Dozens of Bay Area schools cancel classes; Oakland scales back closures [San Francisco Chronicle]

Schools across the Bay Area are bracing for a power outage, with many district officials warning classes will be canceled during the power outage announced by PG&E Tuesday.

U.C. Berkeley said that “most of the core campus will be without power starting at approximately 8 a.m.,” prompting the university to cancel classes Wednesday.

“The campus, however, will remain open, though services will be limited. Most student-serving offices will be open, however the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union and Eshelman Hall will be closed,” it said in a statement.

Source: Dozens of Bay Area schools — including U.C. Berkeley — cancel classes; Oakland scales back closures [San Francisco Chronicle]

Vallejo school board holding public hearing on by-trustee maps – Times-Herald

The Vallejo school board is holding a public hearing on Wednesday to receive public input regarding three different by-trustee area maps.

Each proposed map depicts how the district could be split into five distinctive distinct trustee areas, which would go into effect for the November 2020 election.

The Vallejo City Unified School District previously said the change to trustee areas comes as a way to avoid a challenge letter from a third party claiming the district’s at-large election violates the California Voting Rights Act.

Source: Vallejo school board holding public hearing on by-trustee maps [Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.]

Country High School community urges school board to not move campus operations – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

A discussion on a proposal to move Country High School’s operations to the comprehensive high school campuses may not have been on the agenda for Thursday’s school board meeting, as it was previously scheduled, but parents, teachers and students still took time to express their concerns.

On Sept. 16, Vacaville Unified School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh issued a letter to families announcing that the district was considering establishing two smaller continuation school campuses on the Vacaville and Will C. Wood high school campuses. Country High students would be assigned to a campus based on their area of residence and take classes in self-contained classrooms.

The district’s goals were to provide easier access to Career Technical Education courses for Country High students, allow CHS students to participate in lunch and extracurricular activities with their comprehensive high school peers and make it easier for them to transition back to their home campus if they finish up their credits.

Source: Country High School community urges school board to not move campus operations – The Reporter

DUSD officials tour Dixon High farm, future middle school campus – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

It is not often that the past, present and future can be equally represented, but that’s what the Governing Board of the Dixon Unified School District got Tuesday.

Officials received a glimpse at the construction progress of two of the district’s largest projects — the new farm at Dixon High School and the remodel of the old DHS campus to make way for the new middle school campus — during a special school board meeting.

In a tour attended by board trustees Jewel Fink, Luke Foster and Melissa Maseda; Superintendent Brian Dolan, Nick Girimonte, assistant superintendent of educational services; and Tad Smith, chairman of the Measure Q Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, officials got to see how the two large-scale projects are coming along. The tour was led by Jim Bombaci, the senior project manager for School Site Solutions which is constructing both projects.

Source: DUSD officials tour Dixon High farm, future middle school campus – The Reporter

VUSD postpones discussion of proposed Country High School changes – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

A discussion and action regarding the relocation of Country High School operations that was scheduled to be heard at Thursday’s school board meeting has been postponed, Vacaville Unified School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh announced in a letter Friday.

Earlier this week, VUSD announced it had agendized a discussion regarding a proposal to establish two smaller continuation campuses for Country High students on the grounds of Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools. Shamieh wrote in the earlier letter that the goal was to give Country High students easier access to Career Technical Education courses and allow Country High students who were caught up on their credits to transition back to their home campuses to finish up their remaining credits for graduation.

Source: VUSD postpones discussion of proposed Country High School changes – The Reporter

School board to discuss changes to Country High School – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Major changes could be coming to Country High School, Vacaville Unified School District’s continuation school, in the 2020-21 school year. The VUSD Governing Board will be discussing a proposal to establish two smaller continuation campuses on the Vacaville and Will C. Wood High School properties at its Sept. 26 meeting.

According to a letter to families sent by Superintendent Jane Shamieh, major goals of the proposed change include providing Country High students with access to Career Technical Education (CTE) courses and making it easier for students who have caught up on their Country High credits transition back to their home school to finish the credits needed to graduate.

The core classes would be taught in self-contained classrooms on the comprehensive school sites by Country High staff. Students would be placed on campuses determined by their residence, Shamieh wrote.

Source: School board to discuss changes to Country High School – The Reporter

School districts deploy vaping sensors in e-cig crackdown | Education Dive

By Natalie Gross

The hazards of vaping have gained national attention in recent months as a spike in related illnesses have led advocates, lawmakers and even the president to decry the industry. And now, administrators and school leaders are grappling with how to properly address it in their local schools.

Elizabeth D’Amico, a behavioral scientist with the RAND Corp., recently said that the rise in the popularity of vaping among teens is somewhat to blame on misinformation. Students seem to think vaping is not as harmful or addictive as traditional cigarettes. Yet, as previously reported, half of the teens who vape go on to use combustible cigarettes in one year. And according to the U.S. Surgeon General, the chemicals in e-cigarettes can harm adolescent brains, which are continuing to develop until the age of 25.

Source: School districts deploy vaping sensors in e-cig crackdown | Education Dive

Funding for School Construction and Modernization – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the approval of more than $275 million to assist school districts in repairing schools and providing new classrooms. The funds were approved by the State Allocation Board (SAB), on which Superintendent Thurmond serves as a voting member.

“I would like to thank the State of California’s voters for these much-needed funds, which combined with local funds, will help to improve the learning environment for California’s students, and prepare them for the challenges of the future,” said Thurmond. “The research is clear that high-quality facilities improve student outcomes and helps districts recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.”

The SAB convenes monthly to distribute state matching funds for the construction of new classrooms, the modernization of existing schools, and other programs to improve learning environments, and adopts policies and regulations regarding SAB programs.

Source: Funding for School Construction and Modernization – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Students, parents, district staff tour Public Safety Academy’s new buildings – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

“It’s amazing. I can’t believe this is the school I go to,” incoming Public Safety Academy seventh-grader Ashley Sluder said Thursday.

She then demonstrated in the gym how much easier it will be for her and her fellow students to exercise in the new gym, which can hold more than 1,100 people.

Jumping jacks often meant one person would jump to the side, almost colliding with another student. Stretching out her arms, Sluder showed the amount of room she will enjoy when the school year begins Monday.

Source: Students, parents, district staff tour Public Safety Academy’s new buildings

School board asked to look into selling district property – Times Herald

By John Glidden

As the Vallejo school district continues to stave off financial insolvency, the Board of Education will meet Wednesday to establish the process of selling off surplus district-owned property.

In June, the five-person board approved a resolution declaring the district needed to identify over $15 million — $7,750,000 during fiscal years 2020-21, and 2021-22 — in savings to prevent a second state takeover.

Trustees will consider a request from district staff to solicit an appraisal for the Rollingwood property. Located along Rollingwood Drive and Benicia Road, the nearly 18 acres of land is home to four unused little league baseball fields.

Source: School board asked to look into selling district property – Times Herald

Silent alarms at schools may soon be required by federal law – Education Dive

By Amelia Harper

The School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019 would not only require schools to install silent alarms, but it would also authorize the spending of $2 billion over a 10-year-period to identify security risks at schools and address any shortfalls.

School security has been high on the list of concerns for district leaders and state and federal officials. Most have agreed schools should take a more proactive approach to safety, but many of these measures cannot get off the ground without enough support and funding.

Source: Silent alarms at schools may soon be required by federal law – Education Dive

Vallejo school district to discuss how to use bond money – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Vallejo City Unified School District officials will discuss how to spend the millions of dollars coming in from bond sales, even as they prepare for deep cuts to compensate for continued declining enrollment.

Items dealing with having enough teachers are also on the agenda during Wednesday’s meeting.

One of the items on Wednesday’s meeting agenda would make it possible to sell the district offices if needed. Right now, the district is leasing the site for $1 per year from Lennar Mare Island, which has yet to draw up the required paperwork conveying ownership to the district for the agreed-upon price of $1.

Source: Vallejo school district to discuss how to use bond money – Times-Herald

Ceremony to break ground on Dixon High School farm – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

After more than a decade in the works, the Dixon High School farm will have its groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.

When Dixon High relocated to its College Way campus in 2007, one of the proposed new features was a 30-acre farm for the school’s agriculture program. That dream moved a little closer to reality when the Dixon Unified School District Governing Board unanimously approved an agreement for Vacaville-based Abide Builders as the contractor for the project at its May 16 meeting, according to a Facebook post by board Trustee Caitlin O’Halloran.

The construction will consist of two barns, a greenhouse, 8-foot fence, a washout area for animals and utility installation. Work is expected to begin this summer.

Source: Ceremony to break ground on Dixon High School farm – The Reporter

Groundbreaking held for Markham Elementary remodel – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

An often-repeated mantra on Edwin Markham Elementary School’s blacktop Wednesday morning was that the day represented “a new beginning” for Markham.

The occasion: a groundbreaking ceremony for a campuswide modernization at Markham, slated to begin when school lets out for the summer.

The $35 million project is one of several to be funded through Measure A, a $194 million general obligation bond which was approved by voters in 2014. Among the completed projects financed through Measure A include two new two-story buildings to replace old portables at Vacaville High School, a new stadium at Will C. Wood High School, a modernization of Willis Jepson Middle School’s campus and new science classrooms and multipurpose room at Sierra Vista K-8 School. Other future projects include improvements to Vacaville High’s Zunino Stadium, a new shade structure and career tech classroom at Country High School and a new kitchen, shade structure and science labs at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School.

Source: Groundbreaking held for Markham Elementary remodel – The Reporter

VCUSD Superintendent Adam Clark adamant Widenmann site ‘not for sale’ – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

Apparently, the current Elsa Widenmann Elementary School in North Vallejo is not for sale.

District Superintendent Adam Clark emphatically confirmed as much during Wednesday night’s Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education meeting.

“It’s not for sale,” he said during his report to the board. “Do you think if I had to, that I would have shut down that program over there? Widenmann does great things.”

Clark was responding to comments made from district watchdog Robert Schussel, who argued that the district should consider Griffin Technology Academies’ offer to lease the school site for $1.5 million. The district is currently facing a $22 million structural deficit.

Source: VCUSD Superintendent Adam Clark adamant Widenmann site ‘not for sale’ – Times-Herald

Schools Would Get $100 Billion for Repairs, Rebuilding in Democrats’ Bill –  Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Democrats are once again pitching a big plan to fix up America’s schools. But it follows several false starts in the last few years to address this issue inside the Beltway from both parties.

Under the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, unveiled by House and Senate Democrats on Wednesday in Washington, the federal government would provide $70 billion in direct funding for school repairs and rebuilding, along with $30 billion in tax-credit bonds. The bill would also create “a comprehensive national database on the condition of public school facilities,” according to a fact sheet put out by the Democrats.

The proposal, which was released by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., would also generate 1.9 million jobs, according to the Democrats, who cite an estimate from the left-leaning and labor-friendly Economic Policy Institute.

Source: Schools Would Get $100 Billion for Repairs, Rebuilding in Democrats’ Bill – Politics K-12 – Education Week

New era for Scandia Elementary – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The slant-roofed, six-story multipurpose room, aka the cafeteria and gymnasium — with a fresh cream-and-royal blue colors, with dozens of windows high up to let in natural light, with brand-new basketball backboards and nets — could be the new, shiny practice space of the Golden State Warriors.

Then there are the four new classrooms housing fifth- and sixth-graders: in short, an architectural lesson in good use of space, pods, hubbed around a welcoming, well-lighted common area that relaxes anyone in it.

And the spiffy administrative office, also brand new, has to be the envy of school principals everywhere. Should anyone also mention a newly configured parking lot near the school office, addressing security and safety concerns?

Source: New era for Scandia Elementary – The Reporter

Scandia Elementary School cuts ribbon on schoolwide modernization – Daily Republic

By Ian Thompson

If you want a truly appreciative audience at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, bring a room full of elementary school-age children.

The new multipurpose room at Scandia Elementary School thundered from the cheers of its students when the ribbon was cut Wednesday morning signifying the end of the school’s extensive modernization.

“I want to thank all of you,” Scandia Principal Mark Pennington told the assembled staff and students. “You endured a lot of problems and we all worked together to get where we are now.”

Source: Scandia Elementary School cuts ribbon on schoolwide modernization

Changing the rules to fill vacated seat on Vallejo school board agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Changing the procedure for filling an empty board seat, the results of union negotiations, school closure recommendations and Measure S fund expenditures are among the issues on the agenda for Wednesday’s Vallejo City Unified School District board meeting.

District staff is recommending the Governing Board use the provisional appointment process to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown.

As it now stands, the board would appoint the fourth highest vote-getter in the last election, which was Christy Gardner. However, also on the agenda is changing Board Bylaw 9223, by removing the line, “When authorized by law to make a provisional appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board, the Board shall appoint the next highest candidate who received votes from the previous election.”

Source: Changing the rules to fill vacated seat on Vallejo school board agenda – Times-Herald

2018 was a volatile year for Vallejo schools – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Many Vallejo City Unified School District observers might be experiencing a sense of relief to see 2018 wind down, with 2019 promising a new attitude on its Board of Trustees, and an influx of funds to improve deteriorating facilities.

The year just ending was a bumpy one for the Vallejo school district, though most of the turbulence was not on campus, but, rather, at the board meetings.

Irreconcilable differences between some board members was evident in 2018, and led to board president Burkey Worel resigning that post in July, to finish out his term as a Trustee.

Source: 2018 was a volatile year for Vallejo schools – Times-Herald