Bond committee will discuss possible future Measure S projects over summer – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District trustees heard an update on Measure S projects completed to date and potential projects for the future at Thursday’s school board meeting. The presentation was delivered by Roxanne Egan, the Measure S bond director.

Measure S was a ballot initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding for projects for the district’s seven schools. The bond funds were initially going to be issued in three series: Series A, B and C. Due to low interest, Series B and C were consolidated into one bond issuance. Series A projects were announced in 2014, and 11 have been completed so far: technology infrastructure upgrades at all the schools, phone system upgrades at all the schools, renovated playgrounds at all the elementary schools, fixing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary, fixing the softball field bleachers at Benicia High School, repainting the exterior at Benicia High, installing new camera security systems at all the schools, upgrading the fire alarm system at Benicia Middle, upgrading the IT server and replacing the clocks, bells and PA systems.

Two projects are currently in construction at Benicia High: a renovation of the George Drolette Stadium and fire alarms. The former is expected to be completed over the summer while the latter is estimated to be completed by October, Egan said.

Source: Bond committee will discuss possible future Measure S projects over summer

School board reinstates previous graduation requirements – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

After more than a month of hearing people’s concerns, the Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District voted for Benicia High School to revert back to its previous graduation requirements at Thursday’s meeting.

On Jan. 14, the board held a study session to discuss proposed new graduation requirements for Benicia High and went into further detail at its regular March 16 meeting. The proposed requirements— which would go 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: School board reinstates previous graduation requirements

School board to vote again on graduation requirements – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be holding another vote on the graduation requirements for Benicia High School at Thursday’s meeting before it embarks on its summer recess. Staff is recommending the board revert back to its previous graduation requirements in an effort to hold further discussions with the community.

On Jan. 14, the board held a study session to discuss proposed new graduation requirements for Benicia High and went into further detail at its regular March 16 meeting. The proposed requirements— which would go 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 9th grade course titled “Get Focused.” The requirements were unanimously approved as part of the consent calendar at the board’s April 6 meeting.

Source: School board to vote again on graduation requirements

School board approves 5 new BHS courses, delays vote on 2 – Benicia Herald

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

Community makes plea for support at Thursday’s BUSD school board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Hundreds of students, alumni, parents and teachers filled the Benicia Unified School District office to address concerns over Benicia High School’s new graduation requirements, scheduled to go into effect for the class of 2022, at Thursday’s school board meeting. In fact, the turnout was so large that the majority had to watch a livestream of the meeting that was set up in the Liberty High School gym.

On March 16, the school board held a discussion on proposed new graduation requirements to more closely resemble the University of California and California State University requirements. The proposed changes were as follows:

* Health and the semesterlong elective that accompanied it would be replaced by a new yearlong course titled “Get Focused,” intended to help freshmen be successful by identifying their life and career goals early on and developing a pathway to prepare for that field, according to its description in the 2017-2018 course catalog.

Source: Community makes plea for support of arts, electives at Benicia High School during Thursday’s school board meeting

Benicia High School informational meeting draws concerns over new graduation requirements, funding for PAB – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Parents, students and teachers packed the Benicia High School Performing Arts Building for an informational meeting Monday night about the new school board-approved graduation requirements where they voiced their concerns about their potential impact on art and elective courses.

At the March 16 school board meeting, the board held a discussion and first reading of the proposed new requirements to go into effect for the class of 2022, which Superintendent Charles Young said were modeled after the University of California and California State University requirements, although with some modifications. The required amount of units for graduation would remain at 220, but some of the units would be redistributed to additional requirements. The proposed changes were as follows:

* Health and the semesterlong elective that accompanied it would be replaced by a new yearlong course titled “Get Focused,” intended to help freshmen be successful by identifying their life and career goals early on and develop a pathway to prepare for that field, according to its description in the 2017-2018 course catalog.

Source: Benicia High School informational meeting draws concerns over new graduation requirements, funding for PAB

School board to consider awarding fire alarm upgrade to lowest bidder – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Benicia Unified School District is already in the process of looking for a contractor for the fire alarm upgrade at Benicia High School. The school board will be voting Thursday to award the contract to the lowest bidder.

The fire alarm improvement is another item to be funded through Measure S, the initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding to enhance facilities at BUSD’s seven schools. Much like the stadium renovation at Benicia High School and the fire alarm upgrade at Benicia Middle School, the project was taken to a public bidding process where contractors had to be pre-qualified in order to be eligible to bid. According to Measure S Bond Director Roxanne Egan, four contractors pre-qualified and three submitted a bid. The lowest was a $1.9 million bid submitted by Bockmon & Woody Electric Co. Inc. out of Stockton. District staff is recommending that the board award the contract to Bockmon & Woody, noting that the district’s electrical engineer has successfully worked on projects with the company and is confident in their ability.

Source: School board to consider awarding fire alarm upgrade to lowest bidder

Slate of Measure S projects on agenda for Thursday’s school board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Lee Pollard of HY Architects and Measure S Bond Director Roxanne Egan will deliver an update on progress to the renovation of Benicia Middle School at Thursday’s school board meeting.

The renovation of BMS is one of the last remaining projects in the first phase of Measure S, an initiative approved by voters in 2014 to set aside $49.6 million in bond funding to be used for construction and renovation projects at Benicia Unified School District sites. The modernization of Benicia Middle School’s campus, which was built in 1976, is expected to begin in the fall of 2017 and will include new modular classrooms, a drama classroom, improving the quality of interior spaces and traffic congestion, new 21st century classrooms with new furniture,

Source: Slate of Measure S projects on agenda for Thursday’s school board meeting

School board approves pay increases, discusses new graduation requirements at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District unanimously voted to approve a tentative agreement between the district and the Benicia Teachers’ Association at Thursday’s meeting.

In November, the BTA declared it was at an impasse with the district over contract negotiations regarding pay raises. On March 3, a tentative agreement was reached that offered a 3.5 percent increase for the 2016-2017 school year.

Deputy Superintendent Michael Gardner noted that the agreement had already been ratified by the BTA, and he brought it to the board for approval.

“It’s very important, the process that we go through,” he said. “It’s always been very respectful from each side, and I think it’s gotten better as the years have gone by since I’ve been here as far as listening to the other side and coming to some agreements. We came to a lot of agreements very quickly, and then some took us a little bit longer.”

Source: School board approves pay increases, discusses new graduation requirements at Thursday’s meeting

School board to consider teacher pay raises at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

A tentative agreement between the Benicia Teachers’ Association (BTA) and the Benicia Unified School District offering salary increases is scheduled to be voted on at the school board’s Thursday meeting.

In November, the BTA declared that it was at an impasse with the district over contract negotiations for pay raises. Bargaining teams had met for six sessions and reached a tentative agreement during a mediation on Friday, March 3. The negotiations will be presented at Thursday’s meeting, and the board will vote to ratify the terms of the agreement.

The agreement is offering a 3.5 percent ongoing salary increase for the 2016-2017 school year.“The percentage increase shall apply equally to all steps and columns of the salary schedule, and shall be used as the basis to establish all other salaries, stipends, hourly rates and payments that are linked to the salary schedule,” the agreement read.

The increase will go into effect on April 1 exclusively for hourly rates, salaries, Ph.D and master’s degree stipends. Other stipend increases would go into effect on July 1.

Source: School board to consider teacher pay raises at Thursday’s meeting

Teachers, community address school board over teacher shortage – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The weightiest topic discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting was not one of the agenda items but rather something discussed during the public comment portion. As with the Dec. 15 meeting, it concerned contract negotiations and teacher shortages.

Back in November, the Benicia Teachers’ Association declared an impasse with the Benicia Unified School District over salary negotiations. A discussion with a mediator was held on Feb. 23, but a settlement was not reached.

Another related topic that was brought up was a shortage of teachers in the district, which educators have said has created some problems. Among the issues most frequently brought up: at least 14 teachers at Benicia High School teaching above their contract, vacancies being filled by non-credentialed teachers, teachers covering an extra class during their prep periods and Spanish teachers monitoring the use of Rosetta Stone.

Source: Teachers, community address school board over teacher shortage

School board votes to set retention of 2 Measure S projects at 10% – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

After a public hearing, the Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District unanimously voted to set the retention for two Measure S projects at 10 percent for being substantially complex at Thursday’s meeting.

The first project in question was a fire alarm upgrade at Benicia High School— not Benicia Middle School as previously reported. Factors that make the project complex include the fact the construction timeline is critical, the system is unique in nature and requires specialized training, and the system is directly related to fire, life and safety at the school.

Source: School board votes to set retention of 2 Measure S projects at 10%

School board to hold public hearing on ‘substantially complex’ Measure S projects – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be holding a public hearing at Thursday’s meeting to set the retention for two Measure S projects at 10 percent because they are considered substantially complex.

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. Such projects include upgrading the playgrounds at the elementary schools, fixing the roof at Benicia Middle School, re-painting the exterior at Benicia High School and renovations the stadium at Benicia High, the latter of which is currently in progress.

However, there are two projects that are considered substantially complex: the upgrade of Benicia Middle School’s fire alarm system and solar retrofitting at several of the schools.Per public contract code, retention proceeds that are “withheld from any payment by a public entity and an original contractor, between an original contractor and a subcontractor, and between all subcontractors thereunder, relating to the construction of any public work shall not exceed five percent of the contract price.”

Source: School board to hold public hearing on ‘substantially complex’ Measure S projects

Safety plans on slate for Thursday’s school board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be considering the approval of safety plans for the district and its seven schools at a shortened meeting this Thursday, which will start at 6 p.m. so the trustees can attend Benicia High School’s open house that evening.

Recent tragedies at schools across the nation have reinforced the need to update school safety plans, especially since Benicia High experienced a scare of its own last September when the school was placed on precautionary lockdown after a student had made threats online. Each school will be reviewing and updating its Comprehensive Safety Plan which have to be submitted to their respective School Safety Committee by March 1. The plans include procedures to follow in the event of an emergency and strategies to use to create healthy, safe environments for the schools. The plans are approved by each school’s site council and then submitted to the school board for approval. Dr. Leslie Beatson, the assistant superintendent of educational services, will be delivering an overview of the plans for the schools and district.

Benicia High School’s safety plan, for example, designates crisis response plans in the event of fire alarms, earthquakes, precautionary lockdowns, bomb threats, air contamination and severe windstorms or tornados.

Source: Safety plans on slate for Thursday’s school board meeting

BUSD board meetings will now be streamed online – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Following the adjournment of Benicia Unified School District governing board meetings, video of the meetings will be posted on the district’s website.

Previously, the meetings were broadcast on TV on Comcast Channel 27 or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. However, the district has opted to phase this out in favor of having footage of the meetings posted online. In a manner similar to the City Council meetings, Benicians will be able to view the meetings from their computers or smartphones. The videos will be uploaded to the district website after the meetings are over.

Source: BUSD board meetings will now be streamed online

Architects present revised Benicia Middle School campus remodel plans at board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Lee Pollard of HY Architects delivered a presentation on plans to modernize the Benicia Middle School campus at Thursday’s school board meeting.

The project is one of many to be funded by Measure S, an initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding to be spent on facilities at district schools. As noted in an earlier presentation by Bond Director Roxanne Egan, 11 projects have been completed so far with another currently under construction: the renovation of the track and field at Benicia High School.

There are three projects that are scheduled to begin this summer: fire alarm upgrades at Benicia High, districtwide solar updates and the first phase of a remodel of the BMS campus. Egan had presented initial plans at a November board meeting, and after district staff met with architects to determine the best fit for a new campus, revised plans were presented on Thursday.

Source: Architects present revised Benicia Middle School campus remodel plans at Thursday’s school board meeting

School board to vote on Benicia Middle School campus renovation – Benicia Herald

By  Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be voting on a proposed renovation of Benicia Middle School’s campus at Thursday’s board meeting.
Construction on the current BMS campus was completed in 1976 and was comprised of four buildings and eight portable classrooms. Now the school is looking to modernize its campus by replacing the portables and redesigning the courtyard in an ampitheater-style setting. Funds for the remodel would be provided through Measure S.
Roxanne Egan, the bond director for Measure S, and Lee Pollard of HY Architects will be presenting will be presenting the results of a discussion held at a series of meetings in December regarding the total number of classrooms required for the school’s educational programs and the best location for those classrooms. Egan will be presenting examples of current modern designs at other Bay Area schools.
The project would have four phases. The construction of new modular classrooms would take place in the fall of this year. he campus modernization would be scheduled for the summer of 2018. The redesign of the kitchen, lunch shelter and drama room would be slated for spring 2018 through December of that year. Finally, construction on the lower portables would be done in the summer of 2019. Egan also suggested the area be preserved as a swing space while construction going on. There is also an optional fifth phase regarding resurfacing of the tennis courts which would take place in the summer of 2017.

Source:  School board to vote on Benicia Middle School campus renovation – Benicia Herald

Benicia Unified dives into survey data at Thursday’s school board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District heard further discussion on student responses to the Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognitions, Heart (REACH) survey at Thursday’s meeting, this time focusing on the district’s efforts to improve its scores.

The REACH Survey is administered to students in grades 6 through 12 to examine the relationships between students and teachers and see what further work needs to be done. Students are polled in the five following categories.

*Relationships: Do teachers believe in their students?

*Effort: How students view their own intelligence influences the effort they put into their school work.

*Aspirations: Do students have positive visions of their futures and set and work toward their goals?

Source: Benicia Unified dives into survey data at Thursday’s school board meeting

School board to hear additional data of REACH Survey at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a further overview on Benicia Unified School District students’ responses to the Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognitions, Heart (REACH) survey at Thursday’s board meeting.

The REACH survey is considered a supplement to the California Healthy Kids Survey and further examines the relationships between students and teachers and identifies internal assets known to increase achievement. The survey was issued for the first time in the 2015-2016 school year, and Dr. Carolyn Patton— the district’s special services director— presented an overview at the Sept. 1 meeting. Benicia Middle School, Benicia High School and Liberty High School students were polled on the following five categories:

*Relationships: Do teachers believe in their students?

*Effort: How students view their own intelligence influences the effort they put into their school work.

*Aspirations: Do students have positive visions of their futures and set and work toward their goals?

Source: School board to hear additional data of REACH Survey at Thursday’s meeting

Accountability plan update on school board agenda – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear an update on the district’s progress toward goals listed in the 2016-2017 Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) at Thursday’s meeting. The discussion will be led by Leslie Beatson, assistant superintendent of educational services, and educational coordinator Jan Rogenski.

The LCAP serves as the district strategic plan and outlines goals of the district. It also works to insure increased services and programs for BUSD’s English learning, economically disadvantaged, foster youth and homeless students. According to Beatson and Rogenski, 4,760 students are enrolled in LCAP programs and the plan has been able to fund $8,045 per student in 2016-17.

Coordinators are predicting the number to go up to $8,530 in 2020.The presentation will also review progress toward the LCAP’s goals, which are to support the needs of alls students for college and career readiness, modernizing and improving infrastructure to provide opportunities for 21st century learning, and increasing community and parental involvement through awareness and engagement. Additionally, it will provide information on the new accountability rubrics and tools that have been adopted by the State Board of Education.

Source: Accountability plan update on school board agenda