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
By Richard Bammer
Solano County Office of Education leaders, when they meet tonight in Fairfield, will face a relatively light agenda, followed by a special meeting and a closed hearing.
Nicola Parr, director of student and program support, will update the seven-member board on the SCOE’s Local Control Accountability Plan, a key part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula. LCAPs are annual documents that guide virtually all of a school district’s spending, especially for English learners, low-income students and foster youth.
Parr will note the stakeholders “engagement process,” to include the frequency of meetings with parents, students, staff and foster youth advocates.
Additionally, she will note a pending Career Technical Education advisory meeting, to include a guest speaker who will offer an update on the economic climate for the North Bay; input from local businesses about the skills they want in graduates, among other things.
Source: Solano County Office of Education board holds special meeting
By Nick Sestanovich
The school board will be voting to approve the submission of two applications requesting grant funding for renovation of Benicia High School’s Performing Arts Building (PAB) at its Thursday meeting.
In May, an informational meeting was held at Benicia High to discuss two items. One was a new set of graduation requirements that had recently been approved by the school board, which parents, students, faculty and community members felt decreased opportunities for performing arts students. The new requirements were later rescinded by the board and the old ones reinstated. The other item was the PAB. Many felt the 36-year-old building was not being treated as a high priority for Measure S funding, despite safety concerns including overhead lights without support beams.
Benicia Unified School District is seeking funding from a California Proposition 51 Career Technical Education Grant. Proposition 51 was approved by California voters in the 2016 election to provide $9 billion in bond funding for construction and improvement of K-12 schools and community colleges in the state. The funding would include renovation of the current building as well as new construction. Among the improvements planned by the district are replacing the “outdated” lighting and acoustic fixtures, converting and expanding old the costume shop into a dance studio, adding changing rooms in the backstage and production support space in the backstage, and expanding the stage to provide more performance space.
Source: BUSD applying for grant funding for BHS Performing Arts Building renovation
By Richard Bammer
A collective bargaining proposal for the current year, and updates about the Career Technical Education facilities program and a school resource officer position are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight in Dixon.
Shawn Tutt, president of the Dixon Teachers Association, will tell the five-member governing board that the union’s collective bargaining proposal “is open,” Superintendent Brian Dolan said in an interview Wednesday.
He was unsure what the teachers are considering in terms of wage and benefit hikes, since the proposal is in its early stages.
Nick Girimonte, assistant superintendent for educational services, will update trustees on the CTE facilities program, which includes information about funding for the Dixon High School Farm.
Source: Teacher contract proposal on Dixon Unified agenda
By Richard Bammer
Like so many California school districts in summertime, with their 2017-18 LCAPs and budgets sent to county offices of education, Fairfield-Suisun Unified has posted a relatively light agenda for its Thursday meeting in Fairfield.
Trustees will hear several presentations at the outset, including a report, delivered by students, about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Under the consent calendar, items typically approved in one collective vote, governing board members will OK a $1.13 million contract with the state Department of Education for child development services.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun leaders to consider budget
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District approved five new Benicia High School courses— advanced engineering design, basic welding and automotive, Construction & Building Trades 1, introduction to medical careers, and yoga— and held two— physics of the universe and “Get Focused”— for further discussion at Thursday’s meeting.
Dr. Leslie Beatson, the assistant superintendent of educational services, presided over the discussion of the new courses. She immediately requested pulling physics of the universe, a required course for 9th-graders, from that night’s agenda because she wanted it to be agendized for the June 15 meeting when proposed pathways for the science courses as well as California’s Next Generation Science Standards will be discussed. She then introduced Benicia High Principal Brianna Kleinschmidt to go over the other courses. She described the basic welding and automotive course as the first course in a two-part pathway that also serves to resurrect a previous long-time Career Technical Education (CTE) course.
“We used to have an auto shop program,” she said. “It was very popular, and that went away for a few years, so we’re happy to be bringing it back.”
Source: School board approves 5 new BHS courses, delays vote on 2
By Ian Thompson
Armijo High School and the Public Safety Academy proudly took possession Wednesday of the banners that announced them as 2017 Gold Ribbon Schools.
The Public Safety Academy also garnered additional recognition for receiving the state’s Career Technical Education Exemplary Program banner.
“Your determination and dedication are what made this school a success,” Public Safety Academy Principal Laurie Halcomb told the students gathered on the school’s Parade Deck.
Source: Armijo, Public Safety Academy celebrate academic achievements
By Mayrene Bates
There are so many sad and terrible things happening at home and around the world that it brings tears to one’s eyes from time to time, but it’s also the time of the year that I get the opportunity to attend wonderful events that honor the successes of our schools, parents and business community partners.
Throughout history there have been few events of significance that have occurred purely by accident, someone once said. And, this time of the year, educators, parents, students, volunteers and business partners come together at many sites around Solano County to honor and celebrate educator and student accomplishments.
I try to attend as many events as I can and even for the ones that I do attend, this space would not come anywhere near covering all of them. This is, indeed, a great thing that there are so many accomplishments to celebrate.
Source: End-of-year events honor Solano successes
By Nick Sestanovich
For the past year, students in Annette Fewins’ iQuest class at Benicia High School have been interning at local businesses to gain skills in the fields of their choice. Last week, students began discussing what they learned as part of their finals.
This was the first year the iQuest course was introduced to Benicia High’s Career Technical Education department as a way for seniors to get hands-on experience outside the classroom. In the past year, students have interned at the Benicia Police Department, Benicia Fire Department, Solano County Friends of Animals, Flat Iron Civil Engineering, the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum and more.
Cheyenne Reeves detailed what she had learned from working in Dr. Barry Parish’s office at Benicia Family Dentistry, including how to suction, how to take notes, working in the sterile room and ask questions of patients. She also started a blog about her experiences for the class and shared it as part of the final. Reeves plans to go to Diablo Valley College in the fall to take general education courses and prerequisites to eventually apply to a hygienist program.Andrea Wilson delivered her final on her experiences as a social media intern at Coldwell Banker, which she did for a year.
Source: iQuest students reflect on life skills learned in senior internship
By Katy St. Clair
The California Department of Education is recognizing Benicia High School for its “Exemplary Program in Arts Education.”
Benicia High had previously been selected as a “Gold Ribbon School” by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson for representing “best practices” in education.
The Public Safety Academy in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District also received the “Exemplary” honor for its “Career Technical Education.”
Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said that both schools served their community with “model practices” and support their students with “state-of-the-art programs.”
Source: Benicia High School honored for exemplary arts education
By Richard Bammer
The Public Safety Academy, a Fairfield-Suisun Unified school, was one of 23 of 275 Golden Ribbon middle schools and high schools to receive an additional honor, of having an Exemplary Program in one of several areas: arts education, career technical education or physical activity and nutrition.
PSA, as it’s called for short, was recognized for its CTE program, according to a press release from the state Department of Education. Tom Torlakson, the state schools chief, made the announcement.
Laurie Halcomb is principal at the Atlantic Avenue school of choice, where students in grades five to 12 experience a rigorous academic program and career readiness for those interested in law enforcement, fire fighting, emergency response and other public safety-related fields.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school recognized for its career tech program
By Daily Republic Staff
The Public Safety Academy in Fairfield and Benicia High School have been selected for the Exemplary Program Award.
The academy is being honored for Career Technical Education, and Benicia High for its Arts Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced in a statement released through the county Office of Education.
“The recognition of these two schools highlights the range and depth of curricular options students have in Solano County’s School Districts. We thank the two schools for serving their communities with model practices and for supporting their students with state-of -the-art programs,”Lisette Estrella-Henderson, Solano County superintendent of schools, said in a statement announcing the awards.
Source: Two Solano schools named exemplary programs by state
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced additional honors for 23 of the 275 middle schools and high schools that were recognized as Gold Ribbon Schools last month.
Twenty-three of those Gold Ribbon Schools have been selected as having an Exemplary Program in Arts Education, Career Technical Education or Physical Activity and Nutrition. Schools applied separately for those honors. Luther Burbank Middle School in Los Angeles County and Granite Bay High School in Placer County are multiple winners recognized for Exemplary Programs in both Arts Education and Career Technical Education.
“We know that school offerings outside of core academic subject areas—in addition to sparking creative minds and producing healthy bodies—keep students engaged in school, connected, and on the path to graduation and 21st century careers and college. I congratulate these 23 Gold Ribbon schools on their outstanding work.”
Source: Torlakson Announces Exemplary Program Awards – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Andrew Ujifusa
Federal lawmakers have agreed to relatively small spending increases for Title I programs to districts and for special education, as part of a budget deal covering the rest of fiscal 2017 through the end of September.
Title I spending on disadvantaged students would rise by $100 million up to $15.5 billion from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017, along with $450 million in new money that was already slated to be shifted over from the now-defunct School Improvement Grants program.
And state grants for special education would increase by $90 million up to $12 billion. However, Title II grants for teacher development would be cut by $294 million, down to about $2.1 billion for the rest of fiscal 2017.
The bill would also provide $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, also known as Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Title IV is a block grant that districts can use for a wide range of programs, including health, safety, arts education, college readiness, and more.
Source: Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Richard Bammer
Forrest Blue, a junior at Vintage High in Napa, sat astride a yellow-painted, pint-sized hydraulic shovel-excavator, using a stubby control stick to move the boom, arm and bucket, tentatively at best, as Steve Lewis, a member of Local 3 of the Operating Engineers union, looked on.
Just a few steps away and wearing a black welder’s protective face shield, Uriel Garcia, a junior at Napa High, listened and watched Julian Rucker, a member of Local 378 of the Iron Workers union, showed him how to cut a piece of steel with an oxygen-acetylene torch.
Hot sparks flying occasionally, school — with the nearby steady, brittle thrum of Interstate 80 traffic in their ears — was in session, specifically a glimpse of the construction trades and, perhaps, a career technical education career path for Blue and Garcia.
Source: A taste of the trades – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
The newly released state public school and district accountability system, which uses multiple measures of school progress and performance, gets a mixed reaction from Vacaville Unified’s chief academic officer.
“Overall, I like the concept and the idea of looking at multiple sources of data; I think that’s really good,” Mark Frazier said of the California School Dashboard, launched last month by the state Department of Education.
“But one of the things that is disappointing is, that some of the data they’re using (suspension rate, English learner progress and graduation rate) is not as up-to-date as it could be,” he added. “That data is so old it’s hard to interpret.”
Source: Vacaville Unified official: New school accountability system gets mixed marks
By Doug Ford
I left the Solano EDC meeting a week ago a bit perplexed. It was great to hear that Solano County is planning to move ahead with economic strategic planning. What is being planned is all fine but the way it was presented needs some improving. I wonder what the slogan, “Solano Means Business” really means. That and other phrases used in the hand-out provided seems to have a tone of “this is all for business and for nobody else.” The photograph of a man standing in the middle of a grain field studying a road map seems to me to give a bad impression of the project.
It seems strange to lead off a presentation by pointing fingers at “economic red flags needing action” that are all non-Solano business entities: the military, residents who receive some sort of public assistance, residents who commute outside the county for work, and surrounding counties that are “bypassing Solano County.” This tone of “Solano business is good and everybody else is bad” is also noticeable in some of the other “Moving Solano Forward” publications.
Source: Exploring Solano County’s economic strategic planning – The Reporter
Career and technical education advocates have started their push for a facelift to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act under President Donald Trump.
On Thursday, a coalition of 85 advocacy groups and businesses, ranging from AASA, the School Administrators Association, to Boeing and IBM, sent a letter to the four leaders of the respective House and Senate CTE Caucus urging them to make career and technical education a priority.
“As we consider how federal policy proposals can achieve President Trump’s promise to ‘make America great again’ we urge Congress to support the Perkins Act and allocate adequate resources to ensure our country’s CTE programs can take full advantage of a newly reinvigorated CTE law,” says a portion of the letter, which was written to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.
Source: Career and Technical Education Advocates Pushing for Changes Under Trump – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Maurice J. Elias
What kinds of jobs will our students have, and how well are we preparing them for the future? The World Economic Forum, a not-for-profit foundation, is reaching out to educators worldwide. Their call to educators includes redefining what it means to be educated and prepared for work and civic participation—as well as an integration of technology.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 report titled New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology, “To thrive in the 21st century, students need more than traditional academic learning. They must be adept at collaboration, communication, and problem solving, which are some of the skills developed through social and emotional learning (SEL). Coupled with mastery of traditional skills, social and emotional proficiency will equip students to succeed in the swiftly evolving digital economy.”
Source: How Gaming Connects to SEL and Career Readiness | Edutopia
By Richard Bammer
Despite recent bad news that several Solano County unified school districts have some of the lowest average-daily-attendance funding in California, Vacaville’s can still lay claim to some decidedly positive news.
Science kits in elementary classrooms, Chromebooks for every student across 16 district campuses, Measure A projects, PE teachers at every elementary school, and increased pay for employees were among the highlights cited by Superintendent Jane Shamieh during her 2015-16 annual report when she updated trustees and the public during last week’s governing board meeting.
Stepping down from the dais in the Educational Services Center and standing behind a lectern to face trustees, she moved quickly during her slide presentation, recalling last year’s major board actions and initiatives for students and employees, something of an A-to-Z snapshot of the district.
Source: Vacaville Unified supe offers A-to-Z district snapshot