Daily Republic: City, FSUSD look at possible land deal

FAIRFIELD — A possible land deal among the city, Fairfield-Suisun School District and Solano Transportation Authority involving a portion of Laurel Creek Park and the former Green Valley Middle School site is taking shape.

The Fairfield City Council discussed the matter in closed session Tuesday. It took no action. The school board is to address the issue in both closed and open sessions when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday in its headquarters at 2490 Hilborn Road.

A school district report and City Manager Sean Quinn described the basics of the proposed deal. Fairfield would give the district 7.2 acres of Laurel Creek Park that could someday allow adjacent Laurel Creek Elementary School to be expanded to a K-12 school. Quinn said this is an undeveloped portion of the park, with no grass or playgrounds.

via City, school district look at possible land deal.

California Progress Report: Efforts to Help Struggling Students Pass Exit Exam Are Too Little, Too Late

By the Public Policy Institute of California

State-funded support services for students who fail the California High School Exit Exam in grade 10 have helped only a small percentage of students go on to pass the test and obtain their diplomas, according to a report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).

The PPIC report assesses the impact of two state laws allocating funds to districts for tutoring and other services to help students pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which is administered several times before the end of grade 12. One law, AB 128, funds tutoring and other support for students primarily in grades 11 and 12. A second, AB 347, provides two additional years of support for students to re-enroll in school if they have failed to pass the exam by the end of grade 12.

via Efforts to Help Struggling Students Pass Exit Exam Are Too Little, Too Late.

California Progress Report: Potential California School Sports Cuts Would Hit Students on Many Levels

By Sharee Lopez
New America Media

To gymnast Lindsey Oliver, 18, a senior at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, her daily gym classes are her motivation for going to school.

“If I don’t do well enough in my classes, I won’t be able to be in gymnastics,” said Oliver, who must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average in order to stay in sports.

Oliver said her coach would often allow her and her classmates to apply workout time to their homework to get their grades up if need be.

“Being in gymnastics has helped boost my grades as I have more incentive to try [hard] in school, so that I could compete,” said Oliver.

via Potential California School Sports Cuts Would Hit Students on Many Levels.

TIME Ideas: The School-Bus Bullies: Are Adults to Blame Too?

By Erika Christakis

The nation’s hearts and wallets opened last week for Karen Klein, the bus monitor in upstate New York who was mercilessly taunted by a pack of feral-minded middle schoolers. But the gold rush of online donations (more than $600,000 and a free trip to Disneyland for 10 people) leaves a slag heap of questions. When we grow tired of the bus video heard ’round the world, we might start by asking, What is a bus monitor’s role exactly?

It’s not victim blaming to acknowledge that Klein was both horribly abused and also hired to prevent the kind of torment she endured. It’s therefore puzzling that neither she nor the bus driver — the adults on the bus — took any measures to prevent, stop or report the atrocious behavior. Did she ever receive any training in how to manage unruly or abusive kids? Why didn’t the bus driver chime in, or stop the bus immediately, and tell the kids to straighten up? The episode wouldn’t even have come to the attention of school administrators or parents if a student hadn’t filmed and posted it. This isn’t a chain of authority that inspires confidence.

The Educated Guess: Not one, but two 160-day minimum years

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

Call it a last-minute clarification or a June surprise, another piece of bad news: A trailer bill that the Legislature will vote on Wednesday permits districts to slash the school year by an additional three weeks for the next two years, if voters reject Gov. Brown’s tax increase in November. That’s twice what  Gov. Jerry Brown seemed to suggest in the May budget revise when he proposed the elimination of 15 days divided over a two-year period. Instead, the Legislature is prepared to authorize a 160-day year, likely the lowest in the nation and far behind other advanced nations; nearly all states have a 180-day year, which California also required before 2010.

In one sense, nothing has changed. Brown hasn’t suggested less funding for schools than the $53.6 billion for 2012-13 that the Legislature approved in passing the budget last week. Districts will have to negotiate a shorter year with their unions; they can’t declare it unilaterally, and most districts won’t go that low.

But the language in AB 1476 (section 50, midway through a very long bill) is a stark message that a defeat of the tax increase will create more than a one-year revenue crisis for schools.

via Not one, but two 160-day minimum years – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.

Dixon Patch: School Board Moves to Replace Vacant Dixon High School Principal Position

The search for a new principal at Dixon High School is underway and last night, the Dixon Unified School District’s Board of Education met in closed-session to discuss how to proceed.

On Friday, the district announced that it would not re-hire Principal John Barsotti to return for the 2012-2013 school year. Although no official announcement has been made, board president Irina Okhremtchouk said that District Superintendent Brian Dolan and herself discussed a possible candidate.

The school board discussed last night what options it had to replace the outgoing principal. The district essentially has two options. It can either appoint an acting principal for a year at DHS or open the hiring process similar to the way it did when Principal Ivan Chaidez left his position in Dixon for one in Napa.

via School Board Moves to Replace Vacant Dixon High School Principal Position.

The Educated Guess: First, keep the lights on

By John Fensterwald – Educated Guess

Given more control over how they could spend state money, school districts not surprisingly chose survival over experimentation. And if legislators want otherwise – to encourage districts to innovate or target money on low-achieving students – then they should be more explicit about their intentions.

That was the main finding and chief recommendation of a study of districts’ flexible spending last year by the RAND Corporation and researchers with the University of California. The results are consistent with annual surveys by the Legislative Analyst’s Office the past two years.

The study – also a survey, of chief financial officers in 223 districts – diagnosed  how districts spent their share of $4.5 billion in previously earmarked spending. That encompassed 40 of 60 categorical programs and slightly less than a quarter of the $19 billion in total restricted spending that the Legislature made flexible in 2009.

via First, keep the lights on – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.

SacBee Editorial: Shorter school year is a nonstarter

Before the Great Recession, California schools were required to provide 180 days of learning, the national average.

Since 2008, lawmakers have allowed a 175-day school year to save money.

Now, if voters reject the tax initiative in November, lawmakers and the governor are proposing a trigger-cut to allow school districts to reduce the number of school days even more – to 160 days, for two years. It’s part of a trailer bill expected to be in print by Monday.

That’s a terrible idea, but what big money-saving options are left? Laying off more teachers and packing 40 or more students into classrooms, like sardines?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/24/4583221/shorter-school-year-is-a-nonstarter.html#mi_rss=Editorials#storylink=cpy

via Editorial: Shorter school year is a nonstarter.

The Reporter: School is out, but Vacaville Unified School District, nonprofits deliver free lunches

By Richard Bammer/ RBammer@TheReporter.com

By 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, the children and a few mothers gathered in small clusters under shade-giving sycamore trees in the cul-de-sac on Scoggins Court in Vacaville.

Residents of Lincoln Corner, a Section 8 housing area, or from a nearby mobile home park, they kept an eager eye out for the large, white Father’s House van they have come to know since June 11, when the Vacaville Unified School District’s annual summer feeding program began.

At 12:30, the van, driven by Father’s House volunteer Gene Braden, trundled up the roadway, parked, and Braden, his 17-year-old son, Samuel, also a volunteer, and school district employee Marie Pate set up their small A-frame “Free Lunch” signs in English and Spanish and began handing out the day’s

via School is out, but Vacaville Unified School District, nonprofits ….

The Reporter Opinion: Growing a college starts with public input

By Jowel C. Laguerre and Dave Fleming

We’ve all seen the recent headlines detailing the state’s $16 billion deficit and Sacramento’s plan to take millions from public universities and community colleges, further reducing money available for education. And this is when costs for attending the University of California and California State systems are already sky high. The costs of attending a public university in California have risen to at least six times that of attending a community college. Where will it end?

Now, more than ever, Solano Community College is committed to providing high-quality, affordable college options for students transferring to four-year universities and the essential job training our students need to compete in this economy.

Solano College students receive access to a high-quality, college education close to home.

They are able to take university courses at Solano College locations and can earn bachelor degrees through a successful partnership with Sonoma State. We need to expand on this success by partnering with additional four-year universities, such as Sacramento State, Cal Maritime, UC Davis and UC Berkeley.

via Growing a college starts with public input.

Vallejo Times-Herald Letters: Vallejo schools and our failure to communicate

Blanche Divareaux


Superintendent Ramona Bishop is doing what Brown v. Board of Education should have mandated back on May 17, 1954. All she is doing is attempting to level the playing field with learning. Every stakeholder should help her stretch excellent professional educational development around by supporting her actions! In every organization, there are those who do well, and those who do not. This is why there are term limits in local, municipal, state and federal government. Do we live in a separate but equal society as we protest the removal of an excellent educator from one neighborhood to another? Do we understand?

via Vallejo schools and our failure to communicate.

The Reporter: Science, tech put to test at K.I. Jones Elementary School

By Richard Bammer/RBammer@TheReporter.com

About the size of a small shoebox, the robot whirred and inched toward a free-standing column in the middle of the K.I. Jones Elementary multipurpose room. Then it turned slowly to circle one of two urns on either side of the column before making a beeline to the center of the room’s basketball court. There, running out of power, it stopped.

Radical Robots Racing, the culmination of a weeklong quasi-robotics summer camp at the school, was in full gear.

Some 34 fifth- and sixth-graders, all of them students in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, were on hand Friday to show off what science and engineering they had learned over the previous few days and to demonstrate those principles, among other things, to a roomful

via Science, tech put to test at Fairfield school.

The Reporter: Dixon High principal dismissed

By Ryan Chalk/ RChalk@TheReporter.com

Trustees in the Dixon Unified School District have decided to part ways with a high school principal after just one year on the job.

Members of the Dixon Unified School District Governing Board on Thursday voted unanimously to dismiss Dixon High School Principal John Barsotti for the 2012-13 school year. As Barsotti was a first-year probationary employee, trustees had the authority to determine whether or not it wished to have him continue into a second year of service, according to school officials.

The action by the Board means that Barsotti will officially end his employment with the district as of June 30.

The announcement came shortly after Barsotti was involved in what had been dubbed “Promgate,” an April incident at the school’s junior prom. The event made headlines regionally when 35 Dixon High School leadership students were denied entry to the prom after school officials found a water bottle onboard a chartered bus that allegedly contained alcohol.

via Dixon High principal dismissed.

Vallejo Times-Herald: Benicia school board raises price of school lunch

By Lanz Christian Bañes Times-Herald staff writer

BENICIA — Students at the Benicia Unified School District will see higher lunch prices when classes resume this fall.

The Benicia school board unanimously approved a 50-cent increase on Thursday night, citing a need to plug a $90,000 operating deficit for its food service program.

The increase is a necessity in order for the district’s food and nutrition services department to run in the black, Superintendent Janice Adams said.

However, the increase is only expected to raise about $60,000, said Bruce Hall, director of food and nutrition services. The remaining $30,000 deficit will be addressed through other means recommended to the board at a later time, Adams added.

via Benicia school board raises price of school lunch.

Dixon Patch: Many Questions Remain in Wake of Principal John Barsotti’s Dismissal

When news broke that Dixon High School Principal John Barsotti would not be asked to return as principal next year, the chatter on the Patch, Facebook and Twitter reached a fever pitch.


Most of the comments on Facebook were in support of the school board’s decision to not re-hire Barsotti after only one school year at Dixon High School.


But the departure of Barsotti has left many questions hanging in the balance.


Who will be the next principal at Dixon High? Will the school board appoint someone to take his place? Will they re-open the hiring process? How much of a say will the community, parents, students and current staff have in the hiring process?

via Many Questions Remain in Wake of Principal John Barsotti’s Dismissal.

Daily Republic: Dixon school board ends ties with high school principal

DIXON — The Dixon School District board has severed ties with Dixon High Principal John Barsotti at the end of his first year.

The school board in closed session Thursday was unanimous in its decision not to renew Barsotti’s contract. He was a first-year probationary employee with a contract ending June 30.

“The board’s unanimous vote speaks strongly to its desire to see change at Dixon High,” Superintendent Brian Dolan said in a statement.

via Dixon school board ends ties with high school principal.

Daily Republic: Fairfield-Suisun school board to finalize budget

FAIRFIELD — The final Fairfield-Suisun School District board meeting of the fiscal year Thursday includes putting the finishing touches on next year’s budget as well as discussion and possible action on a land deal that would allow Laurel Creek Elementary School to one day expand.

In other district news, it appears the district will not have summer school next year.

The meeting kicks off at 6 p.m. at the district’s headquarters, 2490 Hilborn Road. The board has set a public hearing for the adoption of the 2012-13 budget and must pass the budget before June 30. Much of the work is already done.

The school board passed the budget in February, calling for $6.5 million in cuts, and voted in April to close Sullivan Middle School as part of the reductions. At its last meeting earlier this month, the board restored certain cuts, such as eliminating athletics and activities, by using money district employees gave up in their new contracts.

via Fairfield-Suisun school board to finalize budget.

Daily Republic Opinion: Fairfield and Suisun City arts wither, but all not lost

Arts programs are taking a beating in Fairfield and Suisun City.

The Solano Community College governing board gave a tentative nod this week to its 2012-13 budget, which includes $573,000 in red ink even after ending summer school, suspending football and water polo, slicing benefits, cutting more than 25 jobs and cutting ties with the Solano College Theatre Association.

A public hearing and official adoption of the budget is scheduled Sept. 5.

As part of the budget, the board voted 6-1 to end the college district’s $750,000-a-year contract with the theater association, which manages the campus theater and the Harbor Theatre in Suisun City and supports other production companies in staging performances.

via Arts wither, but all not lost.

Daily Republic: The Leaven offers free summer tutoring, activities at Fairfield centers

FAIRFIELD — At The Groves apartment complex near Grange Middle School, the neighborhood kids are spending their summer doing something unheard of: studying.

Inside The Groves rental office, elementary school students solved math problems and read books with the help of volunteer tutors, while others took a break outside to practice for their upcoming soccer program.

The Leaven, which offers four year-round tutoring centers throughout Fairfield, is giving children in the city a chance to fill the summer education gap through its “Summer Success” program.

via The Leaven offers free summer tutoring, activities at Fairfield centers.

Benicia Herald: New BHS principal – The Wright Stuff

By Keri Luiz
Assistant Editor

Damon Wright’s path to becoming principal of Benicia High School was anything but traditional.

Wright, 39, was born into a military family in Virginia and lived in Japan for five of his early years. From third grade through high school, he and his family lived in San Diego.

After attending junior college in Bakersfield, and before transferring to Sacramento State University — where he would eventually receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology — Wright had a conversation that sparked his interest in education.

“I worked at Denny’s as a host,” he recalled this week in an interview with The Herald. “My boss’s wife happened to be an elementary school principal. She gave me her business card.”

via The Wright Stuff.