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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Support for SLC, library

Turnout at council meeting

 

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Girl Scout Troop #2447, led by Bobbi Camacho, lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance at Tuesday's council meeting.

A number of residents spoke in support of the expansion of the Shafter Learning Center and the Shafter Branch Library at Tuesday's City Council meeting

Dr. David Franz, director of the Education Partnership of Shafter, and America Nino-Rodriguez of the Shafter Learning Center gave a presentation in February on the progress the SLC has made since opening and the increase in the amount of people, young and old, who are utilizing the Learning Center as well as the library.

Franz said the current site is "a little cramped" and they also could use more classrooms to accommodate the growth in classes and programs. He said now they are even holding some classes in little more than hallway space.

At this latest meeting, Franz told the council that a report they made regarding the options for the future of the facility was completed and should be online for them to view this week. Franz said that they looked into what a relocation would entail, as well as an expansion.

In addition to more room for classrooms, there is also the possibility of creating a Children's Library that would be dedicated to a large collection of books for children, meeting a growing need. Shafter Branch Coordinator Ethan Pickman said that the library section of the building has been averaging over 500 people a day -- in addition to the large crowds that they draw during special events, such as their summer break events, which a couple of times had to be moved to the Shafter Veterans Hall because demand was so high. The Reptile Show that took place over the summer added a date to its schedule because they couldn't fit all of the people who showed up into the library.

In addition to Franz, Nino-Rodriguez and Pickman, Richland School Board Trustee Melissa Dewitt spoke about what the facility has meant to her family. Her son Malachi, who is in high school now, began his junior high career ready for the challenges in large part to programs that were offered at the Shafter Learning Center

"My son took Spanish courses at the Learning Center, as well as an advanced math class, that helped him prepare for high school. He is now going to take a course that will prepare him to take his SAT tests. I think that this facility is a major reason why Shafter is looked upon as a model when it comes to education opportunities for our children."

A teacher who has 18 years of experience at Shafter High School, as well as teaching courses at the Shafter Learning Center, Natalie Feinberg spoke about the challenges teachers face trying to prepare their students for college, as well as keeping them working at their respective grade levels, especially when the students start in a deficit when they are in the lower grades.

"With the availability of the courses at the Learning Center, for young grade school children, all the way to adulthood, Shafter has made a commitment to bettering our education experiences for our children. I hope that you guys keep this awesome dedication at the forefront in any endeavor that is decided on."

In other action, the Council also received an update on the recycling program that is in place to help the city comply with requirements of State Bill 1383. This bill would require the decrease of methane gas production, using a diversion program for organic waste.

According to Lynda Martin of American Refuse, "We have worked hard with our customers in cutting the amount of organic waste that is being brought to the landfill. At Grimmway Academy for example, they have almost a 0 percent waste production, with almost all of their waste being diverted to recycling facilities. We have also made huge progress with Richland Junior High, as they have cut their waste production by over 50 percent."

Currently, state laws put the responsibility mainly on the waste producer, be it a restaurant, a school or a multiplex dwelling with more than five units on site. Those producers are responsible for reducing their amount of waste and can be fined for noncompliance. SB1383 would also put the responsibility on the local governments of the producers.

Whereas AB 341 and AB 1826 placed the burden of mandatory collection on the generators with a local government planning effort, SB 1383 explicitly shares the responsibility with local government, where CalRecycle may add fines and penalties much like AB 939, but with delayed enforcement until 2024. SB 1383 requires CalRecycle, in consultation with CARB, to adopt regulations that achieve the specified targets for reducing organic waste in landfills by 2022. SB 1383 would authorize local jurisdictions to charge and collect fees to recover the local jurisdiction's costs incurred in complying with the regulations.

SB 1383 would require by July 1, 2020, for CalRecycle to analyze the progress that the waste sector, state government and local governments have made in achieving the specified targets for reducing organic waste in landfills such as infrastructure development and markets for products. SB 1383 would authorize CalRecycle, depending on the outcome of that analysis, to amend the regulations to include incentives or additional requirements.

The regulations will include requirements intended to meet the goal that not less than 20 percent of edible food that is currently disposed of is recovered for human consumption by 2025. Martin said that they are working to prepare their customers for the future and are doing everything they can to make sure they will be in compliance by the deadline.

 

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