By Ryan McCarthy
The University of California, Berkeley, UCLA and Harvard are among the universities they’ll attend, with diplomat, international business consultant and shark biologist included in career plans of the 118 students graduating from the Fairfield-Suisun School District and honored Thursday for 4.0 and higher grade point averages.
“Students are the stars of the show this evening,” said Marie Williams, director of secondary education for the school district.
Judi Honeychurch, president of the board of trustees, told the students at the Highest Honors Awards Ceremony at the Fairfield Community Center that, “You have achieved something very difficult.”
“Education is a premise of progress in every society and every family,” Honeychurch said.
Source: Students are stars of Fairfield awards ceremony
By Nick Sestanovich
After months of hard work, Benicia High School art and robotics students finally got to see the fruits of their labor: their very own robot.
You read that right: Benicia High School students built a robot.Gatobot, a 13-foot cardboard robotic panther, was a collaborative project between Dan Frazier’s Adavanced Placement studio art class and Andreas Kaiser’s robotics class. The project was completed in late 2014 and could be seen walking across the Benicia High campus at several points for the next few years. This achievement was featured at Benicia’s Mini Maker Faire at Benicia Middle School this year and at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo where it will make its return this weekend.
“It is an amazing feeling to have our high school project selected over so many other applicants,” Frazier said. “We are proud to represent Benicia High School along with the likes of Stanford and Google.”
Source: Benicia High’s robot creation to be featured at Bay Area Maker Faire
By John Glidden
Statewide graduation data released this week shows that the Vallejo school district saw a small increase in its graduation rate, while Benicia experienced a slight dip.
Vallejo City Unified School District’s graduation rate slightly rose to 73.8 percent during the 2014-15 school year, up from 72 percent recorded by the state in 2013-14.
According to the data released Tuesday by the California Department of Education, 700 Vallejo students, from a cohort of 948, graduated in the 2014-15 year.
Continuing the trend since 2009-10, the district’s dropout rate has also dropped in the latest school year to 18.5 percent from 21.3 percent in 2013-14.
Although the district’s graduation rates have constantly increased for the past five years since 2010-11 school year, the cohort numbers have also steadily decreased at the same time.
via: Vallejo’s grad rate goes up, while Benicia’s decreases
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified School District leaders, when they meet tonight, will hear a final recommendation for new school start times, details about the Nov. 8 election and how it will affect them, and likely sign off on several major Measure A contracts.
District staffers will tell the seven-member governing board that they recommend new school start times to begin at the start of the 2017-18 academic year, with middle schools and high schools starting no earlier than 8:20 a.m., elementary schools no earlier than 8 a.m.
During previous board meetings, Mark Frazier, the district’s chief academic officer, said such times are consistent with research that supports delaying start times for secondary students and aligns with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Source: Vacaville Unified leaders to hear recommendations for new school start times, resolution on election
By Richard Bammer
A facilities agreement with the Montessori Charter School, a district athletics master plan, a facilities master plan, and an update on a proposed bond measure are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight in Dixon.
Under Proposition 39, the district is required to take care of facilities needs for the North Almond Street charter school (the old Silveyville school campus), that the school’s facilities be “reasonably equivalent” to other district schools, according to agenda documents.
The estimated cost of the agreement is $180,000, and Adrian Vargas, the chief financial officer, will lead the discussion prior to the trustee vote.
Superintendent Brian Dolan will lead the discussion of the district’s athletics master plan, but there were no agenda documents about the details or nature of the plan.
Source: Montessori, master plans and bond update on Dixon Unified agenda
By Richard Bammer
Willis Jepson Middle School science teacher Melanie Pope on Tuesday received the Rising Star Award from the University of California, Davis, Education Department.
A UC Davis graduate, she received the recognition at the Honoring Educators Award ceremony in the Buehler Alumni Center on the university campus. The School of Education Alumni Association sponsored the evening event.
Pope, who teaches seventh-graders at the Elder Street school in Vacaville, is known for using gestures, a visual language, as a teaching tool, reinforcing abstract academic and science concepts with hand and arm movements, which the students replicate, often while standing up.
Source: Jepson science teacher receives honor from UC Davis
By Ian Thompson
It’s back to the drawing board for a Safe Routes to School project planned for Driftwood Drive on the north side of Crystal Middle School.
The Suisun City Council backed the city staff recommendation Tuesday with a unanimous vote to reject the two bids for the project, the lowest of which was almost $100,000 higher than the project’s $575,500 construction budget.
Suisun’s Public Works Department had hoped to see work start by summer so that construction would not affect Crystal Middle School, but now the city will have to adjust the project’s size and when it will start.
Source: Bids for Driftwood Drive safe routes to school project rejected
By Richard Bammer
Seemingly endless at this time of year, strains of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” will be heard starting Thursday, when area colleges and high schools begin to hold their annual graduation ceremonies, with Solano Community College at the top of the list.
SCC graduates will walk across a stage to pick up associate’s degrees or certificates of achievement beginning at 6 p.m. at Doc Hollister Stadium, 4000 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield.
In a press release, SCC spokeswoman Ginny McReynolds noted the commencement will honor those who completed their degree and certificate requirements during summer and fall 2015 and spring 2016.
Of the nearly 1,000 students reaching those goals, 337 are scheduled to attend the Thursday event.
Source: SCC graduation Thursday begins season of ceremonies
By Richard Bammer
As enrollment for area school districts gets underway, Vacaville Unified is among those offering a learning option for nonvaccinated students, the home-based Independent Study program.
In response to SB 277, which took effect Jan. 1 and disallows personal and religious belief exemptions for some 10 vaccinations, Superintendent Jane Shamieh said that, as a result of the law, some families may no longer have a school to send their children to. The law affects all California public and private schools and day care centers. In a prepared statement, Shamieh noted this major change for the 12,300-student district, which has accepted exemptions for students in the past.
“We hope that parents understand that the law now prohibits all California schools from accepting vaccination exemptions,” she said in a press release issued some weeks ago. “Our hope is that students stay engaged in learning at school sites,” with IS, as it’s called for short, another choice for families that do not want to vaccinate.
via: Non-vaccinated students welcome in VUSD’s Independent Study program – The Reporter
By Stacey Goodman
Art continues to remain marginal in education, and I believe this is why: Despite tremendous growth in technology, STEM industries, and education, we are stuck in a rut in our politics, our economy, and the fight for health and fairness for most people.
Art makes us more human and empathetic. Without art, it is hard to imagine the lives of other people, other creatures, and the possibilities of other realities in general. Because of this deficit in art education, young people have tremendous faith in the coolness and remarkable evolution of their gadgets, but not much faith in themselves and other humans to grow and evolve.
Source: More Heart, More Art Through STEAM | Edutopia
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today reported California’s cohort graduation rate climbed for the sixth year in a row in 2015 to a record high, with the biggest jump taking place among English Learners and migrant students.
Among students who started high school in 2011–12, 82.3 percent graduated with their class in 2015, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. (See Table 1.) This increase means that 2,900 more students received their high school diploma last year than the year before. The state’s graduation rate has increased substantially since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate.
The graduation rate of almost every student subgroup calculated by the California Department of Education (CDE) also rose in 2015. The rate of increase among English Learners was 4 percentage points—three times the statewide rate—while the rate of increase among African Americans was 2.6 percentage points—double the statewide rate.
Source: Graduation Rates – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Joyce Tsai
The state on Tuesday released some good news for many students, parents and educators: The four-year graduate rate hit a record high of 82 percent last year.
That’s up 1.3 percent from the year before and represents the sixth consecutive year-to-year increase, according to statewide results. The graduation rate of almost every student subgroup rose, with the biggest gains among English language learners and migrant students, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.
The four-year graduation rates for African-Americans also made gains, but while the achievement gap is narrowing between white and black students, it is still substantial, at more than 17 percent.
By Fermin Leal
California charter schools, including several that intentionally target those at risk of dropping out, account for a disproportionate share of students who fail to graduate high school, according to a report released this week.
“Building a Grad Nation,” which tracks graduation rates among public schools nationally, found that 24 percent of California students in all public schools who failed to graduate in 2014 attended charter schools, even though the state’s charter schools enrolled only 9 percent of all high school students that year.
The report has been produced annually since 2010 by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, as part of an effort to track states’ progress toward reaching a national graduation rate of 90 percent by 2020.
Source: Report: California’s charter schools lag behind traditional schools in graduating students | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
Everybody loves a good run, especially when it comes to raising money. However, when you are springing toward that finish line, wouldn’t you like to get a little messy…and colorful? Benicia High School will help make that happen.
Benicia High will be hosting its first ever Panther Pride Color Vibe, an event that combines a color run with a carnival. Participants will race around the high school track and have colored powder tossed at them along the way. Afterwards, they can partake in a carnival on the football field with various activities, including games, face painting, music, a silent auction and more.
According to senior class president Isabelle Briseno, the idea came from a similar event done at the middle school.
Source: Show your true colors at Benicia High School’s first ever color run
By Richard Bammer
Travis Unified leaders, when they gather tonight in Fairfield for a special governing board meeting and workshop, will hear from a district official about the importance of parental involvement in their children’s academic life.
Parental involvement will be a “major focus” of the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan through 2019, Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for student learning and educational services in the 5,100-student district, wrote in an email to The Reporter late Monday.
Among the changes to the LCAP — basically, the document that typically guides all of a California school district’s spending under Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula — will be the addition of the Parent Project and Parent Project Jr. training next year.
Source: In TUSD, parental involvement is a major focus of the LCAP
By Jess Sullivan
With the Class of 2016 preparing to take its turn in the annual rite of passage, the Assist-A-Grad Scholarship Foundation hosted some of the most successful students by handing out more than $140,000 in future college cash.
More than 100 of the soon-to-be graduates and their families convened Monday night at the Fairfield Community Center to get scholarships and handshakes for their hard work, perseverance and accomplishments.
A packed crowd applauded and some laughed as Vanden senior Tyler Miles was handed one scholarship on the stage before having to dash off the stage, around the large hall just in time to retake the stage to gather up a second scholarship. Miles, who is headed off to California State University, Sacramento this fall, pocketed two $1,000 scholarships.
Source: Assist-A-Grad nonprofit hands out $140,000 in college cash; brings total to $3.2M since 1970
By John Glidden
Will the Vallejo school board authorize staff to continue preparing a district bond for this November or halt the process now?
The Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board is expected to make a decision during its meeting Wednesday night.
Should the process continue, staff is recommending the presentation of a facilities master plan revision for the June 15 meeting. Adoption of a resolution placing a bond on the November ballot would take place at the July 13 board meeting, district staff said.
The district last attempted a bond in 2014 with Measure E.
Despite receiving 61 percent approval from Vallejo voters, Measure E — calling for $239 million to address district facilities — failed to attain the 66 percent required by law.
Source: Vallejo school board to get another bond update
By Dom Pruett
In an open letter Friday, the Obama administration informed every public school district in the country that if transgender students weren’t allowed bathrooms of their chosen gender identity, they’d run the risk of losing federal funding, in addition to lawsuits.
The topic of bathroom laws is a particularly pressing issue at the time, as the Department of Justice and the state of North Carolina are currently engaged in a legal battle over the matter.
In the letter, Title IX is referenced — a 1972 law that says no person should endure discrimination in an education program or another activity that is receiving government assistance, based on their sex.
In essence, failure to oblige will result in a retraction of Title IX funding according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education.
In Vacaville, teachers, principals, and Vacaville Unified School District employees reacted to the controversial letter.
Source: Vacaville educators react to strict letter from Obama administration regarding transgender bathrooms in public schools
By Richard Bammer
Jepson Middle School staff and teachers have been asked to travel to Washington, D.C., in June, when they will advise other middle school educators about effective strategies for teaching and student support, it has been announced.
The news comes as the Elder Street school was named one of only 56 U.S. middle schools to be added to the 2016 National Forum Schools To Watch list.
Schools to Watch, a registered trademark, is an initiative launched in 1999 by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. The forum identifies schools nationwide that meet three benchmarks of high-performing middle schools, Jennifer Leonard, the public information officer for Vacaville Unified, noted in a press release.
Source: Jepson staffers invited to mentor educators at D.C. confab
By Todd R. Hansen
Some students who struggled in the classroom have bloomed into leaders in the Suisun Valley K-8 School’s agri-science program.
“You see students who are not thriving in the classroom and they are the leaders in the garden,” principal Jas Bains Wright said. All nine grade levels are involved.
The acknowledgement they get from their peers, staff and community members translates into more confidence, which in turn shows up with better marks in the classroom as well.
The program, in its fifth year, was why the 520-student campus was selected as a Gold Ribbon School by the state – one of three Fairfield-Suisun School District campuses and 10 in the county that were acknowledged.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun schools strike state gold