Wednesday Club adds sparkle to CASA kids’ holiday

Daily Republic » Local lifestyle columnists

Children served by Court Appointed Special Advocates of Solano were treated to a Christmas party on Dec. 7. CASA is a nonprofit organization with a small staff and more than 80 volunteers that advocate for abused, neglected and other identified children in the Solano County Court system.  The event was hosted by the Wednesday Club, which was formed in 1911 and founded on the mission of enriching the lives of local women and working to make the community a better place for all. The festivities took place at the club’s historic building in downtown Suisun City.

via Wednesday Club adds sparkle to CASA kids’ holiday.

Corporate sponsorship in schools can harm students, experts say

California Watch: K–12


For schools facing shrinking budgets, a branded scoreboard on the football field or advertisement on a school bus can bring some much-needed cash. But such corporate sponsorships also could undermine students’ critical thinking skills, education policy experts warn.

via Corporate sponsorship in schools can harm students, experts say.

SCC saw it coming

Benicia Herald

Measures taken to mitigate loss of state funds in governor’s budget

By Keri Luiz
Assistant Editor

It was a first for the state, and California’s 112 community colleges ended up paying the price.

“When (Gov. Jerry Brown) passed the budget, this was the first year that they built into the budget triggers that would allow the Department of Finance to reduce revenues should targets not be reached,” said Yulian Ligioso, vice president of finance and administration at Solano Community College in Fairfield.

via SCC saw it coming.

Jerry Brown’s cagily worded initiative

The Educated Guess

Californians like the shorthand explanation of the tax increase that Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing for November. Seventy percent in a recent poll said they’d favor the initiative if the money would go to K-12 schools. But this would be true only in a narrow, technical sense. Schools will likely get billions of dollars less. That’s because, […]

via Jerry Brown’s cagily worded initiative – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.

During the Solano County Board of Education’s regular meeting on December 14, Ja…

Solano County Office of Education’s Facebook Wall

During the Solano County Board of Education’s regular meeting on December 14, Jay Speck, Solano County Superintendent of Schools, administered the oath of office to (left to right) returning Trustees Ray Silva, Michelle Coleman, Larry Asera, and Dr. Rozzana Verder-Aliga, all of whom ran unopposed.

via During the Solano County Board of Education’s regular meeting on December 14, Ja….

Duncan’s 82% NCLB Failure Prediction Way Off Base, New Data Show

Politics K-12

Remember when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued the warning that 82 percent of schools would fail to make the grade this year under the No Child Left Behind Act, and hoped that would spur Congress to rewrite the law?

Well, the researchers (or politicians!) behind Duncan’s prediction clearly are “in need of improvement,” based on one group’s analysis.

The real number, according to today’s latest report from the Center on Education Policy: 48 percent.

via Duncan’s 82% NCLB Failure Prediction Way Off Base, New Data Show.

Vacaville Unified School District business leader thrust into …

Google Alerts – “John Niederkorn”

A so-called “echo boomer,” or a child of a baby boomer, Kari Sousa, the newly named interim assistant superintendent of business and administrative services for Vacaville Unified School District, feels the echo of a major landmark event in California history.

via Vacaville Unified School District business leader thrust into ….

Transportation cuts generate fierce response from school officials

EdSource Extra!

Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement of a $248 million cut in school transportation funds has triggered a fierce response from some of the state’s largest urban school districts as well as smaller rural ones.  What is far less clear is how many districts will actual terminate bus routes this year. Schools are mandated by federal law to provide transportation for special education students if called for in their individual education plans.

via Transportation cuts generate fierce response from school officials.

The Incredible Shrinking State Dollars for K-12 Schools

California Progress Report

By Vivian Po
New America Media

State funding for California’s K-12 public schools has fallen by $7 billion since the onset of the recession. The state now spends $1,000 less per student than it did in 2007-2008.

“There has been a very large reduction in revenues that determine Prop 98, California’s formula for calculating minimum school funding,” said Jonathan Kaplan, senior policy analyst with the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan group that monitors fiscal and policy issues.

via The Incredible Shrinking State Dollars for K-12 Schools.

Schools hope to weather latest cuts

Benicia Herald

By Keri Luiz
Assistant Editor

Benicia Unified School District Board President Rosie Switzer said the district should be able to hold down the fort amid the first wave of announced state budget cuts.

Gov. Jerry Brown ordered $1 billion in mid-year cuts Tuesday to the state’s budget. While the cuts to K-12 education were not as bad as originally predicted, schools did not go unscathed: Among the reductions are $248 million from home-to-school transport, effective Jan. 1, plus an additional $79.6 million effective Feb. 1, 2012.

via Schools hope to weather latest cuts.

Gov. pulls trigger, hits education – by Kathryn Baron

The Educated Guess

By Kathryn Baron (John Fensterwald coauthored this article.)Midyear budget cuts hit California like a tornado on Tuesday, leaving public schools with less damage than anticipated while bearing down on state colleges and universities with full force. Gov. Jerry Brown announced that although state revenues rose, it wasn’t enough to stave off the so-called “trigger cuts” built into this year’s budget.

With revenues more than $2.2 billion below projections, Brown said the state has to cut another $1 billion in spending. Of that, about $328 million will come from K-12 education, which is significantly less than the $1.4 billion worst-case scenario.

There was no such reprieve for higher education; the University of California, California State University, and the state’s community college system will each lose an additional $100 million in the new year.

"We have to live within our means," said Gov. Brown in announcing nearly $1 billion in mid-year cuts. (source:  Governor's press conference) Click to enlarge.

“We have to live within our means,” said Gov. Brown in announcing nearly $1 billion in midyear cuts. (Source: Governor’s press conference) Click to enlarge.

I want to invoke a Latin phrase here,” said Brown at a press conference in the Capitol. “Nemo dat [quod] non habet; it means no man gives what he does not have. The state cannot give what it does not have.”

Several times during his comments, the governor acknowledged that he’s sensitive to the hardships the reductions will cause, but said the state has to live within its means or it will end up like Greece, Italy, and Spain, countries that overspent to excess and are now unable to climb out of the holes they dug.

Higher ed, higher fees

His argument didn’t sway critics, especially at the three college and university systems, which have already lost billions of dollars in state funding in recent years.

“The governor is the Grinch that stole Christmas,” said Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Linda Thor, only half jokingly. Although she knew the cuts were a strong probability, Thor said it still means another $2.8 million from her district ($3.3 million if you count the lack of cost-of-living increases), and that’s on top of $24.6 million in cuts over the last three years.

For the rest of the academic year Foothill-De Anza will dig into a rainy day fund established during better times, but that’s running low after several years of stormy economic weather.

What’s more, starting this summer student fees will jump from $36 a credit to $46. That’s far below the rest of the nation, but it’s still nearly $1400 a year for a full-time student, and community colleges have a high percentage of low-income students.

De Anza College awarded financial aid to more students in the current fall quarter than it did to all students in the entire 2010-11 academic year.

California State University students will also be paying more. Last month the Board of Trustees approved a 10 percent fee hike that will kick in next fall. CSU has already raised fees by 29 percent over the past year and a half.

“It is disheartening to say the least when your budget is cut by an initial $650 million, but to face an additional $100 million reduction midyear makes things extremely challenging,” said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed in a statement on the university’s website.

Cuts put brakes on school buses


Funding cuts for K-12 schools under Proposition 98 are a bit fuzzier. The governor and legislative leaders had predicted that revenues would rise $4 billion over the May revise amount.  If revenues were down by the full $4 billion, public schools would have been cut $1.4 billion, or about 3 percent.  Since revenues weren’t that low, schools will see a midyear total cut of $328 million, or about 0.7 percent. That’s an average of $55 per student.

But that’s not exactly how the governor presented it. Brown broke the reductions into two parts: First, a $79.6 million reduction in the basic school funding, called revenue limit funding. That’s the equivalent of about a half-day of school cut, instead of a potential elimination of a whole week.

The second cut is more substantial; a $248 million reduction in home-to-school transportation, in other words, school buses. Taken together, they amount to an average of $55 per student.

However, because school transportation funding primarily affects rural and low-income urban districts ­– and uses an outdated, quirky formula ­– the impact will vary widely among districts, from less than $7 per student in the 19,000-student Antioch Unified, to a whopping $638 per student in the 744-student Southern Humboldt Joint Unified.

Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, which will be absorbing the biggest transportation hit of $3.6 million – $59 per student – announced that it plans to file suit today to halt the cut. The district contends that the cuts would violate a 30-year-old court mandate resulting from a desegregation lawsuit that set up magnet schools and a school choice program; 35,000 students in the district now take buses. At the same time, the alternative – cutting additional services to the classroom ­– would violate the state’s constitutional duty to provide equal educational opportunities.

“LAUSD cannot withstand further budget cuts without adversely impacting the educational benefits offered to its students,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement. “We stand with our students to say enough is enough.”

Transportation funding has huge disparities, because it’s based on a decades-old allocation formula that punishes districts that have grown rapidly. California is last in the nation in terms of the proportion of students bused to school: 14 percent, according to Stephen Rhoads, a lobbyist with Strategic Education Services in Sacramento who has focused on the transportation issue.

In his press conference, Brown characterized the transportation cut as flexible, giving districts the ability to backfill bus service by making cuts in other areas. But it’s not as easy as that. Rob Ball, associate superintendent of Twin Rivers Unified in Sacramento County, said that the district already reduced bus routes as much as it could, with some students now walking three miles to a bus stop. Buses also transport high school students through rough neighborhoods in North Sacramento to Grant High; eliminate transportation, and fewer students would show up to school, reducing the state’s tuition reimbursements. This year, said Ball, the district will take the $1 million transportation cut out of its reserves.

Rhoads said that heavily affected districts will lobby legislators to combine the transportation and revenue limit cuts, so that the pain is spread evenly among districts. The Education Coalition, representing the PTA and teachers, administrators, and school boards associations, expressed sympathy. The transportation cut will devastate transportation services and hit poor and neediest students the hardest, it said in a statement. “It will also put at risk the safety and lives of students who will be forced to walk on unsafe roads and through dangerous conditions.”

via Gov. pulls trigger, hits education – by Kathryn Baron.

Dan Walters: Good budget news complicates Jerry Brown’s bid for tax boost

SacBee — Dan Walters

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

California’s public schools received a rare bit of good news Tuesday when Gov. Jerry Brown largely exempted them from automatic reductions in state aid, citing improvements in the economy.

However, Brown’s declaration that the economy is getting better and he doesn’t have to squeeze all automatic spending cut “triggers” also lessened the air of crisis and therefore complicated Brown’s efforts to persuade voters to raise taxes next year.

“The economy of California is recovering,” Brown said as he announced that about half of the $4 billion in questionable new revenue is materializing, adding, “We’re getting wealthier by the day but it’s slower than we like.”

Brown did decree about $1 billion of trigger cuts in state spending on higher education, social services, health care and criminal justice programs, but only a relatively small reduction in school aid, primarily for school bus service.

The tiered trigger cuts were placed into the budget in June because of uneasiness about the $4 billion in extra revenue that the administration suddenly decided was likely, thus avoiding more immediate reductions of that magnitude.

Among other things, bankers wanted more certainty that the state could repay billions of dollars in short-term cash flow loans.

Last month, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, projected that very little of the $4 billion would materialize, thus triggering massive spending cuts. That had touched off something of a political/media frenzy with some school officials voicing fears about having to stop school early next spring to cope.

However, the budget specified that the cuts would be based on the higher of the revenue estimates from Taylor and Brown’s budget boss, Ana Matosantos, so the latter prevailed.

Had Matosantos validated Taylor’s projections, the frenzy would have continued into 2012, but now it will be dampened.

Brown says he will propose a 2012-13 budget in January with “many billions” of dollars in additional spending cuts – he hinted at about $6 billion – but that also assumes voters will approve a $7 billion tax increase in November, with more automatic triggers should the taxes be rejected.

“You can’t provide money you don’t have,” Brown said. “You either cut or you tax. There is no third way.”

If, however, the economy is finally pulling out of recession and personal incomes are increasing – by nearly $100 billion a year, Brown says – would that make passing a tax increase more difficult?

Would voters feel enough better about personal finances to pay more for schools and other public services? Or would they conclude that an improving economy and rising revenues make a tax increase unnecessary?

“I think this is going to be a very difficult campaign,” Brown said.

No kidding.

Read more:

via Dan Walters: Good budget news complicates Jerry Brown’s bid for tax boost.

Vallejo and Napa colleges lose more state funds in mid-year cuts

Google Alerts – “Solano Community College”

The stream of state funds for higher education just got thinner with cuts slated for local community colleges and Vallejo’s California Maritime Academy.State officials announced Tuesday the California State University system would be cut an additional $100 million.

Likewise, the California Community College system will immediately lose $102 million based on prior revenue projections not coming to fruition, officials said.

Students attending Solano Community College, Napa Valley College and other community colleges face a $10 per unit increase this summer, state officials announced.

Class costs will rise from $36 to $46 per unit in the summer semester, generating an estimated $110 million in revenues, California Community Colleges Chancellor spokeswoman Paige Marlatt Dorr said. An average student taking 15 units would pay $1,380, up from $1,230.

Solano College prepared for mid-year budget cuts following a loss of $400 million to the entire system this fiscal year, Solano College spokesman Peter Bostic said.

“Fortunately, they delayed the $10 (per unit) tuition increase until July 1. That would have been really cumbersome” if the fee had gone into effect for the spring semester, Bostic said.

A spokeswoman for Napa Valley College said it is not yet clear how the latest funding cuts will impact the college.

The newest cuts are a result of California revenue projections falling below expectations.

Under the current budget lawmakers passed


last summer, one tier of cuts would be enacted if state tax revenues fell more than $1 billion and even deeper cuts if revenues were even lower.In a conference call with reporters, Community College Chancellor Jack Scott said most community colleges prepared for mid-year budget cuts, according to an announcement from his office.

However, Scott said students will lose part-time faculty, counselors, advisors, tutors and financial aide officers. Fewer course selections, longer wait lists, and larger class sizes are also likely, he added.

The lower revenue projections will mean another loss of $100 million to the California State University system on top of the $650 million that schools already took earlier.

California Maritime Academy, one of 23 schools in the CSU system, could lose an estimated $725,000 annually, the school’s Director of Communications Jennifer Whitty said.

Cal-Maritime President Bill Eisenhardt said the school could absorb the loss from its reserves one year, but probably not permanently.

“However, we are trying to create a cushion to do so if need be by implementing a number of cost strategies, including transitioning from two training cruises to one starting this coming summer,” Eisenhardt said.

Running just one student-training cruise per year could save $500,000 in annual costs,” Eisenhardt said.

Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at or (707) 553-6832.

via Vallejo and Napa colleges lose more state funds in mid-year cuts.

Trustees to review job performance of Vallejo schools’ new …

By Lanz Christian Bañes

The Vallejo school board will decide today whether to renew Mare Island Technology Academy’s middle school charter, and also review how the district’s new superintendent is doing.Mare Island Technology Academy (MIT), the Vallejo City Unified School District’s first charter school, has charters for both its middle and high school programs.

Academy and district officials agreed last week to extend by seven days the 60-day deadline for the district school board to act on the school’s application. By law, the board must make a decision within 60 days of a charter application unless both parties agree to an extension.

Board members expressed concern that a section of the middle school charter declared MIT a separate special education entity, which district officials said was not possible.

The same issue was discussed and rectified last year when MIT successfully submitted its high school charter for reauthorization. Board members said they would be more comfortable if MIT fixed the language in the middle school charter before approving it, leading to the seven-day extension.

In a separate meeting, the board will evaluate the performance of Superintendent Ramona Bishop, who started her job in April. At the time, board members expressed hope that Bishop’s hiring would stop the district’s “revolving door” of leadership.

Though enacted before her arrival, Bishop oversaw the closure of three district schools, including Hogan High, and the creation of new magnet


schools such as the Cave Language Academy and Mare Island Health and Fitness Academy.The board also will get a glimpse of the district’s finances as officials prepare to file the first interim report of the school year.

Altogether, the board will hold three “separate” meetings today, though they will all run together. In the first, the board will participate in a workshop about reviewing the superintendent before breaking for closed session for the actual review.

The marathon meetings begin at 9 a.m. today and are expected to continue until 3 p.m. The board meets at the district offices, 665 Walnut Ave.

Contact staff writer Lanz Christian Bañes at (707) 553-6833 or

via Trustees to review job performance of Vallejo schools’ new ….

Benicia schools may adopt national ‘Common Core Standards’

Google Alerts – “Benicia school board”

Times-Herald staff report/

The Benicia school board will consider Thursday adopting the national “Common Core Standards.”The standards, led by state organizations, set common goals and assessments for K-12 education that focus on getting students ready for college and the workforce.

All but a handful of states have adopted the standards, with the California state board of education approving them last year after developing a set of standards based on the national Common Core Standards.

State officials expect full implementation by the 2014-2015 school year.

The Benicia school board must approve the standards before the district can begin implementation.

The board also will hear a report about the district’s finances as the district prepares to file its first interim report.

Benicia, like all California public districts, must prepare for mid-year cuts triggered by a shortfall in forecasted state revenue.

The board meets at 7 p.m. — following a 5:45 p.m. closed session — at district offices, 350 East K St.

via Benicia schools may adopt national ‘Common Core Standards’.

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