Southeast L.A. County Leaders React to Election

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By the time the polling booths closed Tuesday in California, Southeast Los Angeles County residents attending a “Bad Hombres and Nasty Women” election night party were already glued to their phones and TV screens, anxiously watching the electoral votes tally up against their candidate, Hillary Clinton.

The tongue-in-cheek event, hosted by Democrat Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia at The Bicycle Casino Hotel in Bell Gardens, was supposed to be a victory celebration, after all, almost all the polls earlier in the day had signaled victory for Clinton. Instead, a Donald Trump piñata sat untouched at the bar and a solemn mood persisted throughout the night.

At a Democratic "victory party' at The Bicycle Casino Tuesday, Hillary Clinton supporter Evamarie Balderas watches in disbelief as numbers fall into the win column for Donald Trump. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

At a Democratic “victory party’ at The Bicycle Casino Tuesday, Hillary Clinton supporter Evamarie Balderas watches in disbelief as numbers fall into the win column for Donald Trump. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Garcia kicked off the evening by asking attendees to stay focused and hopeful, despite Trump’s early lead.

“Irrespective of what happens we must show unity,” she told the crowd.

Yet, as the clock moved closer to midnight and projections for key battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Iowa brought Trump closer to the 270 electoral votes he needed to secure the election, the bar got busier as attendees struggled with disbelief.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” one person said.

“How did it get like this,” asked another in shock.

The local elected officials, campaign strategists and residents tried to do the math and tally the numbers, hoping for a Hail Mary victory for Clinton, but it was increasingly clear the night would not end as they’d hoped, and the impact would be far-reaching.

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow Tuesday. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow Tuesday. (EGP Photo by Nancy Martinez)

“Even if she wins, it’s very disappointing that someone who has dishonored our culture, insulted every minority, talked [disparagingly] about immigrants – and in spite of all that, so many people supported him …even Latinos,” a dismayed Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard told EGP .

The cloud from the presidential race made it difficult for elected officials at the event to celebrate their own victories: Garcia was reelected to serve the 58th District, Sen. Ricardo Lara will contine to serve the 33th District, Rep. Linda Sanchez, chair of the Hispanic Caucus, will once again represent District 38 in Congress and Roybal-Allard, the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress easily held on to her seat in the 40th District.

“This is a wake up call for our community and for our state,” Roybal-Allard told the crowd as Trump’s lead continued to grow. “Take tonight, regardless of turnout and use it as a foundation for building awareness, strengthening our community and being proud of being American.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez speaks to room full of Democrats Tuesday at the "Bad Hombres and Nasty Women" election night party in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Rep. Linda Sanchez speaks to room full of Democrats Tuesday at the “Bad Hombres and Nasty Women” election night party in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

In the early hours of the morning, business mogul and TV personality, and now President-Elect Donald Trump would rule the night, beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, receiving 279 electoral votes to Clinton’s 228. Clinton was ahead in the popular vote.

Excerpts from EGP’s Election Night interviews:

Senator Ricardo Lara on electing more “nasty women and bad hombres:”

“We’re used to fighting,” he said. “We’re looking to elect more women and Latinos to state legislator.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez on being proud of California Democrats:

While campaigning in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona there were always “busloads of California Democrats [trying] to help turn those states blue,” she told the large crowd of Democrats. “As we’re still waiting for election results I know I did everything in my power before November to bring it home for Hillary Clinton.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard on Hillary Clinton’s Challenges:

“Part of what happened was the press and FBI Director [James] Comey,” she told EGP. “It was hard to recover from misinformation that was out; the FBI really undermined the election.”

On the U.S. Senate Race: “Its kind of sad that in the most Latino state we didn’t elect the Latina,” she said. “Southern California will not have reps in Washington.”

On Prop 64: “Given what’s happened in Colorado and facts from reputable, proven science that have shown marijuana negatively impacts the brain, there is just not enough research and safety regulations in place.”

On a Trump Presidency: “The reality is if Donald Trump wins the election I don’t know if he will follow through on what he promised like the wall and getting rid of immigrants,” she told EGP. “Everything is up in the air.”

Senator Tony Mendoza on what election means for State: “California will not change one bit, it stands alone and is trendsetter,” he said. “We have to set the example, nationwide we still need a lot of work to do.”

“Next session we have a lot of untouched issues, many that revolve around transportation.”

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia on increasing the number of women and minorities in the State Legislature: “I made a commitment to uplift other women,” she told EGP. “For women and women of color the work starts today to make sure our country looks more like California.”

On Prop 64: “There needs to be a change in the system,” she said. “My community is more likely get in trouble.”

Commerce Mayor Ivan Altamirano on Measure M:

“If it passes I’m hoping it will create a win-win and we can all sit at the table and start to fix our neighborhoods,” he told EGP. “In a way the repair of the 5 freeway was the main concern for Commerce, the expansion of the freeway needs to happen right, not 20 years from now.

Montebello Unified School Board Member Joanne Flores on Prop 51: “It will help us with funding tremendously,” she told EGP. “It will compliment funds we already have from our local bond that passed.”

MUSD Holds Mock Election

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Over 2,500 Montebello Unified high school students cast ballots for president, U.S. Senator and seven statewide measures during a district-wide mock election last month, ahead of the real election.

After studying their custom-made student voter guides and participating in assemblies and debates, students headed to the booths at each of their respective high school.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat out Donald Trump in the mock presidential election, receiving 72 percent of the teenagers’ votes. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez received 68 percent of the votes, beating out Attorney General Kamala Harris for a seat in the U.S. Senate, according to the results.

In addition, all seven propositions, 51 (School Bonds), 54 (Legislative Transparency), 55 (Tax Extension), 56 (Cigarette Tax), 58 (Multiligual Education), 59 (Political Spending) and 67 (Plastic Bag Ban) all received over 59 percent approval.

“Very soon, our students will be full partners in the American democratic process, and it is imperative that they know how to diligently process the flood of information being disseminated by media outlets,” said Bell Gardens history teacher Joseph Lianoz said.

The mock election was held Oct. 11 and was sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla who wanted to expose youth to the democratic process. After casting their ballots, students received their own “I Voted” sticker.

“The next time they vote, it will be in an actual election and they will know exactly what to do,” said MUSD Program Specialist Laura Quintana

MUSD Opens New Homeless Student Resource Center

November 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether living in cars to couch surfing, nearly 1,000 students in the Montebello Unified School District experience homelessness daily.

The school district helps them and their families connect with food banks and other resources, and now plans to take the assistance a step farther by providing them with “essentials” on a weekly basis at a new resource center opened Wednesday in Commerce.

The new Families in Transition Resource Center is located at the former Laguna Nueva School, and the only school district-run facility for homeless students in the region.

School supplies, toiletries, gently used clothing, blankets, towels, pillows and other necessities will be made available every Wednesday to the 972 students and their families enrolled in the district’s Families in Transition Program. Parents will be given a voucher that allows them to go to the center and pick out items for their family.

“Unfortunately Los Angeles County has one of the largest homeless populations across the country,” points out MUSD Boardmember Joanne Flores, a former social worker.

A new resource center for homeless students attending the Montebello Unified School District, opened Wednesday at the Laguna Nueva School site in Commerce. (MUSD)

A new resource center for homeless students attending the Montebello Unified School District, opened Wednesday at the Laguna Nueva School site in Commerce. (MUSD)

“I can see how this is a concern for our communities.”

Although the district has been addressing homelessness for some time, it has not been a concentrated effort like the center, explains Program Specialist Aida Hinojosa,

“We want families to feel safe and comfortable,” she told EGP. “If families need something for their day-to-day living we will have it here.”

The District’s Families in Transition Program focuses on supporting students identified as homeless through a student residency questionnaire. Each school site currently has a liaison to help identify and support these vulnerable youth, according to the District.

The challenge is students do not always identify themselves as homeless, says Hinojosa, who explained being homeless doesn’t just apply to those living on the street or in a shelter.

According to the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act, homelessness is defined as a student who does not have an adequate nighttime residence, which applies to living in a hotel, temporary housing or doubling up with another family. The Act ensures students experiencing homelessness attend school and are provided the support to succeed.

Students attending special education at the Laguna Nueva School site, join MUSD administrators to celebrate the grand opening of the Families in Transition Resource Center. (MUSD)

Students attending special education at the Laguna Nueva School site, join MUSD administrators to celebrate the grand opening of the Families in Transition Resource Center. (MUSD)

“We don’t have a lot of runaway or unaccompanied youth,” says Hinojosa. “The majority of our families are living doubled up with another family, but most don’t identify as homeless.”

In the past, the program provided referral support to families but was unable to provide actual resources.

Through fundraising, the center has now collected enough money and other donations to help facilitate the added assistance to the families. Funding for the center is made possible under the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP), which allocates funds to provide services to foster youth and homeless students.

A lack of storage space and manpower, however, is keeping the center from receiving larger quantities of products or opening the center more than once a week, according to Hinojosa.

MUSD students are doing their part to help support the center. Students attending special education at the Laguna Nueva site helped organize, size and hang clothing at the center.

Montebello High School volunteers will be washing and folding donated clothing this weekend and students at intermediate schools across the district have held toiletry and towel drives.

“Not only is this center about helping our homeless youth but it’s helping our students understand service and contributing to their community,” Hinojosa told EPG.

“It’s breaking down the stigma of being homeless.”

MUSD Abre Centro De Recursos Para Estudiantes Indigentes

November 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Algunos viven en carros y otros de sofá en sofá, pero todos son parte de los casi 1,000 estudiantes del Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello (MUSD) sufriendo con la indigencia día a día.

El distrito escolar los ayuda al igual que a sus familiares con bancos de comida y otros recursos. Ahora planean en expander su asistencia al proveerles artículos esenciales semanalmente en un nuevo centro que abrió el miércoles en Commerce.

El nuevo Centro de Recursos Para Familias en Transición se encuentra en la previa Escuela Laguna Nueva y es la única instalación manejada por el distrito escolar para estudiantes indigentes en la región.

Materiales escolares, artículos de aseo, ropa poca usada, cobijas, toallas, almohadas y otras necesidades serán ofrecidas, los miércoles, a los 972 estudiantes inscritos en el programa.

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Padres o familiares recibirán un cupón que les permitirá recoger los productos ofrecidos en el centro de donaciones. Foto: Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello.

“Desafortunadamente el Condado de Los Ángeles tiene una de las poblaciones de indigentes mayores a lo largo del país”, dijo Joanne Flores, miembro del consejo de MUSD y previa trabajadora social.

“Puedo ver como esto es preocupante en nuestras comunidades”, agregó.

A pesar de que el distrito ha estado lidiando con la indigencia hace tiempo, no ha sido un esfuerzo concentrado como el del centro, explicó Aida Hinojosa, especialista del programa.

“Queremos que las familias se sientan seguras y cómodas”, le dijo a EGP. “Si las familias necesitan algo para poder vivir de día a día, aquí lo tendremos”.

El Programa de Familias en Transición se enfoca en apoyar a los estudiantes que se han identificado como indigentes en un cuestionario de residencia estudiantil. Cada escuela actualmente tiene un enlace para asistir en la identificación de estos jóvenes vulnerables, de acuerdo al distrito.

Un problema común es que los estudiantes no siempre se identifican como indigentes, dijo Hinojosa, quien explicó que el serlo no solo significa vivir en las calles.

De acuerdo al Acta McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance, la indigencia estudiantil es definida por aquellos quienes no tienen residencias nocturnas adecuadas o fiables. Esto se aplica a aquellos que viven en hoteles, viviendas temporales o son alojados por familiares. El Acta asegura que los estudiantes asistiendo a las escuelas, en dichas condiciones deben ser proveídos el apoyo para triunfar.

“No tenemos muchos niños fugados o no acompañados”, dijo Hinojosa. “La mayoría de nuestras familias están siendo alojadas por otras pero no todos se identifican como indigentes”.

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Estudiante de educación especial de la Escuela Laguna Nueva participa en la organización del centro el 2 de noviembre. Foto: Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello.

En el pasado, el programa proveyó apoyo a las familias pero no pudo proveer recursos efectivos.

Por medio de la recaudación de fondos, el centro ahora ha colectado el suficiente dinero y en donaciones para ayudar a facilitar la asistencia a las familias. Los financiamientos para el centro fueron posibles bajo el Plan Local de Control y Responsabilidad del Distrito (LCAP por sus siglas en inglés), el cual recauda fondos para proveer servicios a jóvenes de crianza y a estudiantes indigentes.

La falta de almacenamiento y de personal, sin embargo, está obstruyendo la capacidad del centro de recibir mayores cantidades de productos y la posibilidad de abrirlo más de un día, dijo Hinojosa.

No obstante, los estudiantes de MUSD están haciendo su parte para apoyar al centro. Miembro del programa de educación especial en Laguna Nueva, por ejemplo, ayudaron a organizar y a colgar la ropa en el centro.

Voluntarios de la Escuela Secundaria de Montebello lavarán y doblarán la ropa donada este fin de semana y los estudiantes de las escuelas intermedias han sostenido eventos de donaciones de toallas y artículos de aseo.

“El centro no es solo para ayudar a los jóvenes indigentes sino que también está ayudando a nuestros estudiantes a entender el servicio comunitario”, le dijo Hinojosa a EGP.

“Está derrumbando el estigma de la indigencia”, añadió.

Transparencia se Demanda, Activistas forman Grupo de Guardia

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

MONTEBELLO- Hay un nuevo grupo de control en la ciudad y ellos demandan cambios.

Se sientan en la primera fila de casi todas las reuniones del Consejo de la Ciudad de Montebello, siguen de cerca los desarrollos de negocio de la ciudad, leen paquetes de ordenes del día y regularmente solicitan documentos públicos, todo con el fin de exigir responsabilidad entre los oficiales electos.

Entre su éxito hasta el momento, se incluye el haber convencido a la ciudad a que trasmitan sus reuniones de consejo en vivo. Ahora están tratando de impedir los esfuerzos para permitir que los negocios relacionados con la marijuana se establezcan en su ciudad.

Kimberly Cobos, la portavoz de los Montebello Activists To Clean House o el MATCH90640, dice que el grupo está “vigilando todo lo que sucede en nuestra ciudad”.

Sin ser extraños a las políticas de la ciudad, los miembros del grupo de base han pasado años asistiendo a las reuniones de consejo de la ciudad y las audiencias públicas, seguidamente sirviendo como los más fervientes críticos de Montebello.

Los activistas no siempre han estado al mismo lado de los temas discutidos, pero furiosos sobre los esfuerzos recientes de permitir negocios relacionados con la marijuana en la ciudad, han decidido unirse. Lo que tienen más en común, dicen ellos, es un fuerte interés en traer mas transparencia y responsabilidad a Montebello.

“Queremos que nuestra voz se escuche y queremos involucrar a los residentes”, le dijo Cobos a EGP refiriéndose a la colaboración.

La resignación de Charles Pell, tesorero de la ciudad, de la semana pasada ha agregado más a su determinación. De su punto de vista, ellos han perdido a un aliado quien al igual que ellos ha estado trabajando para exponer la mala administración y las discrepancias de las finanzas de la ciudad.

Pell, un procurador federal por oficio, anunció su resignación durante la reunión del consejo el 12 de octubre. El mencionó el incremento en su carga de trabajo como la razón de su salida. Durante el año pasado, él puso el enfoque en un promotor de viviendas que le debe $600,000 a la ciudad y la falla del personal en colectar el arrendamiento de una propiedad de la ciudad. Además se enfocó en las practicas cuestionables en el proceso de licitación de Montebello.

El consejo de la ciudad nombrará al reemplazo de Pell. Sin embargo, Cobos teme que el repuesto no esté dispuesto a trabajar con el mismo fervor para exponer los fallos financieros.

Miembros de MATCH90640 hablan frente al consejo de la ciudad durante la reunión del 12 de octubre.  Foto: MATCH90640

Miembros de MATCH90640 hablan frente al consejo de la ciudad durante la reunión del 12 de octubre. Foto: MATCH90640

A pesar de que el grupo es relativamente nuevo, MATCH90640 ya cuenta con una gran victoria en su lucha de hacer a la ciudad más transparente. Ellos aseguran que el anuncio de la semana pasada respecto a la trasmisión en vivo de las reuniones del consejo, es un ejemplo. También es resultado directo de la presión que han puesto sobre la secretaria municipal, Irma Barajas de mantener sus promesas de campaña de asegurar mayor transparencia en la ciudad.

“No hay muchos residentes que asisten a las reuniones, pero ahora aquellos que no puedan llegar se pueden mantener al tanto de los temas” viendo las reuniones en el Internet, le dijo a EGP Yvette Fimbres, miembra del grupo MATCH90640, esta semana.

La controversia de los dispensarios médicos de marijuana que inicialmente unieron al grupo no ha cesado sino que sigue cobrando fuerza. Los residentes llenaron la Cámara Municipal del consejo la semana pasada, en donde orador tras orador exigió que el consejo suspenda a todos los negocios de marijuana dentro de los limites de la ciudad.

“No somos activistas en contra del uso personal o médico de la marijuana”, clarificó Linda Nicklas. “Lo que no queremos son cultivadores como los de Glendale que están abriendo negocios al otro lado del callejón de Eastmont Intermediate”, le dijo a los miembros del consejo. Ella se refería a un incidente a principios del año cuando la policía de Montebello descubrió casi 1,400 plantas de marijuana en dos edificios comerciales ubicados a la par de una escuela.

De acuerdo a Nicklas todos los residentes con los que ha platicado se oponen al abrir tiendas de la hierba en el vecindario.

Grant Pstikyan y los otros que están promoviendo la petición para agregar la iniciativa a la balota están listos para plantarse en la ciudad, dijo ella. La petición busca modificar el código de la ciudad para permitir y cobrar impuestos a negocios de marijuana en Montebello. Los códigos de zona actuales prohíben los dispensarios de marijuana.

Si permiten que esta medida siga, MATCH90640 ira de puerta en puerta para informarle a los residentes de su decisión, le prometió Nicklas a los miembros del consejo.

“Cuando llegué la próxima elección todos tendrán la información acerca de su posición en este tema”.

El consejo instruyó al personal a establecer una discusión de una moratoria acerca del tema de negocios de marijuana en su próxima agenda de reunión. El consejo planea en conducir una revisión completa del tema antes de decidir en una enmienda al código municipal.

MATCH90640 le contó sus planes a EGP de ir más aya de la municipalidad y quieren también vigilar al Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello (MUSD por sus siglas en inglés).

Miembros asistieron a la reunión del consejo de MUSD el 6 de octubre en donde intentaron reclutar más miembros para su causa. Durante la reunión, aprendieron acerca del conflicto entre la Asociación de Maestros de Montebello (MTA) y la superintendente del distrito, Susanna Contreras Smith. Ella junto con el Jefe Oficial de Finanzas y Operaciones, Cleve Pell fueron puestos en un permiso administrativo pagado el viernes. La decisión llega meses después que el MTA presentó un voto de falta de confianza, el cual pedía que el Consejo de Educación despidiera a Smith. Anthony Martínez, el superintendente auxiliar, servirá como superintendente temporal.

El objetivo de MATCH90640 es de mantener a los residentes informados acerca de temas relacionados con la ciudad y espera que la comunidad se acerque y exprese sus inquietudes. No tienen que vivir en Montebello para unirse al grupo, la membresía está abierta para todos aquellos con un hijo en el distrito escolar de Montebello, o a los que conduzcan negocios o jueguen deportes en el parque de la ciudad, de acuerdo a Cobo.

“Queremos ayudar a nuestra comunidad”, dijo Fimbres. “Estamos trayendo la voz de los residentes directamente al consejo”.

Montebello Unified Sues Companies For Spreading Asbestos

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Montebello Unified School District is collectively suing two companies for $3.5 million, alleging that untrained workers spread asbestos-containing materials throughout various schools in 2015 while work was being done to install energy-efficient lighting.

The MUSD’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants Industry-based Evergreen Energy Solutions LLC and Enveniam LLC, which is headquartered in Roswell, Georgia.

A representative for Enveniam did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit, which alleges negligence, breach of contract and breach of an implied covenant to perform work in a competent manner. However, an Evergreen spokesman released a statement.

“Evergreen was unaware of your referenced item via your inquiry, consequently we are very disappointed,” the statement read. “To date the district has yet to communicate anything to the reference item. We are immediately inquiring with the district regarding this matter.”

The suit filed last week states that the MUSD and the two firms entered a contract in February 2015 for Evergreen to “consult and procure” and for Enveniam to install energy-efficient lighting at Montebello Intermediate School, Montebello Gardens Elementary School and Bell Gardens High School. The MUSD agreed to pay $2 million, the suit states.

Before work began, the parties met in April 2015 and discussed fireproofing materials that contained asbestos at Montebello Intermediate, Bell Gardens High and the district office, according to the complaint.

The meeting highlighted that it was “critical that the contractor had the requisite eight hours of asbestos-awareness training at a minimum,” the complaint states.

A month later, the work began at Montebello Intermediate. In August 2015, the MUSD’s hazardous materials coordinator suspected that the workers accidentally disturbed insulation materials carrying asbestos fibers in two classrooms, the suit states.

“MUSD immediately shut down all construction activities and retained an environmental consultant to test for asbestos,” the suit states.

A subsequent inspection by the South Coast Air Quality Management District showed that Enveniam “had used uncontrolled methods by untrained asbestos workers to spread asbestos-containing materials throughout not only Montebello Intermediate, but to other sites, as well,” according to the lawsuit.

To ensure the safety of students, the MUSD “initiated a massive cleanup operation, with at least five separate contractors tackling the widespread asbestos contamination,” the suit states.

With workers on the job 24 hours a day, the remediation plan was completed by Aug. 20, 2015, at a cost of $3.5 million, according to the school district’s court papers.

Students Head Back to School

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Many of them might have preferred to be visiting the beach Tuesday, but more than a half-million students instead headed back to class as the 2016-17 school year began for the nation’s second-largest school district.

“I am tremendously excited to begin a new school year,” Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King said Tuesday. “Today sets the tone for the work we do throughout the year to guide all students on the road to graduating ready for college, career and life.”

King joined dignitaries including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, members of the LAUSD board and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education James Cole Jr. in visiting a variety of campuses and meeting with students and parents throughout the district, which covers 710 square miles and includes about 640,000 students.

“We are here to welcome every child— from the very youngest pre-kindergarten students to our graduating seniors — to a new year,” LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer said. “What we say and do for these students today and every day makes a difference in their lives, their communities and helps guide them on the pathway to achieving their dreams.”

District officials said there have not been any reports of problems with campus air-conditioning systems — a positive sign in light of a heat wave that’s expected to linger for a few more days.

King, who recently announced that the district had a 75 percent graduation rate for high school students in the class of 2016, will be pushing for an increase in that figure. She said the district is making an extra effort this year to help keep kids on track in their studies.

Specialized counselors will be assigned to “high-needs” high schools, while college and career counselors will be working with students at “struggling” middle schools. The district is also planning to provide additional resources to help English-learners — a group that represents almost one-third of the district’s students.

Parents, meanwhile, will have to ensure that their children are fully immunized before they’re allowed to attend classes. A state law that took effect in January eliminated the so-called personal-belief exemption to the vaccination requirement, so LAUSD students will have to show proof of immunizations against such diseases as polio, measles, chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

The start of school also means more children on city streets in the mornings and afternoons, and Los Angeles police issued a warning to drivers to be extra cautious. The LAPD will be conducting a “traffic education and enforcement task force” at various campuses to drive home the point.

Police reminded motorists to:
— slow down, particularly in school zones;
— be alert for small children who sometimes cannot be easily seen from
behind the wheel; and
— come to a full stop when a school bus has its flashing red lights and
signal arm activated as it loads or unloads passengers.

Students in the nearby Montebello Unified School district return to school Thursday. District officials plan to be on hand to welcome students back.

Eastmont Student Wins LA Sparks’ Writing Contest

August 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

MONTEBELLO –A seventh-grader at Eastmont Intermediate School is the proud winner of the 2016 #WeAreGirls essay writing contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Sparks basketball team, announced the Montebello Unified School District.

Rosario Meneses was handed a huge $5,000 check at center court during halftime at the team’s July 10 game, according the MUSD.

The contest was the first for the professional women’s basketball team, which hoped to “empower young girls to write about their inspirations,” the District said.

In her essay, Rosario shared that joining the school’s cheerleading squad encouraged her to be more outgoing to support her team. She also said being in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparatory program helped her become more organized.

Rosario dreams of one day attending UCLA or Harvard, and keeps her grades up while still putting in the time it takes to be a cheerleader.

(left to right) Rosemary Parsons of Sparks’ Sponsor Equitrust, WNBA President Lisa Borders, LA Sparks President Christine Simmons, Rosario Meneses, Rosario’s mother Josefina Camacho, Rosario’s brother Daniel Meneses, Eastmont teacher Monique Lopez, Eastmont principal Cecilia Ramirez, scholarship donor Lorraine Williams. (Montebello Unified School District)

(left to right) Rosemary Parsons of Sparks’ Sponsor Equitrust, WNBA President Lisa Borders, LA Sparks President Christine Simmons, Rosario Meneses, Rosario’s mother Josefina Camacho, Rosario’s brother Daniel Meneses, Eastmont teacher Monique Lopez, Eastmont principal Cecilia Ramirez, scholarship donor Lorraine Williams. (Montebello Unified School District)

“I think AVID is fun because it’s like a game and a challenge for me,” Rosario said. “My mom and teachers have shown me that going to college will help me get a better job, so I want to work as hard as I can now to get there some day.”

Taking stalk of how hard she works at school, cheerleading and helping her mother donate clothes and food to the poor, Rosario’s teacher, Monique Lopez, encouraged Rosario to enter the contest.

“They are truly a deserving family and I think this scholarship is the work of a higher power,” said Lopez who developed a close relationship with the family while working with Rosario. “I think her dad was looking out for her.” On the day of the big event, it was Lopez who drove Rosario and her family to the Staples Center to receive her reward.

“I was almost in tears,” Lopez said. “I was so proud. I had never seen her smile so big. She really was the center of attention in this big stadium, which was almost full. I just thought to myself this is just the beginning for her because she’s going to go on to college.”

Rosario plans to save most of the $5,000 for college but may use some before then for school supplies and books.

“I’m very proud that an extraordinary student like Rosario was recognized for her writing talents by an esteemed organization like the Los Angeles Sparks,” Montebello Board President Ben Cardenas said. “The District is also fortunate to have teachers who encourage their students to pursue every opportunity that will help them get into college.”

USDA to Keep Children Fed While School Is Out

July 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

To ensure children from low-income areas do not go hungry this summer, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) will serve more than 200 million free lunches to children nationwide.

The federally funded, free lunch program picks up where schools, closed for the summer, leave off, providing what for many is the only nutritional meal of the day.

Lea este artículo en Español: USDA Provee Alimentos para los Niños Durante las Vacaciones

According to the USDA, 1 in 5 children live in households struggling to consistently put food on the table. USDA reports millions of children depend on the school lunch but only 1 in 7 of those children have access to that same meal during the summer break.

Numerous cities and the Montebello Unified School District are partnering again this summer with the agriculture department to provide the free meals to local children 18 years and under at area parks, schools and libraries.

Over 85 percent of students who attend Montebello Unified schools receive free or reduced-priced lunches during the regular school year. The district has schools in Bell Gardens, Commerce, Montebello and portions of East Los Angeles, Monterey Park and Pico Rivera.

Free lunch will be offered throughout Los Angeles County at schools, parks and libraries. (Montebello Unified School District)

Free lunch will be offered throughout Los Angeles County at schools, parks and libraries. (Montebello Unified School District)

“This program is vital in providing assistance to families who may struggle financially,” said MUSD President Benjamin Cardenas. “We hope our community’s students who qualify take advantage of this program throughout the summer.”

MUSD will offer lunches at nearly all its elementary, middle and high school campuses. Cities like Bell Gardens, Commerce and Montebello will also make lunch and snacks available at various locations.

The free lunches are offered Monday through Friday starting as early as 10:30 a.m. at most sites.

For specific schedules, visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.

 

Local Sites offering Free Lunch Program
(Now – July 15)
Bell Gardens High School – 6119 Agra St.
Montebello High School – 2100 W. Cleveland Ave.
Schurr High School – 820 Wilcox Ave.
Applied Technology Center – 1200 Mines Ave.
Vail High School – 1230 S. Vail Ave.
Greenwood Elementary – 900 S. Greenwood Ave.
Rosewood Park School – 2352 S. Commerce Way.

(Now – July 29)
Bell Gardens Intermediate – 5841 Live Oak St.
Eastmont Intermediate – 400 S. Bradshawe Ave.
Montebello Intermediate – 1600 Whittier Blvd.
La Merced Intermediate – 215 E. Avenuda de La Merced.
Macy Intermediate – 2101 Lupine Ave.
Suva Intermediate – 6660 E. Suva St.

(Now – August 5)
Over 45 Los Angles County parks –
For locations and times call (310) 965-8630

(Now – August 12)
Bristow Park Library – 1466 S. McDonnel Ave.
Veterans Park – 6364 Zindell Ave.
Montebello City Park – 201 S. Taylor Ave.
Washington Elementary – 1400 W. Madison Ave.
Over 350 LAUSD School Sites –
visit http://lausd.schoolwires.net/Page/462

(Now- August 26)
Bell Gardens Youth Center – 5856 Ludell St.
Bell Gardens Ford Park – 8000 Park Lane

Votantes Eligen Sobre Medida de Bonos para MUSD

June 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Con la esperanza de causar un impacto en los $1.2 billones estimados para las necesidades en todo el distrito, el Distrito Unificado de Montebello está pidiendo a los votantes—que incluye Montebello, Bell Gardens y Comerce—aprueben una medida de bonos de $300 millones en las elecciones del 7 de junio.

Los ingresos de la medida GS serían utilizados para mejorar todo, desde los baños, bibliotecas, laboratorios de computación y ciencias, así como otras mejoras de la infraestructura, de acuerdo con los funcionarios del distrito. La única cosa donde los fondos no pueden ser utilizados, es para sueldos y pensiones del personal administrativo.

Read this article in English: MUSD Bond Measure Goes to Voters Tuesday

“El distrito estaba consciente que la necesidad de modernización, era evidente”, dijo Rubén Rojas, director de negocios de MUSD. Y el “Fondo General nunca sería capaz de hacer frente a estas necesidades”.

Un estudio de evaluación de necesidades realizado el año pasado revisó 30 escuelas del distrito y la oficina del distrito. Se encontró que las escuelas primarias tenían $390 millones en necesidades, las escuelas intermedias $320 millones y las preparatorias requerían $487 millones.

Rojas explicó que las necesidades de seguridad solamente para cosas tales como vallas de seguridad, puertas, pavimento, iluminación, vigilancia de vídeo y mejoras del sistema contra incendios, suman $130 millones.

Cumplir con el Acta de Americanos con Discapacidades (ADA) costará otros $110 millones, mientras que otras renovaciones de instalación podrían añadir hasta otros $500 millones, dijo Rojas. Adicionalmente se necesitan $190 millones para hacer que las aulas sean energéticamente eficientes.

Sin embargo, el artículo más costoso que llama la mayor atención a los padres del distrito escolar, es la necesidad de mejoras tecnológicas, Rojas le dijo a EGP. Según la evaluación del MUSD, se necesitan $70 millones para las actualizaciones de fibra óptica, conexión inalámbrica a Internet en las aulas, laboratorios de computación y la infraestructura global de tecnología.

Pancartas apoyando las medidas están en el césped de algunas propiedades. (EGP foto por Nancy Martínez)

Pancartas apoyando las medidas están en el césped de algunas propiedades. (EGP foto por Nancy Martínez)

“Ni siquiera estamos hablando de iPads o computadoras”, explicó Rojas. “Estamos hablando de la disposición del aula para el siglo 21”.

Richard Michael, un miembro de control del bono escolar, le dijo a EGP que le preocupa que no haya sido incluida una lista específica de los proyectos en la boleta de votación. MUSD quiere un cheque en blanco, le dijo a EGP.

“Digan lo que realmente necesitan”, dijo Michaels. “Si se trata de un techo con goteras digan cual escuela que tiene un techo con goteras”.

Sin embargo, Rojas asegura que hay escuelas específicas con necesidades y si el bono es aprobado el siguiente paso sería dar prioridad a los proyectos para obtener el “mayor rendimiento por nuestro dinero”.

En el pasado, algunos residentes y funcionarios electos de Bell Gardens y Commerce se han quejado de que las escuelas en la parte sur del distrito reciben menos atención que sus contrapartes del norte.

Las autoridades del distrito dicen que van a garantizar que los ingresos se dispersen de manera uniforme en todo el distrito y lleguen a la comunidad para determinar las prioridades de financiación.

Ben Cárdenas, presidente de la Junta de Educación de MUSD le dijo a EGP que el distrito espera la optimización de cada dólar para modernizar y mejorar los salones e instalaciones.

“Esta financiación será esencial para garantizar que continuemos proporcionando un ambiente de aprendizaje seguro, limpio y atractivo en el que nuestros estudiantes puedan alcanzar su potencial”, dijo.

G. Rick Marshall, director financiero de la Red de Acción de Contribuyentes de California cree que la lista de proyectos prevista en la Medida de GS es demasiado genérica.

“No hay ninguna garantía que cualquiera de esas cosas en particular se harán, en cualquier locación”, escribió en su argumento contra de la medida. “No hay detalles iguales ni responsabilidad”.

Según Rojas, MUSD anticipa que utilizará el 80% de los ingresos de bonos para modernizar las instalaciones existentes. “Queremos ser capaces de estar a la par con otros distritos, ya sea LAUSD o los niños en el Westside”, dijo.

Si los votantes autorizan los bonos, los dueños de propiedades en la zona estarían en la mira para asegurar la cantidad de bonos más los intereses y cargos por servicio de la deuda, que se recoge a través de un impuesto sobre las propiedades dentro del distrito escolar. La cantidad específica que cada dueño de la propiedad tendría que pagar dependerá del valor de la propiedad. El impuesto se traduciría a $60 por cada $100,000 de valor de tasación de la propiedad. El residente promedio pagaría $144 en nuevos impuestos, basado en el valor promedio de la propiedad del distrito, que se sitúa en torno a $240.000, según Rojas.

Las mejoras en las escuelas podrían atraer a más estudiantes al distrito de MUSD y hacer un distrito de elección, elevando los valores de propiedad en la zona, dijo, llamándolo una situación de ganancia para los negocios y residentes.

Si no se aprueba la medida GS sería “lamentable” para un distrito que ya tiene que hacer más con menos, sostiene Rojas. “Todo lo que estaríamos haciendo es pegar retazos”, dijo.

Los votantes de MUSD aprobaron una medida de bonos de $98 millones en 2004. Los distritos escolares están autorizados a emitir no más de 2,5% del valor de tasación total de la propiedad en el distrito, que según Rojas limita a MUSD a $366 millones en bonos totales.

“¿Qué va a pasar a la larga cuando estén al máximo”, pregunta Michaels.

Rojas defendió la medida de bonos, indicando que los programas de bonos de hoy son muy diferentes de lo que eran hace 10 años.

“Los bonos no son sólo para construir edificios bonitos, se trata de añadir valor al distrito”, dijo.

La Medida GS requiere una aprobación de los votantes el 55% para ser aprobada.

—-

Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

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