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Lisa Reyes, Administrative Services & Operations, Solano County Office of Education

How To Talk With Kids About Terrible Things | MindShift

By Cory Turner

For the more than 3,000 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday’s mass shooting was terrifying and life-changing. But what of the tens of millions of other children, in schools across the country, who have since heard about what happened and now struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion and uncertainty?

For their parents and teachers, we’ve put together a quick primer with help from the National Association of School Psychologists and Melissa Reeves, a former NASP president and co-author of its PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention curriculum.

Tune in

First, pay attention. Not just to what kids say, but what they do.

“Watch for clues that [children] may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work,” NASP recommends. “Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet.”

Source: How To Talk With Kids About Terrible Things | MindShift | KQED News

Benicia Middle School campus modernization dominates school board meeting Thursday – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

One of the largest remaining items to be funded by Measure S is new construction at BMS to give the school more of a 21st century look. Lee Pollard of HY Architects had presented plans for the redesign in 2017, which included new modular classrooms, a modernized courtyard and a new kitchen and drama room. Pollard said a meeting with staff was held on Jan. 9, which led to some changes in the draft design. Drama teacher Cathy Wright told Pollard she did not like the idea of having the new drama classroom near the basketball courts because of the noise. It was decided that the classroom would be taking over two classroom spaces near the library. The spaces would be converted into a black box theater with space for performance and seating. Pollard said the area would need soundproofing next to adjacent classrooms and additional windows.

Pollard said Wright had also told him that her students rehearsed in groups and did not have enough space, so she requested outdoor practice space. She also suggested a path at the front of the campus for parents to attend performances after school hours.“This gives us an opportunity to bring the parents in and have them go straight into a drama classroom for a performance without them having to wander all the way through the school,” Pollard said.

According to Pollard, Wright’s suggestions would cost about half of what was initially proposed for a new drama classroom. With the loss of an extra teaching space, however, three modular classrooms would be added to the northwest corner instead of the initial plan of two.Pollard also went into further detail on proposed changes to the interiors of the buildings, including upgrades to the library.

Source: Benicia Middle School campus modernization dominates school board meeting Thursday

Group paints mural dedicated to teacher at Markham Elementary School – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

It is the art of a memory. It holds a mirror to a life that says, “You mattered.” The imagery and portraiture also say, “You were loved and will be remembered.”

A group of friends and relatives of the late Anne Starr, a beloved former teacher at Markham Elementary in Vacaville, have come together to design and paint a large mural dedicated to her life and legacy.

The painting crew, busy last week brushing pigment onto an 8-by-21-foot work in progress at the Markham Avenue campus, included Starr’s daughter, Scout Urling of Bellingham, Wash., her close friend, Helen Anderson of Petaluma, and Malaquias Montoya of Elmira, a professor of Chicano art at the University of California, Davis, and a nationally known artist whose work has been acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Source: Group paints mural dedicated to teacher at Markham Elementary School

Solano Community College trustees to consider $1.6M wage-and-benefit package – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A two-year wage-and-benefit agreement with instructors and a resolution declaring March as Women’s History Month are on the agenda when Solano Community College leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

The seven-member governing board likely will approve a $1.6 million agreement, retroactive to July 1 and in effect until June 30, 2019, with the faculty chapter represented by the Community College Association/California Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

According to agenda documents, it amounts to a 4 percent wage hike for full-time and adjunct instructors and counselors as part of a restructured salary schedule.

Additionally, the contract calls for “language” to address online classes and faculty in “coordinator positions” (the latter not defined); and the right of adjunct faculty to interview for a full-time position.

The agreement’s cost to the college does not include health and welfare benefits.

Source: Solano Community College trustees to consider $1.6M wage-and-benefit package

Vacaville USD leaders air thoughts, feelings about Florida school shooting – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Human trafficking prevention, the possible funding of teacher effectiveness programs at two charter schools, and a report about Cooper Elementary were on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders met Thursday night in Vacaville.

But what was on many people’s minds, including the trustees, district staff and the general public during the governing board meeting were the Feb. 14 murders of 17 students and staff members by a deeply troubled former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., the nearly 20th U.S. school shooting since Jan. 1.

In her routine remarks at the meeting’s outset, Superintendent Jane Shamieh said “student safety and security” are “foremost” in the minds of district educators at all times.

Source: Vacaville Unified School District leaders air thoughts, feelings about Florida school shooting

Parent info meetings set for Early College High School program – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

It is, perhaps, one of the best college tuition deals in the nation and it is available to Vacaville high school students.

Parent informational meetings about Vacaville Early College High School, or VECHS for short, are set for 6 p.m. Feb. 27 at Vaca Pena Middle School, at 200 Keith Way; and at 6 p.m. March 6 at Jepson Middle School, 580 Elder St.

Each presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. For more information about VECHS and the enrollment process, visit https://vechs-vusd-ca.schoolloop.com.

Vacaville Unified officials are accepting applications for the 2018-19 academic year, with an application deadline of March 29.

Applications also may be picked up at the Vaca Pena or Jepson counseling offices or at the district’s Educational Services Center, 401 Nut Tree Road.

Source: Parent info meetings set for Early College High School program

Vacaville USD officials discuss human trafficking prevention – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Reporter headlines attest to the fact that awareness of human trafficking is on the rise and it is a local, national and global problem in need of a solution sooner rather than later.

Consider that a multi-agency human trafficking operation in late January in Fairfield yielded four arrests; Reporter columnists last month wrote about American Indian women and girls and foster children as being high risks for trafficking; a Sacramento man in mid-January was sentenced in Solano County Superior Court to three years in state prison for being involved in a human trafficking operation; and a Fairfield man suspected of trafficking a 16-year-old girl was arraigned Jan. 11 in Solano County Superior Court. All of these Reporter stories and opinion pieces were written during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

So, in some ways, it was no surprise during Thursday’s Vacaville Unified governing board meeting when Kim Forrest, assistant superintendent of student services, and Ramiro Barron, director of student attendance and welfare, discussed Assembly Bill 1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Education, and Training Act, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

Source: Vacaville Unified School District officials discuss human trafficking prevention

Foundation accepts applications for Solano education, other grants – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Applications for The Education Plus! grant program are available to K-12 teachers in public schools in Solano County.

The education grants, and three other programs for which applications are now being taken, are awarded through the Solano Community Foundation.

“The objective of the programs to be funded should be to achieve grade-level reading or math skills. Reading programs that concentrate on the early grades are favored, as are math programs for eighth-graders. However, programs that work toward skills improvement at any grade are eligible,” the foundation said in a statement.

Source: Foundation accepts applications for Solano education, other grants

Labor contracts, library project go to Solano College board – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Solano Community College board will consider contracts with various labor unions and will conduct a public hearing on the Library/Learning Resource Center Project when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The public hearing is on whether to approve a mitigated negative declaration as the environmental review for the replacement of Building 100 for the library project. The 2016-17 financial audit report is also on the agenda.

The public session follows a closed session at 6:30 p.m.

Source: Labor contracts, library project go to Solano College board

California’s largest districts address chronic absenteeism with focus on why students miss school | EdSource

By Nico Savidge

As the school day ends at Peyton Elementary School in Stockton, Christina Del Prato calls a mother whose daughter was absent 62 times last year. The girl has missed 21 days through the first half of this year, including the past two days.

Del Prato, an attendance case manager, is a key player in an effort being waged across the state to focus not just on students with unexcused absences but on those who are chronically absent, meaning they have missed at least 10 percent of school days for any reason.

California collected and released data on chronic absenteeism from schools for the first time last year as part of its new accountability system. A school’s chronic absenteeism rate could be included as soon as this fall on the districts’ dashboard, which shows how students are doing on multiple measures.

Source: California’s largest districts address chronic absenteeism with focus on why students miss school | EdSource

2018 CA Distinguished Schools Program – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

I am pleased to announce the 2018 California Distinguished Schools Program. This is one of the many ways that the California Department of Education (CDE) and I celebrate outstanding educational programs and practices through our California School Recognition Program which honors exemplary students, teachers, classified employees, and schools for advancing excellence in education. After a three-year break, the California Distinguished Schools Program is back and replaces the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program.

Sponsored by California Casualty, the 2018 California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes California elementary schools that have made exceptional gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students. By using California’s multiple measures accountability system, the CDE has identified eligible schools based on their performance and progress on the state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). You can access the California School Dashboard Report on the CDE’s California School Dashboard Web page at https://www.caschooldashboard.org.

Source: 2018 CA Distinguished Schools Program – Letters (CA Dept of Education)

Free glasses help Benicia students see their future – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

For 37 students at Robert Semple Elementary in Benicia, Tina Tran and Robert Mitchum are super heroes.

No, they can’t fly. They don’t have super strength. They certainly can’t change the weather by blinking. And while Tran and Mitchum can’t see the future, they did their part Thursday to make sure the kids could — literally.

As optometrists for the non-profit Vision to Learn, the two were part of the team sent to Semple three weeks ago to screen students for free eyeglasses, returning Thursday afternoon to hand out the actual glasses with an assist from Assemblymember Tim Grayson.

Source: Free glasses help Benicia students

Cooper kids put new writing skills to work in Valentine’s Day cards – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

The capital letters were correct. And the exclamation point was in the right place.

Getting it all perfect isn’t always easy when you’re in kindergarten. Of course, when there’s Valentine’s Day cupcakes within sniffing distance, it’s a welcomed reward.

And the students in Monique Rountree’s class at Cooper Elementary School in Vallejo couldn’t help but be tickled red with Wednesday’s activities.

“I like giving out candy on Valentine’s Day and giving Valentine’s Day cards,” said Casanti Feaster.

And don’t forget those party cupcakes …

“They taste so good,” Feaster said grinning. “I also like to drink Capri Sun that me and my mommy brought from the store and a balloon.”

Valentine’s Day for classmate Aubree Davis “is about loving people and it’s about sharing with people. When people are feeling left out, you can play with them.”

Source: Cooper kids put writing skills to work

Health survey, farm on Dixon Unified agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Results from a student health survey, an update to the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan, and an update on the funding process for the Dixon High School Farm are among the topics Dixon Unified leaders will hear about and discuss when they meet tonight in Dixon.

Julie Kehoe, executive director for special education and pupil services, will offer a presentation of results from the California Healthy Kids Survey taken last spring.

She will tell the five-member governing board that students in grades seven, nine and 11 annually take the survey that measures the students’ connection to their respective schools as well as their views on drugs and alcohol.

Source: Health survey, farm on Dixon Unified agenda

Human trafficking prevention on Vacaville USD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Human trafficking prevention, the possible funding of teacher effectiveness programs at two charter schools, and a report about Cooper Elementary are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Kim Forrest, assistant superintendent of student services, and Ramiro Barron, director of student attendance and welfare, will offer information about Assembly Bill 1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Education, and Training Act, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

Among the points they will make during their slide presentation are periodic instruction for middle and high school students about the nature of human trafficking; periodic staff training about human trafficking, including sexual abuse and how it can be prevented; a calendar of instruction dates and locations; required topics of instruction, including the nature of sexually transmitted diseases; parenting, adoption and abortion; the importance of prenatal care; information about sexual harassment, sexual assault and strategies to prevent them; and information about adolescent relationship abuse and intimate partner violence, including early warning signs.

Source: Human trafficking prevention on Vacaville Unified School District agenda

Travis school trustees approve 2 employee contracts – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Travis School District trustees Tuesday approved the 2017-18 contracts with the Travis Unified Teachers Association and California School Employees Association, Travis Chapter 454.

The votes were 4-1 with Trustee Angela Weinzinger dissenting.

Weinzinger said in transcribed comments from district staff that as an elected official, she has been entrusted by taxpayers to make decisions for the district with the fiscal responsibility to those taxpayers and the solvency of the district in mind.

“I am in total agreement that our staff at (the Travis district) are very deserving of the raise and increase in benefits. They are incredible at what they do,” Weinzinger said in the transcribed comments. “But as I look to the future, I am concerned that down the line we will not be faced with even bigger financial issues.

Source: Travis school trustees approve 2 employee contracts

Science education funding still in Trump’s crosshairs, despite being saved by Congress | EdSource

By Carolyn Jones

Days after Congress passed a budget that mostly preserves funding for science education, President Donald Trump released a new budget proposal for 2019 that would eliminate many of those same programs.

Trump’s budget proposal, released on Monday, was drawn up before Congress passed its two-year deal last week. Although Congress already approved a budget, Trump’s proposal can offer funding priorities within approved budget caps, and it lays out his overall vision for the country. It calls for a $26 billion increase in defense spending next year, but $5 billion in cuts to non-defense programs, including a 10.5 percent cut to the Department of Education.

Source: Science education funding still in Trump’s crosshairs, despite being saved by Congress | EdSource

Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 32 schools were newly designated as Model Continuation High Schools for 2018. These schools are recognized for creating innovative programs that focus on academics and social and emotional learning and helping students who have faced many challenges, including chronic absenteeism and truancy, get back on the path to realizing their full academic potential.

“These model continuation high schools provide a space where students can feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence and receive strong educational support,” said Torlakson. ”Creating an academically challenging yet encouraging school climate can help turn an at-risk student on the verge of dropping out into a high school graduate prepared for a future career or college.”

Source: Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Olympics of the Mind – you’re invited to join the Academic Decathlon – Daily Republic

BY Ashley Ching

It’s Academic Decathlon season, and you’re invited to volunteer for the state championship, March 23-24 in Sacramento.

Volunteer for one or two days. Must be 18 or older.

Presented by Northrop Grumman, the California Academic Decathlon includes 68 high schools throughout California. We are expecting 600 high school students to compete this year.

Like the decathlon of the ancient Greeks, the Academic Decathlon consists of ten exciting events. While the Greek events were contests of physical strength, the Academic Decathlon is a contest of academic strength. The Academic Decathlon includes tests in Art, Music, Language and Literature, Mathematics, Economics, Science, and Social Science. In addition, there are communication tests that include the writing of an essay, the delivery of a prepared and an impromptu speech, and an interview.

Source: Olympics of the Mind – you’re invited to join the Academic Decathlon

School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

As Measure S bond projects continue to move along, attendees of this Thursday’s school board meeting can get a greater understanding of which projects have been completed, which ones are nearing completion and which projects will be taken on next. The discussion will be presented by Bond Director Roxanne Egan.

Measure S was a ballot initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 aimed at providing $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at each of the Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. As of Dec. 31, 11 projects had been completed, technology infrastructure upgrades at all the schools, playground modernizations at the elementary schools, fixing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School, painting the exteriors at Benicia High School and renovating Benicia High’s stadium.

Egan also identified 10 approved bond projects in progress. These include fire alarm replacements at Liberty High School and the District Office as well as Mary Farmar, Joe Henderson and Robert Semple elementary schools, a fire alarm upgrade at Matthew Turner Elementary School, a modernization of Benicia Middle School’s campus, miscellaneous infrastructure upgrades, alternative education improvements and repairing the gym floor at Benicia High. Another approved project is improvements to Benicia High’s Performing Arts Building, which Egan said is part of the district’s efforts to apply for a Career Technical Education grant for the building. If the grant is awarded, then the district will be required to match up to a maximum of $3 million in local funding. If the grant is not awarded, then a minimum amount of $400,000 will be allocated for PAB improvements.

Source: School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting