Sheldon Chavan of Chavan & Associates in San Jose presented his firm's audit findings to the school board on Feb. 13. The board unanimously accepted the report with no discussion.
Chavan said turnover in district leadership over the last year — including the departures of the superintendent and chief business official, who left amid warnings of fiscal insolvency and budget cuts — delayed the audit and impacted the findings. The audit also cites personnel cuts and time-strapped staff as contributing factors. The district's controller position was unfilled for most of last year.
The audit found that the district had counted "newcomer" students in the federal child nutrition breakfast program more than once, mistakenly claiming 3,196 duplicated student breakfasts and 72 duplicated student lunches for reimbursement during the year.
The district must return $5,807 in federal reimbursements and has taken action in its point of sale software to reject duplicate claims, according to a staff report.
Ravenswood also will be penalized $18,409 for exceeding the state's ratio of administrative employees to teachers.
Ravenswood's audit report has been filed, as is mandated, with the San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools, the state Department of Education and the state Controller's Office.
The Ravenswood City School District did not return requests for comment.
Autopilot steered Tesla into median
A 38-year-old Apple engineer died from a high-speed crash because his Tesla Model X's Autopilot driving system steered the car into a median on Highway 101 in Mountain View in 2018, federal officials concluded Tuesday, following a two-year inquiry.
The probable cause of the crash, approved by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) at the Feb. 25 meeting, lays significant blame on Tesla for shortcomings in the electric car company's partially autonomous driving system. But it also points to driver complacency as a significant factor in the crash — he was likely playing a video game at the time — along with larger concerns that car manufacturers are marketing and selling autonomous features without adequate testing and clear disclosure of the limitations.
The NTSB had blasted Caltrans for failing to repair safety equipment along Highway 101 that contributed to the severity of the crash, and found that the driver would have likely survived the collision if a safety buffer called an "attenuator" had been in place at the median.
"When all of these combine, we end up with a tragic accident and one less father that's coming home to the child he had just dropped off to school that morning," said NTSB board chair Robert Sumwalt.
Schools to replace obsolete textbooks
Since California adopted the new Next Generation Science Standards four years ago, teachers in Palo Alto Unified have made do with "obsolete" textbooks by using supplemental resources and their own materials.
An advisory committee is now recommending that the district approve a new science textbook, Amplify Science, to be rolled out to all sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
The district convened the middle school science textbook selection advisory committee in 2018 to select curricula to pilot, design the pilot and then make a recommendation based on the results.
The results, however, were "inconclusive," according to a staff report, so the district extended the pilot into fall 2019 and chose two more curricula to test out. Of the six science textbooks that EdReports reviewed in its first round of the new middle school science materials, only Amplify Science met expectations for alignment to the state's science standards.
The committee's vote to recommend Amplify Science was nearly unanimous, with 11 members voting in support and one person against it. The new curricula will cost in total about $850,000 over eight years.
The board is set to vote on the recommended science curriculum at its next meeting in March.
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