RoboKnights announce first Lego event in Vacaville – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Buckingham Charter Magnet High School RoboKnights have kicked off their new season and now they’re reaching out to the community by hosting an event for the smaller Robo children in the league.

The First Lego League offers an opportunity for children in elementary and middle schools to compete in robotics competitions that are geared toward young minds.

“These young teams are encouraged to think like scientists and engineers to solve real-world problems,” Logan Malaney, RoboKnights president, said in a statement. “And we get to guide them along the way.”

Source: RoboKnights announce first Lego event in Vacaville

Local students prepare for another Merriment on Main ensemble – The Reporter

By Michael Morris

It’s that time of year in which music often acts as a uniting force for communities throughout the country.

Whether the sounds of the season exude from the speakers of a family’s living room or spills through the illuminated neighborhood streets as carolers go from house to house, Christmas music often rekindles the most treasured of memories as people reconvene for Merriment on Main Nov. 28.

For families set to attend to the 35th tree lighting, music has become ingrained within the tradition of Christmas in Vacaville. While there will be a collection of professional artists, the performances by the younger and less seasoned crowd have been a popular point of interest year after year.

Although the local jazz bands at Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools have been an integral part of the annual celebration, the choir at Jean Callison Elementary School returns after more than 25 years providing their unique spin on the annual festivities. After originally performing on the sidewalk adjacent to where Fleet Feet Sports currently resides, the budding group of more than 100 elementary students will return with 14 unique songs and plenty of movement.

Source: Local students prepare for another Merriment on Main ensemble

On Kairos agenda: New board member, SELPA agreement – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Approval of a new board member, an agreement to accept a change to the El Dorado County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) document, and an update of the school’s special education program are on the agenda when the Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy board of directors meets tonight in Vacaville.

The directors are expected to approve the appointment of Leah Parker of Vacaville as the newest of seven board members for a three-year term. A former Buckingham Charter High teacher and the owner of Leah Dawn Photography in Vacaville, she will replace Bob Brigham.

The board also likely will approve an amended agreement with the El Dorado County SELPA, which, in October, OK’d a change in its “participation agreement,” which districts aligned to it must, in turn, approve.

Source: On Kairos agenda: New board member, SELPA agreement

Charter schools proposal spurs Fairfield-Suisun teachers union opposition – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

The teachers association for the Fairfield-Suisun School District opposes a petition by a former Vallejo City School District superintendent to open charter schools in Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo.

The board for the Solano County Office of Education is expected to take up Ramona Bishop’s proposal for the Elite Academy on Dec. 13.

Nancy Dunn, president of Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association, said all students in the district can succeed without a charter school.

Source: Charter schools proposal spurs Fairfield-Suisun teachers union opposition

Buckingham Robo Knights start new year this weekend with high spirits – Daily Republic

By Buckingham PR Team

The Buckingham Charter Magnet High School Robotics team is gearing up for another successful year.

“This will be an exciting year,” says team Vice President Natalie LaRowe. “The Robo Knights are ready to build on last year’s season when we competed at the World Championships in Houston. This year, we intend to win!”

On Nov. 4, from 6-8 p.m., the Robo Knights will host their annual Spaghetti Feed fundraiser to support the team. The Robo Knights will serve fresh, homemade pasta dishes, salad, garlic bread, and ice cream floats, all for $10. The event features live and silent auctions, and the Robo Knights will demonstrate their robots.

Source: Buckingham Robo Knights start new year this weekend with high spirits

Sparking dreams, pathways – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Buckingham High senior Cole Reiner, his hands on a video control pad, operated a small white drone inside the school’s multipurpose room during the Career Fair Friday.

With his eyes locked on the tablet computer, the slightly built, blond-haired teen appeared to be a budding entrepreneur.

He was, indeed.

Standing in a corner, away from nearly 200 students filing into the room, where they were met by more than 30 vendors, Reiner has, with his father, started a business: R6 Systems, an aerial photography firm.

Source: Sparking dreams, pathways

Student performance, KISP on Kairos agenda tonight – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The executive director’s monthly report, the student performance index, the Kairos Innovative Scholars Program, and the likely approval of a capitalization policy are on the agenda tonight when the Kairos board of directors meet in Vacaville.

As part of his student performance report, Executive Director Jared Austin will offer data about the Elm Street campus’ demographics, language proficiency, special education, state and federal accountability measures, attendance, community service, school climate and student conduct.

Leslie Shelby, KISP coordinator, will present the yearly update on the independent and homeschool study program, which has about 50 out of 550 students enrolled.

Chief business officer, Anita Schwab will present the resolution for the capitalization policy, necessary to set a reasonable threshold for all types of school assets and to include the depreciation method used to make calculations about the useful life of those assets.

Source: Student performance, KISP on Kairos agenda tonight

At Kairos, a promising numbers crunch – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

At Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy, the test numbers arguably speak for themselves and they might say a new math curriculum introduced to fifth-graders last year helped to yield astounding scores on the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP.

Slightly more than 71 percent of fifth-graders at the Elm Street independent charter school, nearly 60 students, met or exceeded state standards on the statewide test given last spring. Of those, nearly 53 percent exceeded the standards in the third year of the assessment for students in grades three to eight and 11, measuring their understanding of mathematical rules and ideas, their ability to apply problem-solving skills, and their ability to express how they reached an answer. Of nearly 350 students tested schoolwide, Kairos’ math scores, with nearly 51 percent meeting or exceeding state standards, were among the highest in Solano County, well above state, county and surrounding-district averages.

Source: At Kairos, a promising numbers crunch

The jury must hear two sides to the CAASPP story – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

There are two sides to every story, and the adage applies to recently released CAASPP scores given last spring to California public school students in grades three through eight and 11.

For the past two years, Superintendent Tom Torlakson and local educators generally have framed the results in, understandably, more positive-sounding ways, stressing that certain percentages of students “met” or “exceeded” state standards on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, an all-computerized test begun three years ago as the then-relatively new California State Standards began to take effect.

In brief, the tests gauge, at every grade level, whether students are able to understand what they read, write clearly, think critically, solve complex math problems, and explain their reasoning, as they prepare themselves for college, the job market, or the military — all of which increasingly demand technology literacy.

Source: Richard Bammer: The jury must hear two sides to the CAASPP story

New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After a few weeks’ delay, the 2017 online state standardized test scores are in, and most Vacaville-area school districts posted results that met or exceeded Solano County and state averages but largely remained the same as last year’s, reflecting the latest state averages, several administrators said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Wednesday the results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English and mathematics, noting, in a prepared statement, that they

“remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.”

Source: New CAASPP results: Most Vaca-area districts exceed state, county averages

Charter Schools and the Local Control Funding Formula – Public Policy Institute of California

By Iwunze Ugo and Laura Hill

School funding for both traditional public schools and charter schools underwent a major change in 2013, with the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Seeking to focus on high-need students—those who are economically disadvantaged, English Learners (EL), or foster youth1—and expand local authority and accountability over education spending, the new funding formula shifted away from the system of revenue limits and categorical programs, which had long been criticized as outdated and overly restrictive.2 The LCFF provides funding to school districts and charter schools through uniform base grants that are augmented by two levels of additional funding for high-need students: the supplemental grant, which provides added funding based on a district’s share of high-need students, and the concentration grant, which provides even more funding for districts in which more than 55 percent of students are identified as high need.

Before the LCFF, charter schools received less per pupil funding than traditional public school districts because some categorical funding was not available to them (Estrada 2012).3 Charter schools are now incorporated into a unified structure where they are treated much like school districts in terms of funding and accountability. There is, however, a provision in the LCFF that limits the amount of funding that some charters receive. While districts receive concentration grant funding if their share of high-need students is above 55 percent, the grant for a charter school is calculated based not on that school’s share of high-need students but on the share in the local district—if it is lower. This provision—which aims to discourage districts from trying to relieve pressure on their budgets by converting schools with many high-need students into charters, thus isolating them from less-disadvantaged students and communities (Fensterwald 2013, Cabral and Chu 2013)—lowers the amount of funding allocated to some charter schools. Charter schools serve more than 565,000 students4—many of whom are high need—and these somewhat arbitrary disparities have the potential to impact a substantial number of them.

Source: Charter Schools and the Local Control Funding Formula – Public Policy Institute of California

Another denial for Vaca charter school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a close 4-3 vote, the Solano County Office of Education governing board on Wednesday denied a petition by directors of the Vacaville-based Heritage Peak Charter to align themselves with the county as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.

Trustee of Area 2, Amy Sharp of Vacaville confirmed the outcome in an email to The Reporter, as did Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, including Heritage Peak on Parker Street, but most of them are in the Sacramento area and aligned with school districts there.

Source: Another denial for Vaca charter school

Another denial for Vaca charter school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a close 4-3 vote, the Solano County Office of Education governing board on Wednesday denied a petition by directors of the Vacaville-based Heritage Peak Charter to align themselves with the county as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.

Trustee of Area 2, Amy Sharp of Vacaville confirmed the outcome in an email to The Reporter, as did Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, including Heritage Peak on Parker Street, but most of them are in the Sacramento area and aligned with school districts there.

Heritage Peak is a K-12 independent charter, meaning it is governed by its own board of directors and largely accountable to the state Department of Education. It has 225 students, from a wide regional geographical arc, 15 teachers on staff and annual budget of more than $2 million.

Source: The Reporter

Former superintendent eyes creation of charter school network – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Former district superintendent Ramona Bishop sent a letter last week to the Vallejo school board announcing her plans to open a charter school in the district.

In the short communication, Bishop gives notice that Elite Public Schools will be petitioning the Solano County Office of Education to operate a K-12 charter school within the Vallejo City Unified School District boundaries.

“We have not identified a specific site, but will be submitting a Proposition 39 request to the district for facility,” the letter states.

A state law passed in 2000, Prop. 39 requires school districts provide space in an area where charter schools want to locate. The space must be reasonably equivalent to the district’s school sites.

Reached by phone Monday, Bishop said her group of educators, parents, and community members are eyeing a network of charter schools in Solano County. They are seeking to open Elite Public Schools in the Vallejo, Fairfield-Suisun, and Vacaville school districts, she added.

 

Source: Former superintendent eyes creation of charter school network

Kairos agenda: One-time employee pay, board and director goals – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

One-time staff bonuses for eligible employees, 2017-18 board goals and executive director goals are on the agenda when Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Among those eligible for the one-time pay, agenda documents indicated, are full- and part-time teachers, full- and part-time classified (or school-support) employees, said the executive director, Jared Austin.

Full-time teachers, classified employees and Austin will receive 1 percent of their 2016-17 base salaries; and part-time employees will receive .085 percent of their previous year’s base salaries.

Board of director goals for the new year include making sure the independent charter school (which is aligned with Vacaville Unified) remains fiscally sound; that academic growth and excellence are continued (the school, which has some 550 students in grades TK-8, typically posts high scores on state standardized tests); that stakeholders continue to “actively engage in positive community service”; and strategies “are developed to deal with the considerable student wait list. The goals are expected to be approved.

Source: On Kairos agenda: One-time employee pay, board and director goals for 17-18

Among local schools, Kairos leads way in Hurricane Harvey relief – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The leader of Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy on Tuesday said students are being encouraged to aid Hurricane Harvey disaster victims by donating money to the Houston Food Bank, becoming the first school in Vacaville to formally begin relief efforts to help people affected by the unprecedented Texas Gulf Coast storm and subsequent flooding.

Jared Austin, the co-founder and executive director of the TK-8 independent charter school, which is aligned with Vacaville Unified, said the effort is in keeping with the school’s mission of preparing its 550 students to be responsible citizens.

“We want to use this disaster to show our scholars how they can help make a difference in tragic times,” Austin said in a press release. “The Houston Food Bank is working very hard to support the huge needs of all the families affected in the Houston area.”

He said the school’s Innovative Scholars Foundation will be collecting tax-deductible donations of any amount during this week and next.

Source: Among local schools, Kairos leads way in Hurricane Harvey relief

Denied in Vacaville USD, charter leader petitions SCOE – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Leaders of Heritage Peak Charter School in downtown Vacaville, their petition denied less than two months ago by Vacaville Unified trustees, are now seeking to align the independent study learning center with the Solano County Office of Education.

Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, most of them in the Sacramento area, presented a petition for newly named Pacific Valley Charter during a public hearing Wednesday night at county education offices in Fairfield.

The SCOE governing board will either approve or deny Keefer’s petition at a Sept. 13 meeting at the county agency’s 5100 Business Center Drive offices.

Source: Denied in Vacaville Unified School District, charter leader petitions county ed board

Kairos Public School offers way to recycle solar eclipse eyewear – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

OK, so maybe you know of some solar eclipse eyewear lying around collecting dust and won’t be used again in the United States until 2024.

But they could be used again elsewhere, as soon as 2019.

To that end, students at Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy are seeking donations of used eclipse glasses, to donate to Astronomers Without Borders, an organization which will distribute them, as needed, to school students in the path of the next total solar eclipse, in two years, in Asia and South America.

“This will provide an opportunity for scholars in developing countries to safely view a future eclipse,” Jared Austin, the independent charter school’s co-founder and executive director, noted in an email to The Reporter.

Source: Kairos Public School offers way to recycle solar eclipse eyewear

Kairos leaders to discuss board goals, review 45-day revised budget – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders, when they meet tonight, will hold a workshop on board of directors goals, hear updates on facilities and enrollments, review the 45-day revised budget, and discuss staff bonuses for eligible employee groups.

The independent charter school’s seven-member board will consider its goals for the 2017-18 academic year, and, once developed, the goals will be adopted at a future board meeting.

Among the proposed goals are fiscal soundness; academic growth and excellence; and pursuit of strategies to increase student diversity.

Jared Austin, co-founder and executive director of the 129 Elm St. campus, which is aligned with Vacaville Unified, will lead the update about facilities, including the Kairos Innovative Scholars Program, or KISP, the TK-8 school’s independent study and home-schooling program, housed on Alamo Drive.

Source: Kairos leaders to discuss board goals, review 45-day revised budget

Kairos leader extols charter school’s positives – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy, an independent charter school aligned with Vacaville Unified, has grown by nearly 100 students since its founding three years ago, has some of the highest standardized test scores in Solano County, and will remain on a firm fiscal footing this year and the next two.

Those are among the facts Jared Austin, co-founder and executive director of the Elm Street campus, offered the Vacaville Unified governing board during his annual update presentation Thursday in the Educational Services Center.

Source: Kairos leader extols charter schools’ positives