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Construction Chief Tim White Pushed Out of Oakland Unified

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Interim Replacement Heads Company Found Guilty of Bribery in San Diego

 

The new administration of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) seems to be in a rush to replace the widely respected, longtime head of the district’s facilities maintenance and construction department, Timothy White, although White has not resigned from his position.

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After the Berkeley Unified School District contacted OUSD seeking a reference, OUSD Supt. Antwan Wilson on Friday sent out an email to staff:

“I want to announce that Timothy White, Deputy Chief of Facilities, Planning and Management, has resigned to accept a position as Executive Director of Facilities in the Berkeley Unified School District.”

On Tuesday, Supt. Wilson announced White’s replacement: “OUSD is pleased to announce that Lance Jackson, Chief Operating Officer of the Seville Group, Inc. (SGI), has agreed to become interim leader of the Oakland Unified School District’s Facilities Planning and Management Department. Jackson will serve in this role pending the search and selection of a new Deputy Chief for Facilities Planning and Management.”

Under OUSD board policy, employees must submit a resignation in writing to be official. As of Thursday afternoon, White confirmed that he had not resigned and had not accepted employment at Berkeley Unified.

In the 14 years that Tim White worked for the school district, he was in charge of expenditures for school bond Measure J, $475 million; Measure B, $35 million; Measure A, $330 million; and before that Measure C, $169 million. He also brought in $300 million in state matching funds.

White said the issue that ultimately led to him being pushed out was his refusal to have his name associated with the school district’s “community engagement process” surrounding the development and possible sale of the old district headquarters at 1025 Second Ave.

“A board member said the whole community process had been a ‘boondoggle,” White said, and the process was supposed to “reset” under White’s leadership and the leadership of his staff.

But it turned out that the changes were only cosmetic, and he was not willing to have his name and reputation associated with them.

“I didn’t want to be associated with certain outcomes that I saw developing,” he said.

Seville Group, Inc. currently has a limited role in OUSD, providing program and project management services for the District’s Measures B and J bond and capital projects.

Several of the owners of Seville Group were recently found guilty in a San Diego corruption case that involved bribing school board officials and administrators. The case resulted in across-the-board guilty pleas, jail time, community service, home detention and fines.

According to the Office of the District Attorney in San Diego, 18 defendants connected to three school districts including Sweetwater Union High School District, Southwestern College and the San Ysidro School District – “who included administrators, trustees and contractors – were originally indicted by a grand jury in December 2012 on multiple counts including bribery, perjury, filing a false instrument, influencing an elected official and obtaining something of value to influence a member of a legislative body.”

Three of the defendants, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, were Henry Amigable, a former employee of Seville Construction Services; Renee Flores, an owner of SGI; and Jeff Flores, also an owner of SGI.

“For years, public officials regularly accepted what amounted to bribes in exchange for their votes on multi-million dollar construction projects. The public corruption was nothing short of systemic,” 
said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis.

According to the Bloomberg Business website, Lance Jackson was not CEO at the time he was listed on the website but was in charge of oversight of all of SGI’s programs and projects. He had been with Seville Group since May 2002.

The Seville Group, Inc., founded in 1994, provides program, project, and construction management services for public agencies in California. Its projects include facilities, such as K-12, higher education, and municipal facilities; infrastructure projects, including water, wastewater, power, and highway projects; and transportation projects.

According to OUSD spokesman Troy Flint, White may “maintain” that he has not resigned. “But it’s a matter of public record” – it was reported at a Berkeley school board meeting that he accepted a job with Berkeley, Flint said.

“We took that as a de facto resignation, given that he has accepted employment in another organization,” Flint said.

Flint said the district is aware of the corruption case in San Diego. “That did not affect Lance Jackson in any way. He was not involved in it. That was an isolated incident…The greatest fault lies with (those) public officials.”

A phone call to Seville Group’s headquarters in Pasadena was not returned to the Oakland Post by the time the newspaper went to press.

For information on the case published by the Office of San Diego County District Attorney go to www.sdcda.org/files/South%20Bay%20Corruption%20Case%20Ends%207-2-14.pdf

 

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Commentary

Closing the Loss of Learning Reading Gap

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

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The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

By Conway Jones

Reading is the foundation of a good education and fundamental to success in life.

Can you imagine your life without reading? What if you couldn’t read well enough to follow directions, conduct your business, or even enjoy a good book?

Success starts early. Until 3rd grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, they’re reading to learn. Students who don’t achieve literacy by third grade fall behind and become bored, frustrated, and unlikely to graduate high school, much less go on to higher education.

The new community-based non-profit, Right Path to Learning, promotes early literacy in these first crucial years while there’s still a chance to make a difference. They set out to prove that children in under-performing and under-resourced schools can thrive with the right resources.

This summer, they did it. RPL hired Sylvan Learning to provide 15 children, 50 hours of support education to help them achieve literacy at EnCompass Academy in East Oakland.

Sylvan Learning tested the children at the beginning of the program: they were one year to over two years behind grade level in literacy. At the end of RPL’s five-week program, 93% of the students enrolled in the RPL pilot program at EnCompass completed it and the attendance rate was 86%, or an average of 43 hours completed in the 50-hour program.

Students advanced by almost 50% of a school year to grade level. Students grew on all three components of the Sylvan Outlook Survey, indicating a 25% increase in their engagement with school, improvement in their academic perseverance, and their confidence in reading.

All of the parents surveyed indicated that the program was beneficial, that it helped their child read better, their child enjoyed the program, and their confidence in reading improved.

As the parent of one of our students put it, “If you believe in it, you can do it!”

The EnCompass Summer School Pilot proved to be a successful partnership between Right Path to Learning, Sylvan Learning, and the families and staff of EnCompass Academy.

The school staff was thrilled with the overall academic improvements and is eager to partner again next spring. Based on the success last summer, Right Path to Learning will provide additional services to the Oakland Unified School District students in the advancement of its goal of ensuring that 2,000 under-resourced students reach literacy by the end of 3rd grade.

“Our children made substantial progress in confidence and in reading growth. Because of that, a student shared that she is now spending two hours at the library because she is able to read better,” said Minh-Tram Nguyen, principal at OUSD’s EnCompass Academy. “That’s a powerful testimony to the program’s success, and we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with Right Path to Learning,” she continued.

Right Path to Learning program will move from a Summer School program to an After School program starting January 2022.

In 10 years, these third graders will be 18-year-old adult members of our community, on their way to productive lives and life-long learning.

For more information, visit www.RightPathtoLearning.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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