RDUSD Pushing Out Three Longstanding Riverview Teachers

Rich Peters
March 16, 2016

River News-Herald

Long time Rio Vista educator and resident Dan Mahoney stood in front of the River Delta Unified School District Board in defense of his friends and former colleagues last week, trying to justifiably understand some recent rash decisions that were made. Those decisions being that three of Riverview Elementary’s long time and tenured teachers will be relocated at the end of the current school year.

Steve Camacho, Bruce Vieira and Gwen Douglas, all longstanding educators and citizens of the Rio Vista community, are all to be suddenly pushed out of their positions at Riverview Middle School – and for no particularly good reason.

“Two of the three teachers (Camacho and Vieira) you are going to move from Riverview, after more than a decade of service at the school, have taught or coached almost all of our Rio Vista and Isleton kids. They gave their family time to the Rio Vista community and our children. My children,” Mahoney stated to the RDUSD board. “They are, themselves, products of the community and our schools and entered the noble profession of teaching to give back to the community that gave them so much. Now we reward them by forcing them away from the school where they’ve given so much of their careers?”

Mahoney, recently retired Principal of Riverview, was also formerly the Principal of Rio Vista High School, Deer Valley High School in Antioch as well as Kimball High School in Tracy. He was a major part of the RDUSD for 11 years whether it was teaching, coaching or even just donating his time for the better of not only the children, but the entire community.

Vieira and Camacho have taught in the school district for 17 and 16 years, respectively. Replacing two of Rio Vista’s own products this late into their teaching careers doesn’t quite add up.

As for Gwen Douglas, Mahoney went on to tell the Board, “When I come home from church on Sundays, her car is almost always at Riverview preparing for class. On school days she is usually one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave.”

Both Douglas and Vieira have also played a major role in Riverview’s Point Bonita trip for several years, a unique experience that the students are always looking forward to and are coincidentally currently on.

Douglas only has one year left before being able to retire. Now she is going to have to spend that final year at a new school possibly teaching a new subject to a new grade – an odd way to treat someone who has dedicated an entire career to educating our youth.

The community of Rio Vista has always prided itself on its small town cohesiveness of longstanding citizens and families, something that school officials have failed to value.

District officials broke the news just before Christmas break, letting them know that they were still guaranteed a position within the district, but unsure of where that might be. Without being given the chance to make things work, they were simply told that they were going in another direction.

A major challenge that the Rio Vista schools have faced for years is the makeup of Board Members within the district in comparison to town population. This is how Mahoney’s numbers broke down in last week’s address:

Rio Vista has 7,736 citizens (as of 2013) and is expanding.
2 School Board Members each represents 3,826

Isleton has 821 citizens
2 School Board Members each represents 410 citizens

Walnut Grove has 1,542 citizens
1 School Board Member represents 1,542 citizens

Courtland has 355 citizens
1 School Board Member represents 355 citizens

Clarksburg has 418 citizens
1 School Board Member represents 418 citizens

“The other towns outside of Rio Vista in the District added together is 3,136 in population, compared to Rio Vista’s 7,736, but the School Board Members from the rest of the District outnumber Rio Vista 5-2,” explained Mahoney. “If you add all District town populations together and divide by 7 Board Members, one Board Member should represent 1,553 people. That would mean Rio Vista should have 5 Board Members and the rest of the District 2.”

With these backwards numbers, a majority of the after school programs are getting approved up the river while the Rio Vista schools struggle to provide their students with a positive after school environment. For instance, even Riverview’s basketball program was in trouble before Mahoney was able to take over as principal and recently revive it. The Panthers have been successful ever since. This season the girl’s team proudly made it to the championship game.

The importance of athletic programs in our school system goes far beyond the sports themselves. Sports teach valuable life lessons that you don’t always get in the classroom or anywhere else for that matter. Both Dan Mahoney and Steve Camacho have led the Rio Vista High School football program to section titles. They are both proven leaders within the community. They also understand that not everyone is going to go on and play at a higher level, but everyone can play an important role and be a leader. The children of this community should not be left without opportunities that are considered to be normalities in most other towns.

Even though a qualifying percentage of the students in Rio Vista don’t meet the state standard to receive after school program funding, there is still a significantly higher number of children that do in fact need it compared to up river. The numbers don’t always add up – especially when you are repeatedly being outvoted 5-2.

The futures of these children are being looked at as just another number in the school district’s books and it’s a shame that these three teachers are being looked at in a similar fashion because the positive impact that they have left on this community and the mind’s of their students will last a lifetime.

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