By Ian Thompson
Main Street West developer Mike Rice fielded questions that centered around parking, park design and traffic patterns when he unveiled his new proposal Wednesday night to turn the long-vacant Crystal School site into a medium-density residential development.
Rice told listeners he had tweaked the development’s old design to make it fit better with the surrounding neighborhood, added in more parking areas to address congestion concerns and cut the number of lots from what he had proposed almost a decade ago before the recession put the project on hold.
Source: Developer unveils design proposals for Crystal School site
By Richard Bammer
Facing a mandatory state deadline today, Dixon Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, are expected to approve the school district’s 2016-17 budget and its accompanying Local Control Accountability Plan.
The five-member governing board, after a series of presentations and public hearings earlier this year, will sign off on a good-news budget, with $33.2 in revenues exceeding $32.9 million in expenses, an ending balance of $3.2 million, and $2.3 million in prudent reserves.
And they will sign off on the LCAP, which guides virtually all spending in the 3,500-student, rural eastern Solano County district, especially for programs meant to help minorities, low-income and foster youth.
Source: Dixon Unified leaders to OK 2016-17 budget
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
Austin Carlson hoped to make it on the ABC TV show “BattleBots.”
“There were so many applicants (that) I didn’t get in,” said the 1999 Armijo High School graduate.
His cousin Jerome Miles, however, was chosen for the show and invited Carlson to be on his team. They will be on tonight’s episode, which airs at 8 p.m. on Channels 7 and 10.
Source: Armijo grad member of team featured on ‘BattleBots’
By Todd R. Hansen
An emotional Monica Brown questioned why there is even a need to pass additional taxes to support children’s services, but because she believes the need is great, she would support a proposal for a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot.
Her 2nd District opponent, Mike Ioakimedes, said he would likely support the initiative, but he called it another “Band-Aid measure,” and said real change will only come with an overhaul of the tax system.
“It is incomprehensible that in 2016 we have to take votes to take care of our kids,” said Brown, who broke down in tears when discussing the proposed Solano Fund for Children. “What kind of society are we that we don’t take care of our children?”
Source: District 2 hopefuls differ on children’s tax measure
By John Fensterwald
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed the $171 billion state budget for the year starting July 1 without deleting any spending items. The budget, which the Legislature passed on June 15, directs an additional $3 billion into the state’s rainy-day reserve – one of the governor’s top priorities. The reserve will rise to $6.7 billion by June 2017.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the last time a governor signed an intact budget, without penciling out spending, was 1982, during Brown’s second term as governor.
The budget includes $71.9 billion through Proposition 98, the main source of money for K-12 and community colleges. That’s $3.5 billion more than the Legislature approved last year and is a 4 percent increase. The budget also commits to increasing the number of slots for state preschool by nearly 9,000 over the next four years, a victory for advocates of early education and their ally, the Legislative Women’s Caucus.
Source: Brown signs 2016-17 state budget intact | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
Summer is a time for children to have fun without feeling pressured by the copious amounts of school work they received for the previous 10 months. As beneficial as this could be for students’ well-beings, it could have a negative impact on their enthusiasm to learn. Children who opt to forgo any form of reading over the summer might be less likely to read when school starts up again. Thankfully, the Benicia Public Library’s Summer Reading Program is back to make kids want to dive into a book or many during the year’s hottest months.
The Summer Reading Program has been a staple at the library for a long time, and it has gone through several different formats. Previously, kids ages 3 to 14 would get a prize for reading 100 different books over the summer and writing down the titles. In other summers, kids would write down the amount of time spent reading. According to Allison Angell, the library’s head of youth services, the program will be doing Bingo cards which would not only encourage children to read but also go out into the community.
Source: Library to encourage children to read through playing summerlong Bingo game
By Nick Sestanovich
High school is when people tend to take their first steps into the working world. Four Benicia High School students chose to not only get jobs, but they also started their own business. Doing what? Whatever people request of them.
Incoming sophomore Chris Weldon, incoming senior Jordan Carro and recent graduates Jonathan Stevens and Caleb Carro are the founders of We Do Odd Jobs, a business that does odd jobs by request throughout Solano and Contra Costa counties. These jobs include landscaping, helping people move, trimming and other tasks requested by individuals.According to Weldon, the job started as a way for him and his friends to make some extra money.“We made a little post on the ‘Benicia Happenings’ Facebook group, and then we got some work,” he said. “More and more people kept calling me and texting me requesting for us to come by and help them. After that, we decided to make it a bigger thing, and so far it’s going pretty strong.”
Source: Four Benicia High friends do odd jobs throughout county
By Todd R. Hansen
The Board of Supervisors faced a full room of advocates imploring that it was time to invest in Solano’s children.
“Is there any reason you won’t support us?” the board was asked by four children in a rehearsed plea to support a ballot measure that, as proposed, would raise the sales tax 25 cents over the next 10 years.
Suisun City Vice Mayor Lori Wilson said the kind of services that the measure would support gave her hope and a chance at a productive life. In an emotional testimonial, she described a childhood of homelessness and abuse.
Source: County will help children’s group craft ballot measure
By Pat Maio
A framework for new science assessments for California’s 6.2 million public school students moved closer to completion last week, as a state advisory panel approved sending the latest draft to the State Board of Education for approval.
At the same time, the panel, known as the Instructional Quality Commission, approved the draft for a final 60-day public comment period.
The framework would implement the “Next Generation Science Standards” – a major overhaul of the nation’s approach toward teaching science in K-12 grades. The standards, more commonly called NGSS, emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s.
Approving the framework is a key step in the multi-layered and multi-year process the state has initiated to introduce the standards in every school district in the state. While the NGSS standards create common practices for teaching science, the framework consists of several chapters detailing what is to be taught at specific grade levels: pre-1st grade, 1st and 2nd grades, 3rd through 5th, 6th through 8th, and the high school grades.
Source: New framework for teaching K-12 science moves closer to approval | EdSource
It is never too early to start thinking about careers. Middle schoolers who have an interest in policing will have the opportunity to get a taste of the profession at the Youth Citizen’s Police Academy, a weeklong instructional event which will be held at Matthew Turner Elementary School.
From July 18 to 22, incoming seventh and eighth-graders will learn about how the Benicia Police Department operates. Police officers will deliver presentations, and students will participate in mock scenarios such as crime scene processing. Topics covered include arrest procedures, police ethics, criminal law, collecting evidence, cyberbullying, operating a police radar gun, handling equipment and more. There will also be a discussion on gun safety, and students will be given a chance to operate a laser and simunitions weapon– not unlike a paintball gun– at a range. This will be done under adult supervision, and students will not be handling live firearms. There will also be demonstrations performed by the SWAT team, Motorcycle Unit and K-9 Unit. The course will conclude with a graduation ceremony held at Matthew Turner Elementary.
Source: Middle schoolers to get firsthand look at police life with Youth Citizen’s Police Academy
By Nick Sestanovich
Charles Young, superintendent of Benicia Unified School District, announced Stephen Slater as the new principal of Matthew Turner Elementary School.
Earlier this month, Leslie Beatson— the principal at Matthew Turner since 2012— was announced as the district’s new superintendent of educational services, succeeding Marie Morgan who will be taking the reins as the superintendent of Walnut Creek School District. As Beatson was promoted to her new role, this left a vacancy in Matthew Turner’s highest leadership position, which will be filled by Slater.
Slater received both his teaching credential and undergraduate degree in diversified liberal arts from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. He also received his master’s degree from Concordia University in Irvine.
Source: Contra Costa administrator selected as new principal of Matthew Turner
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
Representatives from law enforcement, education and the community attended a screening of “Zero Percent,” Monday at Solano Community College.
The film was shot inside New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility and focused on Hudson Link’s college degree program that started at the prison.
Sean Pica, executive director of Hudson Link, who was in the area to speak at San Quentin’s graduation, touted the importance of a college education.
Source: Film, chat explores higher education for inmates
By Richard Bammer
Travis Unified leaders, when they meet tonight, are expected to approve the school district’s $54.5 million proposed budget for 2016-17 and its accompanying Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP.
An LCAP, or Local Control Accountability Plan and a key part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, is essentially a school district’s guide on how it will spend its money on programs that largely affect “unduplicated” students, that is, English language learners, low-income children, ethnic minorities, and foster youth.
Both documents must be submitted to the Solano County Office of Education by 5 p.m. Thursday, as required by law.
At their June 14 meeting, trustees heard newly hired Chief Business Officer Jamie Metcalf lay out, in a slide presentation, the proposed budget, with $1.7 million in deficit spending and an ending balance of $3.4 million. She noted that state officials predict slower growth this year and for the next two outlying years, which likely will mean hiring freezes.
Source: Travis Unified leaders expected to OK 2016-17 budget, LCAP
By Times Herald Staff
Solano County’s Auditor-Controller’s Office received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, county officials announced.
This is the 14th consecutive year the office has been so recognized, they said.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors will receive a presentation from the Auditor-Controller’s Office about this achievement on Tuesday during its regularly scheduled meeting, starting at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Center, 675 Texas Street, Fairfield.
The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management, county officials said.
Source: Solano County recognized for financial reporting
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Friday announced that the California Department of Education has contracted with the State Controller’s Office to audit an online charter school network, some of whose students graduated Thursday in Vacaville.
State officials will cast an eye on California Virtual Academies and related charter schools because of serious questions raised about a number of their practices, Bill Ainsworth, a spokesman for the CDE, wrote in a press release.
The inquiry comes after an April report in the The Mercury News that questions whether CAVA — part of a growing network of online charter schools operated by a Virginia company traded on Wall Street called K12 Inc. — was receiving millions in state education dollars but failing key tests used to measure educational success.
Source: State to audit online charter school network
By Richard Bammer
Sierra Vista, newly configured as TK-8 school, will not be named after the late Ernest Kimme, but, instead, his name likely will grace a proposed Independent Study charter school that will open in mid-August.
Speaking at Vacaville Unified governing board meeting Thursday, the chairman of the school district’s Facility Naming Citizens Advisory Committee said members earlier this month decided against re-naming the Bel Air Drive campus after Kimme, a beloved former teacher, city councilman and Reporter columnist.
But Ron Drinkard said the IS charter school, its petition submitted at the meeting for approval at a later trustees meeting, may be named after Kimme, either as the Kimme Charter for Independent Learning or the Kimme Program for Independent Learning. It will be housed at 1949 Peabody Road.
Drinkard said the committee’s unanimous decision not to re-name Sierra Vista after Kimme, who died in August 2015, was an “emotional” one.
Source: Proposed Independent Study office likely to be named after Kimme
By Dom Pruett
The weather was sweltering, which made the walking that much more challenging.
But for the hundreds who braved the heat Saturday during the Relay for Life at Vaca Pena Middle School, the inconvenient conditions paled in comparison to the pain caused by cancer.
“You can’t take a break from cancer,” said Vacaville resident Catina Wolett, who gladly revealed she’s now five years cancer free.
“It’s amazing to see everyone here still pushing. Not afraid.”
Source: Relay for Life marches for cure, hope
By Alyson Klein
State K-12 leaders busily trying to transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act are beginning to worry that the U.S. Department of Education is bent on trying to enforce the previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind Act, Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers said in an interview Thursday.
The department, though, says that the two laws include many of the same requirements when it comes to test quality and equity. More on that below.
Minnich said states are trying to move toward testing and accountability systems that embrace the flexibilities of ESSA, which gives states much more leeway in both areas. They should be given some room to make those moves.
Source: States, Feds Clash on Transition From NCLB to ESSA – Politics K-12 – Education Week
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the winners of a new award, the Distinguished After School Health (DASH) program certificate, which recognizes programs that excel in providing health education, nutrition, and physical activities for their students.
The California Department of Education (CDE) released a list of 187 schools statewide that received the certificate. The list is posted on the CDE Web site and will help parents and students locate and apply to DASH programs in their school districts.
“These terrific after school programs show students the many benefits of good nutrition and exercise and will help our students achieve success,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a science teacher and coach. “Students who eat right and stay fit will do better in class.”
In 2014, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) authored SB 949, which required CDE to develop a process for determining DASH standards and recognition. CDE assembled a panel of volunteers to screen the applications for alignment with the goals outlined in Jackson’s legislation.
Source: New After School Program Award – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Ryan McCarthy
A $209 million budget that includes salaries totaling $132 million and employee benefits of $41 million won approval Thursday by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Laneia Grindle, director of fiscal services for the school district, had said at the June 9 meeting when the proposed 2016-17 budget was presented that more than 80 percent of spending was on staff, a figure she said matches the statewide average.
Textbooks and supplies total $13.2 million in the budget.
Source: Trustees OK $209M budget for Fairfield-Suisun School District