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State’s Schools Chief Visits Sonora

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O´Connell visited Tuolumne County schools Wednesday, touring three area schools: Columbia Elementary, Jamestown Elementary and Sonora High School.

He also spoke at a special lunchtime gathering and answered questions during an afternoon forum held at the high school.

The top educator had positive things to say about what he saw. O´Connell told a group of education, business and local government leaders at the Sonora Opera Hall yesterday that Tuolumne County student test results exceed — and “are way above” – the statewide average. He said the Mother Lode is, “clearly the model for being on track for public education in California.”

He was also impressed with school facilities. “You have some older schools. They´ve been beneficiaries of modernization money from the state and local community,” he said.

O´Connell also noticed the tremendous community identity and involvement with the schools here. “That bodes well for the students. Not only today, but students coming through the system.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O´Connell admitted getting support for smaller rural school districts in California is difficult, even though, he says, lawmakers try to be sensitive to the unique characteristics of small rural schools.

“The political reality is, in terms of funding formulas and other issues, most of the votes in the Legislature are in Southern California or the San Francisco Bay Area,” O´Connell said.

O´Connell was in Sonora yesterday on the invitation of Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva.