By Richard Bammer
School is out, but, in several of Vacaville’s lower income neighborhoods, one regular part of many students’ days continues: a free, nutritious lunch.
In its third year, Vacaville Unified’s summer lunch program, formally called Seamless Summer Feeding, got underway this week and will continue to Aug. 1, two weeks before classes resume.
“We just had to do it,” said Theresa Stout, director of child nutrition for the 12,300-student district.
From 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays, trucks and volunteers take bagged lunches to 15 neighborhood sites, from Elm School and Buena Vista Apartments in the central and southern sectors of the city to Country High and the Bennett Hill Apartments in the north. The program serves children, infants to 18 years. No one in those age groups is turned away.
via Vacaville Unified School District summer lunch program underway – The Reporter.
By John C. Osborn
Contributors are currently paying $5.2 billion annually into the California State Teachers Retirement System’s defined benefit program. The total will double to $10.4 billion annually by 2020-2021, when a 32-year payment plan to fund the system is fully phased in. By 2046, the current $74 billion deficit will be wiped out. This shows the share of the annual increase that each group of contributors — teachers, school districts and the state — will bear under an agreement worked out between the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown. Districts will shoulder about 70 percent of the increase.
California 2014-15 Budget Highlights for Education | EdSource Today.
By Lanz Christian
The Vallejo school board voted Wednesday to once again remove a Native-American symbol as one of its school mascots.
Solano Middle School, formerly the Chieftains, will now be the Titans.
“The screenplay writer for ‘Remember the Titans,’ Gregory Howard, was an ex-Solano Middle School student. How cool is that? The circle is complete,” Principal Bob Russell said as he gave his presentation to the board.
The unanimous decision (4-0, as trustee Raymond Victor Mommsen did not enter the meeting until later in the night) echoed the board’s decision late last year to retire the Vallejo High School Apache, citing the offense it causes to indigenous peoples.
via Vallejo school board nixes Chieftain mascot – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
The Solano County grand jury again singled out two Vallejo high schools as needing improvement in a report released Thursday, more than a year after another report highly criticized safety issues at Vallejo High School.
“The number of offenses reported regarding disruption and defiance at (Vallejo and Jesse Bethel high schools) is alarming and must be addressed!” stated the grand jury in a report titled, “Security Impact on Gradation Rates in Solano County High Schools.”
The report reviewed all 10 comprehensive high schools in Solano County. However, the report reserved much of its criticism for the two Vallejo sites, pointing out that they have higher dropout, truancy and suspension rates than the other eight.
via Report: Vallejo’s high schools have high dropout, discipline rates – The Reporter.
By Alyson Klein
A day before announcing that he wanted to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core State Standards and tests, Gov. Bobby Jindal laid the groundwork for his decision, in part by accusing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of coercing states to adopt the standards. He even said that the feds had threatened Oklahoma (which recently ditched the standards) with a loss of federal funding.
“The proponents of Common Core claim it is not a federal takeover, but Secretary Duncan’s comments and actions prove otherwise. He has already threatened Oklahoma with a loss of funding, and we may be next,” Jindal said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The problem? Duncan never actually told the Sooner State that it could lose federal dollars if it withdrew from common core. In fact, during a White House briefing, he said precisely the opposite, in response to a reporter’s question about Oklahoma’s funding future.
via Fact Check: Can a State Lose Federal Funds for Ditching Common Core? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Barry Eberling
Solano County expects changes to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to raise annual county retirement costs from $31.8 million today to $56.1 million by the end of the decade.
Of this, the general fund portion is expected to rise from $8.8 million to $18.5 million. CalPERS is making the changes to take into account that retirees are living longer and to smooth out contribution rate volatility, among other reasons.
Solano County’s unfunded liability for retirement as of June 2012 – the amount the county is estimated to be short to pay its long-term retirement obligations – is $417 million. However, the required accounting system includes state court employees, perhaps inflating the amount by about $28 million, a county report said.
via Solano County looks at rising retirement costs Daily Republic.
By Keri Luiz
After months of input, workshops, planning, meetings and a public hearing, Benicia Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan will finally go before trustees Thursday for approval.
Also on a busy agenda for the school board is the awarding of a contract for replacement of Benicia Middle School’s roof and gutters, and a new job description for a director of the bond project are also slated for the board’s approval.
But the 2014-15 budget and the LCAP, used for measuring the progress of the school district and required for a school district to have in place to receive state Local Control Funding Formula LCCF funding, will be trustees’ top order of business.
via School board to see vital funding doc.
By Ben Novotny
When film student Chris Reyes talks about the $430 he pays each month toward his student loan, he uses the movie Jaws as a metaphor.
“It’s like a shark that takes a chunk out of me every month,” said Reyes, who graduated from California State University, Long Beach last year owing over $45,000 in student debt. “I haven’t eaten out at a restaurant in a really long time.”
Reyes has managed to scrape by with a part time job at bookstore, while he looks for a second job to help cover his bills, including his student loan payments. “I knew I would have to get a second part-time job once I started at Barnes & Noble,” said Reyes, who began working at the chain store last summer. Reyes is not alone. Outstanding student debt across the United States has reached $1.2 trillion according to Forbes, and is increasing at a faster rate than mortgages and auto loans. Seventy-one percent of 2013 college graduates had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower, and more than half of Californians have student debt with an average of $20,000, according to data compiled by the Institute for College Access and Success.
via New Grads Step Into a World of Debt – New America Media.
By Luba Vangelova
At a time when public libraries are starting to offer everything from community gardening plots to opportunities to check out humans for conversations, some school libraries are similarly re-evaluating their roles and expanding their offerings.
Case in point: Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia. When librarian Joan Ackroyd arrived there four years ago, she found an environment very different from the “engaging, creative, fun” elementary and middle school libraries to which she was accustomed. “Its library was none of those things,” she recalls. “It was a traditional, quiet research space.”
Ackroyd decided this wasn’t optimal. “People no longer have to come to a library to get information,” she says, “so the library has to get people coming in for different reasons. Students need somewhere to socialize, create things and collaborate.”
via What Does the Next-Generation School Library Look Like? | MindShift.
By Alyson Klein
Summer starts this weekend, but that doesnt mean that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and company get to kick back and work on their tans. The department has a long and wonky to-do list for the summer and beyond, including some overdue homework assignments.
And some key, still-pending announcements could have big implications for extensions of states waivers from pieces of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Here’s a look at what to watch for:
• Some sort of peer-review process or other criteria for examining state assessments. This is a really big deal, in part because states must use tests aligned to standards that will prepare students for college and the workforce in order to keep their waivers from many of the mandates of the NCLB law. A handful of states were originally participating in one of two consortia developing these tests, but have since dropped out. The department has asked these states to submit a new “high quality plan” for developing other assessments. Peer review would also apply to the consortia tests, and presumably, any assessments for waiver states that have ditched the Common Core State Standards altogether (like Indiana).
via Five Items on Arne Duncans Summer To-Do List – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
The Vallejo school board will consider Wednesday changing Solano Middle School’s mascot, the Chieftains.
The move comes just a week after Vallejo High School’s graduation ceremony, during which the Apache mascot was officially retired and the Redhawk took its place. The board unanimously approved in November changing the Apache mascot after a series of passionate meetings in which indigenous people and their supporters said the Apache mascot was offensive.
The decision was immediately met with resistance from some students, who walked out of class, and alumni who defended the tradition of the decades-old mascot. The board, however, did not rescind its decision.
via Vallejo school board weighs changing Solano mascot, building MIT Academy facilities – Vallejo Times Herald.
Times-Herald staff report Posted:
Vallejo police are still searching for suspects in two arson cases last month at a local elementary school, including one that destroyed a playground.
The first fire, set at the school’s south side, did minimal damage. However, the second fire at about 11:25 a.m. May 31 completely engulfed a play structure that had been built only a few years ago.
The blaze destroyed the playground, doing about $10,000 to $15,000 in damage, according to a statement issued by police on Sunday.
The department is asking the public for help in solving the case, encouraging people to call the Vallejo Police Department at 800-488-9383 or the Solano Crime Stoppers at 707-644-STOP. Crime Stoppers offers $1,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest.
via Vallejo police seek clues in burned playground case – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Diana Lambert and Phillip Reese
As California public schools climb out of a recessionary hole, Sacramento-area districts have ramped up spending for employee travel and conferences, including trips outside the state and stays at luxury hotels.
Districts in the Sacramento region spent $10 million on travel last school year – 23 percent more than three years earlier – as more money flowed thanks to a 2012 tax hike and economic turnaround.
via The Public Eye: Public school districts increase spending on travel – Education – The Sacramento Bee.
By Dan Walters
The political infighting over the next state budget began Sunday night, just minutes after the Legislature passed one that would spend $156.4 billion – $200 billion-plus when federal funds are included – in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Raising California Together, a coalition of organizations pushing for universal child care and pre-kindergarten services, issued a statement thanking the Legislature for a quarter-billion-dollar increase in “early learning” but quickly added, “it is only a first baby step…”
via Dan Walters: New budget’s new spending sets stage for future political infighting – Dan Walters – The Sacramento Bee.
By Keri Luiz
Superintendent Janice Adams expressed her gratitude last week for the approval of Measure S June 3.
And to help make sure the money is well spent, she said, the district should hire someone to have oversight of the funds.
The $49 million bond measure passed with more than 63 percent of the vote and will fund repairs and upgrades to school buildings throughout the district.
“We’re so very grateful that this bond will support students for years to come,” Adams said.
Now that the bond has passed, the work begins, Adams said.
“There’s going to be a lot of work to do, but it’s good work and we’re happy to do it,” she said.
She said two timelines are running simultaneously: one for funding through the general obligation fund, and the other is the district preparing to put projects into place.
via Schools ‘grateful’ for bond passage.
By Lanz Christian Bañes
Ricardo Henley’s classroom at Jesse Bethel High School is one dedicated to the study of history.
But perhaps the lessons with the most impact for the longtime Vallejo resident and teacher aren’t the ones found in a book — but what’s on the walls of Room O-105.
“I had a student who would not do any work. … Then one day, a binder fell off his desk filled with drawings,” Henley, 55, said Friday, pointing to a caricature of himself drawn by that very student years ago.
Henley, one of the original Bethel teachers when the school opened in 1998, has been in the same room for the last 15 years, collecting projects and memorabilia from his students and the community and festooning his walls. But when school starts this fall, Henley — affectionately nicknamed “Hendawg” by a student years ago — will be in a more modern room on the north side of campus.
via Original Jesse Bethel High teacher bids farewell to longtime room – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Susan Winlow
Middle and high school students in the Vacaville School District will pay a bit more money in the upcoming year for school lunches.
The Vacaville board of education voted Thursday night to raise middle school lunch prices from $3 to $3.25 and high school lunches from $3 to $3.50.
In keeping up with federal guidelines and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the school district must calculate yearly to make sure that federal reimbursements for students in the free lunch program do not surpass the combination of federal reimbursements and revenues received from other sources for students on paid status.
via Vacaville secondary students to see boost in lunch prices Daily Republic.
By Jess Sullivan
After reviewing data and information on several websites and after meeting with staff at six high schools in Solano County, the Solano County grand jury issued a report Friday recommending that Vallejo high schools put cops on their campuses.
The report also recommended that campus site safety officers wear their school-issued photo identification cards and that Vallejo school district’s superintendent and high school principals place priority on controlling defiance and disruptions in classes.
via Grand jury weighs in on Vallejo schools safety Daily Republic.
By Ryan McCarthy
English textbooks costing $229,889 and meeting Common Core standards are for more than 4,600 high school students in the Fairfield-Suisun School District – the first time in a decade that new books have been adopted for English high school classes in the district, an administrator says.
“The students are very engaged in this curriculum,” said Sheila McCabe, director of secondary education for the district. “Our teachers are very, very excited about this adoption.”
Trustees for the school district meeting Thursday approved adoption of the textbooks that have been piloted in selected classrooms. The textbooks are for students in ninth, 10th and 11th grades.
via District: 4,600 Fairfield-Suisun students to get new Common Core books Daily Republic.
By Irma Widjojo
If everything goes as planned, Benicia school facilities should soon get a facelift thanks to a bond measure that passed in the June 3 election.
More than 63 percent of voters were in favor of Measure S, which is a $49.6 million general obligation bond program that will be used to do many renovations and repairs of the Benicia Unified School District facilities.
“We’re extremely pleased that the community is supporting education,” Superintendent Janice Adams said.
The bond still has to be approved by the Solano County Board of Supervisors before it goes before the school board, possibly in August.
via Benicia schools to get major improvements from bond – Vallejo Times Herald.