District attorneys: Vote for Reniff
Sheriff candidate Perry Reniff, who is challenging incumbent Scott Mackenzie, got a big boost this week: the endorsement of the county’s Deputy District Attorneys Association (DDAA).

The group cited Reniff’s long career in law enforcement as the chief reason for its support.

Reniff, who was assistant sheriff in Mick Grey’s administration, is finishing a yearlong assignment as an investigator in the District Attorney’s Office. He will return to the Sheriff’s Office in January, and is facing a second run against his boss, Sheriff Scott Mackenzie. Mike Candela, the vice president of the DDAA, said that the 21-member association made the endorsement after both Reniff and Mackenzie presented their qualifications. After a vote, the association cited Reniff’s “excellent investigative skills and his willingness to work cooperatively with the deputy district attorneys to better law enforcement” as major factors in its decision.

At the same meeting, the association also voted to endorse Chico City Councilman Rick Keene for the state Assembly. It cited his experience and leadership as the major reasons for its support.

And they’re not the only ones with shiny new endorsements this week. Sheriff Scott Mackenzie announced that CHP Commissioner Spike Helmick is throwing his support behind the incumbent sheriff. Helmick gave the nod at a fundraising dinner last week.

Sisco takes gavel, predicts tough times
Trustees played musical chairs at Dec. 5’s school board meeting, as new officers were chosen and members took on fresh roles.

Ann Sisco will take over for Scott Schofield, leading the twice-monthly meetings and otherwise representing the district to the community.

Sisco, who was elected in 1998, is a former business owner and has long been a community volunteer.

She said she’s proud of much that has been accomplished during her tenure, including higher test scores, better alignment of teaching with the curriculum, the opening of Marsh Junior High School and the hiring of an “absolutely wonderful” superintendent in Scott Brown.

Challenges include the contentious teachers’ union negotiations and the continued struggle to secure a site for the bond-funded high school.

Sisco foresees another tough year as the board tries to balance the district’s budget even as the state limits the money it’s passing along. “We’re going to have to make some mid-year budget cuts,” she said. “We’re probably going to be doing some staffing cuts, too. No matter what we do, we’re going to be on somebody’s bad list. None of us got on the board to do this.”

They’ll pay that special-ed bill, but they don’t like it
After having its staff look into whether the Chico Unified School District was being charged correctly for special-education services provided by the Butte County Office of Education, the school board on Dec. 5 decided it has been and approved the “billback” payment of more than $1.4 million to BCOE.

Superintendent Scott Brown told trustees that research proved that BCOE is charging what it’s allowed to, and “it’s an obligation that we need to meet.”

The CUSD decided to take over the serving of most special-education students starting in July 2002, prompted in part by the increasing costs of the BCOE-run program.

Brown said the huge bill was the realization of a threat that finally came through due to "a horrendous and desperate underfunding of special education" by the federal government.