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TUSD fills two new positions, adds foster youth advocate

Following administrative changes made by Turlock Unified School District Interim Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan in June, the Board of Trustees took action on Tuesday to appoint Marjorie Bettencourt to the position of interim Director of Assessment and Accountability.

This was the only position left vacant last month after former Director of Assessment and Accountability Laurie Harrington was moved to her new position as Interim Assistant Principal at Turlock Junior High School.

 “We didn’t have to go far to find an expert in data analysis and math,” said Trevethan. “When I think of a mathematician, I think of Marjorie. When I think of someone who can take complicated data and numbers and make it simple for everyone to understand, I think of Marjorie.”

Prior to being appointed as the interim Director of Assessment and Accountability on Tuesday, Bettencourt has worked at Turlock High School since 1993, where she has served as a math teacher.

“I am excited and looking forward to this new opportunity to work with teachers in the district in a different way,” said Bettencourt. “My goal is to help teachers break down data to better serve students in order to create a good reflection of what is being taught in the classroom.”

Additionally, Erica Maldonado-Higle was appointed as the Coordinator of English Learner Support, which was another new position approved by the district in June.

“As a result of our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) steering committee and recommendations and feedback from all stakeholders, we immediately recognized that we have some holes related to our English learners and that we were not fulfilling those needs,” said Trevethan.

“I am elated to have Erica join us. She has a wealth of expertise and knowledge and I really believe she will be the advocate in our district for English learners,” added Trevethan.

Maldonado-Higle will provide support and leadership to TUSD administrators and classroom teachers in the duties and functions necessary to achieve the goals of the TUSD English Learner Master Plan and to coordinate the planning, development and implementation of all assessment for English Learners.

Duties and responsibilities for this position include, but are not limited to, appraising student performance and review student placement and progress, working closely with principals in coordinating and implementing goals and objectives of the district and English Learner program, and maintaining comprehensive records for English Learner and special funded projects.

Prior to her appointment, Maldonado-Higle taught at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy since 1999, where she worked as a third grade teacher and primary literacy support teacher.

“I am excited to help out in supporting second language learners as I was a former second language learner myself,” said Maldonado-Higle. “I look forward to supporting students in TUSD just as I was supported.”

The district also took action to approve the job description for a Foster Youth Program Specialist, which will provide essential support to all foster youth through TUSD.

“This came about as a result of one of the LCAP meetings and there was extensive discussion regarding this because we need to bolster our support for our foster youth kids,” said Director of Human Resources Rod Hollars.

“This here couldn’t have come at a better time because Stanislaus County is one of the prime areas that they move foster kids to,” added Hollars.

The Foster Youth Program Specialist will work under the Director of Student Services Gil Ogden in order to implement all components of the Homeless Education and Foster Youth Services Programs by ensuring all educational student rights are met.

“More and more of these kids need an advocate and they need an advocate not just to take care of them and work with them and work with the family service agencies that house them, they need advocates to make sure they stay in school,” said Hollars.

The district reported that these rights include verifying that students remain enrolled and attend school, have the same academic resources, services and enrichment activities as other students, have access to information regarding their education options, and protections from being penalized for school absences due to placement changes, court appearances or related court ordered activities.

The Foster Youth Program Specialist will also collaborate with the Stanislaus County Office of Education, district staff, community agencies, child protective services, care providers, foster family agencies and health department.

“I am very pleased to see this, because there really is a need,” said Board member Eileen Hamilton.

The Foster Youth Program Specialist will be paid according to the Student Support Personnel Salary Schedule, which was also approved on Tuesday to reflect the new position.

The 2015-16 Student Support Personnel Salary Schedule includes 205 workdays for the Foster Youth Program Specialist and will incorporate a five step schedule beginning at $77,908 with the potential of earning $102,541 at the final step.