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Latest News in Laton, CA
Teacher pay lags behind rising cost of homes in Fresno County. Compare salaries here
Inflation and rising home prices are biting into teacher pay in California.Average teacher pay in California public schools rose to $85,856 in the 2020-21 school year, an increase of 1.6% from 2019-20, new state data show.By comparison, inflation rose by about 5% from May 2020 to May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning that California teachers typically saw their real wages drop.Over the same period, typical home values in California rose by about 15% to $657,000, according to Zillow.Te...
Inflation and rising home prices are biting into teacher pay in California.
Average teacher pay in California public schools rose to $85,856 in the 2020-21 school year, an increase of 1.6% from 2019-20, new state data show.
By comparison, inflation rose by about 5% from May 2020 to May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning that California teachers typically saw their real wages drop.
Over the same period, typical home values in California rose by about 15% to $657,000, according to Zillow.
Teacher pay was highest in Silicon Valley’s Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, where teachers earned, on average, about $145,200.
A quick way to adjust pay for cost of living is to calculate the difference between average teacher salary and the cost of the typically priced home. A teacher making $145,200 in Mountain View would have a hard time buying the median-valued home in Santa Clara County, which cost about $1,560,000 at the end of 2021, according to tracking firm Zillow.com.
By that metric, the best-off teachers are in the small community of Tulelake in northeastern California, where average pay last year was $75,027 and the typically valued home cost about $163,000. The toughest place to be — by that metric — is the Ravenswood City Elementary district in San Mateo County, where the average pay is $74,400 but the typically priced home cost about $1.67 million.
More than a dozen very small districts in rural areas of California paid their teachers, on average, less than $50,000 last school year. Among districts employing at least 100 teachers, the lowest average pay was about $60,000 at River Delta Joint Unified, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The typically priced home in surrounding Rio Vista was worth about $485,000 at the end of 2021, according to Zillow.
Among Fresno County’s 33 districts, the highest average teacher pay last school year was about $88,469 at Kingsburg Joint Union High, located about five miles southeast of Selma. This average was about a 3% increase from the previous school year.
The lowest average pay was about $58,788 at Laton Joint Unified, located roughly 23 miles south of Fresno.
Average pay at Fresno Unified, the county’s largest district and the fourth largest in California, was about $82,576. Clovis Unified, the county’s second-largest, averaged roughly $73,614. Neither average changed from the previous school year.
At the same time, median-valued homes in Fresno County cost about $348,000 as of December 2021 and have increased 22.5% over the past year, according to estimates from Zillow.com.
Statewide, average teacher pay increased by about 11% between 2015-16 and 2020-21. By comparison, inflation rose about 12% during that time period, meaning that teachers typically are not seeing any real bump in their wages.
Average teacher pay depends on a number of factors. Pay increases with seniority, so a district with a preponderance of veteran teachers would tend to pay more on average than a district with a lot of inexperienced teachers. Cost of living also plays a role, as districts located in expensive communities must pay more to attract talent.
The Education Lab is a local journalism initiative that highlights education issues critical to the advancement of the San Joaquin Valley. It is funded by donors. Learn about The Bee’s Education Lab at its website.
‘Lucky to be alive.’ Ag helicopter pilot unhurt after crashing in Fresno County field
A helicopter pilot considered himself lucky Saturday afternoon, able to walk away from the wreckage of his crashed aircraft after clipping power lines while spraying a field near Laton in rural Fresno County.Mark Trinkle of Kingsburg said he was flying a Bell 206 JetRanger, built as an agriculture sprayer, when it went down just before 2 p.m. near South Clovis and East Blanchard avenues, just north of downtown Laton.Trinkle was applying herbicide and making his last pass on the farm, which the pilot said is in a tricky area bec...
A helicopter pilot considered himself lucky Saturday afternoon, able to walk away from the wreckage of his crashed aircraft after clipping power lines while spraying a field near Laton in rural Fresno County.
Mark Trinkle of Kingsburg said he was flying a Bell 206 JetRanger, built as an agriculture sprayer, when it went down just before 2 p.m. near South Clovis and East Blanchard avenues, just north of downtown Laton.
Trinkle was applying herbicide and making his last pass on the farm, which the pilot said is in a tricky area because of the multiple power lines that run across it. He said he went underneath one set, but hit another.
He “clipped it and it threw me into these ones,” he said, “which then brought the helicopter down.”
“I got out and made sure the power was off and fuel and everything was off. Just crawled right out. Lucky to be alive.”
No one else was onboard. He praised the helicopter’s design for helping him avoid injury, other than a scratch on the right cheek and back of his hand.
An ambulance crew checked him out to make sure he was fine.
“The helicopter itself is very reliable and safe,” Trinkle said, noting he also was wearing a harness and helmet. “As you can see, the cockpit is totally torn up and I’m fine.”
A pilot for 16 years and a crop-duster since 2009, it was his first helicopter crash. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a crew member on a P-3 Orion. The crash and survival training he received in the service helps remind him of the dangers.
Trinkle walked to where his trailer was parked, then return to pick up the debris. He had help from family and friends who loaded the wreckage. The rotor blade was in the field.
A passerby reported the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, Fresno County Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Salazar said.
PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said one pole was broken and, along with damage to the electrical lines, power was knocked out for 56 customers.
Those affected included 48 customers in Laton, six in Selma and two in Hanford. Estimated restoration was 2 a.m. Sunday, Guidi said.
This story was originally published March 13, 2021 2:44 PM.
After a year disrupted by COVID, students grateful for in-person livestock shows at Big Fresno Fair
The first thing you notice in the livestock pavilion at the Big Fresno Fair is the sound. There are the animals, of course: The cows and goats being steered to their enclosures, the squeals of hogs less than excited about being bathed, and the blow dryers fluffing up freshly shorn sheep.But behind all that is the thrum of an excited crowd: The hurried footsteps of polished boots, the P.A. announcements calling classes of presenters to the show rings, and the cheers of proud parents.Though many of the fair’s 600,000 visito...
The first thing you notice in the livestock pavilion at the Big Fresno Fair is the sound. There are the animals, of course: The cows and goats being steered to their enclosures, the squeals of hogs less than excited about being bathed, and the blow dryers fluffing up freshly shorn sheep.
But behind all that is the thrum of an excited crowd: The hurried footsteps of polished boots, the P.A. announcements calling classes of presenters to the show rings, and the cheers of proud parents.
Though many of the fair’s 600,000 visitors may have been drawn to the fried Oreos, cinnamon buns or Smokey Robinson on the main stage, the draw for hundreds of students was the opportunity to show off their agricultural business skills at the annual livestock show and auction. And they were so glad to be back after a year nearly lost to the pandemic.
Among the more than 800 middle and high school competitors this year were Nicholas and Nathaniel Bonomi of Sanger. The 14- and 16-year-old brothers spent the last year raising steers, Bear and Jack, who they describe as docile and sweet.
“They’re affectionate, basically. They always come over to you,” said Nicholas.
“I’ve had ones that were just wild animals,” said Nathaniel. “The one I have right now, we go on walks like people walk their dog.”
The Bonomi brothers have participated in FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, since they were little kids. Their animal of choice has always been cattle, which they raise in an enclosure on their ranch alongside the family’s other cattle and rows of grapes and almonds.
FFA and its sister program, 4-H, are practically full-time jobs. Members get up early to feed their animals before school then bathe and train them almost every day, even when getting home late after chapter meetings, sports practice and other extracurricular activities. “You have to put a halter on them, then you have to walk them around in a circle,” Nicholas said. “When you show you have to have their feet in the correct spot so they look the best, so you have to set them up correctly.”
But everything changed with the pandemic. With virtual school, Nathaniel and his brother had a lot more time to spend with Bear and Jack. “I called them COVID cows,” said Nathaniel.
And they started taking them to class. “Our wifi reaches out [to the barn] so I can just kind of prop myself against my cow,” said Nathaniel. “So I’ll just be in my class laying right with him on my iPad listening to my virtual teacher.”
That may have been sweet, but last year’s fair was disappointing. Every October, it’s the culmination of the months of work these students put into their animals. Unlike this year, however, most of the 2020 fair was drive-through-only, and the livestock shows were scaled back. “It was a one-day fair,” said Nathaniel.
This year, even though the fair mandated masks in all indoor spaces, submitted employees to regular COVID-19 tests, and required all visitors to self-screen for symptoms before attending, Nathaniel said the fair felt relatively normal. “We’re back to a week long,” he said. “It feels good to be here all day long.”
“This is what it's all about,” agreed Big Fresno Fair Deputy Manager Lauri King. “Last year, it was a whole host of things, but it definitely wasn’t normal.”
Kig says many fairs shut down altogether last year, but the Big Fresno Fair worked with the county to keep the livestock events going. They were shorter—only one animal could show at a time, and only for one day—and some schools dropped out for the year. But for those schools that still participated, the events kept the kids working toward a goal.
“There is nothing that can teach you more responsibility than caring for an animal,” said King, who at one point could be seen corralling a goat that belonged to one of her three children who were also competing that day. “Athletics and school work and all of those kind of things are great things, and we want our kids to strive at whatever it is they do. But when you're responsible for the life of something else, it's a whole different level.”
The week of the competition, groups of students trot their animals out in front of judges in the middle of the pavilion, and in the wings are the enclosures where the animals eat and sleep.
That’s where Gisele Galaviz found her hogs, Chewy and Coco, two speckled canvases of black, pink and gray, lying snout to snout in the sawdust. “They're very attached to each other, so they lay right next to each other,” she laughed.
Galaviz is a 15-year-old sophomore at Central High School in Fresno. It’s her first year in FFA, so she had to learn how the animals would be judged. One category is market-readiness, how healthy and sturdy they look, and the ratio of fat to muscle on their bones. “They want the front and back views, as well as the side views, going back and forth,” she said. “And for showmanship, they like to see the way you present yourself while walking the pig.”
Most of these animals will be sold for meat or dairy at the final auction. The winners fetch the highest price. Galaviz knows all this, but she still wonders if it’ll be hard to say goodbye to Chewy and Coco. “I don’t know, it might be,” she said. “I've heard people cry, so I'm a little scared.”
These livestock-rearing programs aren’t just about the animals. Some chapters also offer classes in leadership, public speaking and plant science, as well as clubs for specialized skills like welding and wood-working.
Then there are the life skills. Joseph Ortega is a senior at Laton High School, and the 17-year-old’s first year in FFA has been challenging. He couldn’t afford a hog at first, but his chapter rallied and helped him pay for it. Then he was told he had to step up after missing a few meetings. “It was a little difficult,” he acknowledged. “I'm just glad they gave me this chance to just show, cause it's my first time and I feel good about it.”
He says he enjoyed spending these last few months with his hog, whom he named Sarah Star. “Look at where I’m at, I'm making it, I’m doing what I have to do, I feel happy for myself,” he said. It feels good “to show my parents and my family that anything is possible and I could be something in this world.”
His school didn’t participate in the fair in 2020, but he’s so glad they did this year.
After the fair, Nathaniel and Nicholas Bonomi both received awards and cash prizes for Jack and Bear. Gisele Galaviz and Joseph Ortega left the fair with ribbons for Chewy, Coco and Sarah Star.