By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano Community College District earlier this month received an upgrade in its credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service.
The district then refinanced bonds Nov. 13 to save taxpayers almost $21 million, according to a press release.
Moody’s raised its rating on the district’s general obligation bonds from AA3 to AA2, meaning “high quality and very low credit risk.”
Source: Solano College receives upgrade in credit rating, refinances bonds
By Alyson Klein
More than $500 million in funding for construction projects at schools serving the children of military personnel could be in jeopardy, thanks to President Donald Trump’s move to declare a national emergency and shift some $8 billion allocated to defense construction and other purposes to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
That’s according to an analysis of military construction projects circulated by the House Appropriations Committee, which is controlled by Democrats. The list of potentially impacted projects includes turning the former Fort Campbell High School in Fort Campbell, Ky., into a new middle school. Construction projects at schools on military bases in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom could also be affected.
For its part, the Trump administration has said it will divert roughly $3.6 billion from military construction to wall construction, but it has not yet identified which projects would be affected.
Source: Trump Emergency Declaration Could Endanger Aid for School Projects on Military Bases – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has released proposed guidance to schools about a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act that prohibits schools from cutting state and local money from education and simply filling the hole with federal funding.
DeVos released the proposed nonregulatory guidance on Friday. Among other things, it clearly states that districts do not need to ensure that there is equal per-pupil spending between Title I schools (those with relatively high shares of low-income students) and non-Title I schools.
After ESSA passed in 2015, the Obama administration proposed regulations that would have required spending at Title I schools to be at least equal to that of the non-Title I schools. But the idea got a torrent of criticism from state and local school officials and others, although civil rights advocates in particular defended the proposal. Those regulations were never finalized before the Trump administration took over.
Source: Betsy DeVos Releases Proposed Guidance on School Spending – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Daily Republic Staff
The Leadership Today Class of 2018 is hosting a fundraiser for the Public Safety Academy.
Leadership Today is attended by select city employees and community business leaders. Attendees are selected by both the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce and the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.
The course focuses on group activities to develop leadership skills.
CPR training is planned from 10 a.m. to noon April 28 at NorthBay Healthcare’s HealthSpring Fitness, 1020 Nut Tree Road in Vacaville and from 6 to 8 p.m. April 30 at Brandman University, 2450 Martin Road in Fairfield.
Source: CPR fundraiser benefits Public Safety Academy
By Nick Sestanovich
Tim Rahill, Benicia Unified School District’s chief business official, will be presenting the second interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting. The report shows, among other things, that BUSD is operating at a $1.9 million deficit.
At the Dec. 14 school board meeting, Rahill presented the first interim financial report which was approved by the board later that evening, although Trustee Peter Morgan voted against it and suggested the district take a serious look at the budget. After Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his final budget proposal in January, Rahill said BUSD would need to make $800,000 in continuing adjustments for the budget to become balanced.
The operating deficit of $1.9 million outlined in the second interim financial report is slightly higher than the $1.8 million figure in the first report. Rahill said the 2017-18 deficit includes one-time spending funds of $900,000 and a $1 million operating loss for general ongoing operations. It does not include costs for negotiations with the district employee groups.
Source: Second draft of BUSD financial report up for review
By Richard Bammer
Solano County Office of Education leaders likely will approve the 2017-18 second interim budget report when they meet tonight in Fairfield.
By law, California school districts must issue two annual budget reports for their current fiscal year, usually by mid-December and mid-March, to let state officials know that they can pay their bills.
In her overview, Becky Lentz, director of internal business services, will tell the seven-member governing board that Gov. Jerry Brown continues to predict a recession “but the timing is unknown.”
Additionally, cuts to federal programs are expected and so are changes to the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 during the Obama administration and intended to constrain healthcare costs. SCOE, which administers community and court schools and some special education programs, among others, is experiencing declining enrollment in its Alternative Education program, Lentz will add.
Source: Solano County Office of Education leader to mull over interim budget
By John Glidden
The Vallejo school board is expected to name four additional members to the district’s Budget Advisory Committee on Wednesday.
Vallejo school district Superintendent Adam Clark is recommending the board appoint Ken Salas, Lynette Henley, Hazel Wilson, and Shawnee Blaylock.
The California School Employee Association and Vallejo Education Association will be represented by Salas and Henley, respectively.
Wilson is a former Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board trustee and will represent the community while Blaylock is a parent/guardian member.
The four will join VCUSD Trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown, the district’s Chief Operations Officer Mitchell Romao, community members Allan Yeap and Ravi Shankar, Kimberly Mitchell-Lewis and Rosalind Hines of the Vallejo School Managers Association.
Source: Vallejo trustees to appoint more members to committee
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a discussion and then vote on the district’s 2017-18 first interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting.The district provides the report using information from the budget adopted by the state in June along with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as well as other budget assumptions.
The LCFF is a funding system approved by the state in 2013 which establishes grants in place of funding streams. It is how school districts in California, including BUSD, are funded. According to a presentation by Chief Business Official Tim Rahill, the LCFF provides $8262 per BUSD student and includes a base grant as well as a 20 percent increase for English language learning or foster youth students as well as those enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. According to Rahill, those three groups make up 22 percent of BUSD’s student population.Utilizing information from the state budget, Rahill wrote that the district would be operating at a $1.8 million operating deficit, not including negotiating costs with any of the district employee groups and would provide for the state’s 3 percent Reserve for Economic Uncertainties and the Local Board Policy Reserve, consisting of an additional 4 percent reserve.
Source: First interim financial report up for school board review
By Richard Bammer
The first interim 2017-18 budget report, nomination and election of new governing board officers, and new or modified course proposals are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Chief Business Officer Sonia Lasyone will update the five-member governing board on the district’s financial picture for the current year, one of two annual interim reports required by state law.
She will present her numbers as the state’s financial outlook remains generally healthy, with revenue collections exceeding expectations but with Gov. Jerry Brown warning public entities not to commit to ongoing, multiyear agreements.
Source: Interim budget report, officer elections on Travis Unified School District agenda
By John Glidden
Almost a year after directing staff to prepare a Request for Proposal for new banking services, the Vallejo school board again asked staff to move forward with an RFP.
The item of banking services came up Wednesday during the board’s organizational meeting. Vallejo City Unified School District staff had requested the board approve Wells Fargo Bank as the designated bank for the district’s clearing account, student body and scholarship funds, and revolving account.
Interim Chief Business Officer Adrian Vargas said he found out about the original RFP while staff prepared the agenda item for the board.
He said the RFP went out last spring but an issue prevented it from coming to fruition. Reached by phone Thursday, board President Burky Worel said a personnel issue was the reason for the delay in following up with the RFP.
Source: Vallejo school board renews efforts to release RFP
By Daily Republic Staff
Four Solano County schools have received grants that range from $2,500 to $5,000 from a group that includes San Francisco Giants gold glove shortstop, Brandon Crawford.
“As a kid, my parents always emphasized the importance of an education – above and beyond participating in sports. As a Bay Area native, it is an honor to be part of a program that increases education and athletic programs for local kids,”
Crawford said in a statement announcing the grants.Crawford, along with Wells Fargo, awarded a total of $100,000 in grants to 31 Bay Area schools.
Source: 4 Solano schools hit home runs with grants
By Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner
The House and Senate are working to reconcile their versions of a tax plan, but one thing is certain: Big changes are ahead for the nation’s schools and colleges.
Let’s start with K-12. There, Republicans from both sides of Congress generally agree on two big changes.
Saving for private school
Taxpayers can currently save money for college through a 529 plan, where earnings grow tax-free. Many states also offer deductions for contributions. In the proposals, Republicans want to let taxpayers use 529s to pay for K-12 tuition at private and religious schools, too. Families can already do that with a different plan — Coverdell Education Savings Accounts — but these have low contribution limits and aren’t open to high-income Americans. The move to expand the 529 would dramatically increase who could use these plans and the money they could save.
Source: What A Tax Overhaul Could Mean For Students And Schools : NPR Ed : NPR
By John Fensterwald
Uncertainty over the impact of a proposed Republican tax cut on the state’s economy and budget is hanging like a cloud over California, but at this point, the Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting robust growth in state revenue for K-12 schools and community colleges in the coming year.
The LAO is predicting that the schools and community colleges will get $3.2 billion more in 2018-19 under Proposition 98, the constitutional formula that determines minimum school funding. That would be an increase of 4.3 percent, bringing the Prop. 98 total to $77.7 billion, according to the LAO report released Wednesday.
K-12 schools get about 89 percent of Prop. 98 funding, with community colleges getting most of the remainder.
Source: Legislative Analyst predicts healthy state revenues next year for schools, community colleges | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
The school board will be voting to approve the submission of two applications requesting grant funding for renovation of Benicia High School’s Performing Arts Building (PAB) at its Thursday meeting.
In May, an informational meeting was held at Benicia High to discuss two items. One was a new set of graduation requirements that had recently been approved by the school board, which parents, students, faculty and community members felt decreased opportunities for performing arts students. The new requirements were later rescinded by the board and the old ones reinstated. The other item was the PAB. Many felt the 36-year-old building was not being treated as a high priority for Measure S funding, despite safety concerns including overhead lights without support beams.
Benicia Unified School District is seeking funding from a California Proposition 51 Career Technical Education Grant. Proposition 51 was approved by California voters in the 2016 election to provide $9 billion in bond funding for construction and improvement of K-12 schools and community colleges in the state. The funding would include renovation of the current building as well as new construction. Among the improvements planned by the district are replacing the “outdated” lighting and acoustic fixtures, converting and expanding old the costume shop into a dance studio, adding changing rooms in the backstage and production support space in the backstage, and expanding the stage to provide more performance space.
Source: BUSD applying for grant funding for BHS Performing Arts Building renovation
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
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
By Ryan McCarthy
Pension costs could run school districts out of business, a superintendent said Thursday at the State of Education in Solano County forum.
Schools may first reach a point where they do less for students because of contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System, said Brian Dolan, superintendent of the Dixon School District.
Source: Pensions pack punch for school district budgets, superintendent says
By The Washington Post
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced Thursday that his foundation will invest more than $1.7 billion in public education, money that will go to support schools interested in developing and testing new approaches to teaching.
“Every student should get a great public education and graduate with skills to succeed in the marketplace,” said Gates, who delivered the keynote address before about 1,000 school officials at the Council of the Great City Schools conference in Cleveland. “The role of philanthropy here is not to be the primary funder, but rather to fund pilots, to fund new ideas, to let people – it’s always the educators coming up with the ideas – to let them try them out and see what really works super well and get those to scale.”
Source: Bill Gates announces a $1.7 billion investment in US public schools
Solano Community Foundation’s Education Plus! Grant Program has funds available for classroom projects, after-school and mentoring programs in all Solano County public schools.
The program supports development of grade-level reading skills, preferably by the end of the third grade, and development of math skills for proper course placement at ninth grade, the foundation reported.
Approximately 20,000 students have benefitted from this program and close to $450,000 has been disbursed through more than 800 grants, the foundation reported.
Source: Education Plus! grants available to public schools
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday filed a court brief supporting a Bay Area county’s request to stop an executive order by President Donald Trump that threatens to stop federal funding for California cities, counties, and possibly public schools.
Torlakson filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Federal Court’s Ninth District, where Santa Clara County has filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the president’s January executive order that would withhold federal dollars from cities that declare themselves sanctuaries.
The injunction request said the order is unconstitutional because it would compel local governments to take an active role in enforcing immigration law and could withhold federal funding from agencies, including schools, which declare themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions.” The order fails to clearly define that term, Torlakson wrote in a press release issued Thursday.
Source: Torlakson files court brief to protect federal funding