School board OKs 18-19 budget – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District approved the budget for the 2018-19 school year at the final school board meeting of the 2017-18 year on Wednesday.

Chief Business Official Tim Rahill noted there were no changes to the budget from the May 31 meeting when a public hearing was held. Rahill said the district would be operating at a small one-time surplus of $88,000, which includes the costs of employee negotiations from the tentative agreements with the classified employees union and confidential/management group, which were unanimously ratified at Wednesday’s meeting.

Trustee Peter Morgan asked if costs associated with the Benicia Teachers Association were included in the budget, considering negotiations were ongoing and the tentative agreement was voted down. Rahill said he contacted both auditors and school services.

Source: School board OKs 18-19 budget

School board to vote on LCAP Wednesday – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Following a public hearing at the May 31 school board meeting, a discussion on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is up for the trustees’ approval for the last meeting of the 2017-18 school year Wednesday— a day earlier than when school board meetings are usually held.

The LCAP is a tool for all school districts in California to receive funds through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). According to a report by Dr. Leslie Beatson, the assistant superintendent of educational services, the LCAP has three main goals: supporting academic and social-emotional success for all students, modernizing and improving infrastructure to promote 21st-century learning, and increasing parental and community partnerships so that all students graduate college and career ready. Beatson highlighted a number of programs that contributed to academic and social-emotional success, including Odyssey of the Mind, Visual and Performing Arts programs and Outdoor Education.

Source: School board to vote on LCAP Wednesday

School board to vote on LCAP Wednesday – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Following a public hearing at the May 31 school board meeting, a discussion on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is up for the trustees’ approval for the last meeting of the 2017-18 school year Wednesday— a day earlier than when school board meetings are usually held.

The LCAP is a tool for all school districts in California to receive funds through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). According to a report by Dr. Leslie Beatson, the assistant superintendent of educational services, the LCAP has three main goals: supporting academic and social-emotional success for all students, modernizing and improving infrastructure to promote 21st-century learning, and increasing parental and community partnerships so that all students graduate college and career ready. Beatson highlighted a number of programs that contributed to academic and social-emotional success, including Odyssey of the Mind, Visual and Performing Arts programs and Outdoor Education.

Source: School board to vote on LCAP Wednesday

Teachers union votes down tentative agreement with district – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Benicia Teachers Association voted to reject the tentative agreement Wednesday that had been reached with the Benicia Unified School District, Governing Board President Diane Ferrucci announced as Thursday’s school board meeting.

In January, BUSD had proposed a one-time bonus of 1 percent off the salary schedule for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. BTA countered with a 5 percent increase for 2017-18 and a 4.25 percent increase for 2018-19 school year. After being unable to reach an agreement, BTA requested to file for impasse. Teachers, students and parents voiced their disapproval at subsequent school board meetings, with some educators even providing lists of free services they would no longer offer to students outside of their contract hours unless an agreement was reached.

On May 17, a fact-finding hearing was held in which both parties presented their case to a neutral three-person panel so that a contract agreement could be reached. The meeting spilled over into the early morning hours of May 18 when a tentative agreement was reached. However, when the time came for the BTA to vote to accept the agreement on Wednesday, it was voted down.

Source: Teachers union votes down tentative agreement with district

One-time surplus of $88K anticipated in 18-19 school year – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Budget numbers for the Benicia Unified School District are expected to fluctuate over the next few years, but Chief Business Official Tim Rahill is optimistic about next year when the district is projected to have a one-time $88,000 surplus. The latest budget update was provided in a public hearing at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Rahill said revenues are budgeted at $46.6 million, which has mostly come from funding through the state, Local Control Funding Formula and U.S. Department of Education title programs. Meanwhile, expenditures are projected at $46.5 million, which included certificated and classified salaries, employee benefits, supplies and capital outlay. Rahill said the tentative agreement with the Benicia Teachers Association were included in the figures, but the agreement was voted down Wednesday so it may be removed from the expenditures when the budget is brought back to the board for a vote.

Source: BUSD CBO: One-time surplus of $88K anticipated in 18-19 school year

BUSD budget among items on packed school board agenda – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Thursday’s school board meeting will be the last of the 2017-18 year while school is in session— and if the agenda is any indication, it will be the busiest of the entire year by far.

One of the biggest items is a public hearing on Benicia Unified School District’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year. Chief Business Official Tim Rahill predicts that the district will operate at a one-time surplus of $88,000— including costs of employee negotiations from the employees’ tentative agreements from 2017-18 and 2018-19— and provide for the state’s 3 percent Reserve for Economic Uncertainties and the Local Board Policy Reserve— which would provide an additional 4 percent reserve.

Additionally, Rahill wrote in a PowerPoint that BUSD continues to receive most of its fundings from the state, namely its Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) system. According to Rahill, the LCFF is fully funded in the budget and includes a funding reduction for 71 fewer students, annual increases in operating costs and program costs from the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The district is also anticipating a decline in 24 students for the 2018-19 school year.

Source: BUSD budget among items on packed school board agenda

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

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

School board OKs 2nd interim financial report – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The school board approved Benicia Unified School District’s second interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting.

According to Chief Business Official Tim Rahill, BUSD’s revenue for 2017-18 is at $44.4 million. Thirty-seven percent of the revenue comes from the Local Control Funding Formula, 6 percent comes from local and other funds, 5 percent comes from state funds and 2 percent comes from the federal government. Of the LCFF funds, 37 percent is covered by property taxes and 63 percent comes from the state budget.

Source: School board OKs 2nd interim financial report

Second draft of BUSD financial report up for review – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Tim Rahill, Benicia Unified School District’s chief business official, will be presenting the second interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting. The report shows, among other things, that BUSD is operating at a $1.9 million deficit.

At the Dec. 14 school board meeting, Rahill presented the first interim financial report which was approved by the board later that evening, although Trustee Peter Morgan voted against it and suggested the district take a serious look at the budget. After Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his final budget proposal in January, Rahill said BUSD would need to make $800,000 in continuing adjustments for the budget to become balanced.

The operating deficit of $1.9 million outlined in the second interim financial report is slightly higher than the $1.8 million figure in the first report. Rahill said the 2017-18 deficit includes one-time spending funds of $900,000 and a $1 million operating loss for general ongoing operations. It does not include costs for negotiations with the district employee groups.

Source: Second draft of BUSD financial report up for review

School board to hear update on district’s positive behavior program – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Now that the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports PBIS) system is in place at all seven of Benicia Unified School District’s sites, Special Services Director Dr. Carolyn Patton will be providing an update at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.

According to a Power Point by Patton, PBIS is a framework aimed at helping schools organize and implement evidence-based behavioral interventions and using data for making decisions, all while supporting the academic and social successes of all students. The first school in the district to adopt this system was Robert Semple Elementary School in the 2015-16 school year. Within the next year, it spread to Liberty High School and Benicia Middle School and is now being practiced at all seven schools.

Source: School board to hear update on district’s positive behavior program

BUSD provides update on BHS special education model at board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

More than six months after its implementation, Dr. Carolyn Patton— Benicia Unified School District special services director—delivered an update on Benicia High School’s curriculum support model for its special education students at Thursday’s school board meeting.First, Patton highlighted some components of the Performance Indicator Review (PIR), one of five monitors which the state uses to indicate the special education performance of a school district.

The PIRs have different targets, which may change each year and examine students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) as well as how students are performing academically in addition to discipline with students compared to the state and peers within the district. If the district does not meet its target for the same indicator two years in a row, then the district has to complete a root cause analysis, develop a corrective action plan, include a Special Education Local Plan (SELPA) in its developing plan and have it approved by the California Department of Education.

Source: BUSD provides update on BHS special education model at school board meeting

Benicia Middle School campus modernization dominates school board meeting Thursday – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

One of the largest remaining items to be funded by Measure S is new construction at BMS to give the school more of a 21st century look. Lee Pollard of HY Architects had presented plans for the redesign in 2017, which included new modular classrooms, a modernized courtyard and a new kitchen and drama room. Pollard said a meeting with staff was held on Jan. 9, which led to some changes in the draft design. Drama teacher Cathy Wright told Pollard she did not like the idea of having the new drama classroom near the basketball courts because of the noise. It was decided that the classroom would be taking over two classroom spaces near the library. The spaces would be converted into a black box theater with space for performance and seating. Pollard said the area would need soundproofing next to adjacent classrooms and additional windows.

Pollard said Wright had also told him that her students rehearsed in groups and did not have enough space, so she requested outdoor practice space. She also suggested a path at the front of the campus for parents to attend performances after school hours.“This gives us an opportunity to bring the parents in and have them go straight into a drama classroom for a performance without them having to wander all the way through the school,” Pollard said.

According to Pollard, Wright’s suggestions would cost about half of what was initially proposed for a new drama classroom. With the loss of an extra teaching space, however, three modular classrooms would be added to the northwest corner instead of the initial plan of two.Pollard also went into further detail on proposed changes to the interiors of the buildings, including upgrades to the library.

Source: Benicia Middle School campus modernization dominates school board meeting Thursday

School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

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

Teachers rally for higher funding priorities – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Several Benicia Unified School District teachers rallied outside City Park an hour before Thursday’s school board meeting to raise awareness of ongoing negotiations between the Benicia Teachers Association (BTA) and BUSD.

On Jan. 24, BUSD and BTA held a negotiations meeting one day after a budget workshop which focused on providing information related to school funding, namely revenues and expenses, according to an update on the BUSD website.

“With declining enrollment, steep and ongoing pension, step and column and special education cost increases, even with the proposed budget update from the Governor, which still must pass in June, BUSD needs to make budget adjustments totaling_$800,000 for the 2018-19 school year,” the post read.

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. The post noted that while school board trustees are committed to reaching a “fair and equitable” settlement, the proposed raise by BTA would cost $3.2 million.

Source: Teachers rally for higher funding priorities

BUSD trustees to vote on resolution requesting more money for CA public schools – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The superintendent of the Benicia Unified School District is asking school board trustees to support a resolution by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) requesting more money for state schools at Thursday’s BUSD Governing Board meeting.According to the resolution, “California has the sixth largest economy in the world and the largest Gross Domestic Product of any state in the nation,” however “the state falls in the nation’s bottom quintile on nearly every measure of public K-12 school funding and school staffing.”

The resolution notes that California ranks 45th nationally in the percentage of taxable income used on education, 41st in funding per pupil, 45th in pupil-teacher ratios and 48th in pupil-staff ratios.

“California’s investment in public schools is out of alignment with its wealth, its ambitions, its demographics and the demands of a 21st-century education,” the resolution states.The resolution cites a 2007 report titled “Getting Down to the Facts,” which posited that it would take an additional $17 billion annually to meet the state Board of Education’s achievement targets. It also cites a 2016 CSBA report, “California’s Challenge: Adequately Funding Education in the 21st Century,” which updated the 2007 report and came to the conclusion that, when adjusted for inflation, an additional annual $22 billion to $40 billion would be crucial to provide all public school students with access to high-quality education.“In order to prepare our students for participation in a democratic society and an increasingly competitive, technology-driven global economy, California must fund schools at a level sufficient to support student success,” the report reads.

Source: BUSD trustees to vote on resolution requesting more money for California public schools

School board to vote on new, realigned BHS course outlines at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Nine new or restructured Benicia High School course outlines are up for review at Thursday’s school board meeting.

“The course outline of record plays a critical educational role,” Dr. Leslie Beatson, assistant superintendent of educational services, wrote in the agenda. “It is the primary vehicle for course planning. When a course is revised or updated, it is the course outline that records the changes. As such, it forms the basis for a contract among the student, instructor, and institution identifying the expectations which will serve as the basis of the student’s grade and giving the fundamental required components of the course which the student is guaranteed to receive from the instructor and institution.”

The first course up for approval is advanced welding, a full-year course for sophomores through seniors which serves as the next step for students currently taking automotive, welding/fabrication or construction, all courses which were implemented this year.

Source: School board to vote on new, realigned BHS course outlines at Thursday’s meeting

School board approves financial report, suggests serious look at budget – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The school board voted to approve the 2017-18 first interim financial report at its Thursday meeting.

The contents of the report were presented and summarized by Chief Business Official Tim Rahill. He noted that the general fund was budgeted at $50.5 million, 86 percent of which comes from the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), 6 percent of which comes from the state’s other funding sources including a one-time grant, 2 percent— mainly special education funds and smaller programs— from the federal government, and 5 percent from local and other funds such as donations and the Benicia Education Foundation.Rahill also noted that $5.5 million came from solar fund proceeds, but they would not be included in the second interim financial report. He also broke down the LCFF funds, 63 percent of which were derived from the state budget and 37 percent from property taxes.Also in the presentation were expenses budgeted by Benicia Unified School District. According to Rahill, 49 percent of these consisted of salaries for certificated employees, 16 percent salaries for classified employees, 20 percent for employee benefits, 11 percent for services and capital outlay and 4 percent for supplies.

Source: School board approves financial report, suggests serious look at budget

BUSD reopens graduation requirement discussion at community forum – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Six months after Benicia Unified School District halted its proposed new high school graduation requirements, the discussion was reopened in a forum at Benicia High School on Tuesday night.

The school board held a study session in January to discuss proposed new graduation requirements and went into further detail at its regular March 16 meeting.The proposed requirements— which would have gone into effect starting with the class of 2022— aimed to increase college readiness for all students and were modeled after the UC system’s A-G requirements. These conditions included requiring an extra year of science, an extra year of math, two years of the same world language, one year of a visual or performing art and one year of a new ninth-grade course titled “Get Focused.” The requirements were unanimously approved as part of the consent calendar at the board’s April 6 meeting.

Source: BUSD reopens graduation requirement discussion at community forum

First interim financial report up for BUSD review – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a discussion and then vote on the district’s 2017-18 first interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting.The district provides the report using information from the budget adopted by the state in June along with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as well as other budget assumptions.

The LCFF is a funding system approved by the state in 2013 which establishes grants in place of funding streams. It is how school districts in California, including BUSD, are funded. According to a presentation by Chief Business Official Tim Rahill, the LCFF provides $8262 per BUSD student and includes a base grant as well as a 20 percent increase for English language learning or foster youth students as well as those enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. According to Rahill, those three groups make up 22 percent of BUSD’s student population.Utilizing information from the state budget, Rahill wrote that the district would be operating at a $1.8 million operating deficit, not including negotiating costs with any of the district employee groups and would provide for the state’s 3 percent Reserve for Economic Uncertainties and the Local Board Policy Reserve, consisting of an additional 4 percent reserve.

Source: First interim financial report up for school board review