• First 5 Placer

Placer Town Hall 2018


Thank you to all who participated in the Placer Town Hall event! More than 240 community members, leaders, and stakeholders participated in the forum on the state of our children and their doubled importance for the social and economic future of Placer County.


Placer Town Hall 2018
Placer Town Hall 2018

The POWER PROSPERITY theme challenged us to engage and take action on timely topics impacting the well-being of local children.  At the event, more than 60 questions and comments were submitted to the panelists. These questions and their responses are provided below.

Placer Town Hall 2018  

Q&A Responses


What mechanism exist to gather the local narrative? For encouraging leadership development at the adult level?

Willy Duncan:

While our general focus at Sierra College is to collect and respond to the narrative of our students, the college has been instrumental in collecting the narrative of the Placer County community through theStanding Guard oral history project and the stories of the Sierra Nevada generated  through the Sierra College Press. The Sierra College Press is the first complete academic press operated by a community college in the US. The most recent publication “Gold Rush Stories: 49 Tales of Seekers, Scoundrels, Loss and Luck” was written by long-time Sierra College instructor and historian Gary Noy.

To encourage leadership development at the adult level, in addition to the programs, clubs and activities we offer for our students, Sierra College provides a wide variety of not-for-credit Community Educationcourses in business and management as well as classes for adults through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Veronica Blake:

The Town Hall is one of the ways we are gathering the local narrative. We also have the Placer Collaborative Network (PCN), which brings community leaders together to develop creative solutions forpositive impact and change.

Janice LeRoux:The Placer Dashboard provides a lot of local data on the health and wellbeing of all sectors of Placer County.  This can be a platform for a lot of future discussions and action steps.

What actions can we take to increase statewide spending on youth education? What are the barriers we have to overcome to increase spending?

How can we in CA change the investment in education, given the Prop 13 legacy we still have for capping funding?

Gayle Garbolino-Mojica:

We need voters to prioritize our children.  The two largest sources of revenue for schools is local property tax dollars and the state general fund.  To locally increase funding for schools is dependent upon passing parcel taxes and bond measures.  At the state level, approximately 45% of the general fund is set aside for public schools.  Over 20 years ago, the voters of California passed Proposition 98 which created a funding floor for public education – meaning that the state could not invest less in public education than it did the prior year (with a few exceptions).  However, that funding floor is no where near adequate funding.  We need leaders at the state level to value our children and fund education ABOVE the funding floor.  Without state leaders prioritizing education, many school districts across the state rely upon parcel taxes which increases property to compensate for inadequate state funding.  However, passing parcel taxes in Placer County is often quite difficult.


Is housing going to be more affordable?

Veronica Blake:

We sure hope so. There are a number of tools in the toolbox that need to be employed to make this possible.  The County of Placer is considering many different ways to increase the supply of affordable housing.  Recently the County contracted with BAE Urban Economics Consulting Group to carry out four main tasks: 1) to assess and identify affordable housing needs and development opportunities; 2) make recommendations about any current housing standards and policies that may be hampering development; 3) develop a site evaluation tool to help determine the profitability of potential projects; and, 4) review recent state housing policy changes to ensure Placer’s policy remains consistent. To address and meet the needs of families and support a healthy economy, it is essential for us to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing.

Placer Community Foundation is co-sponsoring a housing forum with the County on March 20, 2018. BAE Urban Economics will cover the basics on small-scale, high-quality infill affordable residential projects that fall on the spectrum between low-density, single-family neighborhoods and large, high-density apartment complexes.  Registration is open for the workshop, which will provide an overview on the design and development of this type of housing, a discussion on the challenges from the developer and community perspectives, and feature some examples of this type of housing. We are inviting property owners, city and county elected officials and staff, planning and municipal advisory commission members, real estate professionals, residential design professionals, builders, funding agencies, housing stakeholders, and residents who are interested in creating these housing types.


Janice, how can community members make a significant impact in the children of our county?

Janice LeRoux:

We can all do something to put children first.   All of us who are of age can vote and advocate with our elected representatives to support and craft family friendly legislation.  

Families thrive when they have

  • concrete support in times of need;

  • social connections;

  • good information about child development; and

  • and their children have access to what they need  grow up healthily – socially, emotionally, cognitively.  

Parents need to be  resilient – have the skills to solve problems and bounce back from challenges.   We all can help parents when they need it.

  • Give of your time or money if possible.  

  • Become a foster parent or child care provider.  The need for these is critical.  

  • Our faith-based communities can really help support families – with food, emergency babysitting, clothes, social support.  

Individually, remember we have all had challenges and give a hand.

  • Help a neighbor with laundry or house cleaning.  Drop off a casserole.  

  • If a dad can’t go to his son’s little league game because he works, go in his stead to let the son know someone cares.  

  • When a mom in a grocery store is trying to cope with a baby and a screaming two year old, offer assistance instead of a snide remark.

  • Block off part of a street or parking lot for kids to ride their bikes safely.   

We can create a community that really does Power Prosperity by supporting our kids and families.


How’s the fast-approaching future of a jobless economy (AI, automation) going to impact this conversation?

Dowell Myers:

Excellent concern, and not one easily addressed. No one has a solid forecast of the job impacts in total, safe to say that it will shift the nature of jobs toward higher-level decision making and customized human attention. In the next two decades, automation/robots will curb the growth of routinized work and make other jobs more productive. Beyond 2040 it all is very uncertain. I maintain that jobs cannot disappear because people will end up doing something and in the interest of society it had best be organized in socially productive activities. The economy requires there be consumers, so people need to have a way to gain money that they can spend to make the economy hum. And government needs there to be taxpayers, which depends on their having a way to gain money as well. In short, society will need to restructure so that our reliance on working age people is allowed to continue. Given all the old people who will require support, we cannot escape our reliance on the young.


Placer ed and first five do great. But so many low income smart kids with great grades are not getting the mentoring they need to go to college and get the high skills for the workforce needs. High school students of this audience needsstrong counseling starting as freshman in HS. And they need funds for college life expenses not just tuition. Would like to know if this is there for truckee tahoe schools? if not consider it.

Willy Duncan:

Strong counseling is critical to developing a college-going mindset for high school students which is why Sierra College has developed specialized Transition Counselors as part of the Sierra Promise program. The Promise program is specifically designed for high school students who may not have viewed college as an option for their future. The Transition Counselors work directly with students, providing information about the college’s programs and services and assisting students with the necessary steps to enroll. They are a key component of the Sierra Promise mission to reduce barriers and be more accessible to students. Right now we have Transition Counselors in thirteen local high school campuses with plans to expand.

We have long recognized that many of our students struggle to make ends meet while trying to complete their educational goals. To assist students, the Sierra College Foundation has a Student Emergency Fund, the Financial Aid office provides Book Vouchers, and the Sierra College Student Association, in partnership with the Sierra College Foundation, recently opened a food pantry which not only provides food to qualifying students, but items such as toothpaste, deodorant and socks.

With regard to the Tahoe-Truckee school district, the Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee campus currently provides a variety of opportunities for middle-school and high-school students to learn about the college by hosting outreach and resource activities. The counselors at the college and the high school work closely together, which is reflected in the active participation of Tahoe-Truckee high school students in the college’s Academic Enrichment program. Over 100 high school students take college level courses at the Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee campus.


Since it is the quality of the teacher in the classroom which most profoundly influences outcome, what is specifically being done by PCOE to improve teacher quality? In other words, it is not just more money, but investing in our educators.

Gayle Garbolino-Mojica:

Not only do we have a teacher storage, but we want to make sure that the teachers we hire are of a high quality.  To that end, the Placer County Office of Education has recently been awarded the ability to train a variety of school personnel, creating a better pipeline of qualified candidates into the profession.  We can no longer solely rely upon institutions of higher education as the sole creators of qualified teaching candidates.

Janice LeRoux:

We have a teacher shortage in early care and education.  And, recognizing that a quality learning experience begins at birth, PCOE and First 5 together are also working to improve the quality of early care and education with the Early Quality Matters program.  State Preschools, Head Start, Early Head Start and private family-home based childcare providers can enrol in this program, which trains staff on best practices in early care and education.  There is no cost to join; please contact Darcy Roenspie at 916-740-1641 or droenspie@placercoe.k12.ca.us for more information.


Didn’t current baby boomers benefit from Government funded education programs (e.g. GI Bill from 40s & 50s).