Deadline approaches to vote for or against Tuscan Water District Some TWD residents say they had no chance to become board candidates

Landowners in the proposed Tuscan Water District received this ballot in the mail.

by Leslie Layton
posted Sept. 16

Ballots on whether to form the Tuscan Water District (TWD) in northwestern Butte County have been mailed to landowners — without any argument opposing a formation. The proposed district was the subject of debate for hours at public meetings earlier this year.

Only an argument in favor of formation of TWD -– which will have a landowner-based voting structure that will give the largest enterprises thousands of votes -– appears on the ballot that must be postmarked by Sept. 20. The ballot asks, with a single question, whether TWD should be approved with an annual parcel assessment of up to $10 per acre. Landowning voters can also choose nine people for the board of directors from a list of 11 candidates, most of whom are known already as TWD proponents. read more

Chico Unified faces staffing and fatigue issues Inflation will raise District costs, but state funding may reach a high

This CUSD general fund graph compares projected cash flow for the coming academic year (red-dotted line) with the two previous years.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Aug. 1

Chico Unified School District is struggling to solve the staffing and fatigue problems plaguing schools across the nation — even with its coffers well-funded for the coming academic year.

Chico Unified Teachers Association President Kevin Moretti said teachers have been aided by smaller class sizes, block schedules at the high schools and more aides “when we can find them.”

However, new funding may not necessarily solve all staffing problems. Like many school districts across the country, Chico Unified has seen an increase in retirements and resignations during the pandemic. The district has raised the wages for lower-paid positions that are at a premium, like classroom aides and bus drivers. read more

CUSD plans take shape to address achievement gaps Equity leadership funding in question

photo by Leslie Layton
Parents demonstrate for equity outside a Board of Education meeting after the suspension of Rosedale equity lead Joana Campos Castañeda.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Aug. 2

While Chico Unified’s school board finalizes a budget for the coming year, it also has approved a plan for using state funds to address academic achievement gaps.

Parents and educators, however, said as recently as school board meetings in late June that their requests for improving the district’s approach to equity for all students have gone unanswered.

The board approved an adjusted plan for the 2021-2022 academic year to address gaps in reading and writing among students of color, particularly English learners, at all grade levels, as part of the Local Control Accountability Plan process. (The LCAP involves the district’s plan for using state funding to identify areas of need and tackle learning obstacles.) The school board agreed to designate a so-called “equity lead” on every campus to handle diversity events and discussions. read more

The tracks of our tears Attending 'Memorial for the Fallen' for victims of police killings

photo by Karen Laslo
At left, Gabriel Sanchez is now 17 and was only 10 when his father, Eddie Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Sanchez, was killed by Chico police. At right is Gabe Sanchez’s stepmother, Sheryl Sanchez.

by George Gold
guest commentary July 24

While this great Smokey Robinson song isn’t directly related to the event held yesterday honoring some of the precious lives lost at the hands of the Chico Police Department, there were tears in the room as we listened to the parents, uncles, brothers and sisters tell stories of people who should be alive today.

If we could just get our police to grow some humanity and some skills in how to de-escalate difficult interactions between police and our neighbors, we might see some progress. read more

Saturday event recalls people killed by police Memorial brings 7 families together on fifth anniversary of Tyler Rushing’s death

Paula Rushing with her late son Tyler

by Dave Waddell
posted July 21

The year was 1976 and Paula Staben from Santa Paula was a senior child development major at Chico State. She lived off campus at Gordon Hall, an “all-girls dormitory.” As that year’s activities director for Alpha Chi, Paula frequented the sorority’s distinctive yellow house at the corner of Fourth and Orient streets. There, she coordinated events such as theme dinners and movie nights.

Paula completed her bachelor’s degree, returned to Ventura County, and married Scott Rushing, a real estate broker and property manager. She became mom to Tyler and, a couple of years later, to Hillary. She directed a preschool. She launched a 17-year public school teaching career after her children went off to school. read more

Disinformation dampens enthusiasm for Covid vaccinations In Butte County, misinformation appears to affect case rates

This graph from Butte County Public Health’s Covid page shows the comparatively low vaccination rate as cases surged nationwide in recent months.

by Natalie Hanson
posted July 7

As California assesses the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, public health experts say they are concerned about managing future health emergencies after battling a disinformation crisis.

For the last two years, county public health departments have been tasked to respond to a pandemic unlike anything seen in decades. As guidance from the California Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for managing local crises shifted weekly, local departments like Butte County’s faced an enormous task of keeping the public informed using rapidly changing methods, including Facebook and YouTube – with mixed results. read more