PLEASANT HILL -- Mayor Michael Harris on Thursday unveiled an initiative to enhance the quality of education for Pleasant Hill students he hopes will be as successful as the annual Community Service Day event he launched nine years ago.
The Pleasant Hill Education Initiative is a volunteer program to enrich students in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, which has eliminated or scaled back programs because of state budget cuts.
Potential new programs include mentoring and tutoring, classroom volunteering, career counseling, life skills training and after-school enrichment programs in music, the arts, theater, math and science. "Each and every one of you can make a difference in the future of our community by donating one hour a week," Harris said during his State of the City address.
The City Council, the Pleasant Hill Education/Schools Advisory Commission, Mt. Diablo Superintendent Steven Lawrence and the district's principals support the initiative, Harris said, as do the Pleasant Hill library, local foundations, the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District and the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce.
Harris also wants to recruit business owners and construction trade unions to provide mentorship and internship opportunities.
He hopes to have a steering committee put together by the end of the month, with the first programs beginning in the fall.
Harris, who tends to lace his State of the City address with humor, also ran through a Top 10 list of his favorite things about Pleasant Hill, including pedestrian and bike safety improvements; the Buskirk Avenue widening project and other capital improvement efforts; and special events such as the summer concert series.
Harris also highlighted the city's economic development initiatives and the brand-name businesses such as In-N-Out Burger, Zachary's Pizza, Corner Bakery, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Nordstrom Rack that are flocking to Pleasant Hill. Harris also expects the long-stalled development of the DVC Plaza shopping center and the Crossroads Shopping Center along Buskirk to get off the ground this year. Those centers could bring in more sales tax dollars, which makes up a third of the city's general fund revenue.
The chamber hosted the breakfast meeting. President Joe Stokley said the group has emerged from a couple of rough years of shrinking membership and revenue.
"It was pretty touch-and-go; we almost had to fold up our tent and call it a day," Stokley said.
The October Art, Wine and Jazz festival, the chamber's signature annual fundraiser, brought in $38,000 and the group ended the year with a $50,000 profit, Stokley said. The board hired an executive director and seeks a new membership director.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.
For more information about the Pleasant Hill Education Initiative visit the city's website www.pleasant-hill.net/phei