By Richard Bammer
State Controller Betty T. Yee has updated the Government Compensation in California website to include 2016 self-reported salary and benefits data for K-12 education employers, including public school districts, charter schools and county offices of education.
The data, which can be found at www.publicpay.ca.gov, covers 634,314 positions across the state and more than $25.55 billion in wages.
But in Solano County, however, pay information for most school districts and employees was not reported.
While cities, counties, and special districts are required to report salary and benefits data to the State Controller, K-12 education employers, that is, school districts, are voluntary reporters, said Taryn Kinney, a spokeswoman for Yee’s office.
Yee — who, as the chief fiscal officer of California, is responsible for accountability and disbursement of the state’s taxpayer-funded resources — requested data from more than 1,900, K-12 school districts. However, only 514 chose to report “in the interest of transparency,” Kinney wrote in a press release issued Wednesday.
Source: State Controller posts pay info on some K-12 staff
By The Washington Post
More than 600,000 Americans signed up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act during the first four days of the new enrollment season, according to federal figures that signal a brisk start despite Republicans’ efforts to dismantle the law.
Some 601,462 Americans chose a health plan from Nov. 1-4 in states relying on the federal exchange, the figures released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show.
Source: New ACA enrollment season is off to brisk start, figures show
By Ryan McCarthy
Send negotiators back to the bargaining table and secure a fair contract with teachers, Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees were asked Thursday.
Dan Pozzesi, a teacher at Green Valley Middle School and executive board member of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association, was among instructors speaking during public comment.
The Fairfield-Suisun teachers association said in a press release Thursday that the union, recognizing the district’s financial difficulties, has proposed a smaller salary increase than the district offered in contract negotiations.
Source: Get back to bargaining table, teachers ask Fairfield-Suisun School District
By Ryan McCarthy
Cutting property taxes on more than 8,700 parcels – with savings officials say total about $10 million – won approval Thursday by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees, one of whom said she expected the action would make a taxpayer’s advocate smile.
Property tax assessments for landowners in Community Facilities District No 5, established during the 1989-90 school year, have paid for construction at B. Gale Wilson School, Crystal Middle School, Green Valley Middle School, Rolling Hills Elementary School and other projects, a school district staff report said.
The tax rate in the district was cut to 25 cents per square foot – $600 a year for a 2,400-square-foot home – in 2009. The overall debt has since been refinanced to lower the overall debt, most recently in 2015, according to a staff report.
Source: Trustees OK property tax cut on parcels in Fairfield-Suisun School District
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano College Horticulture Club’s annual Winter Plant Sale in December will feature wreaths and swags made by the Horticulture Department students, as well as holiday planted gifts, winter vegetable starts, bedding plants, house plants, succulents and more – all in time for the holidays.
The sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 7; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Dec. 8; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Louise Wilbourn Yarbrough Horticulture and Plant Science Institute – formerly Building 1000 – on the college’s main campus in Rockville, 4000 Suisun Valley Road. Parking is in Lot 6.
Source: Solano College Horticulture Club announces holiday plant sale
By Daily Republic Staff
Fairfield High School’s acclaimed Scarlet Brigade Marching Band will host the 29th annual Tournament of Champions from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18.
The competition viewing area is on Dover Avenue between East Atlantic Avenue and Cement Hill Road. The parade begins at 9 a.m. Concert and jazz performances begin at 8 a.m. at Fairfield High School, 205 E. Atlantic Ave.
More than 40 elite middle school and high school band programs from Northern California and Nevada will perform. The event ends with a field show competition at 5:30 p.m. at Schaefer Stadium.
Source: Scarlet Brigade announces Tournament of Champions band revue
By John Fensterwald
Citing methodology flaws, the State Board of Education on Wednesday revised criteria for rating performance on standardized test scores on the new color-coded California School Dashboard. The unanimous decision will reduce the number of districts and schools rated red, the lowest performing of the five color categories, but board members and state administrators insisted that was not the motivating factor (see previous story).
“It would be worse to do nothing; that would undermine credibility (of the system) and create more volatility” in test score ratings, said board member Ilene Straus, who monitors school improvement and accountability issues for the board.
The fix — which was proposed by a technical group of advisers to the California State Department of Education — was in response to what would otherwise be a big fluctuation in school and district color designations on the “academic” indicator, which includes test scores, on the school dashboard.
Source: State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource
By Richard Cook
Congratulations to The Will C. Wood Jazz Band who performed at the 40th Annual Grape Bowl Classic in Lodi on Saturday November 4th. The band earned 1st Place in their division. Will C. Wood will compete again on Saturday, November 18th at Fairfield High School to end the season.
Source: Good News: Will C. Wood Jazz Earns 1st Place In Division
By Glen Faison
Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees are poised Thursday to slash property taxes on more than 8,700 parcels and possibly retire millions in school facilities debt as much as three years early.
Plans for debt within Community Facilities District No. 5, established during the 1989-90 school year, are up for consideration. The bounds of the district have since grown to include 8,703 parcels.
Property tax assessments for those who own property in the district have paid for construction or partial construction at B. Gale Wilson School, Crystal Middle School, Green Valley Middle School and Rolling Hills Elementary School, among other lesser projects, according to a staff report.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun School District board looks to cut property taxes
By Richard Bammer
A Local Control Accountability Plan update, a state and federal legislative update, and achievement plans for students in the Juvenile Court and Community School program, Juvenile Detention Facility, and Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services are on the agenda when the Solano County Office of Education leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Nicola Parr, director of student and program support, will offer the seven-member governing board a brief update on the county school’s LCAP, the document that guides virtually all of the agency’s spending, especially for poor, English language learners and foster youth programs.
Superintendent Lisette Estrella-Henderson will provide an update on state and federal legislation.
Victor Romualdi, associate superintendent for student programs and educational services, and Gricelda Rodriguez, program administrator of education options, will lead the reports on Single Plans for Student Achievement at the Golden Hills Juvenile Court and Community School, at the Juvenile Detention Facility, and the Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services.
Source: Solano County Office of Education to discuss achievement plans for Juvenile Court, Detention Facility students
By Tim Goree
FSUSD is submitting a waiver request to the California Department of Education. We anticipate this request will be approved as the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, is in support of it. An approval of this waiver would mean that our schools would not be required to make up the days that were missed.
Regardless of the outcome with our waiver request, our high school graduation dates are set and won’t change.
Source: Will the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District add days to the end of the school year to make up for the days missed during wildfires?
By Richard Bammer
A symbolic $38,000 check in hand, David McCallum of Vacaville (center), a former Vacaville Unified trustee and member of the Vacaville Public Education Foundation, smiles at governing board president Michael Kitzes as Superintendent Jane Shamieh looks on during Thursday’s trustee meeting. McCallum, in an update about the nonprofit group’s most recent activities, presented the money to boost enrichment activities in district classrooms, from paying for field trips and lab equipment to robotics and music programs. He noted that VPEF, founded in 2003 and has since donated more than $3 million to district schools, received some $270,000 in requests for this year’s round of grants but only had $40,000 to distribute.
Source: A helpful $38K for Vacaville schools
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson assailed U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for repealing guidance letters under Title IX that made it easier to protect the rights of victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment.
“Victims of sexual assault and harassment must know that they will have a fair chance at justice when they come forward with serious accusations,” he said in a press released issued Monday. “California has changed our laws to make our system more just and to make certain victims are heard. The actions by the federal government take us backward.”
As state schools chief, Torlakson, who is also a University of California regent and a California State University trustee, vowed to fight for the rights of victims while protecting the rights of the accused.
Source: Torlakson assails DOE changes to federal sex harassment, assault guidelines
By Kimberly K. Fu
In a matter of hours Monday, they’d fired Tasers, deployed their firearms, engaged in a vehicle chase and used batons to encourage compliance.
But more importantly, the Will C. Wood Service and Safety class students learned the whys behind use of force tactics and what it’s like to be a police officer and having to make a split second decision in a potentially deadly situation.
“What do you see? What was he saying? Did you feel like your safety was in jeopardy?” asked Fairfield police officer and firearms instructor Jimmie Williams of two teens following a simulation where a suicidal man unexpectedly turned his gun, which had been pointed at his head, on police.
Source: Vacaville teens learn police use of force tactics
By Ashley Hopkinson
A dozen parents gathered around veteran math educator Leanna Baker, moments before students show up for what is billed as a math “festival” for students at Allendale Elementary School in Oakland.
“Do your best not to give them an answer,” Baker told the dozen parent volunteers about how best to help the transitional kindergarten to fifth grade students participating in math activities arranged for that day. “We want them to be problem solvers.”
Interviews by EdSource with educators at several school districts suggests that a growing number of elementary schools are hosting events like these for students and families to convey the message that math is fun and can be practiced every day in simple ways in their own lives, not just in the classroom.
Source: Math festivals help elementary students — and their families — see math as fun | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District unanimously approved the Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSAs) at two of its elementary schools Thursday. The plans were written by the school’s site councils and presented by their principals.
Robert Semple Elementary
The first to present was Christina Moore, the principal of Robert Semple Elementary School. The first thing she did was go over the previous year’s goals.“These goals were written by our Site Council, taken to my staff and developed in a way that we thought would really allow us to monitor progress,” she said. “What we found was that it was actually more difficult than we anticipated.
”The first two goals were to increase the amount of students meeting and exceeding math and English Language Arts (ELA) standards by 5 percent, as measured by the results of the Benchmark and California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) exams. Most grades showed increases in these areas and some showed decreases, but Moore said additional work needed to be done to analyze this data for future goals.
Source: School board OKs first half of elementary student achievement plans
By Richard Bammer
As Thursday’s sun set and skies turned silvery purple with a hint of orange, the evening, in Spanish, turned “fantasmagorico,” or spooky, during Markham Elementary’s annual observance of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, at the Vacaville campus.
Amid the half-light were dozens of excitable, costumed students gathered on the playground, with some sporting lurid black, white and red makeup or handmade crowns adorned with skulls, cobwebs and roses. Others had created small, lovingly handmade ofrenda altars, which were displayed on tables under a pop-up tent, to honor specific family members who have died. Throughout the two-hour event, which began at 5 p.m., deejay and Markham parent Rene Ortiz blasted Spanish-language tunes, including, at one point, “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens, and commanded a light show with splashes of iridescent colors washing across a portable classroom’s exterior. In a first-grade classroom, students sprinkled glitter on hand-size sugar skulls.
Source: A fantasmagorico day at Markham – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
The majority of Vacaville Unified teachers have less than 10 years on the job, and the school district’s Adult Education program is “growing again.”
That information surfaced during Thursday’s governing board meeting, when several district departmental leaders updated trustees with presentations.
Janet Dietrich, assistant superintendent for human resources, provided a statistical snapshot of teachers and school enrollment numbers, and Manolo Garcia, director of human resources, provided a similar picture about classified, or school-support, employees.
Source: District by the numbers – The Reporter
By Todd R. Hansen
The $15 million expansion of the Solano Community College aeronautics program is still at least five years away, but existing course curriculum is putting students in the middle of an industry boon.
Lucky Lofton, the executive bond manager for the college, said the Measure Q expansion project for property located between the Nut Tree Airport and the Nut Tree shopping center is in an early design phase.
“Right now, we are still in the planning process. We have developed a schematic design for a new facility, but the project is scheduled to be dealt with further out in time,” Lofton said. “It is a number of years away.”
Source: Solano College aeronautics expansion 5 years out