After-school, summer program funding threatened | EdSource

By Susan Frey

Advocates for after-school programs will be holding a national summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday to build opposition to a plan to eliminate $1.15 billion in federal funding for after-school and summer programs.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, has proposed ending 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants to states. He is the chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. The committee is revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), often referred to as No Child Left Behind, which includes the community learning center funding.

The committee’s revision is expected to be presented to the Senate on April 13, said Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., which is taking part in the summit.

via After-school, summer program funding threatened | EdSource#.VRGL3WctHGg#.VRGL3WctHGg.

Vallejo’s Mare Island Technology Academy in running for several awards – Times Herald

By Times-Herald staff

Mare Island Technology Academy, along with its sister school MIT Academy High School, have been notified by the California State Department of Education that they will be receiving multiple school walk-throughs after qualifying for the new Gold Ribbon/California Distinguished Schools program, according to an MITA press release.

According to MITA officials, the new California Gold Ribbon Award, implemented this year under the direction of State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, was inaugurated this year to succeed the previous California Distinguished School program. As part of the Gold Ribbon selection process, a new category has been added, the California Career Technical Education Exemplary School award. As technology-based schools, both MIT middle and high schools are also candidates for the CTE awards, which means the combined schools are in the running for a total of four distinguished school awards – two each for the Gold Ribbon and CTE awards.

via Vallejo’s Mare Island Technology Academy in running for several awards.

Solano students witness agreement signing with historically black colleges – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

A transfer agreement signed last week between the main governing body of California community colleges and nine historically black colleges and universities will allow students to be admitted as juniors with full transferable units.

The participating colleges involved in the agreement with the California Community Colleges Board of Governors include Bennett College in North Carolina; Dillard University in Louisiana; Fisk University in Tennessee; Lincoln University of Missouri; and Philander Smith College, Stillman College and Talladega College, all in Alabama.

via Solano students witness agreement signing with historically black colleges Daily Republic.

Schools CBO: $600,000 plus shortfall this fiscal year – Benicia Herald

By Keri Luiz

Chief Business Official Tim Rahill will present the second interim financial report Thursday to school board trustees, showing that Benicia Unified School District will operate at a loss of more than $600,000 in Fiscal Year 2014-15.

The district provides the 2014-15 second interim financial report using information from the state budget, with the new state Local Control Funding Formula (LCCF) for schools and certain budget assumptions, Rahill wrote in a report to the board.

The LCCF is the new way the state funds school districts, including BUSD.

via Schools CBO: $600,000-plus shortfall this fiscal year.

Orchard third-grade teacher VUSD Teacher of the Year – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Just why Valerie Blanchard was selected as Vacaville Unified’s 2015 Teacher of the Year could be surmised Friday in the hallway outside of Room No. 4 at Orchard Elementary, where she teaches 24 third-graders.

There, parent-volunteer Amy Roderick, who had just finished helping several students with an astronomy lesson, praised the longtime educator for one specific characteristic that all great teachers share: the ability to form strong relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people.

“She knows their personalities,” said Roderick, whose daughter, Hannah, is her second child in Blanchard’s class. Her son preceded Hannah in the class, but, she divulged, “He was lazy.”

via Orchard third-grade teacher VUSD Teacher of the Year.

For GATE students, the ER comes to Vaca High – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Drawing blood. No, not for the squeamish, that’s for sure.

But most of the 125 students who attended a Gifted and Talented Education event, dubbed GATE-ER, which offered learning about medical sciences, sat, watched and listened Saturday at Vacaville High.

There, in about five different classrooms at the West Monte Vista campus, the students, all of them in the elementary grades, learned the details of phlebotomy, X-rays, making a cast for a broken arm or leg, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, among other things.

via For GATE students, the ER comes to Vaca High.

Travis’ loss likely will be Vacaville’s gain in Spanish immersion program – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Travis Unified’s loss of a formal Spanish Immersion program increasingly likely appears to be Vacaville Unified’s gain.

In the wake of Travis trustees’ March 10 decision to discontinue the district’s SI program, some Cambridge Elementary parents have already expressed interest in enrolling their students in Markham Elementary’s Spanish-English Immersion Cultural Education (SPICE) classes and will seek interdistrict transfers.

Principal Manolo Garcia on Friday confirmed that 21 Travis parents, most of them from Cambridge Elementary, had attended a recent informational meeting at the Markham Avenue campus.

Some were interested in enrolling their kindergartners in SPICE, others had older students who could no longer look forward to continuing their dual-language instruction at Cambridge (the site of Travis’ SI program), noted Garcia, who is a bilingual speaker.

via Travis’ loss likely will be Vacaville’s gain in Spanish immersion program.

Area high school robotics squads make the grade – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

If they had created a talking R2-D2, the silvery fireplug-sized, whirring, beeping, hyperactive bot of “Star Wars” fame, Vacaville-area robotics squads would have the droid singing high praises about how well the teams fared Saturday at the FIRST Sacramento Regional competition in Davis.By noon, after more than a days worth of matches (including Fridays), the Vacaville High RoboDogs were in fourth place out of 55 teams, the Vanden High RoboVikes in fifth, and the first-year team from Buckingham Charter High, the Robo-Knights, in 39th.

For the Dogs and Vikes, their places were familiar territory, and they maintained them well into the finals, which ended in the late afternoon. The Vacaville team traveled to the high school world championships last year, and the Vanden squad, the mother of all Solano County robotics teams, is looking forward to its sixth visit to the world championships after recently placing second at the Central Valley Regional in Madera.

via Area high school robotics squads make the grade.

High school senior believes in community service – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Esther Emenalom believes in giving back.

The Rodriguez High School senior is the recipient of this year’s Violet Richardson Award given by Soroptimist International of Central Solano County. It’s named after the first president of Soroptimist and is given to a young woman, 14-17, who is making a difference in her community.

Emenalom’s desire to give back is the result of her feeling blessed. She is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States. Her parents emigrated from Nigeria and have worked hard to reach the American dream.

via High school senior believes in community service Daily Republic.

School district looks at facility needs, future growth – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

District needs fueled by student growth, and the property assets and desires to take care of both, were the topics of a Fairfield Suisun School District special study session Thursday.

Facilities staff outlined growth areas – Paradise Valley, Green Valley and upper Cordelia area, and Cordelia; identified and discussed current assets – former Falls School on Rockville Road, former Sem Yeto site on Madison Street, current Dover site on East Alaska Avenue and unused park land that surrounds Laurel Creek Elementary School; and discussed myriad options for those sites.

Both facilities director Kim Van Gundy and district facility planner Rachel Dula outlined district needs that included the long-held desire of reducing the population at Grange Middle School to fewer than 1,000 students and also reducing the population of Laurel Creek from 909 students to fewer than 800.

via School district looks at facility needs, future growth Daily Republic.

Vacaville school trustees choose interim leader – Daily Republic

By Susan Winlow

Not quite two weeks after Vacaville’s head of schools tendered his resignation, the Vacaville School District governing board approved an interim replacement at Thursday’s board meeting.

Jane Shamieh, the current associate superintendent of business and administrative services, will step up to the helm beginning July 1 and lead the district while it looks for a permanent replacement for Ken Jacopetti.

Shamieh joined the district during the summer of 2014, replacing interim Lettie Allen, who briefly replaced Kari Sousa as the district’s chief business officer in March 2014 when Sousa left to spend more time with her young family.

via Vacaville school trustees choose interim leader Daily Republic.

Fairfield High artists create mural at Suisun Valley campus – Daily Republic

By Susan Hiland

Suisun Valley K-8 School got a new mural on one of the outdoor building walls Friday, courtesy of students from Fairfield High School.

Principal Jas Bains Wright got the inspiration for a blank wall on the school grounds, which could be used for something more than just a wall.

“Jas came to me with an idea for a mural, something to illustrate character and academic traits,” said Michelle Daugherty, Fairfield High School art teacher.

Daughtery brought the idea to her Ambassador of Art class, where students worked out the details of the mural.

via Fairfield High artists create mural at Suisun Valley campus Daily Republic.

Science fair a chance to prepare for future – Daily Republic

By Bill Hicks

More than 200 students from Armijo High School and Grange Middle School gathered Friday inside the Armijo High gym to participate in a science fair that was part friendly competition and part preparation for the future.

The Armijo High participants, all pre-International Baccalaureate (IB) students, used the fair as a way to practice for the demanding lab component of the IB program. The Grange students got a bit of additional preparation for possible inclusion in the IB program, as well as a way to stack themselves up against their high school counterparts.

One element of this science fair was the inclusion of a number of science professionals. Scientists might ordinarily be involved with judging projects, but in this case they were there to talk to students about professional options in science.

via Science fair a chance to prepare for future Daily Republic.

Restorative practices quickly cut suspensions in middle school | EdSource

By Paul Meyers

There are often expectations for a new superintendent to make an immediate impact in his or her district. That was the case when I became superintendent at Standard School District in Bakersfield in November 2013, just as the new Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) was unfolding.

Being new to the district and the area, the needs assessment required by the LCAP served me well as an educational leader. It didn’t take long to identify the areas of need or to come to agreement on how to address them.

One area of need in our K-8 district with nearly 3,000 students was to reduce the number of suspensions. In 2013, the number of student suspensions at our middle school was extremely high – over three times the state suspension rate. Budget cuts over several years had reduced the middle school administrative team and, with over 900 students in 6th to 8th grades, it was clear that the team was operating in survival mode. We needed to provide more support for students and staff and find a program that offered a long-term solution to address student misbehavior as well as guide future behavior.

via Restorative practices quickly cut suspensions in middle school | EdSource#.VQMKX2ctHGg#.VQMKX2ctHGg.

How to fix No Child Left Behind | EdSource

By Diane Ravitch

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s commentary for EdSource last month, called “How Not to Fix No Child Left Behind,” consisted for the most part of mushy platitudes that must be measured against the realities of his actions over the past six years.

During that time, Duncan has aggregated an unprecedented power to tell states and districts how to operate. The administration’s Race to the Top program was not passed into law by Congress, yet it was funded with $5 billion awarded by Congress as part of the economic stimulus plan following the 2008 recession.

Duncan used that huge financial largesse to make himself the nation’s education czar. When states were most economically distressed, he dangled billions of dollars before them in a competition. They were not eligible to enter the competition unless they agreed to lift caps on opening more privately managed charter schools, to rely on test scores to a significant degree when evaluating teachers, to adopt “college-and-career-ready standards” (aka the Common Core standards, which had not even been completed in 2009 when the competition was announced) and to take dramatic action to “turn around” schools with low test scores (such as closing the school or firing all or most of the staff).

via How to fix No Child Left Behind | EdSource#.VQMHqWctHGg#.VQMHqWctHGg.

Local educators hail state ed board’s decision to suspend API for one year – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville-area educators on Thursday hailed state education leaders’ decision to suspend for one year the Academic Performance Index (API), the so-called “report card on schools,” as Sacramento officials develop a broader measurement system rather than a single, test-based metric.

The decision, which the state Board of Education unanimously made Wednesday, came as California school district academic officers, tech-support employees and teachers are still struggling, in some cases, to get used to new technology and the all-computerized tests ushered in with the Common Core State Standards within the last year.

“There’s been a major learning curve with all the new technology, and it’s radically different from what we’ve done before,” said Moira McSweeney, president of the 680-member Vacaville Teachers Association, “It’s something the California Teachers Association has been working on. We are in support of it.”

via Local educators hail state ed board’s decision to suspend API for one year.

California Task Force Seeks Sweeping Changes to Special Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Improving the academic outcomes for California students with disabilities will require an extensive revamp of the states education system, a task force said Wednesday. Among them: a revision of teacher preparation, support for early learning, and an overhaul of special education financing with an eye to more local control and accountability.

Those recommendations are part of a 100-page report drafted by Californias Statewide Task Force on Special Education and submitted to the state board of education. (The task force also released an executive summary of its findings, as well as four subcommittee reports.)

About 613,000 students ages 6 to 21 receive special education services in California, about 10 percent of the nations total special education population of 5.8 million in that age range. The graduation rate for California students with disabilities is about 60 percent, compared to 80 percent for the student population as a whole.

via California Task Force Seeks Sweeping Changes to Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week.

California suspends other standards for Common Core, for now – The Reporter

By Christine Armario, Associated Press

One set of California school standards has temporarily fallen victim to another.

California’s school accountability system and its new Common Core academic standards were put head-to-head on Wednesday, and Common Core won.

At a meeting in Sacramento, the states Board of Education suspended its Academic Performance Index for the 2014-2015 school year. The move is intended to give teachers and students time to adjust to new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core standards.

The suspended index used student results on statewide tests to rank schools and to identify those that need improvement.

via California suspends other standards for Common Core, for now.

California Board of Education suspends school Academic Performance Index system – The Reporter

By Theresa Harrington

The State Board of Education has agreed to suspend the Academic Performance Index, or API, this school year to allow for the development of a more comprehensive accountability system.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the unanimous decision Wednesday, saying the new system will include several factors, rather than providing a single score based on standardized test results. Other performance criteria that may be included along with test scores are graduation rates and college and career readiness indicators.

The state expects to release scores for the new California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance, or CAASPP tests — computerized exams that replace STAR tests — by the end of August. However, the new school accountability scores are not expected to be available until fall of 2016 at the earliest, according to a news release.

via California Board of Education suspends school Academic Performance Index system.

Review, approval of second interim budget on FSUSD trustees’ agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A review of the second interim budget will be on the agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in open session in Fairfield.

But first, a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. will precede the regular meeting at 6 p.m.

Agenda documents did not clearly spell out the business of the special meeting, other than most of it will be in closed session, for discussion and possible action on student discipline, personnel, salary negotiations with employee groups, and litigation.

In the regular meeting, Laneia Grindle, the district’s director of fiscal services, will tell the seven-member governing board that projected year-end revenues will be $173.3 million, with expenses topping $180.5 million, resulting in $7.2 million in deficit spending.

via Review, approval of second interim budget on FSUSD trustees’ agenda.