Specific program, personnel cuts on Vallejo’s school board agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The specific $7.2 million in budget cuts recommended by Superintendent Adam Clark last week are expected to be approved at the Vallejo City Unified School District meeting on Wednesday, despite impassioned appeals last week by many of those impacted.

The school district finds itself in financial trouble as a result of declining enrollment, including encroachment of charger schools, high chronic absentee rates, and rising contributions to employee health and benefits. The district is still repaying — at some $3 million per year — a $60 million state bailout loan from the last time it got into trouble.The district must maintain fiscal solvency to avoid being taken over the state again, by making appropriate revisions to the budget to eliminate structural deficits.

Source: Specific program, personnel cuts on Vallejo’s school board agenda – Times-Herald

Mare Island academy up for Distinguished School award – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Mare Island Technical Academy has received an invitation to apply for the California Distinguished School award, the Solano County Office of Education announced.

The secondary school earned the invitation “because they have made exceptional gains in implementing the academic content performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students,” Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement.

Schools that received the invitation have met a variety of criteria, involving multiple measures on their performance and progress on the state indicators on the California School Dashboard.

Source: Mare Island academy up for Distinguished School award

Proposed Vallejo school board cuts draw tears – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

There were long faces on the dais as well as in the crowded gallery at Wednesday’s Vallejo City Unified School District meeting. There were even tears, as some of the people in positions recommended for budget-balancing cuts took to the podium to plead with officials to reconsider.

It was reiterated that the district faces a $22 million structural deficit, and that if a way is not found to staunch the financial bleeding, the district could wind up under state control again. The reasons this has happened again to the district, which is still repaying a $60 million bailout loan to the state of California, are several-fold.

For one thing, it’s been losing students at a precipitous rate — having gone from some 20,000 just 20 years ago, to less than 12,000 today, and dropping by hundreds each year. Some of that is a result of charter school encroachment, officials said. Also, the district has among the state’s worst chronic absenteeism rates, which costs it money as well.

Source: Proposed Vallejo school board cuts draw tears – Times-Herald

Jesse Bethel High honors longtime mentor Rick Henley – Times-Herald

By Vallejo Times Herald

A celebration of life to honor longtime Vallejo teacher Ricardo “Rick” Henley was attended by 300 colleagues, students, and friends on Saturday at Jesse Bethel High.

Gregory Allen Howard who wrote the movie, “Remember the Titans,” fondly remembered Henley as the enthusiastic water boy for the Vallejo High School for the 1969-70 football champions.Councilwoman Dr. Rozzana Verder-Aliga presented a City of Vallejo certificate of appreciation to Rick’s wife, Barbara, which read, “In recognition of your dedication to duty, unwavering integrity, and 37 outstanding years of service as a teacher at Vallejo Adult School, Solano Junior High School, and Jesse Bethel High School in the Vallejo City Unified School District.

Source: Jesse Bethel High honors longtime mentor Rick Henley – Times-Herald

Budget cuts, new grad requirements are part of VCUSD meeting agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The first order of business during the public portion of the Vallejo City Unified School District’s meeting Wednesday will be the swearing in of new board member Christy Gardner. A first reading of the district’s new graduation requirement policy, and a first round of proposed budget cuts, including layoffs, is also planned.

Declining enrollment, high chronic absentee rates, rising health and benefit contributions, and charter school encroachment, has caused a significant budget shortfall. To maintain fiscal solvency and avoid the loss of local control, cuts must be made.

Superintendent Adam Clark has found some $7.2 million in cuts that come mostly through personnel and program revisions/reductions, designed to meet both the fiscal and program objectives.

Source: Budget cuts, new grad requirements are part of Vallejo school district meeting agenda – Times-Herald

Vallejo school board gets look at budget numbers – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

Preliminary projections indicate that the exodus of students from the Vallejo school district will result in 1,708 fewer pupils over the coming two years.

That’s about a $15 million hit in funding for the Vallejo City Unified School District.

The district’s board of education got a look at the sobering numbers during a special study session Wednesday night on the 2019-20 budget.

Source: Vallejo school board gets look at budget numbers – Times-Herald

North Bay Academic Decathlon To Conclude With ‘Super Quiz’ | Suisun City, CA Patch

By Maggie Avants

Nearly 300 students from 15 high schools across Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties battled it out Saturday, Jan. 26 and will continue battling it out Saturday, Feb. 2 in the North Bay Region’s Academic Decathlon at Solano Community College in Fairfield, according to a news release.

The theme of this year’s academic decathlon — a competitive event modeled after the Olympics to stimulate academic achievement and honor “athletes of the mind” — is “The 1960s: A Transformational Decade.”

Source: North Bay Academic Decathlon To Conclude With ‘Super Quiz’ | Suisun City, CA Patch

Jay-Z items offered to Vallejo High students for good attendance – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Vallejo resident Hazel Wilson and the lead faculty of Vallejo High School think they’ve hit on a way to “incentivize” chronically absent students into attending school, and in some cases provide needed clothing to boot.

Wilson, a former Vallejo City Unified School District board member, said she was recently offered several hundred apparel items from rapper Jay-Z’s organization, through CC and Amber Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation, and they are being put to what is hoped will be good use – to bring up students’ attendance and grades.

“They contacted me about having this merchandise left over from Jay-Z’s 2017 tour, and offered it to us,” Wilson said. “I met with the Vallejo High School administration – Principal (Sheila) Quintana and Student Support Provider Reyanna Stowes-Davis – and we sat down and discussed how can these items make the biggest impact?”

Source: Jay-Z items offered to Vallejo High students for good attendance – Times-Herald

CA Distinguished Schools Eligibility List for 2019 –  (CA Dept of Education)

California is recognizing outstanding education programs and practices in middle and high schools in 2019. The following schools are eligible to apply for the California Distinguished Schools (DS) Award and California Exemplary Award in 2019.

Information about the California Distinguished Schools (DS) Program, Eligibility Criteria, Application, California Exemplary Award, California Exemplary Districts Award, Timeline of Activities, Sponsors, and Resources, can be found on the California Department of Education California Distinguished Schools Program web page.

Source: CA Distinguished Schools Eligibility List for 2019 – California Distinguished Schools Program (CA Dept of Education)

Gardner officially sworn in at Vallejo school board meeting – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The empty seat on the Vallejo school board was filled and initial school closures agreed to at the Vallejo City Unified School District’s meeting Wednesday.

Just before voting to change the board’s bylaws to “allow more leeway” in filling empty seats by removing the clause stipulating they must appoint the next highest vote-getter in the previous school board election, trustees did just that. They named Christy Gardner to the seat vacated by Marianne Kearney-Brown’s December resignation. Gardner placed fourth in the November election’s race for three board seats.

Trustee Tony Ubalde said he’d met with Gardner earlier in the week and while he still has some concerns, said he felt better about her appointment. It was noted that the bylaws’ new wording doesn’t prevent the next highest vote-getter from being appointed should such a circumstance arise again.

Source: Gardner officially sworn in at Vallejo school board meeting – Times-Herald

Changing the rules to fill vacated seat on Vallejo school board agenda – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Changing the procedure for filling an empty board seat, the results of union negotiations, school closure recommendations and Measure S fund expenditures are among the issues on the agenda for Wednesday’s Vallejo City Unified School District board meeting.

District staff is recommending the Governing Board use the provisional appointment process to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown.

As it now stands, the board would appoint the fourth highest vote-getter in the last election, which was Christy Gardner. However, also on the agenda is changing Board Bylaw 9223, by removing the line, “When authorized by law to make a provisional appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board, the Board shall appoint the next highest candidate who received votes from the previous election.”

Source: Changing the rules to fill vacated seat on Vallejo school board agenda – Times-Herald

Hogan High grad Bob Bohnet to enter Vallejo Sports Hall of Fame – Times-Herald

By Thomas Gase

When Bob Bohnet was at Hogan High in the early 1970s, he was cut from the school’s basketball squad by coach Jim Stephenson. Bohnet has thought about the moment from time to time and if he sees the ex-Hogan coach on March 9 he’ll probably have two words to say to him — thank you.

Bohnet will be in a good mood because the potential meeting would take place at the Vallejo Sports Hall of Fame ceremony at the Dan Foley Cultural Center. Bohnet will be inducted due mostly because of his exploits in another sport he later focused on — baseball. Stephenson is also a 2019 inductee.

“Yeah, maybe I’ll remind him about it (being cut) there,” Bohnet said with a laugh.

The 1974 Hogan High graduate was stellar in multiple sports, but baseball was his calling as he stared for the Spartans at multiple positions on the field before also playing well for Solano College, Cal and a number of teams in the minor leagues.

Source: Hogan High grad Bob Bohnet to enter Vallejo Sports Hall of Fame – Times-Herald

Hard choices coming for Vallejo School District – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Cost-cutting measures and naming a new trustee were the main topics discussed at the first Vallejo City Unified School District meeting of the new year with the newly elected and re-elected trustees.

Superintendent Adam Clark explained that the combination of continued debt repayment, declining enrollment and other factors has created a $22 million structural deficit that must be dealt with.

Over the past couple of decades, about half the former student population has been lost to surrounding districts, private schools and charter schools. However, the district continues to maintain the same number of school sites, he said. There are also issues with absenteeism among students and teachers that cost the district money.

Source: Hard choices coming for Vallejo School District – Times-Herald

Schools chief works to keep students safe, teach work skills – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

Lisette Estrella-Henderson begins her first four-year term as Solano County superintendent of schools next week with an agenda not that different from her first two years as the appointed official.

The veteran educator, who started her career about 32 years ago, said in a phone interview Friday that her office is working to keep students safe – and that goes beyond safe campuses – as well as prepare them for the changing work world.

She also has the task of signing off on all school district budgets, which includes keeping a close eye on the Vallejo City School District, which faces making $22 million in cuts.

Source: Schools chief works to keep students safe, teach work skills

2018 was a volatile year for Vallejo schools – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Many Vallejo City Unified School District observers might be experiencing a sense of relief to see 2018 wind down, with 2019 promising a new attitude on its Board of Trustees, and an influx of funds to improve deteriorating facilities.

The year just ending was a bumpy one for the Vallejo school district, though most of the turbulence was not on campus, but, rather, at the board meetings.

Irreconcilable differences between some board members was evident in 2018, and led to board president Burkey Worel resigning that post in July, to finish out his term as a Trustee.

Source: 2018 was a volatile year for Vallejo schools – Times-Herald

Homeless students struggle in Vallejo school district – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

“God, please bless this family.”

That’s one little boy’s wish after hearing about Pooja Chand and her family of five who have been living in an SUV in Vallejo for about two years.

The boy’s third-grade class at St. Basil’s Elementary School has “adopted” the family, and met some of them in person Tuesday. It’s the second family the school has adopted in the past five years, said Maria Guevara, founder of Vallejo Together which functions as a kind of matchmaker, connecting those in need with those who want to help them.

Source: Homeless students struggle in Vallejo school district – Times-Herald

Vallejo school superintendent proposes school closures – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Two Vallejo City Unified School District schools may close and a third relocate, in a bid to close a multi-million-dollar structural budget deficit the district faces, Superintendent Adam Clark announced.

Clark revealed his plan in a letter to stakeholders — in English and Spanish — on Friday.

“The Vallejo City Unified School District (VCUSD) is committed to ensuring that we fully implement our Local Control and Accountability Plan. The three LCAP goals are:

  • Goal 1: Increase parent and community engagement in improving student outcomes.
  • Goal 2: Create safe, supportive and engaging learning environments for students and staff.

Source: Vallejo school superintendent proposes school closures – Times-Herald

School Consolidation Proposed To Reduce $22 Million Deficit – SFGate

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark is proposing the consolidation of two schools and the relocation of another to help close a $22 million budget deficit.

In a letter to school district stakeholders Thursday, Clark said he will present his proposed solutions at parent and community meetings at the affected school sites in January.

Twenty years ago, the school district had a population of 20,000 students and 22 schools. School enrollment is now 12,000 yet 22 schools are still operating, Clark said in the letter.

Source: School Consolidation Proposed To Reduce $22 Million Deficit – SFGate

New Vallejo Unified School Board members sworn in – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

If there’s one thing just about everyone who keeps up with the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Trustees agrees on, it’s that the board is in need of a culture adjustment.

With the swearing in of the newly elected trustees on Wednesday, some think that change is already under way.

“It’s a new dawn for our school board with the swearing in of John Fox, Tony Gross and Tony Ubalde,” said Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan on Facebook. “Do what’s right for the students and Vallejo. We see great things happening with the new makeup of our school board!!”

Source: New Vallejo Unified School Board members sworn in – Times-Herald

Vallejo school district, teachers union, re-open negotiations – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

A special meeting of the Vallejo City Unified School District is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to adopt the initial joint re-opener proposals for the Vallejo Education Association.

The meeting will be held in the District’s Governing Board Room, 665 Walnut Avenue, with a public session sometime after 7:30 p.m., according to the meeting agenda.

GiGi Patrick will present the initial joint re-opener proposals for 2018-2019 year from the Vallejo City Unified School District (VCUSD) and the Vallejo Education Association (VEA).

All initial proposals of exclusive representatives and of public school employers, which relate to matters within the scope of representation, are required by law to be presented at the public meeting of the public school employer “and shall thereafter be public record,” according to the agenda.

Source: Vallejo school district, teachers union, re-open negotiations – Times-Herald