Family Night connects Vallejo schools with parents – Times Herald

By Dianne de Guzman

Instead of kids sitting at desks in the classrooms of Federal Terrace Elementary School, parents were there learning a thing or two on Tuesday night.

The event is called Spring Family Night and parents were invited into classrooms to take part in three different workshops addressing different areas of family life.

This spring, schools offered workshops on nutrition, financial education and technology. This is all done as part of Vallejo City Unified School District’s full-service community school program, that works on helping students improve academically by offering services for families.

Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Ramona Bishop said that by having parents attend workshops, such as nutrition education, the classes help the whole family — not to mention the student.

“Years ago, we started our full-service community schools and this is just part of what the program does,” Bishop said. “(Spring Family Night) allows our families to learn things that they need to keep those students healthy.”

via Family Night connects Vallejo schools with parents.

Music teachers receive program grants – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

Superstition usually dictates that 13 is an unlucky number but in the case of 13 local music teachers, it’s kicked the unlucky descriptor.

The Donald and Rose Marie Wong Endowment Fund chose the teachers to receive music program mini grants through a competitive application process. The grants total $17,500 with amounts ranging from $1,000 to $2,000.

The list includes teachers from districts, charter and private schools throughout Solano County, with the bulk coming from Vallejo and Vacaville.

via Music teachers receive program grants Daily Republic.

Vallejo’s Patrice Lewis continues to build and study community – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Many in Vallejo may not know it, but Patrice L. Lewis is a ninja.

A community ninja.

The 2006 Jesse Bethel High School graduate helps behind the scenes, avoiding the spotlight while trying to strengthen the city she calls home, looking to “spread community and love.”Lewis, 26, who self identifies as a ”budding” historian, can rightfully call herself an “established” bridge-builder in the community. She is a key member of the Vallejo Together service organization, member of the local chapter of the NAACP and an avid supporter/participant of each year’s Youth Expo & Parent Summit put together by the Vallejo school district, Vallejo Together and the Solano County Collaborative HIV/AIDS Awareness.

via Vallejo’s Patrice Lewis continues to build and study community.

Vallejo High grad hopes poetry book inspires others – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

DeMareon Gipson doesn’t gloss over his difficult Vallejo childhood.

“Pretty tumultuous,” is how the 22-year-old described his youth. “It definitely was not the most adequate or healthy thing.”

But the 2010 Vallejo High School graduate wouldn’t let a tough life get the best of him. Not when he had dreams, goals, and the courage to rise above whatever anger or bitterness he had.

“I learned a lot from it,” he said of his teen years. “Part of that motivates me. I just didn’t want to live my life of ‘what if’ when I have the potential to do something regardless of the obstacles put in front of me.”

 

A second-year student at San Francisco State University, Gipson was eloquent and dapper for this interview, proud of his first book of poetry, “Looking Forward,” which took most of 2014 to write.

via Vallejo High grad hopes poetry book inspires others.

Solano COE to honor top educators in April – The Reporter

Teachers, paraeducators, school secretaries, computer technicians and school staff all contribute to student achievement, educational innovation and community involvement in Solano County’s schools, so the best of them will be honored at a special reception in April, county schools officials announced Tuesday.

The Solano County Office of Education will honor 14 school district employees nominated for the 2015-16 Solano County Educators of the Year (EOY). A reception, starting at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, at the Joseph A. Nelson Community Center in Suisun City, will celebrate the many accomplishments and commitment of these devoted educators and school staff to the success of our public school students.

“The Educators of the Year program is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of our teachers and school staff,” said Jay Speck, Solano County Superintendent of Schools. “These individuals have all made significant contributions to student achievement and a positive school climate.”

via Solano to honor top educators in April.

‘Spinny’ brings hoop tricks, message to Vallejo schools – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

It could be about bullying. Or staying in school. Or refraining from alcohol and drugs. Or smoking.

The topic of the day may have changed in the 30 years Spencer “Spinny” Johnson has delivered his motivational talks and basketball tricks to America’s young students. But the kids? Still the same, said Johnson, 62, in Vallejo on Tuesday for assemblies at Lincoln, Glen Cove, and Patterson elementary schools.

“The kids really haven’t changed. The problems change,” said Johnson. “The kids now do see so much and witness so much with TV and computers.”

via ‘Spinny’ brings hoop tricks, message to Vallejo schools.

Vallejo school board set to update goals and approve quarterly financial report

By John Glidden:

The Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education will hold two special meetings Wednesday to deal with various items.

At 9 a.m., the board will update district goals and review Board Bylaw 9223, filing vacancies.

In late January, the board appointed Ruscal Cayangyang to fill a vacancy on the board after Richard Porter, who was elected last November refused to be seated on the board.

Porter — who filed candidacy papers in August 2014 — suspended his campaign in early September to teach. Despite halting his campaign, more than 7,000 Vallejo voters decided to elect him, placing him second out of three available seats.

via Vallejo school board set to update goals and approve quarterly financial report.

Jesse Bethel students learn coding and earn money for school resources – Times Herald

By Dianne de Guzman

Students at Jesse Bethel High School are learning computer coding, all the while helping their high school earn money for more student resources.

Thanks to a company called Codecademy, the students are learning the code required to build websites. A web-based program, Codecademy teaches users computer coding skills, teaching HTML, Javascript and other coding languages. In 2014, the company partnered with DonorsChoose.org, and through a $1,000,000 grant from Google.org, they’re offering schools a chance to earn $100 per student in DonorsChoose rewards.

Each student that completes a 12-hour Javascript coding course by March 17 can earn rewards. Underrepresented groups in computer science, such as girls or African American, Latino, American Indian or Alaska Natives can earn more funding credits for their class.

via Jesse Bethel students learn coding and earn money for school resources.

Vallejo school district sixth-graders learn about forests – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The chorus of “ewww” was drowned out by one brave Vallejo school district student who exclaimed “Awesome!,” as a group of 20 students were told Friday afternoon at Solano Middle School that they would be able to see taxidermy bugs up close.

The bugs, contained in protective cases, were part of a learning lab, “Talk About Trees,” sponsored by the Vallejo City Unified School District’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) program.

The sixth-grade students took part in the hour-long lab, exploring and learning about various aspects of trees and forests, even learning about the bugs which can damage trees.

Jeanne Tomascheski, a registered professional forester with The Forest Foundation, a group which teaches students about forests areas, conducted the lab.

via Vallejo school district sixth-graders learn about forests.

Vallejo school district asked to authorize negotiations for new PR specialist – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Hoping to increase the amount of “positive” news disseminated to the community, the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education will be asked Wednesday during a special meeting to approve authorization for the district to negotiate a contract for a new public relations position.

The negotiation is with Joe Wolfcale for the newly created position Public Relations Consultant Specialist.

“With the successful implementation of various school programs, including our Full Services Community Schools, (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and or Arts) STEAM programs and Wall-to-Wall Academies, it’s important that the public is continuously informed about the positive work that the district accomplishes on a consistent basis,” according to a district staff report.

via Vallejo school district asked to authorize negotiations for new PR specialist.

Bethel High School students watch, experience real trial – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

Though Alicia Cunningham is only a sophomore in high school, she had a taste of being a juror in a trial Tuesday morning.

Cunningham and 11 other Jesse Bethel High School students were chosen to be part of the “advisory jury” in a real DUI trial as part of the annual Solano County DUI Court in Schools Program.

The school’s theater stage was transformed into a court room, complete with a bailiff, court clerk and court reporter.

“It was interesting,” Cunningham said. “There was a lot of information to absorb and think about, knowing that you are a factor in the outcome (of the trial).”

via Bethel High School students watch, experience real trial.

Vallejo school board to seek a bond consultant – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Encouraged by a 61 percent approval for last fall’s Measure E, the Vallejo school board Wednesday voted 2-1 to approve a request for qualifications for a consultant to provide information services on the feasibility of a school district bond.

With trustees Tony Ubalde and Bury Worel absent, the remaining members of the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education heard an update on funding options for the district.

Mel Jordan, the district’s assistant superintendent for administrative services, said that the district “did extremely well” with last November’s Measure E, a $239 million general obligation bond.

Due to the size of the bond, 66 percent voter approval was required for passage.

via Vallejo school board to seek a bond consultant.

Vallejo school board to mull over poll about new bond measure – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Should the Vallejo school board attempt another general obligation bond worth a few hundred million dollars, or seek a much smaller bond amount in the coming years?

That is the question the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education will discuss Wednesday at its meeting, as district staff seeks board authorization to hire a consultant on the matter.

According to a staff report, a new poll is requested to “seek information on the position of district voters in such areas as facility needs, the cost of facilities, methods to finance facilities and other related issues.”

Once complete, the poll information will be presented to the board, which will determine if the district is going to ask city voters again to support a bond.

via Vallejo school board to mull over poll about new bond measure.

Vallejo schools welcome a new school resource officer – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo,

Vallejo schools have a new addition.

It’s not a new teacher or student — but an officer.

Nearly seven years after the program was scraped in 2008 due to budgetary issues, Vallejo police Officer Craig Long has been named the city’s School Resource Officer as of the beginning of the year.

Long, 29, has been with the department for a little less than a year, hailing from the El Cerrito Police Department, where he was a full-time patrol, and later traffic, officer since 2011.

He said when the application for the program opened up, he took the opportunity.

“I thought it’d be challenging, but it’ll be worthwhile,” said Long, who is also a U.S. Marine Corps captain and soon-to-be father.

via Vallejo schools welcome a new school resource officer.

Vallejo school board approves agreement with CSEA union – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo school board unanimously approved a tentative agreement Wednesday night with the local chapter of the California School Employees Association, which represents non-teacher employees of the Vallejo City Unified School District

Per the agreement, the district will increase its contribution to health and welfare benefits by $200 for various health plans, retroactive to July 1, 2014. For the 2015-16 fiscal year, each cell on the CSEA salary schedule will receive a $2,500 per year increase, effective July 1, 2015.

According to a staff report, the estimated cost for the 2014-15 fiscal year will cost the district more than $736,000 and $2,500,000 for the 2015-16 year.

CSEA President Michael Rhodes addressed the board before the vote, thanking the district for working to help the members of the union.

via Vallejo school board approves agreement with CSEA union.

Vallejo Board to get update on accreditation process; asked to approve agreement with union – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo school board is set to receive information about the accreditation process when four district schools are visited in the spring, according to a Vallejo City Unified School District staff report.

Vallejo Charter School, Vallejo High School, John Finney High School and the Vallejo Regional Education Center will be visited by members of the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges — the agency which accredits schools from kindergarten through college.

Last spring a two-person team with the commission visited Vallejo High, noting in an internal memo that they witnessed students bullying others and threats being minimized by an administrator at the high school.

via Vallejo School Board to get update on accreditation process; asked to approve tentative agreement with union.

Vallejo students pick legal professionals’ brains – Times Herald

By Irma Widjojo

Growing up as the only daughter of six siblings growing up in a single-parent household in a seedy part of Richmond was one many anecdotes shared by a Solano County deputy public defender with about 80 students at Jesse Bethel High School on Friday.

“I heard shooting … I saw dead bodies (in the neighborhood),” she said.

She was already married and had a young child when she decided to go to law school, and eventually became a public defender.

Friday’s session at Jesse Bethel the first of three in the Law Academy Mentoring Program, which gives a chance for juniors in the Law and Justice Academy to meet and talk to judges, lawyers and other legal professionals.

via Vallejo students pick legal professionals’ brains.

2014 was an eventful year for Vallejo, Benicia school districts – Times Herald

By John Glidden

2014 proved to be an interesting year for the Vallejo City Unified School District, as the organization was recognized for its wall-to-wall academies, saw the defeat of a much-needed bond measure, opened new hydration stations in many of the school sites, and responded to several third-party reports about the conduct of the district and its employees, among other things.

In October, the district announced that it was a recipient of a “Golden Bell” Award for the Full Service Community School Program implemented throughout the various district schools. The award is given by the California School Boards Association, which represents elected officials who oversee public K-12 school districts.

The FSCS Program is composed of four main sections: Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention, Wall-to-Wall Academies, Positive Youth Justice Initiative and Positive School Cultures.

via 2014 was an eventful year for Vallejo, Benicia school districts.

Vallejo school district loses guardian of student records after 40 years – Times Herald

By John Glidden

At the end of this month, Mary Grant will begin a well-deserved retirement.

After 40 years at the Vallejo City Unified School District, Grant, the lead student records archive technician, will step away from her role as guardian of student records.

Yet, Grant, 64, of Vallejo, said she didn’t expect to be working with the district.

Coming from Alabama, Grant and her husband, Livingston, migrated to California in 1972 with the couple’s 3-year-old child.“

I was only going to work for five years to give myself an opportunity to get used to the West Coast,” Grant said. “But with the birth of our second daughter, we decided I needed to go to work,” Grant added with a laugh.

via Vallejo school district loses guardian of student records after 40 years.

Vallejo school board rejects charter school petition – Times Herald

By John Glidden

The Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education rejected a charter petition Wednesday night for the establishment of the Rise Charter School within the district.

According to the petition, presented by Deb Reeves-Gutierrez, Ron Calloway and Ricky Gutierrez, the group sought to establish a charter school in Vallejo based on a connection between fitness/athletics and academics.

“The petition was analyzed by a number of different departments in the district,” said the district’s chief academic officer, Cheri Summers. “We looked at the petition from a number of different angles and this analysis we conducted was not based on our opinion. Whether we liked it or not, it was based on the education code.”

via Vallejo school board rejects charter school petition.