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

Budget on SCC agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A public hearing and the adoption of the 2017-18 budget, a change order and completion date for the new Biotechnology and Science Building project at the Vacaville Center, and an appointment to the Measure Q Citizens Oversight Committee are on the agenda tonight when the Solano Community College District governing board meets in Vallejo.

The seven-member board is expected to approve the $153.3 million in expenses, well in excess of $110 million in revenues, according to agenda documents. The general fund, at $65.2 million, accounts for most of the budget, followed by capital outlay, at $49.4 million, debt service of $25.3 million, child development at $823,000, and trust expenditures of $11.6 million.

Trustees are expected to approve the budget.

The change order stipulates the completion date for the new $26.3 million Biotechnology and Science Building project at the Vacaville Center, on North Village Parkway, will be Oct. 18, instead of Sept. 17, to allow for completion of some final work.

Source: Budget on SCC agenda

Solano College Vallejo campus celebrates new, state-of-the-art auto-tech facility – The Reporter

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Every indication suggests the new Solano Community College Auto-technology building in Vallejo is a game-changer, course instructor Paul Hidy said.

The new, state-of-the-art facility at 1687 N. Ascot Parkway, celebrates its grand opening at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Following some 30 years during which most California high schools stopped offering vocational classes, Solano Community College’s 4-year-old automotive course’s growth proves letting those programs go was a mistake, Hidy said.

“Vocational training in most high schools went away in the 1980s, and by the 2000’s someone began to realize that, ‘oops, now we have no one to fix anything,’ and that started to turn around,” he said. “We’re doing our best here to make a change.”

Source: Solano College Vallejo campus celebrates new, state-of-the-art auto-tech facility on Wednesday

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

A look at 2 Solano school bonds proves informative – Daily Republic

By John Takeuchi

Important things come and go. It’s wise to review them, to learn for the future.

Let’s take a look at two very expensive local school bonds: Fairfield-Suisun School District’s Measure C ($100 million) and Solano Community College District’s Measure G ($150 million), approved by voters in 2002.

Both measures used state Proposition 39 (passed in 2000), that allowed school construction bonds to be approved with 55 percent Yes votes. Among its rules, bond revenues could only be spent on constructing and rehabilitating school facilities. In addition, the ballot text was required to show the specific projects to be funded; that lets you estimate whether the amount of the bond is legitimate. Later legislation added an “independent citizens’ oversight committee” to assure the public that bond funds were being spent properly.

Source: A look at 2 Solano school bonds proves informative

Full house at newly renovated Solano College theater celebrates Arty awards – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

The 33rd annual Arty Awards gala kicked off with members of the opening act on a make-believe tour of the newly renovated Solano Community College Performing Arts Center.

“It’s a very pretty view,” said one of the women, as they entered from the right side of the stage and down the center aisle. “I think I heard something,” said another.

As they made their own way to the stage, another noticed a packed house. “I see theater people,” she said.

The group of five then broke into “We’re at the Artys,” adapted from “42nd Street’s” “We’re in the Money.”

Host Jennifer Schemke joked that she wanted to tell the audience her name was Stephen Colbert. Colbert was hosting the Emmys at the same time the Performing Arts Network was honoring live theater in the area.

Source: Full house at newly renovated Solano College theater celebrates Arty awards

Solano College to fete auto tech program milestone in Vallejo – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Solano Community College Automotive Technology Program has moved into a new 30,000-square-foot facility at the college’s Vallejo Center with the start of the current academic year and celebrates a grand opening this week.

The project is funded by voter-approved Measure Q. The project doubles the size of the automotive technology facility and allows student enrollment to grow.

Source: The Week Ahead: Solano College to fete auto tech program milestone in Vallejo

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

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

Markham community to hear VUSD plans for $35M in school upgrades – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders tonight will hold a community stakeholder meeting about a recommended proposal to spend $35 million in Measure A dollars to modernize and upgrade Markham Elementary, one of the oldest schools in the district.

The governing board discussed the matter during a facilities planning workshop in late August in the Educational Services Center.

The stakeholder meeting comes, in part, because the clock is ticking on adhering to preferred deadlines — with design and landscaping plans, approvals by the Office of the State Architect, for example — before planned groundbreaking in summer 2019, Dan Banowetz, the director of facilities for the 12,500-student district, told The Reporter on Aug. 28.

“We’ve got to get moving on it,” he said at the time.

The district will provide Spanish translators and the meeting, which district leaders are billing as a chance for Markham community members to make some choices about what they want to see in upgrades and modernization.

Source: Markham community to hear VUSD plans for $35M in school upgrades

SCC leaders to condemn hate and violence, consider new library – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A resolution condemning hate and violence, several Measure Q-related items, and the proposed 2017-18 budgets are on the agenda when Solano Community College leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Trustees are expected to approve a resolution that condemns the Aug. 12 violence in Charlottesville, Va., which resulted in injury and the death of anti-hate demonstrator Heather Heyer, but, at the same time, go on record that the school is a place where free speech is respected, encouraged and shared but opposes racist and “intolerable views that impede a safe environment where teaching and learning can occur for all,” according to the resolution’s wording.

The governing board also is expected to approve more than $42 million in Measure Q and state funding to begin building a Library/Learning Resource Center at the main Fairfield campus, at 4000 Suisun Valley Road. Measure Q was the $348 million bond approved by county voters in 2012.

Source: SCC leaders to condemn hate and violence, consider new library

What to do with $35M for Markham Elementary? – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders plan to hold a community stakeholder meeting about a recommended proposal to spend $35 million in Measure A dollars to modernize and upgrade Markham Elementary.

The governing board discussed the matter during a facilities planning workshop Friday in the Educational Services Center.

At the end of the nearly 2 1/2-hour workshop, the meeting was set for Sept. 12 at the Markham Avenue campus, but, on Monday, Jennifer Leonard, the district’s public information officer, said in a text message that no date had been set because she was unable to get confirmation from trustees and district staffers, despite several of them appearing to agree Friday on the Sept. 12 date.

Source: What to do with $35M for Markham Elementary?

Three Vacaville teens propose VUSD go solar – The Reporter

By Kimberly K. Fu

An enrichment program on solar energy sparked three students from different Vacaville high schools to combine forces and propose an alternative energy source for the Vacaville Unified School District.

“We just want to make a change,” said Sergio Maciel, 16, from Will C. Wood High School, of the solar panels his group hopes to have installed within the district.

It’s all about efficiency and protecting the environment, added Holly Andersen, 17, from Vacaville High.

The pair emphasize that while their goal may be lofty, it’s nonetheless doable if taken one property at a time.

The friends — including Natalie LaRowe, 17, of Buckingham Charter, who was unavailable for comment — met awhile back through the SunPower Solar Academy, a five-day venture for high schoolers involving the teamwork application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) toward designing a solar start-up for residences. From the environment to design to finances, the youths learn a bit of everything and factor them into a presentation given to officials, including solar representatives, by program’s end.

Source: Three Vacaville teens propose VUSD go solar

Vacaville Unified School District leaders to hold facilities planning workshop tonight – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A likely update of Measure A projects and related construction plans for the coming years in Vacaville Unified are on the agenda when district leaders meet for a special governing board workshop tonight in Vacaville.

Trustees will discuss facilities planning for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 years, pending major upgrades to many of the district’s 18 campuses, about half of them 50 years old or older, and several of those more than 60 years old.

To date, most of the major Measure A projects have occurred at Vacaville High, where the school’s parking lot has been expanded and tennis courts relocated and resurfaced.

When classes began last week, students and faculty entered a new $10 million, 15-classroom English building. To the west, a stone’s throw away, construction continues apace for a new 15-classroom math building, which is expected to open in the days immediately after Christmas break.

Source: Vacaville Unified School District leaders to hold facilities planning workshop tonight

Developer fees study on Fairfield-Suisun school agenda Thursday – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders will face a relatively light agenda when they meet Thursday night in Fairfield.

There will be a public hearing about a resolution to adopt a developer fee justification study, followed by a trustee vote on the matter, specifically on Level I fees.

By law, California school district governing boards may levy a fee against a developer who builds within a respective district to pay for school construction and related infrastructure in order to accommodate potential growth.

Three levels of developer fees are allowed.

The minimum, aka Level I, is adjusted every two years. In order to assess the fee, a school district must document its justification with a study that, according to agenda documents, “demonstrates a reasonable relationship between residential, commercial and industrial development in the district and the need for additional school facilities.”

Source: Developer fees study on Fairfield-Suisun school agenda Thursday

Measure S director: Finishing touches being put on Benicia High stadium – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The renovation of Benicia High School’s George Drolette Stadium has just a little more work to be done before it can be opened for use, according to an update provided by Measure S Bond Director Roxanne Egan on the voter-approved initiative at Thursday’s school board meeting.In 2014, Benicia residents voted to approve a ballot initiative that would provide $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at each of the Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. One of the largest projects to be funded was a remodel of Benicia High’s football and soccer stadium and track & field, including such changes as a new 8-lane all-weather track, upgraded lighting and new bleachers.

The previous stadium had been demolished in July 2016, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facilities was held one month later. Construction was expected to be completed in the spring, but several delays in construction— including one of the wettest winter seasons in a long time— pushed its potential opening back to the fall. A grand opening ceremony was slated for August, but Egan said more work remains to be done.Further work includes completing painting on the team room buildings— including blue striping and yellow trim, painting a Benicia Panthers logo on the backside of the press box, custom painting the restroom building and applying stucco to the concession building.However, Egan noted that a lot of work has been done in the last couple of months, including applying stucco to the restroom building, adding color to the press box and adding lettering to the track. Egan said the last item was a good symbolic representation for the current stage of the project.

Source: Measure S director: Finishing touches being put on Benicia High stadium

Impact of Measure A projects seen on first day of school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The herald of the day was not the first bell, but white-painted letters on the back windshield of several cars — “Seniors c/o 2018” and “Seniors 2K18” — headed at 7:40 a.m. to Vacaville High, one of several campuses in Vacaville Unified undergoing major physical changes under Measure A, as the first hours of the new academic year began on a sweetly blue and cloudless Thursday.

The nearly 2,000 students at the West Monte Vista Avenue campus were in their seats by 7:50 a.m., including several hundred in the brand-new $10 million, 15-classroom English building, literally a stone’s throw from a similar building, for mathematics classes, to be completed by the December holiday break. Both projects, including earlier expansions and relocation of the school’s main parking lot and tennis courts, are funded by the $194 million bond measure passed by Vacaville Unified voters in 2014.

Source: Impact of Measure A projects seen on first day of school

Dixon USD trustees focuses on meal debt recovery plan, sixth-grade transition – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A debt recovery plan for school lunch accounts, and updates on sixth-graders’ transition to C.A. Jacobs Intermediate School and the possibility of reconfiguring the district’s elementary school model are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight.

Melissa Mercado, the district’s new chief business officer, will lead the discussion on the food services department’s plans to get families to pay off meal debts.

The agenda item comes two weeks after the five-member board first heard of the plan from Superintendent Brian Dolan, which came after headlines about public rage directed at American schools that resort to so-called “lunch shaming” policies that humiliate children with meal debts.

Since July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has required school districts to adopt policies for taking care of delinquent student accounts for breakfast and lunch meals. While the agency, which funds the meal programs, is not specifically barring most of the embarrassing methods — such as serving cheap sandwiches instead of hot meals or sending children home with reminders, such as hand stamps — districts are being encouraged to inform parents at the start of the school year, so children don’t go hungry.

Source: Dixon Unified School District trustees focuses on meal debt recovery plan, sixth-grade transition