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January 2014

State finds district's categorical programs to be in compliance with state and federal law



After an intensive review process, state officials have determined that Montebello Unified is only the second of 60 school districts across California this school year to meet all state and federal requirements for the implementation of its categorical programs.

By law, the California Department of Education is mandated to monitor the implementation of specific supplemental programs that are funded by state and federal tax dollars and come with a special set of regulations on how that money can be spent. These programs are designed to ensure all students, including those who are academically at-risk, receive the education and support they need to reach their potential.

During a visit from the CDE January 21-24, a comprehensive review was conducted on several programs across multiple school sites, including the District’s Career Technical Education and English Learner programs; Compensatory Education Program, which ensures all children obtain a high-quality education and reach proficiency on challenging state academic standards; Fiscal Monitoring Program, which ensures that the District expends the categorical funding in line with state and federal law; and the Improving Teacher Quality Program, which is aimed at providing professional development to ensure highly qualified teachers. According to the Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) Report issued by the CDE, every single program evaluated was found to be in compliance with state and federal law.

“This is an intensive, but important process that provides oversight of school district spending of these vital resources,” said MUSD Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith. “I want to extend my gratitude to all of our dedicated staff members here in Montebello Unified who work tirelessly to ensure that these programs are not only meeting the needs of our students, but that they are also meeting the stringent requirements set forth by the state and federal governments.”

The CDE’s monitoring process takes place at every California school district every four years and includes the review of board policies, District and school plans and procedures; classroom observations to ensure professional development training is being implemented and that instruction is meeting the needs of students; the review of student data and programs aimed at assisting underperforming students; interviews with parent committees and staff; and a review of budgets and expenditures.

The Montebello Unified School District’s positive review is due to the creation of structures and procedures district wide to ensure compliance, regular communication with school sites and with various district departments, and the performance of annual mock FPM compliance reviews.


MUSD Partner distributes eyeglasses to 125 


From late morning and into the early afternoon, students filed in to the nurse’s office with vision problems, but left with a new pair of eyeglasses to help them reach their academic potential.

About 125 students on Jan. 23 received glasses free of cost due to Montebello Unified’s more than decade-long partnership with Helen Keller International, a nonprofit organization that works to “save the sight and lives of the world’s most vulnerable.”
Helen Keller International provides vision screenings to more than 15,000 children throughout Los Angeles County every year through its ChildSight program. In Montebello Unified, representatives from the organization screen all MUSD students in the sixth grade and 10th grade annually.

“It’s so important for us to be able to connect our students to their most basic needs so that they have every chance to succeed,” said MUSD Superintendent Cleve Pell. “This is one of many strong partnerships we have with local organizations that are helping us in our goal to educate all children of our communities.”

When Bell Gardens High sophomore Alvin Baez was in the sixth-grade at Montebello Unified’s Suva Intermediate, he got his first pair of glasses through the ChildSight program. Now four years later, Baez has managed to maintain the same set, though they have become too small for his face and the prescription has become too weak to meet his vision needs. He received a new pair during the Jan. 23 distribution.

“During the last school year, I really started to notice my vision starting to fail again and I had to ask my teachers if I could sit at the front of class,” Baez said. “With these new ones, I can already notice the difference.”
In total, Helen Keller International screened more than 700 Bell Gardens High School students to determine which students needed full eye exams. Of those who needed eye exams, 125 were determined to require eyeglasses. Students had the ability to choose their own frames from a variety of styles.

"The ChildSight program provides students throughout Los Angeles County with a tool that will help them succeed academically,” said Jorge Valdez, program manager for ChildSight California. “Eighty percent of what a child learns is through vision. With the eyeglasses ChildSight provides, students will have the opportunity to learn at their full potential.”

Above and Beyond Award

SanchezCongratulations to Sylvia Sanchez from Suva Elementary! On January 16th she was recognized with the Above and Beyond Award in recognition of her selfless community service.

Ms. Sanchez has organized donations of food, clothing, & monies for a family of our district. She is always there to lend a helping hand to anyone without hesitation. Many times she has organized donations for needy families and no matter how many times she is called upon, she meets each request with a smile and unsurpassed compassion.

Thank you for everything you do!