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WC Beat Ed. IV



Measure ES: What happens if/when it passes?

There are many questions when it comes to the bond initiative placed before voters this November. Citizens and staff who have been around for a while wonder how this measure will be different from the one passed in 2000. One anonymous staff member recalls, “There just wasn’t enough money to go around. They started fixing schools on one side, and by the time they came to our school . . . they were out.”

Although that may have been the perception for some, there are actually measures in place to make sure that the bond money is handled equitably. First, however, one would need to define equity. “Equity does not mean equal.”

To makes things a little clearer, WC BEAT sat down with Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Dr. Rob Coghlan.

Seeing that it is November, let’s use a Thanksgiving analogy. A family of five is sharing a Thanksgiving meal and to make things equal everyone is served the same amount of turkey. However, that is not what happens around most dinner tables. For instance, a child would be served a bit less than a growing teen, or a hungry adult. In this situation, dinner is served equitably. Some need more than others.



Along the same lines, bond funds are to be shared equitably. Some schools need more than others

So, who decides what is equitable? 

Like all district funding, voter bond money and expenditures will be audited by a Citizen’s Oversight Committee. According to district policy, the oversight committee will be comprised of seven members that represent different facets of the community; it does not include district employees. Active members in a business and senior citizen organizations will be invited to serve, as well as parents and active PTA members. The selected seven will be asked to serve two years and will work to ensure that recommendations made by the Equity Committee are aligned with the parameters set by the bond measure.

The Equity Committee (there’s that word again), will be making many of the recommendations. Teachers, parents, principals, students, community members, and district administrators will take part in a 30 to 40-member committee that will analyze the needs of each school, prioritize the projects, and present those recommendations to the board.

The Facility Needs Assessment (found on our web site) was completed last year after input from staff, parents, administration, architects, and the district maintenance team. The document outlines each need, with the associated costs, for each school. This document will drive the discussions and ultimate recommendations of the Equity Committee. 

Based on the needs of each school, the Equity Committee will determine and prioritize the projects which will be presented to the board. Some of the projects that were not completed with the last bond will be given priority and can be started earlier.

If the bond passes, the Equity Committee will be determined right away, and may start meeting in December. Recommendations from the committee can conceivably be presented to the School Board as early as February. 

Projects that are approved by the School Board will then be turned over to the architects who will develop the Facility Master Plan. This plan will identify the scope of work, time frame, and estimated costs of projects recommended by the Equity Committee. 

Some projects will be started immediately, like air conditioning and heating issues, but others, like new buildings, will take longer.

The Equity Committee will most likely survey teachers and parents for additional input to allow more voices to be heard throughout the process. However, there will be opportunities for interested people to get involved.

The Oversight Committee is in place throughout the duration of the bond. They will most likely meet four times a year, to audit bond expenditures.

Like Thanksgiving dinner, the Oversight Committee ensures everyone walks away from the meal pleasantly fulfilled. 



QuestBridge Scholarship finalists


West Covina Unified School District is proud to announce that Darren Lam from Edgewood High School and Viviana Lemus, Evan Lin, Junwei He, and Amy Nguyen from West Covina High School are five recipients of the QuestBridge Scholarship Program. They were selected as Finalists based on their academic, financial, and extracurricular credentials. These students will be awarded full scholarships to one of their chosen elite schools. The Finalists will only be matched with one school, and they will learn which school they were matched to on December 1st. Until then, they can be excited that they have a unique opportunity to attend a school that most just dream about.

The Finalists were chosen because they exhibit high academic achievement and meet financial qualifications. Approximately 90% of all finalists are ranked in the top 10% of their class, and most are first-generation to attend college.

Many high-performing students shy away from elite schools like Yale, Brown, and Claremont McKenna College – seeming out of reach, many students would never think to apply. According to QuestBridge, approximately 30,000 talented underrepresented students are academically qualified to attend the nation’s best colleges, but the majority of them don’t even apply to one of these elite schools. What QuestBridge does is match top students with every full-need scholarship that top American colleges provide. Parents of underclassmen, take note – there are opportunities out there (check out www.questbridge.com).

With college costs rising and many struggling to get out of student loan debt, these students have earned a fantastic head start in life. Congratulations to the QuestBridge Finalists!


District Data Dog



We start every school year with students who are excitedly entering kindergarten classrooms, and end every spring with students walking proudly across the field as they graduate and receive their diplomas. It’s the cycle of education. Yet, in some educational settings, that cycle is a bit too short. At least, that was the overall sentiment that filled the district office when Guide Dog in training Osma said her good byes this past September.

Osma is a 20-month old golden retriever/lab mix that was under the tutelage of the district Data and Assessment Coordinator, Laura Anderson. Day-in and day-out, Osma roamed the district halls as if she had business to attend to, and she did, as those SBAC scores don’t disseminate themselves. Sure, she had a little help from Anderson, but through it all, Osma conducted herself like a true professional. 


Osma had been with Anderson for more than a year as she prepared for Guide Dog College – the next step in her journey to becoming a guide dog for the blind. 

Anderson has been training puppies since she was in the sixth grade through the 4-H Club. The puppy stage is perhaps the most challenging phase. “I've raised mostly labs, but a few golden retrievers. Siri (new Data Dog) and Osma are actually both crosses between a lab and a golden retriever.”  Anderson is associated with the OC Coastal Puppy Raisers where volunteers like Laura are responsible for teaching their puppies good manners and basic obedience for about the first year of the pups’ lives. The puppies return to one of the college campuses for their formal guide work training when they are between 13 and 15 months old. When the pups graduate as guides, Raisers are invited to graduation to formally present the dogs they raised to their new partners. Six out of Anderson’s ten puppies have successfully completed the program and have graduated as guide dogs. 

Dogs that do not make it as a guide dog are “career changed” and Raisers are given the option to adopt the dog themselves, or to someone they know. If they do not have a place for them, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has a four to five year waiting list of people hoping to adopt career changed dogs. 

Tears of sadness as everyone said farewell to Osma, changed to wide grins of joy as the district welcomed their new furry colleague, Siri. Just 15 weeks old, Siri is adjusting to life at the district office. After all, data collection and analysis is not an easy job. Thankfully she’s got a few chew toys to manage the day-to-day stress of it all. Sometimes, when she’s not wearing her official guide dog vest (pictured below), Siri gets all the love and cuddles she can handle from other district employees (gestures of course frowned upon between her human counterparts). However, when the vest is on, it’s all business at the district office.


Annual Red Ribbon Rally Event



It was a fair-like atmosphere as 2,000 West Covina students, parents, and community members gathered together to launch this years’ Red Ribbon Week. Officially sponsored by the West Covina Rotary Club, the annual Red Ribbon Rally event was hosted by the Interact clubs at both West Covina and Edgewood High Schools. Additional support included over a dozen “youth dedicated” community based organizations and local businesses.  Attendees were treated to free pancakes and entertainment from a number of school performance groups throughout the district. Many enjoyed the trackless train ride, inflatable obstacle course, helicopter landing, police and fire department demonstrations, and speeches from Mayor James Toma, and other dignitaries. 

The focus of the Red Ribbon Rally event is about making a difference and supporting a drug and violence free community.  Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country and generally takes place the last full week in October. The campaign commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who died in 1985 at the hands of drug traffickers in Mexico. The following year, the California State PTA adopted the Red Ribbon Campaign. Then, in 1988, Red Ribbon Week was recognized nationally with then President and First Lady Reagan serving as the Honorary Chairs.   



Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for the West Covina community to make a personal commitment to live drug free. Red Ribbon Week is nationally recognized and celebrated, helping to preserve Special Agent Camarena's memory and further the cause for which he gave his life. It is the largest, most visible prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States. The giveaways, games, and fun were only a small part of the event. What stood out for many was the goodwill found throughout the community and across schools, from elementary to high school. Something to be proud of, when you are part of the West Covina Unified School District.