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Network of California Districts to Explore the Enigma of Engaging Parents

By John Fensterwald, EdSource

California plans to spend $13.3 million over six years to identify and replicate successful ingredients of community engagement, an essential but, for many school districts, elusive part of local control — the shorthand for setting budgeting and academic priorities under the state’s school financing law.

The new money — included in the 2018-19 budget — will fund a network that eventually will reach as many as 80 districts. The funding represents the first substantial state effort to strengthen community involvement as required under the law, known as the Local Control Funding Formula. The school funding law, which Gov. Jerry Brown championed, shifted control over decision-making from Sacramento to school districts.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

Saga of a San Francisco ‘Historic Laundromat’

By Joe Eskenazi, Mission Local

First things first, here it is. Here’s the 137-page historical study of a laundromat, underwritten to the tune of $23,000 by Robert Tillman, who hopes to build an eight-story, 75-unit tower atop where the washers and dryers now churn at Mission and 25th streets.

And it turns out that, decades ago, several groups whose actions have helped shape the Mission did meet here, organize here, paint murals here — but the building was subsequently revamped and converted into a laundromat. So this structure is not historical.

It’s a laundromat.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.

Exploring the Promise — and Unintended Consequences — of Rent Control

By Chris Nichols, Capital Public Radio/CALmatters

Toy cars are scattered across the floor in Marie Camacho’s small one-bedroom apartment in Sacramento. Photos of her 4-year-old boy, Julian, line the walls. The 32-year-old single mom juggles two part-time jobs, but she can’t stand to be away from her son.

“He likes being around his mom,” said Camacho. “And I’m the only one. … I’m mom and dad. So, it makes it even worse.”

Camacho’s California dream — of raising Julian in a safe, affordable home with family, school and her church nearby — is getting tougher. Her rent is going up — way up — from about $600 a month to more than $1,000 a month. She can’t afford that jump. And her landlord is not giving her the chance. Instead, she received a 60-day eviction notice, filling her with fear about the future.

Read the complete story at Capital Public Radio/CALmatters.

Getting Free College Tuition in California: A Quick Guide

By Nico Savidge, EdSource

More than 1.3 million low- and middle-income students attend California’s public colleges and universities each year without having to pay tuition, thanks to financial aid programs in each of the state’s higher education systems that cover those bills.

A California law that allows for a free first year of tuition at the state’s community colleges made headlines in 2017.

But close to half of students at the 114 California community colleges already attended tuition free before the law was signed. At four-year universities, about 60 percent of students in the 23 campus California State University system, and the same share of in-state undergraduates in the 10-campus University of California system, attend tuition free as well.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

Out With Soda, Juice and Chocolate Milk — California Could Become First State to Restrict Kids’ Meals

By Elizabeth Castillo, CALmatters

As the food court at a Sacramento mall buzzed with families on a recent summer day, Emily Wickelgren and her daughter Thea were enjoying lunch at Subway. The 7-year-old opted for water with her sandwich instead of soda or juice.

“I do have unusual kids in that neither one of them likes soda and they don’t really like juice,” said Wickelgren, the mom of two daughters.

This is what many legislators hope will be the new norm for more California families. Under a bill advancing in the Capitol, restaurants could offer only water or milk with meals marketed for children. Not soda. Not juice. Not chocolate milk.

Read the complete story at CALmatters. 

Suicide by Train: Will Technology Offer a Solution?

By Tonya Mosley, KQED News Fix

Caroline Camhy didn’t have a plan the night she decided to grab a lawn chair and sit along the Caltrain tracks near her home. It was Oct. 20, 2009, and all she knew was that teenagers were killing themselves, and she had to do something.

"At that point I had a son coming into third grade and a son coming into fifth grade, and I started to think of what was going to happen," says Camhy, at her home office in Palo Alto. "What was I doing? Why was I here? What was I doing here? And how could I continue to live here when, just down the street, students of our local high school and middle school were taking their lives?"

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

Imagine the Future San Francisco Bay Shoreline

By Zach St. George, Bay Nature

On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy washed into the eastern United States. The storm killed 191 people, razed much of the Jersey Shore, flooded part of Lower Manhattan, and damaged or destroyed 600,000 homes. All told, it caused something like $65 billion in damage and economic loss. Sea level rise alone wasn’t responsible for the destruction, but sea level rise made it worse.

Since 1900, the world’s oceans have risen about 8 inches, due both to thermal expansion of the warming waters and to meltwater from glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The scientists of the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change estimated that by the end of this century, the waters might rise 3 more feet and quite possibly more than that. Higher water means bigger surges during storms, which push masses of water ahead of them. Surveying Sandy’s wake, federal and state officials realized that rebuilding the coast as it existed before the last storm wouldn’t help prepare it for the next one.

Read the complete story at Bay Nature.

For additional information on this issue, read the San Francisco Public Press special reports on sea level rise

Housing Crisis? State Agency Says Someone Making $200K Deserves House-Buying Help.

By Matt Levin, CALmatters

When the California Housing Finance Agency was created in 1975 in Gov. Jerry Brown’s first term, the mission was simple: help low- and moderate-income families buy their first home.

More than 40 years later, amid skyrocketing housing prices and near-record low homeownership rates, that goal is getting harder and harder to attain. So much so that the agency has quite  redefined what it means to be “moderate income” in California — and its definition of “moderate” may be different from yours.

In fiscal year 2016, only 124 households making over $100,000 obtained a loan through the agency, accounting for only 3 percent of the mortgages offered by the agency.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

California’s Expanding Care Options for Boomers With Dementia — but Still Falling Short of the Need

By David Gorn, CALmatters

Rob Lyman of Redwood City didn’t know what to do. He was helping his aunt, Sharron Evans, who had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and needed constant supervision. A former teacher, she had run out of money and had no income.

She qualified for government health care assistance, but it appeared she would have to go to the only setting that would be covered: a nursing home.

“Basically that’s a hospital setting, and that was our only choice,” Lyman said. To him, that didn’t make sense.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

Changes to Proposition 13 Could Mean Big Costs for Governments

By Katie Orr, KQED News/The California Report

A potential expansion to California’s Proposition 13 would likely mean increased home sales and higher revenues for realtors. But there’s disagreement on how the measure could affect the state’s finances.

Proposition 13 limits annual property tax increases on California homes. Since voters passed the proposition in 1978, the law has limited taxes on any piece of property as long as it remains under the same ownership. When it changes hands, the taxed value of the property is reassessed.

Read the complete story at KQED News/The California Report.