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Letters to the Editor
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CUTA ad crossed over the line

Editor, Ceres Courier,

Over the last few years, the leadership of the Ceres Unified Teachers Association has attempted to use my administration and me as pawns in their quest to be involved in the political process of electing board members that support their objectives. Professionally, over the last three elections I chose not to respond to the attacks, including such things as printing a caricature of me that represented me as Adolph Hitler. I have been described by CUTA as authoritarian, dictatorial and, most recently, a "hit man." I chose to write this letter because I believe the recent paid political advertisement provided to your readers by the union leaders crossed the line of personal attacks to distortions and lies in an attempt to mislead Ceres voters. With this in mind, I will address each point in the piece, item by item:

1. We have built new schools and renovated our older schools. We have also hired great leaders and have made changes that have positively impacted our students and teachers. The quality of work by the dedicated and hard working CUSD teachers would not take place, if they did not feel valued and supported. This is evidenced by student achievement that is at an all-time high.

2. We have many opportunities for teacher involvement in our district decision-making, including the District Curriculum Council, which makes most if not all of the decisions related to the instruction of our students. Teachers are asked to volunteer to participate on the Council. Both in the past and presently, union leaders are members of the Council.

3. We have never punished any teacher who offered opinions. If such a person existed the union could identify him/her and state the actual facts. No such facts exist.

4. The union is correct, seldom is there great disagreement within the Board on the decisions they make, even though two of the members were endorsed by CUTA in the last election and one of the members is a former CUTA union leader. The California School Board Association teaches that Board members need to work as an effective team by establishing a clear vision of what they want produced and expecting the staff they hire to "make it happen." Why in the world would a board member vote against what they want to happen?

5. The board always adheres to the requirements of the law whenever it meets in closed session. Such law exists to safeguard sensitive information including student and personnel issues. There has never been a legal challenge against the Board alleging a violation of the Brown Act. This charge is false and misleading.

6. The charge concerning censureship of a board member is probably the most outrageous. The union leadership published false charges against the board in a newsletter and the board demanded an investigation by the Stanislaus Grand Jury to clear their names. The Grand Jury reviewed the case and found no imperative to investigate. Former CUTA union leader, Board Member Betty Davis apologized, in a public board meeting, for releasing confidential information to the union leadership that was misrepresented by the union in their publication. The board has moved on and CUTA continues to distort the facts.

7. I remember the comment, "boss," that was made by a board member in a public meeting. It was a back-handed joke on an insignificant item, which apparently the union leadership misunderstood. Make no mistake, the board controls Ceres Unified School District. My job is to make their vision happen, which I am proud to say has taken place. Better test scores, better school facilities, parent connections, and accountability of staff are happening. I was selected as the 2007 California Superintendent of the Year because CUSD staff has been successful in producing extraordinary results of which all of us should be proud.

Over the last seven years, it has been an honor to serve the children of our community as well as each of the board members the voters have elected to ensure the best education possible for those children. My hope and prayer is that the voters will not allow the lies and distortions asserted by CUTA union leaders to sway your view of the work being done.

Walt Hanline,




Second-hand smoke ills well documented

Editor, Ceres Courier,

You are fortunate to have never known anyone who died from lung cancer from living with a smoker. The sad truth is it does happen. The American Lung Association reports 3,400 people die each year from second-hand smoke. And 46,000 die each year from heart disease. And 300,000 children from birth to 18 months suffer from upper respiratory infection. And up to one million children suffer from asthma. Then there is the smokers' contribution to SIDS. The state of Arizona air quality reports that the greatest health problem of second-hand smoke is those who suffer from strokes, not a well-known fact. All the abve is a result of second-hand smoke.

As one who suffered from asthma from birth till leaving home - and one whose mother died from suffering many strokes - I am very thankful for the regulations against smoking in any public place. People who have lung problems are even affected by pollen, cosmetics, potpourri, very fine dust, etc.

Jeff, thanks for the fine article on the "nanny state mentality." And I, for one, don't wait for the state to regulate my environment. When I see people I know well enough to speak to them about smoking I always speak in terms of living long enough and being healthy enough to see their grandchildren grow up and graduate, or get married. They never turn a deaf ear, they never tell me to buzz off, but always they tell me that they wish they could stop smoking. I hope that for them, too!

Butch Blanton,



Supporting Jim Kinard

Editor, Ceres Courier,

We would like to encourage the citizens of Ceres to vote for Jim Kinard for the Ceres Unified School District Board of Trustees. We have known Jim, both professionally and socially, for approximately 25 years and consider him to be a man of exceptional integrity and intelligence.

In his personal life, Jim and his wife Aileen have provided a loving, supportive home for their children and grandchildren. In addition, Aileen has provided nurturing day care for children of working parents which resulted in Jim and Aileen becoming an extra set of parents/grandparents to those fortunate children.

Professionally, Jim has been a dedicated teacher at Westport and Atkinson schools in Ceres for 26 years. His commitment to the educational and personal welfare of his students earned him the respect of those students and their parents as will as his administrators and fellow teachers. His knowledge of the educational process and his cooperative attitude will make him a definite asset on the School Board.

If you care about children and their education, as we do, please join us in voting for Jim Kinard for the CUSD Board of Trustees.

Zanetta and Richard Erickson,



Talking to CUTA would foster better relations

Editor, Ceres Courier,

It is interesting to hear from Mr. Welsh with his Oct. 3 editorial message. We are surprised that he and the incumbent candidates would desire to meet with the teachers seeking their endorsement. Mr. Welsh and the other incumbent candidates have never invited the teacher leadership to meet with them to hear teacher points of view, discuss solutions to the problems that exist, or to give the School Board needed specific information. School Board members overall feel they can't or won't meet with teacher leadership. Consequently, we figured it would be a waste of the board members' and teachers' time. We apologize for that oversight.

We would hope that in the future, the perspective of not talking to teachers will be changed on the School Board so that cooperation, respect and trust will prevail and positive communication can take place. This new positive communication can have a great influence throughout the district filtering into the classroom creating even more success for students since teachers will see, by actions, they are respected and important to the school board.

We invite all School Board members to come to teacher association meetings to discuss instructional and educational issues, or the School Board could invite the teacher leadership to special planned meetings to do the same thing. We feel it would also be helpful for board members to sit in on negotiations to hear both sides of issues. Only when the School Board feels it is important to rebuild this relationship with teachers by including teachers in the decision-making process, will trust and mutual respect be developed. Isn't problem solving of these kinds if issues a major reason why School Board members are elected by the citizens of the district?

David Bean,


Ceres Unified Teachers Assoc. PAC


CUTA just wants control

Editor, Ceres Courier,

This letter is in regards to the ads placed in the Courier endorsing specific candidates for the upcoming School Board election.

I am very concerned that it appears that the CUTA is trying to control the board by getting persons elected who are sympathetic to their cause. When school boards are made up by citizens from all walks of life, they tend to be more productive and have the best interest of the children at heart. The current School Board seems to have that vision as evidenced by the many facility upgrades and new school construction projects that have been completed during their term of office. I feel that is more important than healing the hurt feelings of a few disgruntled employees. The new schools and re-conditioned facilities will be greatly appreciated by parents, students and the community for many years to come.

As a former employee of a local school district, I have come to know how important school facilities are in the educational process of children. The current School Board seems to recognize that.

Larry Walters,



In Wal-Mart's defense

Editor, Ceres Courier,

In answer to Wal-Mart comments, yes, we do need a Wal-Mart Supercenter. It's a great place to work and shop! By the way, Wal-Mart donates of a lot of good causes. In fact, lot of it is for the town of Ceres. As for how it treats its associates, I worked there and it was like a big caring family. I have also worked for union places. I never did get the benefits like I did at Wal-Mart, vacation, paid sick days and paid 401K, free barbecues and lunches. Also, profit sharing! All managers treat you with respect.

Catherine Cipponeri,