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    The Galatzan Gazette has moved

    Board member Tamar Galatzan has redesigned her Los Angeles Unified website and updated her online newsletter. Please add to your "favorites" so you can keep up with news and events in Board District 3 and throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    You can also find Tamar on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.


    Healthy-eating message pays off for Castlebay third-grader

    Bianca da Silva Carmo, far right, won the 'I'm In' Healthy Eating Billboard Contest with this photo. Joining her are classmates, from left, Mojdeh Darabi, Nikka Kianpour, Alexa Kirkorian and Maria Romay-Richter.A third-grader from Castlebay Lane Elementary and three other Los Angeles Unified students will each receive $200 gift cards and be featured on billboards citywide after winning a district-sponsored contest that promotes wellness and healthy eating.

    Bianca da Silva Carmo’s photo showing her and four classmates cheering for nutritious meals won her honors in the “‘I’m In’ Healthy Eating Billboard Photo Contest,” held in March.

    “When I come home, I like to eat apples and carrots,” Bianca said. “It helps me study better.”

    The winning entries were chosen from among hundreds of photos submitted showing student support for eating well as part of a healthy lifestyle.

    “We’re excited that the ‘I’m In’ message is being celebrated and applied by the students in their daily lives -- not only at school, but also at home and in their extracurricular activities,” said David Binkle, who oversees the district’s Food Services Branch.

    In addition to receiving gift cards, the winning students will be featured on “I’m In” billboards that will be posted around Los Angeles in August.

    The other winners are Maddox Reyes, a third-grader at San Miguel Avenue Magnet in South Gate, who staged a photo showing that kids who eat well are stronger than those who snack on junk food; Brianna Hampton, an eighth-grade gymnast from Barack Obama Global Preparatory Academy, whose healthy diet is part of athletic regimen; and Carolina Tan, a senior at Marshall High, whose photo entry highlights links nutritious meals to her stellar performance in track and field.

    As part of a policy enacted in 2012 by the school board, 75 percent of the fresh fruit and vegetables served in Los Angeles Unified cafeterias in harvested within 200 miles of the district.

    Lean proteins, low fat dairy and even wheat are also locally sourced.

    Castlebay Principal Victoria Littlejohn said Bianca’s teacher, Sandy Dorfman, teaches her students about nutrition, along with the basics of math and English.

    "She had the students bring in the cereal they eat, and they read the ingredients on the box and talked about the sugar and the vitamins in each one.” Littlejohn said.

    She noted that the entire Porter Ranch campus is focused on wellness. Castlebay recently got a visit from “Farmer John,” who grows oranges for the district, and took a field trip to a farmer’s market. Exercise is also an important part of the school day for Castlebay students.

    “This is a subject we hit very hard,” Littlejohn said. “We’re very passionate about this.”




    Millikan robotics team competes for VEX world championship title

    Quantum Flux, the team of six Millikan Middle School students that holds the state championship in robotics, is competing this week for in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Anaheim.

    The tournament, which runs through Saturday, is considered the world's largest educational and most highly competitive robotics program. The Millikan students will be competing against more than 760 teams representing 26 countries.

    After seizing the prestigious “Excellence Award” at the state championships, Team Quantum Flux is the only middle school in Los Angeles Unified to advance to the latest competition.

     “I feel this is an extraordinary achievement by the kids,” said Carlos Lauchu, Director of the Science Academy at Millikan. “Their dedication to their own success has gone above and beyond all of my expectations.”

    The team's m embers are Jocelyn Shen, Jeffrey Shen, Aeden Gasser-Brennan, Marcos Perez, Seth Nicholson, and Isaiah Schwarz.

    Each year, more than 500,000 students in the classroom and through after-school competitions worldwide, turn robotics into a captivating, hands-on sport that challenges both brainpower and teamwork skills.

     Competitors at this level make up the world’s sharpest, most ambitious, technology-focused elementary school, middle school, high school, and university students. These young prodigies have committed their time and energy throughout the season designing, building, programming, and developing their own unique competition strategies.




    Galatzan schedules May 8 town hall to discuss 2014-15 budget plan

    With debate of Los Angeles Unified’s budget set to begin in earnest, school board member Tamar Galatzan has scheduled a town hall meeting for May 8 to discuss the $6.8 billion spending plan.

    The proposal is the first to be developed using the Local Control Funding Formula, the system devised by Gov. Jerry Brown to provide districts with more money to educate low-income students, English-learners and foster youth. Los Angeles Unified expects to spend about $332 million in 2014-15 to provide the additional support required by LCFF.

    The new system also requires that the district submit a written explanation – a blueprint of sorts – for how its budget will help the three special categories of students and how the effectiveness of its programs will be measured. That plan will be reviewed by a panel of parents, who will make recommendations for how they think the money should be spent.

    To help the public understand the new funding system, Galatzan has scheduled the town hall from 6-7:30 p.m. at Grant High School, 13000 Oxnard St., Van Nuys. The speakers will include Matt Hill, the district’s chief strategy officer, and Rowena Lagrosa, who oversees the Parent and Community Services Branch.

    “There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about the new system, and how it could impact local schools and students,” Galatzan said. “I want to make sure that parents and residents understand the new system and how it will change the future of public education.”

    The budget for 2014-15 will mark the first time in six years – ever since the state sank into recession -- that Los Angeles Unified hasn’t had to deal with devastating program cuts and layoffs.

    In fact, Superintendent John Deasy released his budget as part of a three-year plan that predicts a steady increase in funding that is expected because of the improving state economy and the passage last year of Proposition 30, a half-cent sales tax to fund California’s public schools.

    Thanks to LCFF and Prop. 30, Los Angeles Unified expects to have about $300 million in discretionary money. The debate is expected to be vigorous over the next two months as the school board balances the demands for employee raises, smaller classes, more support staff and cleaner campuses.

    The budget is expected to be approved on June 24, a week before the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year.

    “While $300 million sounds like a lot of money, we aren’t going to have enough to do everything that everyone wants,” Galatzan said. “That’s why it’s important that we hear from the community about what is important to them, and that we communicate our challenges as we take the first steps in recovering from the financial crisis.” 

    To download the flyer, please click here.

    Para descargar la version del folleto en Espanol, por favor haga clic aqui.  


    Career-tech Expo shows that Valley students know how to dream big

    Aspiring movie producer Marissa Navarro helped organize JFK High's inaugural CTE Expo. For many students, high school is when they dream about someday working as architects, landscape designers, digital artists or movie producers.

    But Marissa Navarro and her classmates are already living their dream, thanks to an ambitious career-technical program at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills. Overseen by 15-year architecture teacher Aaron Kahlenberg, the CTE program provides work-based learning that incorporates both academic and occupational lessons.

    “I put all the power in the students, and teach them to use their imaginations,” Kahlenberg said during a recent interview. “They’ve already gone through the experience of producing something, so they can go on to do anything they want.”

    Kennedy’s program offers classes in architecture and digital arts, but other Los Angeles Unified are designed to promote careers in areas like health science, manufacturing, natural resources and business and finance.

    Zania Avalos' sod house.The results of the students’ creativity were showcased last month during a CTE Expo hosted by the Industrial Management class at Kennedy High, with students from Cleveland, Hollywood and San Fernando High schools also participating.

    The show was organized by senior Marissa Navarro, who plans to attend Chapman University this fall. The aspiring film producer is an unwavering advocate for the district’s CTE programs, and for SkillsUSA, a national organization that promotes leadership and community service among technical students.

    “There is a career in CTE,”Navarro said. “You just have to have a dream.”

    The visions and aspirations of the hundreds of CTE students were on display at the inaugural Expo – films, artwork, woodcrafts, corporate logos and architectural models of sprawling yards and futuristic homes.Jon Cossack used pipes to create a xylophone.

    There was a geometric design created by Kennedy High student Sylvia Garza and a xylophone made of plumbing pipes made by classmate Jon Cossack. Spectators also were drawn to a mythical clay-and-sod house created by Zania Avalos.

    Misael Perez, who graduated from Kennedy’s CTE program in 2010, returned for the Expo, to visit with Kahlenberg and see the projects created by the next generation.

    “He plants the seed inside our hearts and minds,” Perez said. “He pushes his students to keep moving forward. He gives us a taste of what reality is going to be.”


    Valley students participate in the annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival

    Hundreds of fifth-graders dance onThe Music Center plaza during the Blue Ribbon Children's Festival celebrating the arts.

    Fifth-graders from around LAUSD, including youngsters from seven schools in Board District 3, spent a recent morning singing and dancing on The Music Center plaza as part of the Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival celebrating the performance arts.

    Held annually since 1970, the festival gives students the opportunity to attend a professional performance at the landmark Music Center and to put on a show of their own. During this year's three-day event, kids watched a routine by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, then joined together on the plaza to perform a dance they'd practiced for weeks at their individual schools.

    Among the participating schools were Calahan Community Charter, Dixie Canyon Charter, Haskell Elementary, Haynes Charter for Enriched Studies, Mayall Street Elementary, the Multicultural Learning Center and Tulsa Street Elementary.

    The festival began in 1970 as part of a commitment to engage young people in the arts, and is one of California’s longest ongoing free arts education programs.  More than 700,000 children have participated in the festival since its inception, and for many, the festival is their first experience at a live performing arts event. 


    Vigil set, fund drive launched for victims of deadly Orland bus crash

    A vigil will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday for victims of the deadly April 10 bus crash, while the union representing Los Angeles Unified police officers is collecting donations to support those lives were impacted by the tragedy.

    The vigil will be at Dorsey High School, 3537 Farmdale Ave., where crash victim Jennifer Bonilla was a senior.

    Bonilla was killed, along with four other students and three chaperones, when the charter bus carrying them on a trip to Humboldt State University was struck head-on by a FedEx truck in Northern California. The drivers of both vehicles also died in the fiery crash.

    In addition to Bonilla, the students were identified as Denise Gomez and Ismael Jimenez, both 18-year-old seniors at Amino Inglewood Charter High School; Adrian Castro, 19, of El Monte High School; and Marisa Serrato, 17, of Norte Vista High School in Riverside.

    To support victims and their families, the Los Angeles School Police Association has established the LAUSD Family Support Fund, in cooperation with Friends of Safe School USA. Send checks made out to the LAUSD Family Support Fund to the California Credit Union, P.O. Box 29100, Glendale, CA 91209-9971. Donations can also be made at


    El Camino Real, CHIME charters OK'd to redevelop 4 closed campuses

    Note: The following story has been updated to provide links to the proposals by El Camino Real Charter and CHIME Institute. The charter operators have redacted proprietary information from the proposals.

    The Los Angeles Unified school board has authorized two charter organizations to move forward with plans to redevelop four West San Fernando Valley campuses that have stood vacant since they were closed more than 30 years ago.

    During its April 8 meeting, the board voted 6-0 in favor of plans by El Camino Real Charter High to take over and renovate Highlander, Platt Ranch and Oso Elementary schools. CHIME Institute was selected to redevelop Collins Street Elementary.

    “We are really excited about the opportunity to move forward and to put these campuses to an educational use that will benefit the community,” said Board Member Tamar Galatzan, whose district includes the Highlander and Platt Ranch campuses. “The district is committed to working with the charter operators and their neighbors so that we can replace these vacant campuses with high-quality projects just as soon as possible.”

    The total cost of the redevelopment projects is $40 million, based on preliminary estimates. Charter operators say they will use cash reserves and apply for state grants to help pay construction costs. They also plan to ask the district for bond revenue, which can be issued as a so-called charter augmentation grant.

    The four campuses were among the two dozen that were shuttered in the early 1980s, as enrollment plummeted in the wake of court-ordered busing. Some of the closed campuses were reopened or leased to private schools, but the four schools in the West Valley remained boarded up and vacant.

    In September, the school board issued a request for proposals to redevelop the campuses, with top priority given to charter operators. Officials from the Facilities Division reviewed the preliminary proposals, and forwarded their recommedations to the board.

    With the approval of those recommendations, the district will begin negotiating in earnest with the charter operators on the specifics of their plans. Facilities officials estimate it will take 18-24 months for the plans to be developed and approved.

    Here are the basic plans that will be presented to the board for approval:

    Collins Street Elementary: CHIME proposes creating a 480-student high school, which would complement the elementary school it operates at Collier Street Elementary (another of the closed LAUSD campuses). It estimates it will spend $12 million to raze and rebuild the classrooms, renovate the auditorium and resurface the playground.

    The district received three other bids for the Collins Street plan.

    Highlander Elementary: El Camino plans to spend $12 million to renovate the West Hills campus, where it will open a new K-8 school.

    Oso Elementary: El Camino plans to demolish the classroom buildings and to use the site for an “outdoor educational science center,” which would be used by its high school and K-8 students. The estimated cost is $6 million.

    Platt Ranch Elementary: El Camino plans to spend $10 million to open a continuation high school that would serve 500 students, with new classrooms and an athletic field. The charter currently operates a 200-student continuation school on its existing campus, which would be relocated and expanded to the new site.

    El Camino was the sole bidder for the Oso and Platt Ranch sites.

    Residents have long demanded that the district take action on the closed campuses, which have become community eyesores. Officials say they have been stymied in their efforts because demand for a traditional public school isn’t strong enough to reopen the campuses, and they don’t want to use general fund money to raze the sites. State law prohibits the use of bond revenue solely for demolition.

    The proposals were unveiled during a community meeting Thursday night, where board member Steve Zimmer expressed regret that residents have had to cope with having the blighted campuses in their neighborhoods.

    “What we have now is what we have now, and we’re taking the best path forward,” he said.




    Fun, fantasy mark annual World's Fair at Millikan Middle School

    Games, food, student shows and cultural displays were featured during Millikan Middle School's annual World's Fair. The springtime fund-raiser is a tradition at the performing arts magnet in Sherman Oaks.


    Galatzan encourages safe habits during Distracted Driving Month event

    Board member Tamar Galatzan joined law enforcement officals at a press conference launching Districted Driving Month."Texting, Twittering while driving--is it more important than you or your loved ones?"

    That's question LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan posed during a press conference at Birmingham High School at the California Highway Patrol launched April as Distracted Driving Month. 

    Joining her at the April 2 event were officers from the CHP and the LAPD's Van Nuys Division, and Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Sherman Oaks. 

    "I see too many close calls in the mornings when I drop off my kids at school," said Galatzan, a deputy city attorney who has two sons. "We parents have enough distractions on the road without looking down at a cell phone."

    With statistics showing that distracted drivers cause eight out of every 10 collisions, law enforcement officials will be cracking down this month on motorists caught using their cell phones or other unapproved devices while on the road.

    Players from the University of California Los Angeles football team, as well as Miss Teen California, were there as well to speak about how important it is for young people to drive without distractions. Motorists ages 15 to 20 are they are four times more likely to be involved in a crash for every mile they drive, officials say.

    A mother whose son died in a distracted-driving related crash spoke movingly of how his life would've been different if he had lived. He was a star football player at his school. "When I looked in his emails after he passed, I found that college football scouts had been emailing him." Her story brought many to tears. "Blasting the car radio, not wearing seatbelts, telling the driver to drive faster ... It was all fun until it wasn't."