Launch event to highlight arts education tomorrow – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

How important are the arts in education? That is a question that will be discussed at the Benicia Arts Now Community launch breakfast at Benicia Middle School.

The new local art education advocacy organization, in conjunction with the statewide California Alliance for Arts Education, will be hosting a special event to discuss ideas on how to grow art education in Benicia. Benicia Arts Now Community was formed last year by a group of parents who wanted further access to art education for their children. The group has expanded to include businesses, city officials, the Benicia Unified School District and local organizations such as Arts Benicia.

The goals are in line with those of the statewide California Alliance for Arts Education.

Source: Launch event to highlight arts education tomorrow

Human Services Board aims to raise $5K in online fundraising campaign – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Spring is the season of giving, and the Benicia Human Services Board (HSB) is providing a chance for people to give. For the next 21 days, the HSB is hosting an online fundraiser for its Human Services Fund in the hopes of raising $5,000 before the deadline.

The HSB oversees the Human Services Fund, a charitable reserve that distributes funds to nonprofit agencies that provide support to Benicians in need. Each month, the HSB goes over each grantee’s service goals and objectives and continually provides fundraising to keep each program going.

This year, the HSB has opted for a “Spring into Action” campaign by encouraging people to donate online through CauseVox, a crowdfunding website aimed mainly to provide support to nonprofits.

Source: Human Services Board aims to raise $5K in online fundraising campaign

Benicia High grad appears as guest on Carol Burnett Netflix series – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

On May 4, comedy legend Carol Burnett debuted her new Netflix talk show “A Little Help with Carol Burnett,” in which the comedic icon leads a panel of children ages 5 to 9 provide unscripted advice to regular people and celebrities in front of a live audience. One of those people to receive advice was 2012 Benicia High School graduate Nicholas Bustamante.

Bustamante began acting in Solano Youth Theatre, which he said inspired his current path.

“It was really nice having a lot of people come to those shows,” he said. “It really inspired me and made me think I could go further with what I was doing and at the time, that was musical theater.”

Source: Benicia High grad appears as guest on Carol Burnett Netflix series

Family Reading Night in Benicia – Times Herald

By Times Herald Staff

The Benicia Public Library is having its third annual Family Reading Night on Wednesday, May 16.

The event is for all elementary school students and will include a free pizza and salad dinner, a performance from an elementary school choir, and games and activities. Plus, each child gets two free books.

The event is a partnership with the Library’s Youth Services staff, the Adult Literacy Program, and Benicia Unified School District, which funds it through an adult education block grant.

It’s free, but R.S.V.P. by calling (707) 746-4741, or filling out a form in the library, or by going to the library’s website, www.benicialibrary.org.

Source: Family Reading Night in Benicia

Benicia High School production of ‘Legally Blonde’ proves growing experience for all – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

“Legally Blonde: The Musical” tells the story of a young woman who perseveres despite obstacles and grows over time. Basically, it is an appropriate play for high school drama students to perform, and the result can be seen starting Friday at Benicia High School.

Director Nathan Day said the drama department had a difficult time picking a spring musical this year following the graduation of drama students from the Class of 2017.

“I lost a really big class last year that were really talented,” he said.

This year’s crop of drama students has mostly been girls and freshmen/sophomore boys. Day and vocal director Vivian McLaughlin decided to hold a general audition in September even before a show was selected.

“The whole concept was ‘Let’s have a general audition, and based off of that let’s pick a show that we feel we can be successful with,’” he said.

Source: Benicia High School production of ‘Legally Blonde’ proves growing experience for all

As contract negotiations continue, community resumes pleas for equal teacher pay – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

As a result of ongoing labor negotiations between Benicia Unified School District and the Benicia Teachers Association, educators, parents and students once again took to the lectern during the public comment portion of Thursday’s school board meeting to request more fair salaries for teachers.

On Jan. 24, BUSD and the BTA held a negotiations meeting following a budget workshop. BUSD proposed a one-time bonus of 1 percent off the salary schedule for both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, citing a desire to remain competitive with surrounding school districts. BTA countered with a 5 percent salary increase for the current school year and a 4.25 percent increase for the following school year. BUSD did not accept this offer and teachers were not satisfied with receiving 1 percent off the salary schedule, so a rally was held ahead of the Feb. 1 meeting. At a Feb. 6 negotiations meeting, BUSD made a counter-proposal of 1.5 percent off the salary schedule. After being unable to reach an agreement, BTA requested to file for impasse.

Source: As contract negotiations continue, community resumes pleas for equal teacher pay

Solano County’s top school district employees named – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vanden High science teacher Marilyn Lewis and Vallejo City Unified bus driver Samantha Bradshaw were named Solano County’s top educators of the year.

The leader of Solano County schools, Lisette Estrella-Henderson, made the announcement in a press release.

Besides Lewis and Bradshaw, named Teacher of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year, respectively, 12 other school district employees were honored Tuesday during a ceremony in Suisun City. The event recognized teachers, paraeducators, child nutrition, support services, security and school staff who give their time, talent and skills to support student achievement, educational innovation and community involvement in Solano County schools.

“It is an honor and a privilege to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our Solano County educators and support staff,” Estrella-Henderson added in the prepared statement.

Source: Solano County’s top school district employees named

SCOE honors classified employee, teacher of the year – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

A school bus driver convinced by her cousin to give the job a try and a high school science teacher who taught three of her four children were named Tuesday as Solano County’s Classified School Employee of the Year and Teacher of the Year.

Samantha Bradshaw, lead trainer and bus driver for the Vallejo City School District, was nominated for her can-do attitude and getting grants to retrofit the buses.

“Samantha has gone over and beyond the call of duty to help out the Transportation Department,” her nomination read.

Source: Solano office of education honors classified employee, teacher of the year

School board to hear update on Measure S bond progress – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Benicia Unified School District is currently discussing how best to use the remaining funds in the Measure S budget. A quarterly update on the Measure S bond will be delivered at Thursday’s school board meeting.

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. As of now, 11 projects funded by Measure S have been completed, including playground upgrades at all the elementary schools, repairing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School, upgrading the phone systems at all schools, replacing the softball field bleachers at Benicia High School, replacing the fire alarms at Benicia Middle and Benicia High, and renovating the Benicia High stadium.

Source: School board to hear update on Measure S bond progress

Solano County school Employees of the Year to receive recognition – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The Solano County Office of Education on Tuesday will honor 14 school employees nominated for the 2018-19 Solano County Educators of the Year Award.

Those being recognized hail from Vacaville, Travis, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Benicia, and Vallejo City unified districts and SCOE.

The event begins at 5:15 and continues to 7 p.m. in the Joseph A. Nelson Community Center, 611 Village Drive, Suisun City. The public is invited to join the celebration. To attend, R.S.V.P. at https://goo.gl/forms/fkcNsmEechg7Oy9u2.

For more information, call Rebecca Floyd at 646-7602 or email her at RFloyd@solanocoe.net.

The teachers and school-support employees “contribute to student achievement, educational innovation, and community involvement,” Lisette Estrella-Henderson, superintendent of county schools, noted in a press release.

Source: Solano County school Employees of the Year to receive recognition

Solano districts nominate top teachers, school employees – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Fourteen educators and school support employees have been nominated for the 2018-19 Solano County Educators of the Year Award.

“Solano County’s educators inspire and support our students to learn, grow and thrive. Their hard work and dedication make a profound and lasting impact on the lives of our pupils and their families. I want to extend our deepest appreciation to all the nominees, for their admirable work in education,” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement announcing the nominations.

Source: Solano districts nominate top teachers, school employees for educator awards

School board rejects bids for fire alarm upgrades – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

At Thursday’s meeting, the Benicia school board unanimously voted to reject bids for fire alarm upgrades at two elementary schools and reopen them at a later time.

As part of the Measure S initiative, which was approved by voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding to projects at Benicia Unified School District sites, the district is looking to improve fire alarm systems at all of its sites. The fire alarms at Benicia High and Benicia Middle School have been either replaced or reconditioned, and the next schools slated to receive fire alarm renovations are Mary Farmar and Robert Semple elementary schools.

Roxanne Egan, Measure S bond director, said advertisements for public bids were recently put out and received interest from three contractors. However, only one put forth a bid: Bockmon & Woody, a Stockton-based electric utility company which previously did work on Benicia High and Benicia Middle’s fire alarms.

Source: School board rejects bids for fire alarm upgrades

Hundreds of students leave Benicia High for National School Walkout – Benicia Herald

By George Johnston

Facing unexcused absence as punishment, approximately 400 Benicia High School students nevertheless joined thousands of peers across the country to walk out of school as a part of the National School Walkout.

The National School Walkout was a nationwide protest held today to rally against gun violence and honor those who lost their lives in shootings. The event, coinciding with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre, was one of several national demonstrations held in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, and Benicia High students have actively participated throughout. On Feb. 24, students marched from Benicia High to City Park where they held a candlelight vigil. On March 14, they held a brief rally on campus in lieu of the the National School Walkout held that day. On March 24, students organized a march down First Street and rally at City Park which had several local officials speak. Today’s walkout called for students across America to leave school and join with their fellow youth in demonstrating a call to gun violence.

Source: Hundreds of students leave Benicia High for National School Walkout

Benicians to run for education this weekend – Benicia Herald

By George Johnston

Benicians and other participants will have a chance to show if they were born to run as the city is hosting the 11th annual Run for education on Sunday.

The Run for Education is a charity event put on by the Benicia Education Foundation to raise money for programs and services in the Benicia Unified School District.

The Benicia Education Foundation is a volunteer-run, community-based nonprofit organization that helps fund BUSD programs and services. The run is split into a 5K and a 10k. Both courses are certified by the USA Track & Field and professionally chipped and timed. Those participating in the 5K will pass historical sites, Victorian homes and views of the Carquinez Strait. The 10K course will takes runners into the Benicia State recreation Area. The Kids’ Fun-Run, open to children ages 12 and under, runs from the Marina Green down to the pier and back.

Source: Benicians to run for education this weekend

Solano County SELPA Community Advisory Committee – Daily Republic

Educators, Youth and Community Members Who Work with Special Education Students Recognized for Outstanding Service

The 12th Annual Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Recognition Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday, April 30, 2018, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the Solano County Office of Education, 5100 Business Center Drive, Fairfield.

CAC Awards are presented to educators, youth, and community members for outstanding service to students with special needs. Award recipients are from each school district within the Solano County Special Education Local Plan Area: Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis, and Vacaville Unified School Districts, as well as the Solano County Office of Education.

Source: News Release – Solano County SELPA Community Advisory Committee

BUSD to discuss sunshine proposal negotiations with classified employees union – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

A little sunshine is on the horizon— both in the weather and at Benicia Unified School District’s Governing Board meeting, where a 2017-18 sunshine proposal between the district and the California School Employees Association (CSEA) is on the agenda.

Per Education Code, BUSD must publicly disclose negotiation proposals before beginning negotiations with the CSEA, a union representing classified employees. The current collective bargaining agreement between BUSD and CSEA Chapter 1096 expired on June 30, and the entire bargaining agreement is open this year, per contract.

The CSEA highlighted several articles to be made available to the public. These include seeking to remove restrictions on the union steward investigation process, seeking fair and equitable pay as well as a solution to overnight trip pay, searching for a fair and equitable medical cap contribution, making earned compensatory time immediately available, an expanded definition of “immediate family,” updating parental leave provisions, removing language to discourage safe working conditions, establishing annual first aid and CPR training, and commemorating verbal warnings for employee records. The agreement would be good through June 30, 2020.

Source: BUSD to discuss sunshine proposal negotiations with classified employees union

Benicia High takes audience back in time with spring dance show – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Remember a time when people weren’t consumed by their smartphones? Benicia High School’s performing arts department will take audiences back to such a time period— several of them, in fact— for its advanced dance show “Scrolling Through Time,” which opens tonight.

The dance show— which combines the talents of Benicia High’s drama, dance and other performing arts students—is put on once or twice a year and features a story and choreographed dance numbers based on a theme. In this instance, the theme is the clash between the past and present eras.

The story centers around Scott Bledsoe (Played by Logan Bledsoe), a young man whose inventor father leaves him with a prototype of his newest product: the much-hyped iPhone Infinity. As he plays around with the Siri function, the phone glitches and the digital personal assistant comes to life as a human being, played by Ava Keffer, who takes Bledsoe back in time to several different eras.

Source: Benicia High takes audience back in time with spring dance show

Benicia Middle Schoolers to sit in on exclusive performance of Vallejo Symphony Orchestra concert – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Middle School’s band students will be joining more than 800 pupils from area schools to attend a pair of special Vallejo Symphony Orchestra performances at the Empress Theatre on Sunday. The best part? They will have the auditorium just to themselves as they take in the sounds of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony.

According to VSO conductor Marc Taddei, this is the first time the local symphony has put on such concerts, which he described as being in the vein of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, in which the noted conductor taught lessons on symphonic music for a younger audience. Taddei attended one of those concerts at a young age, and he assures that the setup will be similar.

“For our first concert, I thought it best to go with a proper concert that has been tailored for students,” he said.

Source: Benicia Middle Schoolers to sit in on exclusive performance of Vallejo Symphony Orchestra concert

Benicia High School senior organizes book drive for Kenyan children – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

For his Eagle Project, Kevin McLarty of Benicia Troop 8 is planning to earn his wings as an Eagle Scout by organizing a book drive Sunday for the children of Kenya.

A senior at Benicia High School, McLarty has been a scout practically his entire life. He joined the Cub Scouts at a young age and has been a member of the Boy Scouts since sixth grade, earning the rank of Life Scout.

As he prepares to graduate from high school, McLarty is aiming to earn the title of Eagle Scout, the highest possible rank in the Boy Scouting program. To achieve the rank, a Scout generally has to be a Life Scout for at least six months, earn a minimum rank of 21 merit badges, demonstrate Scout Spirit and leadership, undergo a review process and be in charge of a service project, known as an Eagle Project. For his final project, McLarty opted to perform a philanthropic task: organizing a book drive for materials to be donated to the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of Kibera, Kenya.

Source: Benicia High School senior organizes book drive for Kenyan children

‘March for Our Lives’ draws hundreds in Benicia – Benicia Herald

By George Johnston

Marches have been rare throughout Benicia’s history. Mayor Elizabeth Patterson claimed the last one was held in the World War II era. However, that changed when 800 to 1,500 people filled the streets of downtown Benicia for the March for our Lives.

Like the thousands of other Marches for Our Lives events held throughout the world in response to the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. people from all over Solano County gathered in Benicia to call for tighter gun control laws and protest gun violence.

The march began around 10 a.m. at the bottom of the First Street. Students of all ages lead the march downtown. Those on the sidewalks could hear such chants at “No more silence, end gun violence,” “Spread love, not hate. We just want to graduate” and “Never again” filling the air. The march ended at the gazebo in City Park where the speech portion of the rally was to begin.

Source: ‘March for Our Lives’ draws hundreds in Benicia