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Meddlers -- Sept. 22

Bistro turns to city; County gears for Walmart; report from AUSD

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Meddlers is an open-forum meeting sponsored by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce that meets at 7 a.m. every Tuesday at Auburn City Hall, 1225 Lincoln Way. Auburn Journal reporter Tricia Caspers-Ross, whose beat includes City Hall, attends. Here is her report:

∙ City: Mayor Keith Nesbitt expects the Oct. 28 City Council meeting to be a spirited one, he said. Bistro 103, in Old Town Auburn, has requested partial use of Herschel Young Park; however, the Old Town Business Association voted 9-5 against its use. Nesbitt plans to take his own informal survey, he said, as OTBA has small attendance.

City Council accepted a bid for its largest street overlay project since 2005, and they are aware there’s much more to be done.

Right Hand Auburn will give a presentation about the Homeless shelter, and the city will decide whether or not to offer a letter of support for HR2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act. The Highway 49 Business Association named Harriet White to the Economic Development Commission. The rustic hangar located at Auburn Airport will be discussed at the Oct. 22 City Council meeting. There will be a detour through downtown Auburn this weekend as the Ultra Race of Champions takes place.

∙ County: Jennifer Montgomery told attendees that the Board of Supervisors adopted a budget at its last meeting. A lawsuit against Wal-Mart has been dismissed and the organization is expected to pull a building permit in the next couple of months.

At 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, the county is celebrating Recovery Happens with a free barbecue at Recreation Park. Attendees will be provided with information about drug and alcohol treatment options available in Placer County.

PCWA and Mountain County Water Resource Association will host a day-long event Friday, Oct. 16, at The Ridge. Participants will learn more water systems in California, including the Delta tunnels. A water representative from Southern California will be present. 

The county is currently working with Right Hand Auburn to determine operational expenses for the homeless shelter.

∙ Chamber of Commerce: The chamber will go on a walkabout Thursday, Oct. 8, to survey business owners with three questions: How’s business? What do you like? What can be improved? They will work with the city manager to hold a town hall meeting afterward. The results will be released at a breakfast on Friday, Oct. 30, and compared to results from 2010 and 2011.

∙ Guest Speaker: Drew Woodall, interim superintendent for Auburn Union School District, updated attendees on the state of the elementary schools. Skyridge has school zone signs surrounding its property for the first time. Applications for the permanent superintendent will be open until Friday, Oct. 16. Interviews will be held on Nov. 4. The hope is to have a new AUSD superintendent in January.

E.V. Cain STEM Charter School will host a presentation from Making the Right Choice, about the dangers of taking illegal prescription drugs. The district is in the process of rebranding STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into STEAM, which adds the element of art or design. It’s a three- to five-year project which currently includes classes at Alta Vista, Auburn Elementary, Skyridge and an enrichment class at the middle school. The Smart Balance test results are in from last spring. The test will be taken again this spring, and the district expects to see growth. Principals and teachers are learning to use MAP, a new technology for understanding what students have learned and where they need improvement.

Woodall encouraged attendees to volunteer for, or donate to, Linda LoBue’s Sight Word Buster program which works one-on-one with students who are struggling to read in kindergarten through second grades. The cost, $200, supports an entire classroom for the year. Email lindalobue@gmail.com for more information. 

School principals are meeting with first responders to tweak evacuation plans at the end of October. Alta Vista’s culinary arts program will be open at the beginning of October. The school also has a new Spanish immersion class, offered as enrichment.  The district received an award from PCWA for cutting its water use by as much as 50 percent at some sites.

In response to questions, Woodall said that transitional kindergarten is offered to students who just missed the kindergarten age cut-off. TK prepares them for kindergarten, especially those children who don’t have parents reading to them at home and tend to be behind their peers.

Many people have an idea that all of the English learners attend Rock Creek Elementary School, but there are ELL students at all sites, including 50 at Skyridge and many at Auburn Elementary. Woodall encourages the community to visit the schools and see how students are learning.

The impact of television is that some students learn how to speak English in a standard way, but the district encourages parents to limit screen time as it’s time when children are not reading or writing but passively taking in what they’re hearing.

School districts used to prohibit cell phones but have seen that they can be useful in emergencies. Students will always find ways to distract themselves in class and cell phones are the newest version of that distraction.

Current enrollment is down by only ten students across the district, which is lower than predicted. Word is getting out that the schools are improving and that the district is on the right track, Woodall said.

Woodall will not put his hat in the ring for the permanent position of superintendent as he is officially retired from the Black Oak Mine Unified School District.

Although Woodall is not an official representative of the Placer High School District, he did say that the high schools are phasing out school choice, so the districts expect to see less migration down the hill.

Reach Triciar@goldcountrymedia.com