Category Archives: Valley View Middle School

Welcome our new administrative hires from out of the district

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TIM BEDNAR
PRINCIPAL
HILLSIDE MIDDLE SCHOOL

He started as a business major, but Tim Bednar was drawn to another discipline, which he followed.

“I decided it was a calling to go into education and teach English and coach a sport,” he said.

For many years, Mr. Bednar taught English and coached Boy’s Basketball, mostly at Moorpark High School. Now he leaves his position as Moorpark’s Assistant Principal to serve as the new Principal of Hillside Middle School, a position he said he’s excited to begin.

“When I look at moving to another position, I look at moving to a school that I feel is up and coming. I know that a good number of parents and students want to attend Hillside. And that was a draw for me, people really wanting to be at the school,” he said.

Married for 33 years to his high school sweetheart, Mr. Bednar has four grown children (two boys and two girls) and two grandchildren.

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ANGELICA CHAVEZ
ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL
SANTA SUSANA HIGH SCHOOL

Going to UC Berkeley to become a lawyer was the starting goal for Angelica Chavez. But plans changed after she had an encounter of another kind.

“I started mentoring a girl and I realized I wanted to help kids before they needed a lawyer.” she said chuckling. “I changed my major to history, just in case I wanted to go back into law.”

Fortunately she never had to turn back to the law. Teaching now for more than a decade, Dr. Chavez has been teaching in the Multimedia Business Academy at Oxnard High School. She’s also taught in the Green Technology Academy. Both backgrounds will transition nicely into the specialized programs found at Santa Susana High School, where she will serve as the Assistant Principal next year.

Dr. Chavez said it was Santa Susana’s unique programs that drew her to the job.

“I’m really interested in the wall-to-wall academy structure,” she said.

Dr. Chavez is married and has one son, 19, who attends college locally.

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EDDIE GRIGORIAN
ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL
VALLEY VIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL

Eddie Grigorian is bursting with excitement.

Coming in the Simi Valley Unified School District as Valley View Middle School’s new Assistant Principal, Mr. Gregorian said he can’t wait to get started on what he sees is a perfect fit between his skills and passion and the district’s evolution.

“It’s an opportunity for me to grow,” Mr. Grigorian said. “When I walked into your district office, it was home. It felt right. This is education. Everyone is polite and warm and nice.”

Mr. Grigorian is a former history teacher Chatsworth Charter High School (LAUSD). He’s single (except for his puppy) and committed to helping other people through education.

“I always wanted to help people and motivate others. I feel amazing when I’m able to help someone and to do that every day and to help others reach their goals, it’s amazing,” he said. “With a district that’s growing and moving in the right direction. I want to be a part of it.”

AARON DOBSON
ACTIVITIES DIRECTOR
ROYAL HIGH SCHOOL
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For Aaron Dobson, Southern California means family—being closer to family, enjoying his growing family and working at a school where he said he could tell from everything he read that it was like being a part of a family.

“The more I learned about Royal High School, the more it was a lock for me. There’s so much about Royal online. Even Mr. Derrick having a Twitter account–I just can see this prevailing tone of family and spirit. And that’s a lot like the high school and community I came from in Michigan,” he said.

His wife is also a teacher, a math specialist, and they have two children, a two-year-old daughter and a newborn son.

While currently working as an Assistant Principal for a large elementary school (1,200 students) in Sunnyvale, Mr. Dobson’s background is in high school activities. He said that he grew up in a small town where most of the focus was on local education.

“School was always a big part of my life,” he said. “Becoming a teacher seemed like a natural progression for me.”

Three Simi Valley Schools Receive Top State Recognition

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Three Simi Valley Unified School District schools were named California Gold Ribbon Award Schools today by the California Department of Education. There were only eight schools in Ventura County to receive the award this year.

Santa Susana High School, Sinaloa Middle School and Valley View Middle School have been recognized for making “gains in implementing academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education,” according to the CDE.

“We are very proud of our schools that received this prestigious award,” said Dr. Jason Peplinski, district superintendent. “They join an exclusive list of schools in California to receive the state’s Gold Ribbon School Award.”

The California Gold Ribbon Award temporarily replaces the California Distinguished Schools award. As the state is not testing and gathering Academic Performance Index (API) data, and the Distinguished Schools award is based on API information, the Gold Ribbon Award was created to recognize outstanding schools on other criteria. This year, middle and high schools were invited to apply. Next year, elementary schools will be considered.

Altogether, 193 middle schools and 180 high schools received the honor this year.

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson said. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right–embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching and creating a positive school environment.”

Santa Susana High School is a magnet school specializing in technology, the performing arts and rigorous academics. Long recognized for its excellent programs, it was named a California Demonstration School last year. This designation makes Santa Susana a model school upon which other California schools can use to develop similar programs. Santa Susana’s principal is Wendy Mayea.

Sinaloa Middle School was named a School to Watch last year for being a “high performing middle school model.” The school has an emphasis on leadership and is working on obtaining its International Baccalaureate Middle Years designation in partnership with Royal High School.

“It navigates that what we do here on a day-in, day-out basis is the right thing. They came to validate our C.H.A.M.P. program and our intervention program,” Mrs. Janke said. “They said we’re right on and doing a great job.”

The largest of Simi Valley’s three middle schools, Valley View Middle School is known for its excellent academic success, popular music programs and its growing relationship with Simi Valley High School’s medical and health science programs. Valley View’s principal is Michael Hall.

Board Report: Some Management Changes Announced

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At a special board meeting tonight, the SVUSD Board of Trustees approved and announced some management changes beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. Dr. Stephen Pietrolungo, current principal of Simi Valley High School, will take on the position of principal at Monte Vista School. Monte Vista is the district’s independent study/homeschool program and it has seen steady enrollment growth over the last several years as some families seek more flexible education options while still following state curricular guidelines. Board President Dan White called Dr. Pietrolungo’s appointment “exciting,” and said that the growth of Monte Vista’s programs was a big part of the district’s overall strategy for growth in the future. By expanding the independent study programs offered through Monte Vista, the district hopes to see more increased enrollment. Currently the school is led by Dean May, who is also the principal of Apollo High School. May will remain as Apollo principal. Plans are also in place to relocated Monte Vista to the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School campus next year. Dr. Terri Leon, the current assistant principal at Royal High School, will be moved to Valley View Middle School as assistant principal. Under Deborah Salgado’s leadership at Royal, Dr. Leon oversaw the application and approval of Royal’s new International Baccalaureate Diploma School designation. Patti Myszkowski, the current assistant principal at Hillside Middle School, will assume Dr. Leon’s place at Royal. Nicole Perryman, the current principal of Abraham Lincoln Elementary School (which will be closing at the end of this school year) will become dean at Sinaloa Middle School. Dr. Jason Messinger, current dean, will be reassigned to a classroom next year at a school as yet to be determined. Stacy Walker, the current principal at Justin Elementary (which will be closing at the end of this school year) will be reassigned to a classroom next year at a school as yet to be determined.

Hillside Middle School: New Programs Come Together in Harmony

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School’s been in session more than a month, and students at Hillside Middle School are settled into classes. But things aren’t looking, or feeling, exactly the same as they did last year around the campus.

Music, always a prominent part of Hillside’s culture, has expanded to include the sounds of piano keys and string instruments. PE uniforms now include leotards as dance has been instituted at the school. The technology courses have grown to offer web design, programming and digital photography. Drama class brings with it the promise of a refurbished stage for future performances.

And then there are the students, more of them, drawn to the new programs and promise of preferred enrollment at Santa Susana High School, Simi’s well-known arts and technology magnet school. Altogether, the school’s enrollment has increased to 805 students this year. That’s 108 students more than last year, 20 of whom transferred into the district from other districts and others who have returned to Simi Valley Unified from private schools and home-schools.

It’s not just the classes that are new to Hillside. Principal Jerry Block left the ocean breezes of Malibu High School to usher in Hillside’s STEAM program. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math and helps define the school’s expanded focus.

It was the lure of the new programs that tempted Block to Simi Valley, he said.

“I’ve always believed in authentic hands-on education for kids,” he said. “I think kids learn best when they are passionate about their classes and can apply what they know. I knew Simi was looking at doing some innovative things, and this is closer to home for me.”

The programs at Hillside were inspired by the successful programs found at Santa Susana High School. With this partnership in place, students at Hillside will have preferred enrollment at Santa Susana High School. Staff at both campuses collaborate to ensure that the middle schoolers are well-prepared for the unique offerings at the high school.

Dr. Jason Peplinski, assistant superintendent of educational services, said that similar partnerships are being developed between Valley View Middle School/Simi Valley High School and Sinaloa Middle School/Royal High School in the near future.

“There are already developing partnerships with the STEM initiative between Valley View and Simi Valley High,” he said. Simi Valley High School has the Medical Health Careers Academy along with other specialized courses in health, science and technology.

At Royal High School, the Jr. ROTC, Ronald Reagan Citizen Scholar Institute and the newly formed International Baccalaureate programs all have the potential to form a middle school partnership with Sinaloa Middle School.

Hillside’s program changes answered the greater demand from parents for middle school opportunities, and Block said that this year’s changes are just the start. Other opportunities being developed include three-day science camps, a robotics club and expanded science courses. He said all of this has generated a lot of enthusiasm among students and staff.

“Staff keeps coming up with great ideas,” Block said. “They’re very anxious to see the programs grow.”

 

 

BOARD REPORT: Regular Board Meeting June 24, 2014

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Tuesday’s regular meeting for the Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees is the last of the school year and several important actions were taken by the Board that need to be reported. The full agenda pack with back up materials can be found HERE, as well as the meetings recorded video.

1. (Action Item Educational Services 3.1) The Board unanimously approved the District’s Local Control Accountability Plan for the 2014-15 school year. This plan, newly mandated by the state in 2013, requires all California school districts to provide a three-year goal-setting and implementation plan for each district to follow. Part of the process of developing the LCAP required intensive input from “stakeholders” in the local educational community–students, teachers, parents, administrators and community members. The eight priority areas each District’s plan must address are: student engagement, student achievement, school climate, basic services, Common Core State Standards, access to a broad curriculum, parent involvement and other student outcomes. The LCAP is required before any school district receives funding from the state. More information about the LCAP and the final plan are found HERE.

2. (Action Item Educational Services 3.2) The Board voted 4-1 with Trustee Debbie Sandland dissenting to close Simi Elementary School in the 2015-2016 school year. The school has been operating independently at the Mountain View Elementary campus since February when the Board agreed to close the campus because of safety concerns affecting the entire property. Over the last few weeks, the District began consolidating some logistics. Simi Elementary Principal Kate Snowden was reassigned to Wood Ranch Elementary and Mountain View Elementary Principal Jenny Goldman will oversee both schools this year with the assistance of a dean. Simi Elementary students will continue to be bussed to the Mountain View campus as requested.

The vote also included the Board’s directive that a community-based committee be created to oversee the preservation and future use of the historic property. The front/main building of the Simi Elementary campus was the oldest operating building in the city of Simi Valley, but repairs needed to seismically retrofit were estimated at $6.3 million from quotes obtained a couple of years ago. Additionally, the cost to upgrade the remainder of the property was estimated at up to $4.3 million, again from quotes obtained a couple of years ago.

Closing the campus is estimated to save the District between $350,000 and $400,000 the first year and if the property is repurposed, that estimate drops to $200,000 to $250,000 annually. In 2013-14, about 235 students were enrolled in the school. For 2014-15, about 109 students are expected to remain in Simi Elementary School. More information documenting the maintenance issues at the campus can be found HERE.

3. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.2) The Board unanimously approved the District’s 2014-2015 proposed budget. With expected revenue of $142 million and expected expenses at $144 million, the District will make up the difference through surplus reserves remaining from the 2013-2014 budget year, leaving a surplus after reserves are accounted for of about $411,000 at the end of 2014-2015. The next two year’s budget estimates also project small surpluses.

Declining enrollment continues to be a factor in the budget with an estimated student loss of 418 students for a projected enrollment districtwide of 17,935 students. There are also increases in some employee health benefits, including a 11.54 percent increase in PPO coverage and a 3.08 percent increase in Blue Cross HMO coverage. To help balance the budget, employees will now pay for some of the medical coverage provided to their spouses under the District’s benefit plan.

But, all potential teacher layoffs–38 total–were rescinded because of the overwhelming response to the District’s early retirement incentive plan (PARS). There will still be three furlough days on the next year’s school calendar and the Kindergarten through third grade class size will be reduced to 26:1.

This is only the preliminary budget and the Board will once again be asked to review a revised budget after the State Legislature and Governor approve a state budget. For more specific information about the District’s budget, go HERE.

4. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.6) Related to the Simi Elementary closure, the Board also unanimously agreed to look into exterior fencing to protect the front/main building on the Simi Elementary campus. Believing it would be less visibly obtrusive, District staff recommending exploring an interior bracing system to support the walls until repairs could begin on the building, but several community members asked that fencing be considered instead so as to not cause further damage to the building’s walls. The Board agreed and staff will gather estimates and options for different types of fencing.

5. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.4) The Board unanimously agreed to repair/replace the roofs at the following schools: Atherwood Elementary, Big Springs Elementary, Hillside Middle School, Hollow Hills Elementary, Royal High School, Santa Susana Elementary, Sinaloa Middle School and Valley View Middle School.

These schools were identified as having the most deteriorated roofs. The estimated cost to repair these roofs is $2 million and will be paid for through the Measure C4 bond, leaving a balance in the Measure C4 bond account of about $11.6 million.

6. (Action Item Business & Facilities 5.5) The Board unanimously agreed to replace the broken air-conditioning and heating units at the Education Service Center for almost $150,000. Two of the four units in the main building stopped working in April. District maintenance staff will install the new units, which are expected to provide better energy efficiency.

The next regular SVUSD School Board meeting is scheduled for August 5.

New Positions Announced

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The Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees met in a special session on Tuesday, May 20 to discuss appointments of several administrative positions throughout the District. Coming out of closed session, Board President Rob Collins confirmed the hiring of Jerry Block, the current principal of Malibu High School (which is actually a grade 6 to 12 school) as the new principal of Hillside Middle School.

On Wednesday, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Dan Houghton announced some of the changes in administrative leadership at some of the District’s campuses. The following is the current list of administrative assignments:

As the 2013-2014 school year nears its end, it is normal to welcome personnel changes throughout the Simi Valley Unified School District. This year, we proudly announce the appointments of the following administrators for the 2014-2015 school year.

  • Cheri Toyen, the coordinator for the Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) program, will become a counselor at Hillside Middle School.
  • Kate Snowden, currently the principal of Simi Elementary School, will replace Laura Tyre as the principal of Wood Ranch Elementary School. Laura Tyre is retiring.
  • Michael Hall, currently the principal of Madera Elementary School, will replace Terry Webb as the principal of Valley View Middle School. Terry Webb is retiring.
  • Debora Palmer, currently the principal of Justin Elementary School, will replace Michael Hall as the principal of Madera Elementary School.
  • Anthony Karch, currently the principal of Park View Elementary School, will replace Dr. Sherrill Knox as the principal of White Oak Elementary School. Dr. Knox has accepted a position with the Ojai Unified School District.
  • Laura Wellington, currently the principal of Hillside Middle School, will become principal at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.
  • Jerry Block has been hired from outside the SVUSD to become principal at Hillside Middle School.
  • Theresa Garner, currently the principal at Crestview Elementary School, has accepted a position with the Moorpark Unified School District.
  • Principals at Crestview, Justin and Park View elementary schools are still to be determined. Announcements will be made as soon as the decisions are final.

Jerry Block has served as the principal for Malibu High School, which includes grades 6 through 12, since 2012. A former assistant principal at Oak Park High School, Mr. Block is a Newbury Park resident. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Linguistics from University of California-Los Angeles in 1998, his single-subject credentials in Spanish from California State University-Northridge in 2001, and then his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 2004, also from CSUN.

We wish to congratulate all of our new positions, thank those who are leaving for their many years of excellent service to our students, and welcome our newest member to the district.