Teacher contract proposal on Dixon Unified agenda – The Reporter

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

Pensions pack punch for school district budgets, superintendent says – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Pension costs could run school districts out of business, a superintendent said Thursday at the State of Education in Solano County forum.

Schools may first reach a point where they do less for students because of contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System, said Brian Dolan, superintendent of the Dixon School District.

Source: Pensions pack punch for school district budgets, superintendent says

Dixon Unified leaders face light agenda tonight – The Reporter

Dixon Unified leaders face a relatively light agenda when they meet tonight in Dixon.

Superintendent Brian Dolan will lead an update about the ongoing process of planning and carrying out of the sixth-grade cohort’s transition to middle school.

He also will lead an update of the progress toward development of a school resource officer position, a suggestion made in July by Police Chief Robert E. Thompson.

At the time, during a trustee meeting, he noted that the rural, 3,500-student district was the only one in Solano without a school resource officer. Thompson told the five-member governing board that he had applied for federal funding that would pay for, either in full or part, the creation of the new department job.

Source: Dixon Unified leaders face light agenda tonight

DUSD leaders forgo lease-leaseback option for Measure Q projects – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Not willing to spend the time and money to fend off a potential legal challenge, Dixon Unified leaders have decided to forgo using the lease-leaseback process for proposed and much-needed school renovations under Measure Q.

The Reporter recently learned of the district’s decision — made during a closed session gathering last month — from George Guynn, president of the Solano County Taxpayers Association, which in May first challenged the effort to use the lease-leaseback option.

In a press release, Guynn said the decision reaffirmed the governing board’s promise to voters when they approved the $30.4 million bond measure in November to modernize Old Dixon High and Anderson Elementary, among other aging campuses.

Before the election, district leaders promised to comply with the awarding of construction contracts “through competitive bid; prioritize projects; structure bond maturity consistent with project useful life; control soft costs and use non-bond funds for facility maintenance,” he wrote in the prepared statement.

Source: DUSD leaders forgo lease-leaseback option for Measure Q projects

On Dixon USD agenda: State test scores, update on elementary reconfiguration – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The 2017 CAASPP results, approval of a temporary roof cover at Old Dixon High, and an update about input from three parent meetings about the possible reconfiguration of district elementary schools are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet Thursday.

Nick Girimonte, newly named assistant superintendent for educational services, will lead the discussion about the district’s 2017 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Program scores.

This is the third year of the computer-based tests, based on the California State Standards, which gauge whether students in grades three to eight and 11 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 military, and a rapidly changing and increasingly technological job market.

Scores fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. The state also computes the average scores of all tested students, by grade level, called “mean scale” scores, which reflects the progress of all students rather than only those who changed achievement levels from one year to the next.

Source: On Dixon Unified School District agenda: State test scores, update on elementary reconfiguration

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

The trades 101: Students learn about careers at union training centers – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

They may not be college-bound students, but they will draw upon relevant high school math and English lessons on construction jobs, a longtime sheet metal worker told more than two dozen Vacaville Unified students.

The teenagers, most of them from Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools, listened closely as Dan Riley, training coordinator for Local 104 of the International Association of Sheet Metal Workers, spoke Friday morning in an assembly room at the union’s Apprenticeship Training Center in Fairfield.

The students, many of them seniors looking forward to a June graduation and entry into a well-paying construction job or a training program, were part of some 100 from five different Solano or Napa county districts who participated in a half-day “Tour of the Trades” informational event.

Source: The trades 101: Students learn about careers at union training centers

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

Solano students get hands-on experience studying Suisun Marsh – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Suisun Marsh attracts professional scientists from all over the world who come to study it.

Few people know that young, local scientists have been studying the marsh consistently for the past eight years thanks to a free opportunity offered by the Solano Resource Conservation District.

About 1,000 sixth- and seventh-graders will conduct soil, water and plant analysis during visits that began Monday and continue into early December. Testing happens during a visit to Rush Ranch Open Space, owned by Solano Land Trust.

Source: Solano students get hands-on experience studying Suisun Marsh

Superintendent contract, high school farm on Dixon USD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

An extension and some revisions to Superintendent Brian Dolan’s contract, an update on sixth-graders transitioning to middle school, and possible Proposition 51 funding for the Dixon High School Farm are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight.

The five-member governing board is expected to approve an extension to Dolan’s contract, which expires Sept. 30. Additionally, trustees will consider removing current contract language about Dolan also serving as human resources director.

Dolan will lead the update of sixth-graders who will be incorporated at the district’s middle school, C.A. Jacobs, during the 2018-19 academic year. Plans call for several key elements, including planning among affected principals, and discussions among teachers and parents.

Source: Superintendent contract, high school farm on Dixon school district agenda

Study puts Fairfield-Suisun USD in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

A comparison of the Fairfield-Suisun School District with a dozen other nearby, similar districts found Fairfield-Suisun in the middle of categories that include salaries, revenues and employee benefits.

Fairfield-Suisun was the largest of the 13 districts that included the Vacaville, Travis and Dixon school districts as well as Berkeley and Napa Valley.

The study used California Department of Education data from 2015-16.

Source: Study puts Fairfield-Suisun School District in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits

Revised meal payment policy on Dixon USD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

An explanation about a delayed release for the latest state standardized test scores and a revised food services meal payment policy are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight in Dixon.

Mike Walbridge, assistant superintendent for educational services, will explain the reason for the delay, which the state Department of Education has chalked up to an unspecified “data problem.” The 2017 California Assessment of Student Proficiency and Progress, or CAASPP, measures student skills in English and math for students in grades three through eight and 11th grades.

The five-member governing board will consider the new meal payment policy, as presented by Melissa Mercado, the chief business official.

In brief, the policy will require cafeteria workers and district staff to increase their efforts to inform parents or guardians of their student’s delinquent meal account. Once a limit of $50 is reached, the student will no longer be able to charge meals, and, after all efforts to collect the debts are made, district officials may prohibit seniors from participating in senior activities, including graduation, or possibly delay the sending of a student’s report card.

Source: Revised meal payment policy on Dixon Unified School District agenda

Denunciation chorus loud, clear – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

As expected, President Trump’s decision Tuesday to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and his urging of Congress to replace it with legislation, prompted an outcry from several California elected officials and local and national educators — but it also earned applause from immigration reform advocates.

Part of the denunciation chorus, understandably large in California because more than one in four DACA recipients lives in the Golden State, state schools chief Tom Torlakson told California public school students and their families that California will keep protecting and supporting them.

Source: Denunciation chorus loud, clear

Surprise administrative churn in Dixon Unified – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

With the unexpected decision of a senior Dixon Unified manager, there is a new but familiar face in district offices and a new but equally familiar face in the principal’s office at Dixon High.

Superintendent Brian Dolan late last week named longtime Dixon High Principal Nick Girimonte to replace Mike Walbridge, who, in an unexpected move, resigned as assistant superintendent of educational services to relocate his family to Southern California. At the same time, Dolan elevated Dixon High Assistant Principal Stephanie Marquez to replace Girimonte.

Source: Surprise administrative churn in Dixon Unified

Grants available for Solano’s K-12 teachers – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Money for some school programs generally is hard to come by and it may be more difficult to get if the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget proposal, which will slash $9 billion from the Department of Education, is approved,

In the meantime, with area school districts starting the new academic year, the Solano Community Foundation has made available money for Solano County K-12 students in public schools.

Money from the foundation’s Education Plus! Grant Program supports classroom projects, after-school, and mentoring programs. Teachers and educators with innovative programs may apply for the financial support, Samantha Fordyce, the foundation’s development associate, wrote in a press release.

The program’s focus is two-fold: 1) development of grade-level reading skills, preferably by the end of the third grade; and 2) attainment of math skills to allow proper course placement at ninth grade. However, the foundation will fund projects that work toward achieving or improving reading and math skills for K-12 students at all levels, noted Fordyce.

Source: Grants available for Solano’s K-12 teachers

Dixon youths view the path of the eclipse – The Reporter

By Kimberly K. Fu

More than 100 students descended on the basketball court Monday at Gretchen Higgins Elementary in Dixon, specially-altered boxes of Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Eggo Waffles and FedEx stuck to their faces.

The aim — to view the historic “Great American Eclipse,” viewable in totality in certain areas across the nation but only as a partial eclipse in Northern California.

Practically vibrating with excitement, the pint-sized fifth and sixth graders, armed with their special viewing boxes, took turns at spaces around the court to watch the eclipse from different angles.

Source: Dixon youths view the path of the eclipse

Dixon USD trustees focuses on meal debt recovery plan, sixth-grade transition – The Reporter

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

Vacaville school district ranked in detailed income-expense comparative analysis – The Reporter

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

A day of anxieties, rules, new faces, hope – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Standing with friends near the school office, Kaylee Sendejas, 11, a fifth-grader at Gretchen Higgins Elementary in Dixon, pointed to her name and her teacher’s, Matt Banuelos, on a class roster affixed to a window. She giggled and smiled, matching the high youthful spirits of those clustered around her.

For Sendejas — with less than 10 minutes before the school bell’s first loud ring on the first day, at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, marking the start of the 2017-18 academic year in Dixon Unified — it was a morning with many possibilities mixed with an equal amount of anxieties.

Source: A day of anxieties, rules, new faces, hope

“Food shaming” not an issue as DUSD deals with meal debts – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After a national chorus of outrage, American public schools are rethinking 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.

It is an issue that turned up last week on the Dixon Unified governing board agenda, as district leaders seeks solutions to the sizable number of unpaid lunch accounts.

via: “Food shaming” not an issue as DUSD deals with meal debts.