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Will Fresno Unified Pay a SoCal Firm $55 a Page to Proofread Literacy Plan?

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Fresno Unified's ambitious literacy goals include all students reading by the end of first grade. (Shutterstock)
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On Wednesday Fresno Unified trustees are scheduled to vote on a contract for copy-editing and proofreading services to “enhance the quality and readability” of the district’s 300-page Literacy Plan. The district’s goal for employing the outside contractor, VMA Communications of Claremont in Southern California, is to make sure that the Literacy Plan is, well, literate.

(VMA notes in its Communications Project Proposal that the company will “correct punctuation, grammar, spelling, usage, typos, and capitalization” but “cannot guarantee that the final document will be completely error-free.”)

 

Check out earlier School Zone columns and other education news stories at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

The proposal to use Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant Funds for the contract has the OK of Natasha Baker, the district’s chief academic officer. Baker, who has a doctorate in education, has been deeply involved in the plan’s creation, as have a number of the district’s highly educated (and compensated) administrators and staffers.

School Zone is no stranger to the danger of typos and the need for good editing. (Thanks Bill!) But School Zone’s eyebrows shot up at the contract cost — VMA’s billing rate is $185 per hour, for an estimated total cost of $16,500. (School Zone’s meager math skills were sufficient to calculate that this comes out to $55 per page.)

So, why would a district with a billion-dollar budget and highly educated staffers, some of whom probably even majored in English, need to outsource proofreading for the Literacy Plan? And if there aren’t any in-house staffers already on the payroll who could run the document through Microsoft’s spellchecker, aren’t there any qualified local firms whose staffers know the difference between there, their, and they’re?


Also in School Zone: 

  • Free school lunches will continue for Fresno students during winter break.
  • Want to attend the next Clovis board meeting? You’ll need a long lunch break.

No Classes Does Not Mean No Lunches

Fresno Unified is making sure that students whose families are contending with food insecurity can still get a solid and nutritious meal at school during the holidays this year.

The district will provide free lunches at 19 schools from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The meals are available to all children ages 1 to 18 but must be eaten on site.

Meals will be provided at Ahwahnee, Computech, Cooper, Kings Canyon, Tehipite, and Tenaya middle schools and Duncan Polytechnical High School Dec. 18-21 and Jan. 2-5; at Bullard, Duncan, Edison, Fresno, Hoover, McLane, Roosevelt and Sunnyside high schools and Fulton Continuation Dec. 19-Jan. 5; and at Cambridge, DeWolf, Fulton, J.E. Young and Phoenix Secondary continuation schools Dec. 18-Jan. 4.

Fresno Unified will introduce the winter meal program, plus some of its newest chefs who are working to produce nutritious, from-scratch food items, on Monday at Bullard High.

Clovis Board Conducting Rare Lunchtime Meeting

Clovis Unified trustees may get less public comment than usual at the board’s meeting this week. The public portion is scheduled to start at noon on Friday. The board will meet in the regular meeting boardroom in the Professional Development Building at 1680 David E. Cook Way in Clovis.

Typically, the board meets on alternating Wednesdays, with the public meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Meetings are usually held in the events to allow for more public participation among folks who work 9-5.

Friday’s agenda is fairly routine and will kick off with reorganizing the board leadership, an annual event, followed by a public hearing on granting an easement to the Fresno Irrigation District to lay pipeline across district property.

Daytime December meetings are also traditional, and are the result of political necessity, district spokeswoman Kelly Avants tells School Zone in an email.

“Because the county has a deadline related to the first interim budget report and the state has a deadline about certifying elections that only meet on that Friday in December (otherwise one would be too early and the other would be too late). Though we don’t have an election this year, starting a while back we moved to holding our Dec. meeting on that Friday. It’s during the day because it is a Friday and because if we do have new board members elected it gives us a chance to do a little meet and greet time as well that their family could attend.”

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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