Gorelick honored

Galt Joint Union High School District trustees, Liberty Ranch Principal Joe Saramago, Superintendent William Spalding and Director of Special Education Teri Brown present special education teacher Mitch Gorelick with a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement in Special Education at the Dec. 19 board meeting.

Starting the meeting off on two high notes, the Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) Board of Trustees honored Liberty Ranch High School special education teacher Mitch Gorelick for exemplary service, and the Galt Community of Character Coalition honored Liberty Ranch student Myracle Lynch with a Responsibility Award (see separate story). The board also chose leadership for 2020 and new meeting times, and heard a maintenance and operations report.

The board voted to keep Trustee Dan Denier as the board chair and elected Trustee Melissa Neuburger as board clerk. Meeting location and days will stay the same, the first Thursday of each month at City Hall, but chose to move the meeting time to 6:30 p.m. January will be the exception due to New Year’s. The January meeting will be held on Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Meladee McCarty, orthopedic impairment specialist consultant working with the district, read a statement regarding special education teacher Gorelick. In her statement, McCarty highlighted the tremendous effort Gorelick put in for all of his students, students that have special needs with various challenges, including ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, cerebral palsy, brain damage, and visual, hearing, speech and language impairments.

“Mitch is one of those rare teachers who manages to be consistent in his program delivery and content, to reach a variety of students at different ability levels in numerous content levels, and model for students that he is there to help [them] and, if they need additional support, all they are required to do is ask,” McCarty said.

McCarty quipped that, in the past three years, she hasn’t seen Gorelick sit down.

“He is a mover and he can spot a student in trouble at 20 feet,” McCarty said. “He is very mindful and thoughtful in his language and approach to students. Even when faced with students with a variety of behavioral challenges, Mitch is able to see past the behavior and understand the underlying need and interest of the student. He doesn’t resort to shame or blame, he goes for the direct support and provides a student with what they need to know, not what they are failing to understand. He has a lot of heart for what he does in life, and it shows.”

Liberty Ranch Principal Joe Saramago agreed with McCarty about Gorelick’s dedication.

“As principal, I can’t tell you how proud I am to have a teacher like Mr. Gorelick on my campus,” Saramago said.

Gorelick is the mastermind behind the “Social Exchange Program” at the high school.

Seeing many special needs students with “social pragmatic difficulties” and students having a difficult time “fitting in”, Gorelick teamed up with his wife and fellow teacher at the school.

The program sees leadership students teamed up with those with social difficulties. The students work on verbal and nonverbal communication skills and, according to Gorelick, the results have been amazing.

“Students who haven’t felt involved and part of our community here at Liberty Ranch, they feel like that know,” Gorelick said. “They have someone to turn to, someone they know, someone on campus, and their social skills really do grow. When they get to have meaningful conversation with their peers is where the growth happens.”

Saramago presented Gorelick with a Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in special education, after which the entire board shook hands with Gorelick.

Director of Maintenance and Operations Nic Guedenet gave an update on his department regarding APPA Staffing Standards utilized by the education community.

The standard uses a scale of a 1-5 rating system, with Level 5 being the worst, only working in a crisis response type mode, to Level 1, which indicates a “Showpiece” facility/grounds.

Although not asking for staffing changes at this time, Guedenet reported that the district is currently operating at Level 4 or Level 5 in many areas due to lack of staffing.

According to Guedenet, there is nearly 355,000 square feet of interior used areas for only two full-time maintenance employees to cover, and that will only increase once the new two-story science building is complete at Galt High School.

Using the APPA Staffing Standards, GJUHSD maintenance staffing scores between a Level 4, “Reactive Maintenance” and Level 5, “Crisis Response”. To reach a Level 3, “Managed Care”, the district would need 3.75 full time equivalent (FTE) staffers.

Custodial staffing also scored between Level 4, “Moderately Dingy”, and 5, “Unkempt Neglect”, for the 355,000 square feet. Currently, there are 11 FTE custodial staffers. Guedenet said he would need 13.5 FTE for custodial to reach a Level 3, “Casual”.

As far as grounds staffing, there are three FTE positions to cover nearly 77 acres of district properties, making the district score a 4, or “Moderately Low-Level” of care.

To staff to industry standard Level 2, “High Level”, GJUHSD would need seven FTE for ground care.

Guedenet also showed how much the district was spending on reactive maintenance as compared to preventative. So far this year, the district has spent $41,679 on preventative maintenance and $185,608 on reactive maintenance; and daily operations have cost $624,264 so far this year.

Operation work orders this year were also reported on. There have been 542 work orders at Galt High with a price tag of $170,482; 444 work orders at Liberty Ranch High School costing $64,517; 53 work orders for the Adult Ed facility behind Galt High at $11,784; and 115 work orders at Estrellita High at $3,463.

Grounds, plumbing and fire protection made up the bulk of the costs affiliated with the work orders.

In other business, trustees heard reports on the 2019 California School Dashboard results and the early warning system in PowerSchool (see full story next week), and approved calendars for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.