By John Glidden
The Vallejo City Unified School District wants to improve its public image so it can attract students and families.
The board of education is slated to review a proposal Wednesday night, which, if approved, would authorize the district to spend $1,000 from the general fund to advertise for a public information consultant.
According to the district, the consultant would support the VCUSD by “providing feedback on press release, newsletters, reports and brochures and ensure dissemination of positive stories about VCUSD to local, state and national media outlets.”
Source: Vallejo school board to seek PR consultant
By Richard Bammer
Amy Sharp of Vacaville raises a family, volunteers in area schools, offers art instruction to children, some of them disabled, raises money for nonprofit groups, helps to organize community events, and keeps an eye trained on at least two local government agencies.
But “personal reasons,” said the self-described children’s advocate, prompted her to seek the Trustee Area No. 2 seat on the Solano County Board of Education.
Election Day is Nov. 8, and Sharp, 41 and the mother of two, will face off against Betty Silva, a school library media teacher and educator, for the county education post that represents north Vacaville and west Fairfield.
“The reason I’m running is, that my two nieces were in the county special ed program,” the longtime Vacaville resident recalled Friday, adding that her nieces died from Batten disease, a rare, fatal, inherited disorder of the nervous system that usually begins in childhood and its first symptom is usually progressive vision loss. “Special education is quite a maze to navigate. I’ve worked with families to make sure their children get the classes and services they need.”
Congratulations on the promotions of two fine administrators at Willis Jepson Middle School.
Longtime Principal Kelley Birch has been named director of secondary education, a newly created post in the Vacaville Unified School district that she will assume in January. Jepson Assistant Principal Adam Wight, in his second year at the Elder Street campus, was named to replace her as principal.
Superintendent Jane Shamieh made the surprise announcements early during last week’s board meeting.
Shamiah called Birch, a 22-year district employee, “a true leader” and someone who can solve problems. Shamieh called Wight, a long-time wrestling coach, “a thoughtful leader.”
Birch was most recently cited in Reporter news accounts when Jepson was named one of only 56 U.S. middle schools added to the 2016 National Forum Schools to Watch list. She and some Jepson teachers in June traveled to Washington, D.C., where they advised other middle school educators about effective strategies for teaching and student support.
Source: Picks & Pecks: Birch, Wright earn key VUSD promotions
By Susan Hiland
Ghosts, zombies and superheroes made the rounds at the Laurel Creek Elementary Trunk or Treat event Friday night.
It took everyone by surprise that the rains stopped and it turned into a cool evening of fall fun.
“It was a real last-minute scramble to get this put together,” PTA member Angela Crisostomo said.
Usually they have car trunks decorated in the parking lot and people vote on their favorite ones, but organizers thought with the rain, that would not work this time around. As a workaround, they placed tables around the courtyard. Participants decorated the tables and gave out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Source: Fairfield school brings Halloween tricks, treats to campus
By Andrew Ujifusa
School counselors will soon be able to apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s School Ambassador fellowships, the department announced on Friday.
The ambassador program seeks to connect those working in schools with their peers, and promote their views with respect to public policy. The program already includes the Teacher Ambassador Fellows, which is in its 10th year, and the Principal Ambassador Fellows, which is in its third year. The former is intended to “create a community of teacher leaders” and help involve teachers in policymaking that impacts the classroom, and the latter is designed to help improve the recruitment and retention of principals, among other things. The newest round of Principal Ambassador Fellows was announced in August.
Source: Education Dept. Expands Ambassador Program to School Counselors – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By John Fensterwald
For three years, school districts have been writing an annual budget and accountability plan using a state-dictated form that has irritated just about everyone writing and reading it. Next week, the State Board of Education is expected to approve a new version that promises to be simpler, better organized and easier to follow.
The revised Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP (see draft template starting page 7), has gotten generally positive reviews, with some reservations, from school officials and advocates for high-needs students who disagree over how much information should be in the document but credit state board staff for trying to strike a balance.
“We are not completely satisfied, but we will support the revised LCAP,” said Martha Alvarez, legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators, which had recommended changes through months of hearings and drafts. Districts’ LCAPs had mushroomed to dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of pages over the past three years. It’s unclear, she said, despite improved readability, whether LCAPs will become shorter or longer under the new template. “At this point, districts need time – a number of years without further changes – to work with it,” she said.
Source: Finally, districts’ accountability plans may be easier to read and use | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Young Vallejo public school children who attend an after-school program will be the beneficiaries of reading clubs thanks to a grant from the Solano Community Foundation.
The Fairfield-based foundation on Thursday announced a first-of-its-kind grant, $6,404, to the Vallejo City Unified School District for its after-school program (ASES), to set up reading clubs for some 750 second-, third- and fourth-graders.
The money was made available through the foundation’s Education Plus! Grant Program and will pay for the purchase of e-book licenses for 11 elementary schools.
The e-books include many nonfiction titles to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning in after-school reading. Students will read the e-books using the iPads the district bought last spring 2016, paid for by City of Vallejo Measure B funds.
Source: Solano Community Foundation awards grant to Vallejo after-school program
By Richard Bammer
With 17 state propositions crowding the Nov. 8 ballot, including three related to schools, it is ultimately anybody’s guess if Dixon voters will approve Measure Q, a $30.4 million bond to upgrade aging local schools.
Trustees approved the measure in August, after airing a detailed needs assessment, followed by a commissioned survey to gauge voter sentiment, and, afterward, lengthy public comment, pro and con, during governing board meetings.
If it passes, requiring the final tally to reach a 55 percent threshold, the money will be used, among other things, to remodel Old Dixon High, built in 1940, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, and renovate Anderson Elementary, built in 1949, when Harry Truman was president.
Source: Dixon Unified leaders optimistic about Measure Q
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2016 California Expanded Learning Award winners.
“Expanded learning programs help students thrive academically and socially,” said Torlakson. “These awards acknowledge the daily work of those who foster environments that nurture, stimulate, challenge, and engage children.”
The awards ceremony is part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of afterschool programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.
Improving and expanding afterschool and other learning programs outside regular school hours has been a top priority for Torlakson since he entered public service. Torlakson has fought for adequate funding of these programs and created the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division.
The awards are divided into two areas: California Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership and Emerging Leadership, with three winners selected for each category.
Source: Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
The Valero Benicia Refinery announced Wednesday in a presentation ceremony held at the Benicia Veteran’s Memorial Building that 26 charities, nominated by refinery employees, will be the recipients of grants totaling $300,000.
The funds were raised through the 2016 Valero Texas Open and Benefit for Children Golf Classic, held in April in San Antonio, Texas.
“The charities being honored today represent truly remarkable organizations that protect children and help them thrive,” said Vice President and General Manager Don Wilson in a press release. “Since 2001, the Benicia Refinery, through the Valero Energy Foundation, has participated in this special day of focus on children. Locally, we have awarded nearly $5 million in Benefit for Children grants through this employee-nominated grant process.”
Source: Valero awards $300,000 in grants to area children’s charities – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Of the three education-related propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, 51, to build new and repair old schools; and 55, to extend a tax surcharge on Californians making more than $250,000 per year, are getting the most media attention.
But it is Proposition 58, the English Proficiency, Multilingual Education initiative, that some believe may have the most long-lasting effect on California’s future.
If approved by voters Nov. 8, it essentially would roll back Proposition 227 of 1998, the so-called “English-only” initiative, and allow multilingual education in public schools.
As written and if approved by a majority of voters, it would keep the requirement that public schools ensure students become proficient in English. Schools would still be allowed to set up dual-language immersion programs if they and families choose to. It would require school districts to provide English learners the option to be taught mostly in English. It would authorize school districts to set up language-immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers.
Source: Strong statewide support for Proposition 58, multilingual education initiative
By Richard Bammer
For many California’s high school students, dreams of attending college are being nurtured by a state grant.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday announced that nearly 1,000 school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools, will receive about $100 million in grants to help students prepare to attend college.
The grants, which are available through the 2018–19 fiscal year, come from a $200 million College Readiness Block Grant program administered by the California Department of Education. The expenditure also was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature.
The goal is to increase the number of students who enroll in college and complete a degree program in four years, with a special emphasis on helping English learners, low-income students, and foster youth.
Source: State department of education releases $100M in college-readiness grants
By Ryan McCarthy
Putting in place a project labor agreement for construction work funded by the $249 million Measure J bond – and the staff negotiating terms for the agreement – won approval Wednesday by a 5-1 vote of Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Judi Honeychurch, president of the board of trustees, said the decision came down to whether you believe in unions, protecting workers and “looking out for the little guy.”
Such project labor pacts may not have been in place before, she said, because until the June 7 election when the bond was passed the school district didn’t have $249 million for construction.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun schools will negotiate project labor pact for construction paid with $249M bond
By Nick Sestanovich
A parting gift from Benicia High School’s 2008 graduating class has finally seen the light of day, and it can be seen by anyone who drives into the front parking lot or even passes it by when driving down Military West.
Every year, the outgoing senior class announces its Senior Class Gift. The funds are raised through the Associated Student Body through fundraisers and events, and the gift is disclosed at that year’s graduation ceremony. The class of 2008’s senior gift was to have a mural that read “Home of the Panthers” with the latter word being painted in a blue and gold, graffiti-esque font.
However, senior gifts can take a while to be fully implemented and this one was no exception. The idea to complete it stemmed from a conversation between Principal Brianna Kleinschmidt and Leadership Adviser/Activities Director Mary Wheat.
Source: 2008 class gift unveiled as new BHS mural
By Nick Sestanovich
In the past month, Benicia Unified School District had two separate scare instances that initiated the need for a discussion on teens and the use of social media.
In September, a Benicia High School student made violent threats against his school on the messaging site Kik. After the incident was reported to Benicia High officials, the school was placed on lockdown and the suspect was arrested.
In October, in the midst of a “creepy clown” media frenzy, a Benicia Middle School student reported a post on Instagram with a photo of a scary clown’s face and the caption “I’m going to shoot up your school BMS.” Police could not determine if the threat was leveled at Benicia Middle School but still increased its presence at the campus the following day.
As a response to both incidents, BUSD will be partnering with the Benicia Police Department to host Cyber Safety Night at Benicia High School. BPD will be delivering a presentation and allow time for questions and answers at the end.
Source: Benicia Police Department, Benicia Unified School District to join forces for Cyber Safety Night tomorrow
By Richard Bammer
Educators want it; local taxpayer groups don’t: Proposition 55, the Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare initiative.
One 17 state initiatives on the crowded Nov. 8 ballot, it extends by 12 years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings of more than $250,000. The money would be disbursed to K-12 schools, California community colleges, and, in certain years, to health-care programs.
The measure would essentially extend 2012’s Proposition 30, which sent billions of dollars to the state’s 1,000 school districts, among other funding recipients, including public safety.
Source: Educators, most voters support Proposition 55; taxpayer groups don’t – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Many parents, including Vacaville Unified trustees, California educators, and state and federal legislators from both sides of the political aisle support Proposition 51, but, as expected, major statewide anti-tax groups do not.
If approved by voters Nov. 8, the K-12 School and Community College Facilities initiative, the first of its kind on a California ballot, authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new buildings and upgrades to the state’s 10,000 K-12 schools, including 1,100 charter schools, vocational education facilities, and the state’s 113 community colleges. California has some 6.2 million students in K-12 schools and some 2.1 million enrolled in community colleges, the largest such systems of their kind in the nation.
The initiative’s fiscal impact, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, would be about $17.6 billion to pay off the principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on the bonds. It would generate payments of $500 million annually for 35 years.
Source: Wide swatch of voters support Proposition 51; anti-tax groups do not
By Daily Republic Staff
Fairfield High School’s Scarlet Brigade Marching Band will host the 28th annual Tournament of Champions on Nov. 19.
More than 40 middle school and high school band programs from Northern California and Nevada will perform at Fairfield High.
The parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Dover Avenue. Concert and jazz performances begin at 8 a.m. at the school, which is located at 205 E. Atlantic Ave. A field show competition wraps up the day at 5:30 p.m. at Schaefer Stadium.
Source: Fairfield High Scarlet Brigade to host Tournament of Champions
By Ryan McCarthy
A project labor agreement for the $249 million Measure J bond was praised and panned Tuesday at a meeting of Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees, who are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to negotiate such a pact.
Austin Sarna, one of more than 50 people who went to the meeting representing the union group Carpenters in Action, told trustees he supports the labor agreement.
“PLA’s help protect me, my wages, my benefits,” Sarna said.
But Mike Messer, an electrical contractor in Fairfield, later said the agreements increase costs and that if voters knew the pacts would be part of construction projects paid for by Measure J, “I don’t think it would have passed.”
Source: Trustees eye labor pact for $249M Measure J school construction projects
By Daily Republic
Voters in three select areas of Solano County will decide Nov. 8 whether schools will receive extra tax dollars, either through the sale of bonds or through a parcel tax.
Measure Q in the Dixon School District would raise $34.4 million to improve the district’s schools and facilities. For example, the bond would pay for the old Dixon High School site to be renovated and reopened as a middle school; would repair and renovate Anderson Elementary School; and would improve safety and security at various sites.
Source: Support school tax measures in Dixon, Winters, Davis districts