By Nick Sestanovich
Two of the biggest changes at Benicia High School this year are the adoption of a new bell schedule and the switch to a new special education model. Items on both were presented at Thursday’s school board meeting.
The implementation of a new bell schedule at Benicia High has been in the works ever since it was suggested as a goal by a Western Association of Schools and Colleges visitation team more than two years ago. After two years of conducting research, soliciting feedback from the community and presenting various possibilities for a new schedule to go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year, Benicia High announced a new schedule in May. Rather than students having a non-rotating six-period schedule for all five days of the week, students will only have that schedule for three days of the week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will have a block schedule consisting of three 86-minute classes each day. Odd-numbered classes will meet on Wednesdays, even-numbered classes will meet on Thursdays, and school will end for students 30 minutes earlier.
Source: New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting
By Nick Sestanovich
As indicated by the cooler weather and flood of advertisements for school supplies, summer is winding down. On Monday, Aug. 21, Benicia students at all grade levels will head back to school for the start of the 2017-2018 school year. However, no matter which school they are attending, all of Benicia Unified School District’s sites will have something different they did not have the year before, whether it is a new crop of teachers, new administrators, new construction or even a new schedule. The Herald recently caught up with the principals at all seven schools to let students know what they can expect as they start the new school year.
Source: Benicia Heads Back to Class: What’s new, what to expect at Benicia Unified’s 7 schools in 2017-2018
By Katy St. Clair
The morning was all “criss-cross applesauce” and smiles as the children at Dan Mini Elementary lined up to receive their new backpacks full of school supplies for the new year on Thursday.
“Yayyy!” exclaimed a second-grader, tightening her pack’s straps proudly.
The kids came in three groups to get their goodies, all provided by the Pitcch In Foundation, a nonprofit started by New York Yankees baseball player CC Sabathia and his family. Sabathia is a Vallejo native who has been giving back to kids here for eight years.
“It’s very exciting to know that every kid gets a backpack,” said Dan Mini Principal Heather Topacio. “They feel so proud. And we know we can count on it every year,” she said.
And every kid did indeed get a backpack, so that no one feels singled out for being in need more than others.
“This is fabulous,” said a second-grade teacher in passing, as she corralled her kids back to class. “We have students that don’t have basic supplies.”
Source: Pitcch In Foundation put the “backpacks” in “back to school” in Vallejo – Benicia
By Richard Bammer
The herald of the day was not the first bell, but white-painted letters on the back windshield of several cars — “Seniors c/o 2018” and “Seniors 2K18” — headed at 7:40 a.m. to Vacaville High, one of several campuses in Vacaville Unified undergoing major physical changes under Measure A, as the first hours of the new academic year began on a sweetly blue and cloudless Thursday.
The nearly 2,000 students at the West Monte Vista Avenue campus were in their seats by 7:50 a.m., including several hundred in the brand-new $10 million, 15-classroom English building, literally a stone’s throw from a similar building, for mathematics classes, to be completed by the December holiday break. Both projects, including earlier expansions and relocation of the school’s main parking lot and tennis courts, are funded by the $194 million bond measure passed by Vacaville Unified voters in 2014.
Source: Impact of Measure A projects seen on first day of school
By Ryan McCarthy
Police officers will teach a public safety course at Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools, where $33.5 million in construction is underway – while at Fairmont Charter School parents and their children gathered Thursday for the start of the school year.
Aneyda Zinky said she was telling her daughter Meghan, 10, about going back to school in Mexico City.
“It was a private school, so it was very strict,” Zinky remembered.
Meghan was looking forward to the books, computers, music and P.E. class at Fairmont, the charter school that opened in 2009 at its Marshall Road site.
Source: Police teach public safety in Vacaville School District, which adds new way to grade
By The Washington Post
A brother and sister approach the end of summer differently – the girl is excited for school to start and the brother would rather just stay home. Even after describing the new subjects they’ll be studying and things they’ll do, the boy is adamant about not going to school: “I am going to play all day!/It doesn’t matter what you say.” His sister responds: “Recess is for playing games:/We’ll run and jump and climb!/Let’s go right now and join the fun./You really must not whine!” The sister’s enthusiasm never wanes and eventually the brother – seated at a chair and surrounded by friendly students in a cheerful classroom – discovers his sister was right all along. Bright, bold, detail-laden drawings paired with singsong rhymes create a perfect “turn-that-frown-upside down” story.
Source: 7 books that will help ease the back-to-school transition
By Daily Republic Staff
High school sports are gearing up for the fall season, and with that comes the risk of concussions.
NorthBay Healthcare surgeon and Trauma medical director J. Peter Zopfi, D.O., will answer questions about concussion during the next #OurDocTalk chat at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday on the NorthBay Facebook page.
#OurDocTalk is a series of live Facebook chats designed to connect NorthBay doctors with the community to answer questions on a variety of health issues.
Source: Facebook chat to focus on concussions
By John Glidden
Jitters and excitement on the first day of school aren’t just reserved for the kids.
“I don’t sleep the night before the first day of school,” Principal Kim Mitchell-Lewis confessed as kids and parents showed up to Annie Pennycook Elementary School Wednesday morning. “I get excited, like the kids.”
In her fifth year as principal, Mitchell-Lewis acted as traffic control, answering questions, and directing parents, students, and staff on where they needed to go.
Source: Vallejo students return to school
By Kimberly K. Fu
School may already have started, but that doesn’t mean that all students have everything they need for a successful academic year.
Which is where three Solano Business Network International (BNI) groups come in, as they’ve partnered to collect school supplies Aug. 25 and Aug. 27 during the “Fill My Ride” event. Items gathered from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at Sam’s Club (1500 Helen Power Drive) and from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 27 at Wal-Mart (1501 Helen Power Drive) will go to Suisun Elementary School, Markham Elementary School and the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club.
The idea came on a whim, said Susan Schwartz, who oversees several BNI groups and volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club, but members were very excited to make it a reality.
“We’re really trying to show our community that BNI isn’t just about business. It’s about giving back to the community,” she said.
In the past, members also have participated in speed mentorships and other activities in support of youth.
Source: School Supplies Needed
By Richard Bammer
A debt recovery plan for school lunch accounts, and updates on sixth-graders’ transition to C.A. Jacobs Intermediate School and the possibility of reconfiguring the district’s elementary school model are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight.
Melissa Mercado, the district’s new chief business officer, will lead the discussion on the food services department’s plans to get families to pay off meal debts.
The agenda item comes two weeks after the five-member board first heard of the plan from Superintendent Brian Dolan, which came after headlines about public rage directed at American schools that resort to so-called “lunch shaming” policies that humiliate children with meal debts.
Since July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has required school districts to adopt policies for taking care of delinquent student accounts for breakfast and lunch meals. While the agency, which funds the meal programs, is not specifically barring most of the embarrassing methods — such as serving cheap sandwiches instead of hot meals or sending children home with reminders, such as hand stamps — districts are being encouraged to inform parents at the start of the school year, so children don’t go hungry.
Source: Dixon Unified School District trustees focuses on meal debt recovery plan, sixth-grade transition
By Richard Bammer
Staffed by a full complement of employees, the Vacaville High main office Wednesday seemed ready for the first day of the new academic year, today: Postcard-sized paw prints, a symbol of the school mascot, a bulldog, in school colors orange and black, decorated computer monitors; a Bulldog Nation bulletin board was affixed to one wall near the principal’s office; and athletic forms and schedules and yearbook order forms were available near the front counter for students. A few students came and left.
But, at first glance the school’s new, two-story English building, with work crews in white hard hats pouring concrete, painters adding finishing brushwork here and there, looked anything but ready for the hundreds of teenagers that will begin filing into its 15 brand-new classrooms.
Source: A new day for English classes at Vaca High
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
It was a day of many firsts on the first day of the 2017-18 school year in the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
For Atreyu Jilpas, it was his very first day of school. The 5-year-old waited anxiously with his Super Mario backpack and Star Wars jacket to meet his kindergarten teacher at Crescent Elementary.
In a transitional kindergarten classroom at the school, Paula Clanton was having the first day of her final year of teaching. She retires at the end of the year, having spent 17 of 19 years at Crescent.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school year kicks off with day of many firsts
By Bill Hicks
Anyone who had ever been to Solano Community College’s previous Theatre Arts building might have a memory of a theater that was adequate but didn’t necessarily bowl anyone over in terms of aesthetics and general functionality.
The concessions were previously sold, for instance, out of a closet.
That has all changed.
Guests at the college’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday took a tour of the fully refurbished performing arts center and the transformation was monumental.
“It was a full renovation,” college President-Superintendent Celia Esposito-Noy said. “This project was made necessary for a number of health and safety reasons.”
Source: Renovated Solano College theater steals show at ribbon-cutting
By Nick Sestanovich
Benicia Unified School District schools are nearly back in session for the 2017-2018 year, and so are the Governing Board meetings. As is usually the case, one of the items on the agenda is devoted to providing an update on the status of Measure S bond projects.
Measure S is an initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding for renovation and upgrades of school facilities. Bond projects completed to date include upgrading the technology infrastructure at all seven schools, playground enhancements at all four elementary schools, exterior painting at Benicia High School and repairing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School.Bond Director Roxanne Egan will deliver an update on items that were discussed at the July 25 BUSD Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting, as well as updates on items being funded by Measure S.
Source: School board to kick off 2017-2018 year with Measure S update
By John Glidden
A candidate has been identified as the next possible Vallejo school district superintendent, trustees announced this week.
The Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education met in closed session over two days last week interviewing several candidates.
“The board conducted two rounds of interviews and then identified a candidate for further review,” Trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown wrote in a news release to the Times-Herald.
The candidate is expected to make a site visit to the district.
Additional vetting of the candidate will occur and the board is “in the process of selecting representatives of key stakeholder groups to participate in the site visit.”
“After this additional work is completed, the board will determine whether to offer a contract or conduct additional interviews,” the release further states.
Source: Vallejo trustees narrow search for new superintendent
By Tracy Seipel
August — ouch — is National Immunization Awareness Month and the start of school for many, timely reminders why local and state public health officials are urging parents to make sure their children are up to speed with their vaccines, preventing diseases like measles and whooping cough that can easily spread in childcare and school settings.
Actually, it’s not just a reminder, it’s the law — and one that got even tougher in California starting last summer when parents no longer were allowed to opt out of immunizations for their children, save for legitimate medical exemptions. Students attending a home-based private school or an independent study program with no classroom-based instruction also are exempted from the law.
In fact, Napa County Public Health Officer Karen Relucio reminded parents recently that children’s vaccinations must be up to date for them to attend school.
Source: Check your kids vaccine record
By Richard Bammer
Several contract change orders related to Measure Q, a Department of Defense grant, an agreement with the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies for classroom instruction are on the agenda when Solano Community College leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Trustees will review and likely approve some half-dozen small Measure Q contracts before considering a significantly larger one with Pacific Gas & Electric for electric service facilities for intersection improvements at the Vacaville Center on North Village Parkway. The contract is nearly $68,000 to relocate a junction vault out of a classroom building driveway. It does not include related trenching work, according to agenda documents. (Measure Q was the $348 million bond passed by Solano County voters in 2012 to improve and modernize college facilities.)
Source: Measure Q contracts, DoD grant are on SCC board agenda
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified leaders late last week were nowhere near a school cafeteria but they heard plenty of information from representatives of an advocacy educational resources firm that provided food for thought as the district’s new academic year begins Thursday.
Two employees from the Sacramento-based School Services of California Inc., which offers business, financial, management and support for the state’s 1,000 school districts, laid out the numbers during Thursdays’s governing board meeting, an comparative analysis of district income and expenses side-by-side with a dozen primarily other Bay Area districts for the 2015-16 year (the most recent for which their specific data was available).
School district officials had requested the analysis, Sheila Vickers, a company vice president, told trustees. The analysis and comparisons cast an eye on districts with similar average daily attendance and percentages of “unduplicated” students, that is, English learners, low-income and foster youth.
Source: Vacaville school district ranked in detailed income-expense comparative analysis
By Todd R. Hansen
Hundreds of students at two Solano County elementary schools will get a better start to the new school year because of donations to the Fill-the-Ambulance program.
“Anytime you can get resources into the hands of kids, it’s going to have a powerful impact,” said George Porter, the first-year principal at Fairview Elementary School in Fairfield.
Also benefitting from the NorthBay Healthcare program is Eugene Padan Elementary School in Vacaville.
Source: Students to get supplies boost from NorthBay program
By John Fensterwald
At an education conference Thursday, the two announced candidates for state superintendent of public instruction called for more strategies to counter a teacher shortage they said is gripping the state. The comments by Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond indicate the issue will factor heavily in their campaigns to replace retiring State Superintendent Tom Torlakson next year.
“The shortage is a massive crisis that few are talking about,” said Tuck, a former president of the Green Dot charter network in Los Angeles, who is making his second run for the office. Adopting short- and long-term approaches “must be the number one priority in the state,” he said.
Source: State superintendent candidates agree teacher shortage must be top priority | EdSource