Assistant supe provides update on LCAP goals to school board – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District heard an update on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) at Thursday’s school board meeting.

The LCAP is a plan that is required by all public schools in California to receive funding provided through the Local Control Funding Formula, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013. BUSD’s LCAP has outlined three goals for the district:To create a collaborative team of highly engaged staff that supports the academic, emotional and social success of all students for college and career readiness.To modernize and improve infrastructure to provide a learning environment that offers opportunities for 21st-century teaching and learning.

To increase community and parental involvement through awareness and engagement.Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Beatson and Educational Services Coordinator Stephanie Rice presented an update on the LCAP, which Beatson described as “a wrap-up from last year’s (strategic) plan.”

Source: Assistant supe provides update on LCAP goals to school board

School board to consider reappointment of 2 Bond Oversight Committee members tonight – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be voting to reappoint two members of the Measure S Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) at tonight’s meeting.Per the general obligation bonds of Measure S which was approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide funding for facility improvements at Benicia schools, the district is required to have a CBOC with seven members who meet quarterly to go over bond expenditure reports. The seven members consist of one person representing a local business, one person representing a senior citizens’ organization, one person representing a taxpayers’ organization, a parent or guardian of a Benicia Unified student, a parent or guardian of a Benicia Unified student who also serves on a parent-teacher organization or school site council, and two at-large community members.

The term for each member is two years, and the terms of two— at-large member Ron Arrants and taxpayers’ organization representative Pat Lopes— are slated to end on Oct. 1. Per CBOC bylaws, members can not serve more than three consecutive terms and the school board has the ability to appoint members based on the recommendation of the superintendent.Superintendent Dr. Charles Young is recommending that the board reappoint Arrants and Lopes for two-year terms that run through Oct. 1, 2019. Both members had previously been re-appointed in 2015.

Source: School board to consider reappointment of 2 Bond Oversight Committee members tonight

Renovated Benicia High School stadium officially open – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

It is finally here. After more than three years of planning, discussing and numerous construction delays, Benicia High School’s stadium is open for play, following a grand opening ceremony Thursday.

In 2014, Benicia residents voted to approve Measure S, a ballot initiative aimed at providing $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. One of the largest projects to be funded by the initiative was the renovation of Benicia High’s George Drolette Stadium, which was constructed around 1966. The renovation of the stadium, which consists of a football and soccer field as well as a track, was expected to be completed in Oct. 2016 but due to various delays— including one of the Bay Area’s rainiest winter seasons in years— the construction kept getting pushed back. Now the field is ready for play, and the school celebrated with a ribbon cutting Thursday.

The stadium boasts a number of new features including aluminum bleachers that can seat up to 3,300 people, an 8-lane all-weather track, upgraded lighting, a new concession stand relocated to the front of the stadium, a “memory brick” circle emblazoned with the names of past and present Benicia High Schoolers, and a new entryway with signage welcoming Panthers. The only element remaining from the previous stadium was the scoreboard.

Source: Renovated Benicia High School stadium officially open

New Drolette Stadium ready to shine on Friday night – Times Herald

By Thomas Gase

Times-Herald sports staff Michele Drolette was born in 1954 in the middle of George Drolette’s 21-year run at Benicia High School.

His daughter therefore does not necessarily recall all of the X’s and O’s of her father’s legendary football career with the Panthers. She does, however, know how everyone remembers her dad.

“People come and go and sometimes people pass away and you don’t always recall that much about them but people still tell stories about my dad,” said Michele, who still lives in Benicia. “People really loved him and had a fondness for him. It’s really amazing to me.”

 

Source: New Drolette Stadium ready to shine on Friday night

BUSD chief business official discusses declining enrollment – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District’s chief business official went over the district’s decline in enrollment at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.Tim Cahill noted that BUSD has been experiencing a slight decrease in enrollment over the last few years, although prior to that enrollment numbers had been stable for a number of years.

“It was a little bit up in enrollment, a little bit down maybe within 10 students in some cases,” he said.

However, this year BUSD was anticipating 89 fewer students. When the 2017-18 school year actually began, there were actually 106 fewer students than the previous year.Rahill said that enrollment numbers have been monitored every day since the start of school through monthly checks.

“We take a look at the first Monday enrollment count each month,” he said. “We started that in September, will do that in October, do that in November and that gives us kind of a monthly check on where we’re at in enrollment.”

Source: BUSD chief business official discusses declining enrollment

School board to discuss dwindling student enrollment – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District’s student enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is smaller than initially anticipated. Chief Business Official Tim Rahill will discuss the current enrollment numbers at Thursday’s school board meeting.

At a meeting in February, Rahill noted that prior to the 2016-17 school year, BUSD had five to eight years of stable enrollment but had decreased by 100 students in the 2016-17 year. The district was expected to have 90 fewer students in the 2017-18 year, but when school started in August, there were actually 106 fewer students, consisting of 78 fewer at the middle and high school levels and 28 at the elementary level.

There were some areas of slight growth. At the transitional kindergarten level, five more students were enrolled than the previous year and the district’s initial projections for the current year. There was also an increase among first-graders, a very slight increase among eighth-graders and a large increase among 10th-graders.

Source: School board to discuss dwindling student enrollment

New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at BUSD board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Two of the biggest changes at Benicia High School this year are the adoption of a new bell schedule and the switch to a new special education model. Items on both were presented at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Bell schedule

The implementation of a new bell schedule at Benicia High has been in the works ever since it was suggested as a goal by a Western Association of Schools and Colleges visitation team more than two years ago. After two years of conducting research, soliciting feedback from the community and presenting various possibilities for a new schedule to go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year, Benicia High announced a new schedule in May. Rather than students having a non-rotating six-period schedule for all five days of the week, students will only have that schedule for three days of the week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will have a block schedule consisting of three 86-minute classes each day. Odd-numbered classes will meet on Wednesdays, even-numbered classes will meet on Thursdays, and school will end for students 30 minutes earlier.

Source: New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting

School board to kick off 2017-2018 year with Measure S update – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District schools are nearly back in session for the 2017-2018 year, and so are the Governing Board meetings. As is usually the case, one of the items on the agenda is devoted to providing an update on the status of Measure S bond projects.

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. Bond projects completed to date include upgrading the technology infrastructure at all seven schools, playground enhancements at all four elementary schools, exterior painting at Benicia High School and repairing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School.Bond Director Roxanne Egan will deliver an update on items that were discussed at the July 25 BUSD Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting, as well as updates on items being funded by Measure S.

Source: School board to kick off 2017-2018 year with Measure S update

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%