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

Another denial for Vaca charter school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a close 4-3 vote, the Solano County Office of Education governing board on Wednesday denied a petition by directors of the Vacaville-based Heritage Peak Charter to align themselves with the county as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.

Trustee of Area 2, Amy Sharp of Vacaville confirmed the outcome in an email to The Reporter, as did Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, including Heritage Peak on Parker Street, but most of them are in the Sacramento area and aligned with school districts there.

Source: Another denial for Vaca charter school

Another denial for Vaca charter school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a close 4-3 vote, the Solano County Office of Education governing board on Wednesday denied a petition by directors of the Vacaville-based Heritage Peak Charter to align themselves with the county as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.

Trustee of Area 2, Amy Sharp of Vacaville confirmed the outcome in an email to The Reporter, as did Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, including Heritage Peak on Parker Street, but most of them are in the Sacramento area and aligned with school districts there.

Heritage Peak is a K-12 independent charter, meaning it is governed by its own board of directors and largely accountable to the state Department of Education. It has 225 students, from a wide regional geographical arc, 15 teachers on staff and annual budget of more than $2 million.

Source: The Reporter

Vaca teachers award five scholarships – The Reporter

The Vacaville Teachers Association awarded scholarships of $3,300 each to five former Vacaville Unified seniors who graduated earlier this year.

Tracy Begley, president of the school district’s teachers union, made the announcement during the Sept. 7 governing board meeting.

The scholarship winners were announced to the union’s 685 members and the graduates before school ended in early June, she wrote in an email sent earlier this week to The Reporter.

The five were Mikayla Canales from Buckingham Charter High; Dominique Sloper and Amy Rich from Vacaville High; and Mackenzie Howard and Jessica Alvarado from Will C. Wood High.

Source: Vaca teachers award five scholarships

Study puts Fairfield-Suisun USD in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

A comparison of the Fairfield-Suisun School District with a dozen other nearby, similar districts found Fairfield-Suisun in the middle of categories that include salaries, revenues and employee benefits.

Fairfield-Suisun was the largest of the 13 districts that included the Vacaville, Travis and Dixon school districts as well as Berkeley and Napa Valley.

The study used California Department of Education data from 2015-16.

Source: Study puts Fairfield-Suisun School District in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits

Retired educator follows musical dream – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

Nancy Northrup was born and raised in Vacaville — and on music.

“I’ve always had music as part of my life,” said the Winters resident, who plays guitar and mandolin when she performs.

Later this month, Northrup will be traveling to Waycross, Ga. to play at the Gram Parsons Festival.

She has a busy September and October scheduled locally too, with performances at Berryessa Gap and Seka Hills Winery.

She has also played at the Vacaville farmer’s market, and hosts open mics at Steady Eddy’s in Winters the last Saturday of each month and at Berryessa Gap the third Thursday of each month.

“I see Winters becoming this Renaissance place for art,” Northrup said.

There are many great musicians there who haven’t come out of their shell yet, she said.

She also has played at The Bluebird in Nashville twice.

Source: Retired educator follows musical dream

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

Trustees still want more info about proposed new school-start times – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville Unified leaders still want more information — and answers to some pointed questions — about proposed new school start times that may take effect next year.

During Thursday’s governing board meeting, Mark Frazier, chief academic officer, presented results of “bus route modeling” related to new start times for elementary and secondary students at the outset of the 2018-19 academic year.

Certain to affect every student, family, teacher and school-support employee in the district, the changes, depending on the school — in which elementary students would start class earlier, between 8:10 and 8:35 a.m., and middle and high school students would begin classes between 8:35 and 9 a.m. — have been discussed during several board meetings during the past 12 months.

In a slide presentation, Frazier, as he has done in past presentations, again detailed research about best wake times for young children as opposed to those experienced by preteens and teenagers.

Source: Trustees still want more info about proposed new school-start times

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

Parents assail Browns Valley’s year-round proposal – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Some dozen Browns Valley Elementary parents Thursday let Vacaville Unified leaders know they are adamantly opposed to Principal Jennifer Austin’s plan for year-round classes next year and several said the solution to the Wrentham Drive campus’ overcrowding was simple: Build a new school.

As the public comment segment of the district trustees meeting got underway, President Michael Kitzes told parents the issue had not been aired among governing board members.

“Nothing’s really been talked about up here,” he said from the dais. “Nothing’s been decided.”

Superintendent Jane Shamieh said Austin’s 14-page proposal — with sections devoted to the “problem,” the “solution,” “potential obstacles,” and a proposal process timeline that stretches to March — was exactly that, a proposal, nothing more.

Source: Parents assail Browns Valley’s year-round proposal

Vacaville Jazz Festival includes local musicians – Daily Republic

By Tony Wade

Will C. Wood senior Brette Stout will be one of the hundreds of musicians performing in the 18th annual Vacaville Jazz Festival produced by the Vaca Jazz Society from Sept. 15-17 in numerous locations.

While Stout was not yet born when the yearly tip of the fedora to America’s indigenous musical art form began, one may deduce that she was genetically predisposed to be a part of it. Stout’s father, Ken Stout, and her uncle – her father’s twin, Keith Stout – are longtime staples of the local jazz scene.

Source: Vacaville Jazz Festival includes local musicians

Kairos agenda: One-time employee pay, board and director goals – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

One-time staff bonuses for eligible employees, 2017-18 board goals and executive director goals are on the agenda when Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Among those eligible for the one-time pay, agenda documents indicated, are full- and part-time teachers, full- and part-time classified (or school-support) employees, said the executive director, Jared Austin.

Full-time teachers, classified employees and Austin will receive 1 percent of their 2016-17 base salaries; and part-time employees will receive .085 percent of their previous year’s base salaries.

Board of director goals for the new year include making sure the independent charter school (which is aligned with Vacaville Unified) remains fiscally sound; that academic growth and excellence are continued (the school, which has some 550 students in grades TK-8, typically posts high scores on state standardized tests); that stakeholders continue to “actively engage in positive community service”; and strategies “are developed to deal with the considerable student wait list. The goals are expected to be approved.

Source: On Kairos agenda: One-time employee pay, board and director goals for 17-18

Proposed year-round schedule irks some Browns Valley parents – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Some Browns Valley Elementary parents — and perhaps some faculty — are likely to give Vacaville Unified trustees an earful during tonight’s governing board meeting because Principal Jennifer Austin is considering a plan for year-round classes next year.

Shana Gale, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, confirmed that some parents are upset about the proposal, due, in part, to concerns about overcrowding at the Wrentham Drive campus. Still, she added, some parents support it.

However, the PTO board, she said, does not consider Austin’s proposal to be “our fight.”

“The parents need to go to the principal and the district” to air their grievances, added Gale during a brief interview Wednesday afternoon.

At least one parent reportedly has started a petition drive on Facebook to oppose the proposal to switch to a year-round schedule.

Source: Proposed year-round schedule irks some Browns Valley parents

Denunciation chorus loud, clear – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

As expected, President Trump’s decision Tuesday to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and his urging of Congress to replace it with legislation, prompted an outcry from several California elected officials and local and national educators — but it also earned applause from immigration reform advocates.

Part of the denunciation chorus, understandably large in California because more than one in four DACA recipients lives in the Golden State, state schools chief Tom Torlakson told California public school students and their families that California will keep protecting and supporting them.

Source: Denunciation chorus loud, clear

Will C. Wood, Vanden football games postponed – The Reporter

By Michael Morris

Due to intense heat and to ensure the safety and overall health of student-athletes, Friday night’s football games for Will C. Wood High School and Vanden High School were postponed.

Will C. Wood’s varsity road game against River Valley High School is rescheduled for 9 a.m. today. Vanden’s home game versus Rodriguez High School is canceled. While the Vanden JV team was able to compete Thursday night, Wood’s JV and freshman football games were canceled all together, according to Wood Athletic Director Beth Kelly.

After a weeklong dialogue with River Valley and representatives of the Sac-Joaquin Section, Kelly received a final call Friday afternoon from River Valley Athletic Director Phil McCaulley. The Yuba City Unified School District had elected to reschedule the varsity game and cancel the freshman and JV games.

Source: Will C. Wood, Vanden football games postponed

Among local schools, Kairos leads way in Hurricane Harvey relief – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The leader of Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy on Tuesday said students are being encouraged to aid Hurricane Harvey disaster victims by donating money to the Houston Food Bank, becoming the first school in Vacaville to formally begin relief efforts to help people affected by the unprecedented Texas Gulf Coast storm and subsequent flooding.

Jared Austin, the co-founder and executive director of the TK-8 independent charter school, which is aligned with Vacaville Unified, said the effort is in keeping with the school’s mission of preparing its 550 students to be responsible citizens.

“We want to use this disaster to show our scholars how they can help make a difference in tragic times,” Austin said in a press release. “The Houston Food Bank is working very hard to support the huge needs of all the families affected in the Houston area.”

He said the school’s Innovative Scholars Foundation will be collecting tax-deductible donations of any amount during this week and next.

Source: Among local schools, Kairos leads way in Hurricane Harvey relief

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