dialogue, which is supported by the Christian-oriented group Focus on the Family.

Coincidentally, they're the same day -- this Friday.

Among the questions Day of Dialogue proponents suggest participants ask themselves are:

* What do I do when my child's school sponsors an event that promotes homosexuality?

* What would you do if your child's school featured an event like the Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)?

Focus on the Family says such events "are often marketed as just being about bullying prevention, but if you look beneath the surface, much more radical agendas are being promoted, such as 'queer-friendly prom,' and getting LGBT-themed materials into your child's classroom."

Whitney Weddell, a teacher and equality advocate, said she supports free speech as long as religious rhetoric does not trickle into classrooms. The purpose of the Day of Silence is to empower LGBT students.

"When we speak, we speak with them and for them if necessary," Weddell said.

DEALING WITH BAD TEACHERS: It may soon get a little easier for school districts to fire teachers guilty of egregious misconduct such as sexual abuse, child abuse and some drug crimes. Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, introduced a bill April 4 to make dismissing such teachers quicker and cheaper.

Buchanan's AB 215 is, in part, the result of a compromise between Bill Lucia, CEO of EdVoice, an advocacy organization, and the California Teachers Association, which had clashed over teacher evaluations, charter schools and, until this deal was reached, teacher discipline and dismissals.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed a previous version of the bill last year, has said he would sign it. The new law could take effect in mid-June.

BREAKFAST BATTLE: Nine students in the Greenfield Union School District prepped breakfast dishes in an inaugural competition to have their meals added to the menu.

Jessica Ibarra, a fifth-grader from Valle Verde Elementary, won the contest with a breakfast banana split -- a banana topped with vanilla yogurt and mixed fruit. Other students prepared breakfast burritos, oatmeal pancakes and peanut butter banana rolls. A frenzy of students, parents and other volunteer helpers filled the kitchen Tuesday at Ollivier Middle School, where the contest was held.

The table tops overflowed with ingredients: Plastic plates lined with whole wheat tortillas and shredded cheese, scoops of oats, blotches of vegetable oil, cinnamon, peanut butter, berries and beans.

The master chefs were Valle Verde kindergartener Issac Hernandez; Granite Pointe first-grader Bree Goessman; Kendrick second-grader Arlenee Parra; Kendrick third-grader Perla Caro; Valle Verde fourth-grader Jesus Zesati; Ollivier sixth-grader Angel Torres Moreno; McKee seventh-grader Elizabeth Puente; and McKee eighth-grader Angelena Aguilar.

The Bakersfield City School District held a similar competition last month. Winning entries/entrees (listed by school site) included sweet-n-sour chicken (Casa Loma and Pauly), turkey enchiladas with mango pico de gallo (Sequoia and Wayside), "victory lane" beef (Frank West and Evergreen), beef mac-a-retti (Fremont and Johnson), and vegetarian Taco Papas (Chipman, Eissler and Thorner).

WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: Here's the latest buzz from our social media platforms:

The College Fix reported that two petitions are circulating at UC Santa Barbara: one in support of an associate professor charged with attacking a teen anti-abortion protester and one in support of the protester, who had carried a sign depicting an aborted fetus. Which would you support?

Mark Bartlett, Facebook: "Neither are innocent. There are things that concern you and things that don't. If you don't agree with abortion then don't get one. Get your nose out of other people's business.

"I also don't believe you have the right to protest abortion unless you have adopted at least one child. Until you do, you are protesting the effect, not the root cause, which helps nobody."

Jesus Perez, Facebook: "The professor is in the wrong ... Irregardless of her views and those in her support the demonstrators have their right to protest... Professor should have made signs as well protesting for pro choice... She chose violence and theft."

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