BY Katy S. Clair
For new Vallejo schools Superintendent William Spalding, coming to work in Vallejo is like “coming home.”
Spalding was instrumental in opening up Jesse Bethel High School and says he relishes the opportunity to be a guiding force in local education that values diversity.
Prior to becoming an administrator and superintendent elsewhere, Spalding was a high school teacher who taught economics, government, world history, and psychology — surely a good background for navigating public schools in Vallejo.
Source: New Vallejo superintendent of schools looks forward to the challenge – Times-Herald
By Richard Freedman
Could be out of sight, out of mind. Not that most teachers get elevated to celebrity status as it is. Or even acknowledged, though most are surely in the middle of the COVID-19 battle field trying to keep virtual classes functioning.
The Vallejo High School support staff wanted to extend its appreciation for the school’s 65 instructors, hosting a “Teacher Appreciation Celebration” in the parking lot Wednesday.
Welcomed by signs proclaiming “You Are Loved!” to “You Are A Beautiful Role Model” to “We Miss You!” and “We Are So Proud!” thrilled teachers were handed “goodie bags” as they drove up to a tent facilitated by office manager Amy Townsend, the event creator.
Source: Vallejo High School office staff salutes drive-through teachers – Times-Herald
By Kara Arundel
The pandemic-driven upheaval of the K-12 education system is doing something many say has been nearly impossible — opening a door for significant reforms that would disrupt decades or century-old practices and rituals.
And even though school administrators are in the midst of responding to the immediate health crisis, they are setting aside time to discuss long-term planning for how post-pandemic schools could be even better than before the health crisis.
“I’m so excited about the modernization of public education that will now come,” said Michael Johnson, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, during a Council of Chief State School Officers virtual forum Nov. 10. “The move from the old models to the new models, we want them to be effective.”
Source: 3 ways K-12 schools can evolve post-pandemic | Education Dive
Citing the spread of coronavirus cases as the culprit, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, Nov. 16, that California is considering delaying the release of new guidelines for high school and youth sports competition, a development that casts doubt on whether the already-delayed high school season will start on time next month.
Speaking during a news conference about the state’s response to the pandemic, Newsom said he reviewed guidelines for high school and youth sports to return to competition and “signed off” on them but added that he is considering delaying their release.
Since Aug. 3, high school and youth sports in the state have been limited to physical conditioning and skill training and prohibited from competition because of the coronavirus pandemic. The high school and youth sports communities have been waiting for weeks for an update, especially after Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said last week that an update would be ready soon.
Source: Gov. Newsom says surge of COVID-19 cases might delay release of new guidelines for high school, youth sports competition [The Orange County Register]
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public-school students. He also nominated one of the six for the inaugural Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award, a national honor which will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in spring 2021.
“This has been an extremely difficult year, and meeting students’ basic needs as well as their social and emotional needs has been more important than ever,” said Thurmond. “Thankfully our classified employees have made heroic efforts to step up and support California’s students so they can continue to learn. These dedicated employees make sure that kids have healthy meals, safe transportation on school buses, and have someone to talk to during difficult and unexpected changes—helping them stay safe and supported in their lives and in their education.”
Source: 2020 Classified School Employees of the Year – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
BY Elliott Almond
As the prospects of starting prep football practice in December grew dimmer with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, California’s public health secretary Friday said his office is close to releasing guidelines for high school and youth sports.
“Stay tuned, it will come out soon,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary.
Speaking during a video presentation about how the state is confronting the spike in cases, Ghaly said his office is holding conversations with the stakeholders of high school and youth sports before releasing a plan. Ghaly said public health officials want to make sure they understand what is possible while “respecting the fact we are seeing a surge in cases.”
Source: ‘COVID’s driving the bus’ as high schools sports play the waiting game – Times-Herald
BY Kris Corey
The traditional in-person FSUSD College Fair, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, October 20, 2020, has been transformed into a multi-month series of events.
Throughout the month of October, the District’s College and Career Techs worked tirelessly to connect students with online college information sessions, creating a virtual college fair. Students virtually visited dozens of public and private colleges, including the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), Willamette University, and Mills College, as well as multiple California State Universities, University of California campuses, and Historically Black College and Universities.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD Offers Virtual Options in Place of In-Person College Fair
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of the new California Department of California (CDE) publication, Improving Education for Multilingual and English Learner Students: Research to Practice. The publication is designed to support local educational agencies (LEAs) to implement the English Learner Roadmap Policy in schools and improve instruction for both English learners and other students learning multiple languages.
“This publication will serve as a valuable resource for teachers, administrators, and other educators who serve California’s 2.5 million multilingual and English learner students,” said Thurmond. “It highlights research-based practices implemented by districts and schools, grounded in the English Learner Roadmap principles. This book is a needed resource for continuing to improve the education of the diverse student population we serve.”
Source: New Multilingual Education Publication Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Susan Hiland
The Fairfield-Suisun School District visited the topic of returning to school in person at the Thursday board meeting – but no decisions were made.
A recap of the past few months noted that Gov. Gavin Newsom implemented a warning/monitoring system July 17 that resulted in all schools being placed in distance learning as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The next week, July 20, the board took action to approve its 5-Phase Continuum Plan, affirm that the district would open in distance learning per the governor’s orders and set Oct. 8 as the board meeting date to re-evaluate the re-opening of school facilities for in-person instruction.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school board hears plans for reopening in new year
By Andrew Ujifusa
President-elect Joe Biden has big plans to spend a lot more on K-12 education, but those plans depend on Congress going along, which could be a longshot in some areas. It’s hard to see Capitol Hill tripling Title I aid like Biden wants, for example, given recent federal education spending trends. And getting any major initiative through Congress is a difficult task these days.
Nevertheless, Biden’s U.S. Department of Education won’t have its hands completely tied by federal lawmakers. Let’s highlight a few potentially overlooked areas where the department could push its priorities with relative freedom.
Source: How Biden Could Steer Education Spending Without Waiting on Congress – Politics K-12 – Education Week
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released, for the first time, statewide absenteeism data that provides information about the types of reasons students are absent. The “absenteeism by reason” (AR) reports available on the CDE Dataquest website offer an extensive statewide view of absenteeism numbers that can assist local educational agencies (LEAs) in their efforts to develop targeted attendance intervention strategies and support.
“Knowing why students are missing school is a crucial step in helping them stay in school,” said Thurmond. “These data add an extra layer of transparency to existing absenteeism information and a level of detail that school districts can utilize as they evaluate the effectiveness of existing attendance plans and compare absenteeism rates with other districts. It also creates an opportunity for school attendance staff throughout the state to collaborate and share best practices on methods to improve attendance, identifying specific actions that can help students and their families overcome attendance barriers.”
Source: New Attendance Data to Address Chronic Absenteeism – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Matt O’Donnell
Schools like Solano Community College have some huge decisions to make soon concerning sports starting in 2021.
The California Community College Athletic Association Board of Directors voted on Friday to continue with the Contingency Plan, which provides the state’s community colleges a framework for a return to competition, while also providing decision-making guidance for institutions.
Source: Solano Community College still on track for sports in 2021 (for now) – Times-Herald
By Kris Corey
It’s a simple fact: we are better able to support children’s well-being once we take time to nourish our own physical, social, and emotional health. Though change and uncertainty can magnify stress, knowing simple ways to mitigate these feelings can go a long way in fostering our own personal well-being.
On November 18th, 2020, classified staff in the Fairfield-Suiusn Unified School District will have the opportunity to participate in a stress management workshop. This training, facilitated through our partnership with Kaiser Permanente’s Resilience In School Environment (RISE) and Alliance for a Healthier Generation, is focused on supporting staff wellness.
Source: Press Release: Alliance for a Healthier Generation Offer Free Stress Management Classes for FSUSD Classified Staff
By Nicks Sestanovich
After taking a weekend off, the Solano County Registrar of Voters’ Office resumed its work counting votes Monday.
More provisional and mail-in ballots continue to be tallied, although it has not drastically altered the tallies in many races in Vacaville in Dixon, despite some candidates in second place gaining ground against their opponents.
Source: New numbers come in for Vacaville and Dixon races, standings remain unchanged – The Reporter
By Matt O’Donnell
In 2018, Benicia High School’s Janari Boone admitted to being anxious before the start of the first game of the season.
After all, he was a freshman linebacker, starting on the varsity football team.
“It was crazy,” Boone said. “I was nervous and I was scared, but people told me, ‘Relax, you’ve been doing this your whole life’ since I had always played against older players before. But on the first play of the first game, I made a tackle and settled down.”
When Boone starts the first game of the 2020-21 season, he may not experience any tension. Instead, the feeling may be more surreal.
Source: Janari Boone should be two-sport star at Benicia High School – Times-Herald
By Dan Albano
Last week two national authorities on high school sports sympathized with those frustrated by the state of school-based and youth sports in California, which have been limited since early August to conditioning and skill development.
Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and Jon Solomon, editorial director of the nonprofit Aspen Institute’s sports and society program, expressed concern for high school sports in California.
Source: Californians frustrated by lack of high school sports – The Reporter
The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved the use of shorter standardized tests in English language arts and math this spring, creating a path for collecting critical student data amidst COVID-19 uncertainties.
The Board’s action also recognizes the need for innovative solutions to support students, schools, and districts as they confront myriad challenges associated with the pandemic.
“Our schools and educators need flexibility, options, and ongoing support as they continue to navigate tremendous challenges and collect data across multiple measures to fully understand student learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Source: CA State Board Approves Shorter Standardized Tests – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
No surprise, perhaps, the 2021 Solano County Science and Engineering Fair competition is going virtual in 2021.
All Solano County students, grades 3 to 12, are encouraged to enter the competition and apply online, at www.solanoscoe.net, no later than 3 p.m. March 1.
Hosted by the Solano County Office of Education, the event aspires to develop inquiry and problem-solving skills among students, “ignite a passion for science and engineering and better prepare youth for STEM” (short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and related careers, Lilibeth Pinpin, SCOE’s director of innovative programs and student success, noted in a press release.
Source: SCOE accepting entries for virtual science and engineering fair – The Reporter
By Kimberly K. Fu
In Solano County provisional ballots in all races continue to be counted, so no official winners can be declared though front-runners are apparent.
Following are the latest counts for some of the major races in Vacaville, Dixon and Solano County as of Thursday’s update by the Solano County Registrar of Voters Office.
Source: Latest counts show some Solano races still too close to call – The Reporter
By Katy St. Clair
LaTyna Young has been elected to the Vallejo Unified School Board and incumbent trustee Christy Gardner has held on to her seat after results were final after Election Night.
Trustee Robert Lawson has lost his bid for re-election.
Young is a Vallejo native and a long time educator. Both Young and Gardner received the endorsement of the Vallejo Education Association (VEA).
Young received 64.41 percent of the vote in Area 4 and Gardner received 47.84 percent of the vote in Area 2.
Source: LaTyna Young, Christy Gardner win Vallejo school board races – Times-Herald