By Alyson Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came into office saying she wanted to slim down the federal role on K-12. By at least one metric, she’s delivered: The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education has lost about 14 percent of its staff since the start of the Trump administration.
So how much does that actually matter to the department’s “customers” (states) and what does it mean for the federal role in protecting vulnerable groups of students?
It depends on who you ask. Some state officials say they often have to wait weeks or months for answers to simple questions, and aren’t getting enough guidance on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
In the past, “You’d reach out to a program officer and you’d get timely responses to inquiries,” said one state official who, like five others interviewed for this article, requested anonymity to speak candidly about interactions with the department. “Now what we’re seeing in some instances is that responses are going unanswered for months at a time.”
Source: What Does a Shrinking Education Department Mean for States and Vulnerable Students? – Politics K-12 – Education Week
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 162 middle and high schools are being honored under the 2019 Distinguished Schools Program. Sponsored by the California Department of Education and California Casualty, the program recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for achieving exceptional student performance for two consecutive school years or closing the achievement gap between two school years.
The list of recognized schools is attached at the end of this press release.
“I would like to commend these schools for fighting for a better future for our students, closing achievement gaps, and improving academic performance,” Thurmond said. “Thanks to teachers, administrators, classified employees, and parents working together, these schools meet the needs of all of their students, provide high-quality educational experiences, and put kids on a pathway to great careers.”
Source: 2019 CA Distinguished Schools Announced – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Glidden
City Hall officials have determined that Councilwoman Rozzana Verder-Aliga is eligible to serve another term on the council, should she decide to seek re-election in 2020.
It was originally thought Verder-Aliga’s only move in 2020, if she wished to remain on the council, was to run for a four-year term as Vallejo mayor. However, Vallejo City Clerk Dawn Abrahamson, along with City Attorney Claudia Quintana have confirmed that isn’t so after reviewing the City Charter.
They said the charter allows Verder-Aliga to seek another four-year term as a council member or run for mayor during next year’s election.
The charter prevents a person from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms as either mayor or as a council member, while also prohibiting elected officials from serving in the offices of council member and mayor for longer than three consecutive four year terms.
Source: Verder-Aliga can seek another council term in 2020, Vallejo officials say – Times-Herald
By Matthew Keys
School meals in California could contain more organic foods under a bill proposed Thursday by a local lawmaker.
The proposal would create a statewide organic food-to-school pilot program within the Office of Farm to Fork within California’s Department of Food and Agriculture.
The legislation, Assembly Bill 958, was authored by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, whose district includes Dixon and portions of rural Solano County.
Source: Lawmakers prioritize improvements to school meal programs
By Martha Saldaña-Wolf
The Solano Winds will be “On Stage” this spring with an exciting musical program.
The Winds continues its 24th season at 8 p.m. March 8 at the Downtown Theatre, 1035 Texas St. The program not only features an euphonium solo by Alison Mahovsky but also a combined presentation with the Yolo Community Band.
The concert will give the audience the opportunity to experience the musical talents of both bands as each presents a mini-concert, then join forces to present music that is guaranteed to bring down the walls as the 135 combined musicians present their renditions of the elegant “God’s Country” by Rossano Galante and the dramatic “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” by
Source: Community News: Solano Winds to feature Fairfield teacher, yolo students
By RHSEU Boosters
The Rodriguez High School Entertainment Unit’s 13th Annual Crab Feed on Feb. 16 was a great success.
Thirty-four tables of eight guests each were sold out only a couple of weeks after tickets went on sale.
The Jazz Band and Jazz Choir created the perfect ambience for the feasting while many of the student members and booster parents worked behind the scenes to make for a smooth evening. As usual the band family and friends thank participants from the bottom of our hearts for your support.
Source: Community News: Rodriguez band boosters crab feed a success
By Bill Hicks
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday night to approve potential budget augmentations to the district’s 2019-20 budget, which are based on the projections within Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget.
The projected augmentations would result in as much as $2.8 million in cuts, which were chosen as to have the most minimal affect on the classroom learning experience, according to Assistant Superintendent with Business Services Michelle Henson.
Source: School Board OKs potential district budget augmentations
By Susan Hiland
Solano County Office of Education launched a well-respected children’s literacy program for local children in early care and learning settings – including participating Quality Counts family child care homes and center-based programs.
First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission awarded Solano County Office of Education with funding to implement Raising a Reader. For the 2018-19 program year, 20 Quality Counts sites will participate in Raising a Reader, allowing more than 500 children to take home a set of four books on a weekly basis and share with their families.
Source: Raising a Reader program launches in Solano County
By Alyson Klein
More than $500 million in funding for construction projects at schools serving the children of military personnel could be in jeopardy, thanks to President Donald Trump’s move to declare a national emergency and shift some $8 billion allocated to defense construction and other purposes to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
That’s according to an analysis of military construction projects circulated by the House Appropriations Committee, which is controlled by Democrats. The list of potentially impacted projects includes turning the former Fort Campbell High School in Fort Campbell, Ky., into a new middle school. Construction projects at schools on military bases in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom could also be affected.
For its part, the Trump administration has said it will divert roughly $3.6 billion from military construction to wall construction, but it has not yet identified which projects would be affected.
Source: Trump Emergency Declaration Could Endanger Aid for School Projects on Military Bases – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Maggie Avants
Solano County’s education community is mourning the loss of Dixon resident and longtime Solano County Board of Education Trustee Douglas “Doug” J. Ford, who died Thursday, Feb. 14 at the age of 87 following a long battle with cancer.
“Our hearts overflow with sadness at Doug’s passing,” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said Wednesday in a news release. “He was very passionate about education, especially career pathways and biotechnology.”
Source: SCOE Mourns Longtime Trustee Douglas ‘Doug’ Ford | Dixon, CA Patch
By Nick Sestanovich
The 16th season of NBC’s hit singing competition series “The Voice” premieres on Feb. 25, and scores of aspiring singers across the nation are preparing to audition for the show, go through a few rounds of training with one of the celebrity judges and ultimately be crowned ‘the voice,’ where they will win $10,000 and a recording contract with Universal Music Group.
One of these open auditions is taking place at San Francisco’s Moscone Center West on Feb. 24, which makes it a primary destination for Bay Area vocalists. Of course, this includes singers from Vacaville.
This week, The Reporter profiled Tyler James Luttrell, a Vacaville native who has been prepping for the audition with renditions of country and Southern rock songs.
Source: Vaca High sophomore to audition for ‘The Voice’ – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
Doug Ford, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel, Solano County Board of Education trustee and Reporter columnist, died in his Dixon home Thursday after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 87.
Ford was born in Georgetown, Ill., in 1931 but moved to Tillamook, Ore., with his family when he was 3. It was there that he developed a lifelong interest in aviation when his father took him to see a Soviet aircraft that had flown over the North Pole from Moscow to Vancouver, Wash., in 1937.
Ford began building model airplanes and earned his private pilot’s license in 1950. He was accepted into the Air Force’s Pilot Training Program in 1951 but was moved over to the navigator training program after failing to pass the vision test. He retired from the Air Force in 1979, having reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Source: Doug Ford, former Solano Board of Education trustee and Reporter columnist, dies – The Reporter
By John Glidden
There was a noticeable pause and silence from the Vallejo school board Wednesday night after board President Bob Lawson asked if any of the trustees had a motion.
After a few tense seconds, Trustee Tony Gross eventually offered up a motion to approve recommendations from Vallejo City Unified School District administrative staff to cut $7.25 million from next year’s fiscal year budget.
The board’s unanimous vote ended a terse and emotional discussion Wednesday night as the district attempts to erase a $22 million deficit and stave off insolvency.
Source: Vallejo school board makes $7.25 million in cuts – Times-Herald
By News Desk
On Friday, February 8th, the Solano County Office of Education took 35 students to the 21st Annual Teens Tackle Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs and Youth Wellness Conference at UC Berkeley. Students from Benicia, Dixon, Travis, Fairfield-Suisun, Vacaville and Vallejo Unified School Districts attended workshops designed by youth for youth. Workshop topics included: healthy relationships, youth preventing violence, tobacco, vaping, and more. Students walked away with a better understanding about prevention, advocacy, cessation, and overall wellness.
Source: Solano Teens Tackle Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs At 21st Annual Event | Benicia, CA Patch
By John Glidden
The Vallejo school board concluded its three-hour meeting Wednesday night by adjourning in honor of the three alpacas killed during a dog attack at Loma Vista Farm last Friday.
While most of the meeting centered around the board’s need to make $7.25 million in cuts, a bulk of those reductions to district positions, Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark did take time to offer his condolences for the loss.
“I just wanted to share in my condolences for the farm animals that we lost over at Loma Vista Farm,” he said during his report to the trustees. “It was absolutely tragic, I was sick to my stomach when I heard about it Saturday morning, sick to my stomach when I went by there Sunday, and still, sick to my stomach about that unfortunate event that took place.”
Source: Vallejo school board dedicates meeting to killed alpacas – Times-Herald
By John Glidden
Apparently, the current Elsa Widenmann Elementary School in North Vallejo is not for sale.
District Superintendent Adam Clark emphatically confirmed as much during Wednesday night’s Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education meeting.
“It’s not for sale,” he said during his report to the board. “Do you think if I had to, that I would have shut down that program over there? Widenmann does great things.”
Clark was responding to comments made from district watchdog Robert Schussel, who argued that the district should consider Griffin Technology Academies’ offer to lease the school site for $1.5 million. The district is currently facing a $22 million structural deficit.
Source: VCUSD Superintendent Adam Clark adamant Widenmann site ‘not for sale’ – Times-Herald
By Shawna De La Rosa
Learning to utilize social media can be a daunting task fraught with the potential for flubs and even major missteps. But avoiding social media all together may be the biggest mistake of all.
Creating strong policies will encourage responsible behavior by students, staff and faculty. Setting the guidelines can begin by stressing the importance of personal responsibility and outlining the boundaries of communication between staff and students, as well as families, on social media. Kristin Magette’s “Embracing Social Media: A Practical Guide To Manage Risk And Leverage Opportunity” is a good resource when tackling this process.
Source: School, district social media policies must tackle pitfalls as well as opportunities | Education Dive
By Alyson Klein
The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday sought to clear up confusion about how school privacy laws should be interpreted in the context of school safety with the release of a new frequently-asked-questions document that puts previous guidance and technical help on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act all in one place.
The new, comprehensive document, School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), builds on conclusions from the Federal School Safety Commission, which found that school districts seeking to bolster their safety efforts were confused about when and how they could share student information without violating FERPA. President Donald Trump established the school safety commission in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., last February.
Source: School Safety and Student Privacy: Betsy DeVos Seeks to Clarify Law – Politics K-12 – Education Week
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 31 schools were newly designated as Model Continuation High Schools for 2019. These schools are recognized for their innovative approach to instruction and helping students who have faced many challenges—including behavior issues, chronic absenteeism, and truancy—get back on the pathway to learning.
“These schools have created exemplary programs and strategies that provide students with a second chance at academic success,” said Thurmond. “The commitment demonstrated by the teachers and administrative staff, combined with a culture of caring that focuses on the emotional and education needs of the unique populations they serve, are what make these continuation high schools the best examples of how to help kids strive and reach their full potential.”
Source: 2019 Model Continuation High Schools Announced – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)
By Joel Rosenbaum
Fairfield High School drama teacher, Elizabeth Choy, thought it would be interesting and cool to learn how to make puppets.
Using videos on YouTube and modeling her creations from images on social media, she created her first two puppets. Naming them after herself and her husband, she brought them into her classroom.
While she was building her first puppet in class five years ago, Choy noticed that one of her students who was autistic picked up one of the puppets and began to open and close the mouth and play with them.
Source: Fairfield High drama teacher uses handmade puppets in her classroom – The Reporter