Vacaville USD leaders air thoughts, feelings about Florida school shooting – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Human trafficking prevention, the possible funding of teacher effectiveness programs at two charter schools, and a report about Cooper Elementary were on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders met Thursday night in Vacaville.

But what was on many people’s minds, including the trustees, district staff and the general public during the governing board meeting were the Feb. 14 murders of 17 students and staff members by a deeply troubled former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., the nearly 20th U.S. school shooting since Jan. 1.

In her routine remarks at the meeting’s outset, Superintendent Jane Shamieh said “student safety and security” are “foremost” in the minds of district educators at all times.

Source: Vacaville Unified School District leaders air thoughts, feelings about Florida school shooting

Vacaville USD officials discuss human trafficking prevention – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Reporter headlines attest to the fact that awareness of human trafficking is on the rise and it is a local, national and global problem in need of a solution sooner rather than later.

Consider that a multi-agency human trafficking operation in late January in Fairfield yielded four arrests; Reporter columnists last month wrote about American Indian women and girls and foster children as being high risks for trafficking; a Sacramento man in mid-January was sentenced in Solano County Superior Court to three years in state prison for being involved in a human trafficking operation; and a Fairfield man suspected of trafficking a 16-year-old girl was arraigned Jan. 11 in Solano County Superior Court. All of these Reporter stories and opinion pieces were written during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

So, in some ways, it was no surprise during Thursday’s Vacaville Unified governing board meeting when Kim Forrest, assistant superintendent of student services, and Ramiro Barron, director of student attendance and welfare, discussed Assembly Bill 1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Education, and Training Act, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

Source: Vacaville Unified School District officials discuss human trafficking prevention

Retirement incentive program, two special ed contracts on VUSD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A teacher retirement incentive program, a substitute classified employee salary schedule for the current year, and two major contracts for nursing services for two special-needs students are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet Thursday.

The Vacaville Teachers Association has agreed to offer an early retirement program to members. If they submit nonrevocable resignation letters between Friday and Feb. 12, they will receive an extra $1,000 in their June 30 paycheck.

Trustees will consider the matter as a memorandum of understanding, dated Dec. 14, and are expected to approve it.

The seven-member governing board also likely will approve an adjustment to the substitute classified employee pay schedule, with pay rates, depending on the job (student monitor to payroll technician, for example), to range from $12.40 per hour to $18.90 per hour. It will take effect Thursday.

Source: Retirement incentive program, two special ed contracts on VUSD agenda

Special ed program the focus of Vacaville workshop tonight – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified’s special education department, including its goals for the current year, funding and staffing levels, will be the primary focus of a special governing board workshop tonight in Vacaville.

Sasha Begell, the department director, and Kimberly Forrest, assistant superintendent of student services and special education, will make what appears to be a highly detailed presentation consisting of more than 80 computer-aided slides.

According to agenda documents, they will tell the seven-member governing board that the department’s focus for the 2017-18 is to improve communication and identify needs, stemming, in part, from the department’s “vision statement”: “Supporting student success through equitable access, collaboration and empowerment.”

Begell and Forrest will note the importance of “building relationships” among teachers, parents and administrators, by “validating and showing appreciation,” “being responsive and having difficult conversations with honesty,” and “establishing monthly meetings,” respectively.

Source: Special ed program the focus of Vacaville workshop tonight

Staff layoffs loom for Vacaville charter schools? – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

At least two of Vacaville Unified’s three dependent charter schools face enough serious red ink in the coming years that staff layoffs may be required to balance the books, district leaders said Thursday night.

As Jennifer Stahlheber, chief business officer for the 12,600-student district, neared the end of her first interim 2017-18 budget report, trustee Whit Whitman raised concerns about projected decreasing ending fund balances not only for the district in general but especially for Ernest Kimme Charter Academy, Buckingham Charter High and Fairmont Charter, an elementary school.

But seeing and hearing Stahlheber’s numbers during a presentation in the Educational Services Center, he expressed worries that the schools, which are overseen by the district, face negative ending fund balances in the coming years.

Source: Staff layoffs loom for Vacaville charter schools?

Annual reorganization, first interim budget report, LCAP update on VUSD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders, when they meet Thursday, will elect new governing board officers, hear and likely approve the school district’s first interim budget, and hear an update on the Local Control Accountability Plan.

Current board president Michael Kitzes will give up the gavel after one year of service and be recognized for his service for the past 12 months.

Besides naming a new president, trustees will elect a vice president, clerk, and, in a routine vote, once again approve Superintendent Jane Shamieh as secretary to the board.

After the board reorganization vote, an annual rite during December, trustees will recess to conduct organizational meetings for Vacaville Library governing board and the Vacaville Public Facilities Financing Corporation.

Jennifer Stahlheber, chief business officer for the 12,600-student district, will lead the discussion of the 2017-18 first interim budget report.

Source: Annual reorganization, first interim budget report, LCAP update on VUSD agenda

A helpful $38K for Vacaville schools – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A symbolic $38,000 check in hand, David McCallum of Vacaville (center), a former Vacaville Unified trustee and member of the Vacaville Public Education Foundation, smiles at governing board president Michael Kitzes as Superintendent Jane Shamieh looks on during Thursday’s trustee meeting. McCallum, in an update about the nonprofit group’s most recent activities, presented the money to boost enrichment activities in district classrooms, from paying for field trips and lab equipment to robotics and music programs. He noted that VPEF, founded in 2003 and has since donated more than $3 million to district schools, received some $270,000 in requests for this year’s round of grants but only had $40,000 to distribute.

Source: A helpful $38K for Vacaville schools

District by the numbers and adult ed growing again – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The majority of Vacaville Unified teachers have less than 10 years on the job, and the school district’s Adult Education program is “growing again.”

That information surfaced during Thursday’s governing board meeting, when several district departmental leaders updated trustees with presentations.

Janet Dietrich, assistant superintendent for human resources, provided a statistical snapshot of teachers and school enrollment numbers, and Manolo Garcia, director of human resources, provided a similar picture about classified, or school-support, employees.

Source: District by the numbers – The Reporter

VPEF leaders to give $38K to Vacaville Unified – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In good times and bad, education dollars are hard to come by. Federal and state funding goes up and down, like a yo-yo. There are always needs to be fulfilled.

Locally, however, enter the Vacaville Public Education Foundation.

Tonight, leaders of the nonprofit group, which, formed in 2003, raises grant money for classroom teachers and programs, will provide and update about their work to the Vacaville Unified governing board, which meets in open session at 6:30 in the Educational Services Center, 401 Nut Tree Road.

They also will present the district with a $38,000 check to the district for things such as field trips, lab equipment, robotics, health programs, sports, music, among many others.

Source: VPEF leaders to give $38K to Vacaville Unified

CBO presents Measure A bond sale costs to district leaders – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Updates about district staffing and enrollment numbers, an update about the district’s Adult Education program and the likely approval of the costs to sell $78 million in Measure A bonds are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified trustees meet Thursday in Vacaville.

Presentations about 2017 staffing and enrollment numbers will fall to Janet Dietrich, assistant superintendent for human resources, and Manolo Garcia, director of human resources.

Offering a numerical glimpse of the district’s population, they will tell the seven-member governing board that the total number of staff — teachers, classified (school-support employees), certificated managers and administrators — is 1,270. And the total number of students in elementary, middle and high schools is 12,626, a slight increase from prior years.

Source: CBO presents Measure A bond sale costs to district leaders

Vacaville Unified trustees delay vote on PLAs until full board convenes – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After some fraught discussion and public comment, Vacaville Unified leaders on Thursday tabled a motion, on a close 3-2 vote, to resume talks on Project Labor Agreements for the Markham Elementary School modernization project.

Before the vote, Board President Michael Kitzes, noting the absence of two trustees, John Jansen and Sherie Mahlberg, and opposing opinions about resuming negotiations with labor unions, referred to trustee Whit Whitman’s suggestion to hold off on making a decision until the full, seven-member board convened to discuss the matter, most likely at the Nov. 2 meeting.

Source: Vacaville Unified trustees delay vote on PLAs until full board convenes

Overview of state standardized tests and PLAs on VUSD Agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

An update on state standardized tests and the use of project labor agreements, or PLAs, on Measure A projects are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified board members meet tonight in Vacaville.

Kelley Birch, director of secondary education, and Ryan Galles, director of elementary education, will lead the presentation, an overview, of the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, including updates and changes for the 2017-18 academic year. The all-computerized tests are given every spring to students in grades three to eight and 11. They are meant to gauge what students know at each grade level under the California State Standards.

Among others things, Birch and Galles will note all the tests included in the CAASSP battery of assessments: Smarter Balanced (for English and mathematics); the California Science Test (for grades five, eight and at least once in high school); and California Alternative Assessments, or Cal Alt (for students with the most severe disabilities).

Source: Vacaville Unified agenda: Overview of state standardized tests and PLAs

Vacaville schools supe offers detailed look at district – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In her annual report to the governing board, Vacaville Unified Superintendent Jane Shamieh on Thursday offered a detailed, data-filled snapshot of the school district during the 2016-17 academic year, a mixed bag of good and, she appeared to concede, sometimes disappointing news.

Using a computer-aided slide presentation, Shamieh, standing at a lectern in the Educational Services Center, laid out the numbers, from enrollment and student demographics to the annual budget and CASSPP scores to the graduation rate and physical education programs to student intervention and support practices and changes in child nutrition, to name a few segments.

She also offered year-end data about the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, the document that outlines parameters for student achievement, closing the so-called “achievement gap,” and enhancing school climate, among other things. (The LCAP, a key component of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, guides virtually all spending for California’s 1,000 school districts, especially for programs affecting English learners, low-income students and foster youth.)

Source: Vacaville schools supe offers detailed look at district

Sierra Vista MPR and Supes contract on VUSD Agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders, when they meet Thursday, are expected to approve a $5.2 million contract for a new multipurpose building at Sierra Vista, hear the superintendent’s year-end report for 2016-17, and approve a resolution recognizing Red Ribbon Week in late October.

Trustees likely will green-light a contract not to exceed $5.2 million with Landmark Modernization Contractors, a Loomis-based firm, to build a new multipurpose room at the K-8 campus on Bel Air Drive, already undergoing significant, multimillion-dollar upgrades under Measure A, the $194 million bond approved by district voters in 2014. Bond money will pay for the school’s new multipurpose room.

Superintendent Jane Shamieh will present a look-back of the 2016-17 school year, a detailed glimpse of the district during that time. It includes data about schools, district staff, enrollment numbers, student demographics, the annual budget, accomplishments, the graduation rate, Career Technical Education programs, student intervention and support practices, physical education improvements, changes in child nutrition, and CAASPP scores, among other things.

Source: VUSD Agenda

VUSD leaders convene attendance workshop today – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who declared September as Attendance Awareness Month in an effort, in part, to stem chronic absenteeism, wants school district leaders, staff and teachers to remind families about the importance of being in class each day.

Vacaville Unified trustees, who this morning will convene a special governing board workshop, are expected to hear the message that, in one way or another, links chronic absenteeism to high dropout rates, poor literacy skills and behavior problems, among other things, and key preventive measures that parents should begin taking as early as kindergarten.

In an annual district report, Kimberly Forrest, assistant superintendent for student services, and Ramiro Barron, interim director of student attendance and welfare, will lead the discussion and offer a data-filled slide presentation, of outcomes and procedures related to student attendance, suspensions and expulsions — and offer solutions — during the gathering in the Educational Services Center.

Source: VUSD leaders convene attendance workshop today

Markham upgrades, new school start times ok’d – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Markham Elementary, built in 1962, will undergo major upgrades starting in summer 2019, and Vacaville Unified elementary and secondary students will face new school start times next year, allowing middle and high schoolers to sleep in a bit longer.

As expected, with little comment, district leaders on Thursday unanimously approved the $35 million modernization project at the Markham Avenue campus and revised school start times for the 2018-19 academic year, major decisions long in coming.

Just before the formal Markham vote, governing board president Michael Kitzes, smiling, said, “This is really going to make a difference for students.”

Markham project, new start times, ok’d by VUSD Board – The Reporter

As expected, the Vacaville Unified School District governing board OK’d the $35 million modernization project funding under Measure A and the new school start times for the 2018-19 academic year.

See online later today or Saturday’s print edition of Reporter for the full story.

Source: Markham project, new start times, ok’d by VUSD Board

Vacaville USD leaders expected to OK $35 million in Markham upgrades – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, are expected to approve $35 million in Measure A dollars to modernize Markham Elementary, will consider approving revised school start times for the 2018-19 year, and will hear a student suicide prevention update.

The Markham vote will come after a Sept. 12 special governing board meeting at the Markham Avenue campus, where trustees, based on their comments, appeared poised to approve the bond money to modernize and upgrade the school, built in 1962 and one of the district’s oldest.

The roll call vote will come after more than a year of discussion, including an August facilities planning workshop, of how to improve facilities at the aging campus and how much to spend doing it.

Over recent weeks and months, district administrators have urged trustees to make a decision, because time is running out to meet preferred deadlines — for design and landscaping plans, heeding city regulations, and approvals by the Office of the State Architect, for example — before a planned groundbreaking in summer 2019.

Source: Vacaville school district leaders expected to OK $35 million in Markham upgrades

VUSD leaders poised to OK $35M in Markham upgrades – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After a community outreach meeting Tuesday, Vacaville Unified leaders appear poised to approve $35 million in Measure A dollars to modernize and upgrade Markham Elementary, one of the oldest schools in the district.

Their decision, expected during the Sept. 21 trustees meeting, will come after more than a year of discussion, including an August facilities planning workshop, of how to improve facilities at the aging Markham Avenue campus and how much to spend doing it.

District administrators scheduled the meeting because time is running out to adhere to preferred deadlines — for design and landscaping plans, heeding city regulations, and approvals by the Office of the State Architect, for example — before planned groundbreaking in summer 2019.

Source: VUSD leaders poised to OK $35M in Markham upgrades

Trustees still want more info about proposed new school-start times – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders still want more information — and answers to some pointed questions — about proposed new school start times that may take effect next year.

During Thursday’s governing board meeting, Mark Frazier, chief academic officer, presented results of “bus route modeling” related to new start times for elementary and secondary students at the outset of the 2018-19 academic year.

Certain to affect every student, family, teacher and school-support employee in the district, the changes, depending on the school — in which elementary students would start class earlier, between 8:10 and 8:35 a.m., and middle and high school students would begin classes between 8:35 and 9 a.m. — have been discussed during several board meetings during the past 12 months.

In a slide presentation, Frazier, as he has done in past presentations, again detailed research about best wake times for young children as opposed to those experienced by preteens and teenagers.

Source: Trustees still want more info about proposed new school-start times