By Andrew Ujifusa
Federal lawmakers have agreed to relatively small spending increases for Title I programs to districts and for special education, as part of a budget deal covering the rest of fiscal 2017 through the end of September.
Title I spending on disadvantaged students would rise by $100 million up to $15.5 billion from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017, along with $450 million in new money that was already slated to be shifted over from the now-defunct School Improvement Grants program.
And state grants for special education would increase by $90 million up to $12 billion. However, Title II grants for teacher development would be cut by $294 million, down to about $2.1 billion for the rest of fiscal 2017.
The bill would also provide $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, also known as Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Title IV is a block grant that districts can use for a wide range of programs, including health, safety, arts education, college readiness, and more.
Source: Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education – Politics K-12 – Education Week
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
By Richard Bammer
The 2016-17 second interim budget report and safe school plans are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Anna Pimentel, director of fiscal services, and Sara Smith, assistant director of fiscal services, will present the latest budget interim report, and, based on agenda documents provided, it appears some of the information will echo the report presented at the Feb. 14 governing board meeting.
Still, as other area school districts have reported recently, they will note any likely minor changes to revenues, expenses and the beginning and ending fund balances. Perhaps most important, Pimentel will tell the five-member governing board that she anticipates a “positive” budget certification, meaning the district will be able to pay its bills for the current fiscal year and the next two. She also will offer budget projections for the 2017-18 and 18-19 years.
Source: Second interim budget, safe school plans on TUSD agenda
By Daily Republic Staff
Elementary and middle school students are welcome to enter the third annual Solano Safe Routes to School poster contest.
The top prize is a new bicycle, with helmet and lock. The second-place winner gets a $100 gift certificate from a local bike shop. The third-place winner gets a $50 gift certificate from a bike shop.
The contest is open to students from transitional kindergarten to eighth grade. The poster should show proper use of traffic safety laws, such as wearing a bike helmet, crossing the street in a crosswalk, or riding a bike with the flow of traffic.
Source: Safety to School poster contest starts – Daily Republic
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%
By Richard Bammer
A Sacramento assemblyman has introduced a bill that will further strengthen the state’s Gun-Free School Zone Act.
In a press release issued Monday, Kevin McCarty, a Democrat, said Assembly Bill 424 would close a loophole that allows a school district to authorize an armed civilian with a concealed weapon permit to enter a school campus.
A number of California school districts, including Folsom Cordova Unified, Kingsburg Joint Union, Anderson Union, and Kern school districts have begun to issue these authorizations, increasing the number of guns on K-12 school campuses and the risk of an on-campus shooting, according to wording in the prepared statement.
The proposed bill comes as school shootings appear to be on the rise. Since 2013, more than 200 school shootings have taken place in America — an average of nearly one per week, said Terry Schanz, a spokesperson for McCarty.
Source: Assemblyman introduces bill to close gun-free school zones loophole
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be considering the approval of safety plans for the district and its seven schools at a shortened meeting this Thursday, which will start at 6 p.m. so the trustees can attend Benicia High School’s open house that evening.
Recent tragedies at schools across the nation have reinforced the need to update school safety plans, especially since Benicia High experienced a scare of its own last September when the school was placed on precautionary lockdown after a student had made threats online. Each school will be reviewing and updating its Comprehensive Safety Plan which have to be submitted to their respective School Safety Committee by March 1. The plans include procedures to follow in the event of an emergency and strategies to use to create healthy, safe environments for the schools. The plans are approved by each school’s site council and then submitted to the school board for approval. Dr. Leslie Beatson, the assistant superintendent of educational services, will be delivering an overview of the plans for the schools and district.
Benicia High School’s safety plan, for example, designates crisis response plans in the event of fire alarms, earthquakes, precautionary lockdowns, bomb threats, air contamination and severe windstorms or tornados.
Source: Safety plans on slate for Thursday’s school board meeting
By John Glidden
The Vallejo City Unified School District is seeking to replace its internal paging system, a move which is estimated to cost about $200,000 to $250,000.
The VCUSD Board of Education will review the request during its meeting Wednesday night.
“For general announcements and emergency pages, it is recommended that wall-mounted speakers designed specifically for paging purposes be installed and tied into a paging system that is housed locally at the site, but can be monitored and administered centrally, according to a district staff report. “In addition, several schools are utilizing paging systems that are more than 30 years old and cannot be administered centrally.”
District staff is recommending that a control system, along with wiring, and speakers be installed at each school site to allow for paging services and emergency broadcasts.
Source: VCUSD eyes replacing paging system
By Evie Blad
Among the findings from the most recent federal Civil Rights Data Collection that got the most attention: 1.6 million students attend public schools that have an on-site law enforcement officer but no school counselor.
That’s a relatively small share of the nation’s students, but civil rights groups—many of which have pushed for a scaling back or removal of police from schools—say it points to poor spending priorities, particularly those that enroll large shares of students of color.
A new White House blog post examines an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers and takes a closer look at the figure, finding that black and Hispanic students are more likely to be enrolled in schools that spend money on law enforcement but not counselors, who are often crucial to helping students, particularly low-income students, develop social-emotional skills, secure financial aid, and gain access to higher education. Hispanic students are more likely than their black and white peers to be enrolled in schools with neither an officer nor a counselor, and white students are the most likely to attend schools with counselors but not police, the analysis finds.
Source: Schools With Police But No School Counselors: A Closer Look – Rules for Engagement – Education Week
By Barbara Kurshan
Successful edtech entrepreneurs are data-driven in their approach to innovation and seek to measure the impact of their solution on the problem it attempts to address. The data they use often comes in the form of “Big Data,” which Lev Manovich (2011) defines as “data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time.” Given the possibilities Big Data offers for assessing impact, many edtech entrepreneurs incorporate ways to gather user data when developing their products. Other edtech entrepreneurs try to obtain student data from schools/school districts and typically encounter challenges in doing so. While Big Data provides the opportunity for edtech entrepreneurs to create innovative technology solutions to address critical problems in education, it also has ushered in a wave of privacy incursions. For ethical and legal reasons, edtech entrepreneurs must understand student data privacy laws and related privacy issues.
Source: What EdTech Entrepreneurs Should Know And Do About Student Data Privacy#1dbe973048b2
By Ryan McCarthy
Be careful what you say in emails, individual school board members have no power and trust the record of meetings rather than people’s memories about what was said.
Those were among lessons Thursday when Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees met in special session for a new board member orientation.
Joan Gaut and Bethany Smith, first-place finishers by wide margins in two trustee areas, attended the session where they heard Trustee David Isom advise them to do all school district business through the district email.
Source: Email advice among lessons for new Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees
By Nick Sestanovich
In the past month, Benicia Unified School District had two separate scare instances that initiated the need for a discussion on teens and the use of social media.
In September, a Benicia High School student made violent threats against his school on the messaging site Kik. After the incident was reported to Benicia High officials, the school was placed on lockdown and the suspect was arrested.
In October, in the midst of a “creepy clown” media frenzy, a Benicia Middle School student reported a post on Instagram with a photo of a scary clown’s face and the caption “I’m going to shoot up your school BMS.” Police could not determine if the threat was leveled at Benicia Middle School but still increased its presence at the campus the following day.
As a response to both incidents, BUSD will be partnering with the Benicia Police Department to host Cyber Safety Night at Benicia High School. BPD will be delivering a presentation and allow time for questions and answers at the end.
Source: Benicia Police Department, Benicia Unified School District to join forces for Cyber Safety Night tomorrow
By John Glidden
After 18 months of trying, Vallejo school board Trustee Burky Worel will get his wish, as the two most important agencies in the city of Vallejo are scheduled to host a joint meeting.
The Vallejo City Council and Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board will meet at 6 p.m., Wednesday Oct. 26, at the Vallejo High Annex, Professional Development Center, 1347 Amador St.
The meeting will feature discussions about school resource officers, traffic issues around schools, mobile food vendors and enforcement issues, and first time homebuyer program for teachers.
Each topic has a 15-minute time limit, according to the agenda.
The Vallejo City Clerk’s Office confirmed there are no prepared staff reports for the four items.
Source: Joint meeting between Vallejo City Council and school board planned
By Evie Blad
Rumors of scary clowns waiting to harm children are anything but funny business to many school officials who have responded to floods of communication from parents concerned about the issue that has swept the nation in recent weeks.
Schools in more than a dozen states have responded to such rumors over the last two weeks, with some even deciding to close in response.
School leaders say much of the hysteria is fueled by hoax threats spread on social media, and few have reported actual clown sightings.
In some cases, those reporting clown sightings to police or school officials are sincere but mistaken in what they’ve seen. And, in others, mischievious youths have contributed to the hysteria by dressing up themselves.
Source: ‘Scary Clown’ Rumors Are Serious Business for Schools – Rules for Engagement – Education Week
By Kimberly K. Fu
So many societal ills are swirling and teens don’t know how to deal or where to turn.
Which is why a Buckingham Charter Magnet High School senior created a safe place to land — her Social Awareness Club at the school.
“I was looking around my school and there were all these clubs, but nothing about what’s happening in the world, in the media, about how women are being treated or how men are being treated,” the 17-year-old said. “The point of my club is to talk about issues.”
Now 20-people strong, a diverse group of 10 young men and 10 young women, the group gets together to talk about all manner of issues facing them in the world today and to fully discuss their feelings in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
Source: Buckingham senior aims to make teens more socially aware
By Ryan McCarthy
Along Hilborn Road – next to the now-closed Hungry Hunter restaurant and across from the Fairfield-Suisun School District offices – the Police Department’s new robot rolled along the pavement Wednesday in front of a commercial building.
Across the street, a sniper and an observer were on the roof of another office.
Mobile command centers of the Fairfield Police Department were lined up.
It was the Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team and Crisis Negotiation Team conducting training scenarios.
Source: Fairfield SWAT trains along Hilborn Road
There won’t be any Friday night lights when Fairfield’s high school football teams face off for intradistrict games this season, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District announced.
Now all three matchups are rescheduled for Saturdays, with a much earlier start time.
The school district’s decision to move the games stems from an incident Aug. 26, in which several gunshots were fired in the Fairfield High School parking lot following a football scrimmage between Fairfield High School and Christian Brothers High School. According to the Fairfield Police Department, the shots were fired just before 9 p.m., when most spectators and participants had already left the stadium. Witnesses told police one vehicle had collided with another, either before, or immediately following the shooting, with callers adding that an occupant in a dark colored four-door vehicle was shooting at another unknown vehicle before both fled the scene.
source: Shooting forces Fairfield’s prep football teams to switch game times – The Reporter
By Dom Pruett
For many Californians, a severe earthquake isn’t just a concern, but simply a matter of when.
And in the case of such a disaster, proper planning could prove to be the difference between life and death.
Thursday, at Solano Comunity College’s main campus, Solano County Health and Services employees conducted a simulation of a massive Bay Area earthquake when they executed a Commodity Point of Distribution (CPOD) exercise.
The simulation entailed Solano County Health and Services closing off a portion of the campus’ parking lot, where they distributed cases of water to the hundreds of students and faculty who passed through the area.
Source: Major earthquake drill conducted at Solano College
By Ryan McCarthy
The school resource deputy program, along with correctional officers donating school supplies to students, spurred a thank you Thursday to the Solano County Sheriff’s Office from the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
Sheriff Tom Ferrara and six deputies were at the school board meeting when the district recognized the Sheriff’s Office for its support of staff and students.
Two schools, Suisun Valley and Tolenas elementary, are in unincorporated areas within the Fairfield-Suisun School District. Officers developed ideas to assist the schools, Ferrara told trustees.
Source: A thank you, from Fairfield-Suisun School District to Sheriff’s Office
By Paul Farmer
In a move to promote the safety of fans, players and others, the Fairfield-Suisun School District announced on Thursday that the three intradistrict high school games have been moved from Friday nights to Saturdays.
Rodriguez at Fairfield has been moved from Sept. 16 to Sept. 17, Fairfield at Armijo from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 and Armijo at Rodriguez from Nov. 4 to Nov. 5. Kickoffs for the junior varsity games for the first two will be at 10 a.m., with the varsity to follow. For the third, the JV kickoff will be at 9 a.m. to ensure that the varsity game begins by noon, which is a Sac-Joaquin Section regulation as playoff pairings will be determined and announced later in the day.
Source: Intradistrict football games moved from Fridays to Saturdays