Fairfield-Suisun USD to discuss 2018-19 budget priorities – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A discussion of 2018-19 budget priorities will be among the more significant items of an otherwise relatively light agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

Michelle Henson, assistant superintendent of business services, will lead the discussion, which will be based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s $190 billion 2018-19 state budget proposal, released in January and due for revision in May.

Her presentation, casting an eye on the impact of the state’s numbers on the district’s, will come two weeks after she led a budget presentation at the trustees’ Jan. 25 meeting.

Specifically, Henson will note that projected average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the coming year will be about $9,450 for each of the district’s estimated 20,550 students, yielding some $194 million in state funding under Brown’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula. Additionally, she will tell the seven-member governing board, one-time discretionary funds from the current year will account for some $6 million in additional funds spent on students.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District to discuss 2018-19 budget priorities

Committee seeks nominations for those who serve Solano students with disabilities – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Nominations are being accepted for the 12th annual Community Advisory Committee Recognition Awards, recognition given to people who have gone “above and beyond” in their service of students with disabilities.

Awards are presented to educators, youth and community members. Recipients are from each school district within the Solano County Special Education Local Plan Area: Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis and Vacaville, as well as the Solano County Office of Education.

Additionally, a student and representative from a community organization who have demonstrated dedication to supporting people with special needs will be honored.

Source: Committee seeks nominations for those who serve Solano students with disabilities

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

What I’ve Learned From Special Ed Teachers | Edutopia

By Peg Grafwallner

Special education teachers are expected to do quite a lot: Assess students’ skills to determine their needs and then develop teaching plans; organize and assign activities that are specific to each student’s abilities; teach and mentor students as a class, in small groups, and one-on-one; and write individualized education plans in parent-friendly language.

In addition, they must know and apply the dozens of acronyms used in their field: ADA (American with Disabilities Act), DOR (Department of Rehabilitation), LEA (local education agency), PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), and LRE (least restrictive environment), to name just a few.

Source: What I’ve Learned From Special Ed Teachers | Edutopia

Education Department proposes delaying Obama-era rule on racial disparities in special education – Daily Republic

The Washington Post

The Education Department is proposing to delay by two years, to 2020, an Obama-era rule that would push states to ensure that students of color are not over-represented in special education and put in programs because of racial bias.

The department, headed by billionaire Betsy DeVos, expressed its intention to seek public comment on the plan to delay the rule. A notice published in the Trump administration’s Unified Agenda, which includes planned actions, says:

“The Department seeks comment on whether to extend by two years the compliance date of these regulations from July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2020, and, if so, whether to extend the date for including children ages 3 through 5 in the analysis of significant disproportionality with respect both to the identification of children as children with disabilities and to the identification of children as children with a particular impairment from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2022.”

Source: Education Department proposes delaying Obama-era rule on racial disparities in special education

Vacaville Unified School District employee churn turns busy in December – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified’s employee churn, normally busiest at academic year’s end in June, is active in December, with several principals moving on, The Reporter has learned.

Deanna Brownlee, the principal of Fairmont Charter in Vacaville Unified, has been named as Travis Unified’s new director of special education. Brownlee’s last day of work at the Marshall Road campus is Dec. 21.

“I’m very excited,” Brownlee, who has led Fairmont, a Title 1 school under federal guidelines, for eight years, said Wednesday afternoon.

The longtime educator, who earned a master’s degree in special education, added, “I have desired a position in special education for a very long time. Finally, all the pieces came together. I enjoy working with at-risk and special education students.”

Source: Vacaville Unified School District employee churn turns busy in December

Big changes in requirements to become a special education teacher in California | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is making big changes in how special education teachers will be trained, adding core courses and an assessment already mandated for general classroom teachers.

Commissioners view the overhaul of preparation requirements as critical to improve the education of the state’s roughly 740,000 students with disabilities and predict the changes could be transformative: More students with disabilities will be identified and served earlier, taught more effectively and “mainstreamed” more often in classrooms serving all students.

Though four years, several reports and iterations in the making, the commission’s most recent decision came one day after the state released data showing that students with disabilities did worse than other student groups in California on multiple indicators of achievement. Two-thirds of the 228 districts that will receive assistance from county offices of education were designated because of the poor performance of students receiving special education services.

Source: Big changes in requirements to become a special education teacher in California | EdSource

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

On Kairos agenda: New board member, SELPA agreement – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Approval of a new board member, an agreement to accept a change to the El Dorado County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) document, and an update of the school’s special education program are on the agenda when the Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy board of directors meets tonight in Vacaville.

The directors are expected to approve the appointment of Leah Parker of Vacaville as the newest of seven board members for a three-year term. A former Buckingham Charter High teacher and the owner of Leah Dawn Photography in Vacaville, she will replace Bob Brigham.

The board also likely will approve an amended agreement with the El Dorado County SELPA, which, in October, OK’d a change in its “participation agreement,” which districts aligned to it must, in turn, approve.

Source: On Kairos agenda: New board member, SELPA agreement

How’s DeVos Handling a Big Special Education Issue? – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held a roundtable for advocates for children with dyslexia. Also at the meeting was Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a long-time advocate for dyslexia issues. We called up Cassidy, who’s a member of the Senate education committee, to discuss how the meeting went and what approach he sees DeVos taking on dyslexia and other issues.

This week, our colleague Christina Samuels published a story about the anxiety many special education advocates have felt about DeVos’ leadership. When we asked Cassidy about whether he shared those concerns before or after the meeting, he said he was focused on dyslexia specifically and praised DeVos’ willingness to hear out different ideas.

“I think the fact that she convened the meeting and was so attentive throughout told us volumes,” Cassidy said. “It told us that she cares about the issue, that she wants to democratize, if you will, the opportunities for children with dyslexia. She’s going to listen.”

Source: How’s DeVos Handling a Big Special Education Issue? See Bill Cassidy’s Answer – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Students play hard at Special Olympics soccer event – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

The Special Olympics oath once again rang true Friday throughout Schaefer Stadium at Fairfield High School as elementary school students of all abilities met up for their annual soccer match.

Some 360 students from Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District elementary schools — Anna Kyle, Center, Crescent, Dan O. Root, K.I. Jones, Laurel Creek, Nelda Mundy and David Weir — paraded around the track, receiving applause from Fairfield High School students, officers from the Fairfield Police Department, California State Prison, Solano and the California Highway Patrol, as well as Fairfield firefighters.

Source: Students play hard at Special Olympics soccer event

Ed. Dept. Scrutinizing Rule on Minority Representation in Special Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

As a part of its regulatory reform efforts, the U.S. Department of Education is considering delaying a rule that would require states to use a standard method to determine if their districts have wide disparities in how they identify, place in segregated settings, or discipline minority students with disabilities.

As first reported by Politico, a draft Federal Register notice is seeking public comment on putting the rule off for two years. If nothing changes, the rule issued under the Obama administration is set to go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.

Districts already must use 15 percent of their special education funding to address widespread disparities in identification, placement, or discipline of such students. That funding requirement has been in place since the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but only a fraction of districts around the country have been identified as having problems big enough to require the spending shift.

Source: Ed. Dept. Scrutinizing Rule on Minority Representation in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week

Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

One of the Trump administration’s first executive orders was directing federal agencies to search for—and eliminate, if possible— regulations considered to be burdensome to the American public.

On Friday, the federal office for special education and rehabilitative services took its first crack at clearing the book of “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective regulations.” In all, 63 pieces of guidance from the office for special education programs were identified for elimination, along with 9 documents fro the Rehabilitation Services Administration, for 72 documents in all.

That sounds like a lot. But it appears that many of the special education guidance documents were targeted because they’re just very old. For example, 50 of the guidance documents from OSEP marked for elimination predate the most recent reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed in November 2004. One memo, which does not have a link available, is a 35-year-old letter to state chiefs about data collection for fiscal year 1983.

Source: Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations – On Special Education – Education Week

Student performance, KISP on Kairos agenda tonight – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The executive director’s monthly report, the student performance index, the Kairos Innovative Scholars Program, and the likely approval of a capitalization policy are on the agenda tonight when the Kairos board of directors meet in Vacaville.

As part of his student performance report, Executive Director Jared Austin will offer data about the Elm Street campus’ demographics, language proficiency, special education, state and federal accountability measures, attendance, community service, school climate and student conduct.

Leslie Shelby, KISP coordinator, will present the yearly update on the independent and homeschool study program, which has about 50 out of 550 students enrolled.

Chief business officer, Anita Schwab will present the resolution for the capitalization policy, necessary to set a reasonable threshold for all types of school assets and to include the depreciation method used to make calculations about the useful life of those assets.

Source: Student performance, KISP on Kairos agenda tonight

BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District outlined positive highlights and areas for improvement when data from the most recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was presented at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.

The SBAC was initiated in 2015 and replaced the previous California Standards Test following the state’s shift to Common Core practices. The statewide assessment is given to all students in grades 3 to 8 and 11 in the areas of math and English Language Arts (ELA). According to Dr. Leslie Beatson, BUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services, the test is taken on a computer and quizzes students in a variety of formats, including multiple choice, short answer, constructed response and performance test. The test also utilizes a concept called universal design where accommodations such as enlarged text or Individualized Education Program arrangements for special education students can be built in.

Source: BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results

Official lauds ‘destination district’ status for Fairfield-Suisun schools – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

The Fairfield-Suisun School District’s status as a “destination district” for teachers will help deal with special education issues the California Department of Education identified, the special education director for Fairfield-Suisun says.

“Fairfield does a terrific job of making this a destination district for teachers,” Tom Anderson said.

Teachers get wonderful curriculum and professional development support at schools and from the district office, he said at a school board meeting Wednesday to discuss two state reports about special education in the district.

Source: Official lauds ‘destination district’ status for Fairfield-Suisun schools

FSUSD Trustees to meet for study session about state reports – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District will take part in a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday about California Department of Education reviews of special education in the district.

The first review analyzed individual educational plans of special education students and interventions taken before a student is recommended for special education assessment, according to a school district staff report.

The second review studied “disproportionality” of students who qualify for special education and steps the district needs to implement to reduce disproportionality, the staff report said.

Source: Trustees to meet for study session about state reports on special education in Fairfield-Suisun School District

New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at BUSD board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Two of the biggest changes at Benicia High School this year are the adoption of a new bell schedule and the switch to a new special education model. Items on both were presented at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Bell schedule

The implementation of a new bell schedule at Benicia High has been in the works ever since it was suggested as a goal by a Western Association of Schools and Colleges visitation team more than two years ago. After two years of conducting research, soliciting feedback from the community and presenting various possibilities for a new schedule to go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year, Benicia High announced a new schedule in May. Rather than students having a non-rotating six-period schedule for all five days of the week, students will only have that schedule for three days of the week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will have a block schedule consisting of three 86-minute classes each day. Odd-numbered classes will meet on Wednesdays, even-numbered classes will meet on Thursdays, and school will end for students 30 minutes earlier.

Source: New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting

Benicia High’s special education department to undergo changes – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia High School is in the process of changing its special education model to allow students with disabilities to have greater access to general education courses, according to a letter sent out by Dr. Carolyn Patton, the director of special services for the Benicia Unified School District.Patton said a number of things influenced the district’s decision to move away from Benicia High’s current model, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District which stipulated that Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) should give students higher standards in education. Another was the California Department of Education, which requires districts to increase the percentage of students who spend 80 percent of their day in the general education environment.

Patton said the district had also been looking into laws provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990.“There’s always been an emphasis for kids to be in the general ed environment with correct support,” she said in an interview with the Herald. “Districts are supposed to start with that premise that if a student can be educated in general ed with support from the special education department, then that’s where they’re supposed to be.”

Source: Benicia High’s special education department to undergo changes

Special Olympics front and center in Assembly – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Assemblyman Jim Frazier on Monday passed a special resolution declaring May 22 as Special Olympics Day, then presented proclamations recognizing two affiliated organizations.

“It’s beyond amazing that 96,000 Californians have the opportunity each year to participate in the sports they love while developing lifelong friendships and skills,” Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, said in a statement released by his office.

“When I was in high school, I helped a dear friend who had a disability of his own play a game on the football team and from that moment I knew how much it meant for him to feel included, and how great it was for the whole team. I see that same fulfillment in everyone involved with the Special Olympics,” Frazier said.

Source: Special Olympics front and center in Assembly