By John Glidden
The momentum behind a proposed City-Schools Taskforce formed to discuss community issues impacting schools, and school issues impacting the community appears to have stalled.
The idea behind the taskforce gained traction after several violent incidents occurred at Vallejo’s schools, including the May 2015 shooting death of Jesse Bethel High School student Max Rusk.
However, the 10-person committee still has several vacancies, and the group has yet to meet.
The city council appointed Mayor Osby Davis, and Vice Mayor Rozzana Verder-Aliga to serve, while the school board tapped trustees Raymond Mommsen and Ward “Ace” Stewart to represent the board on the taskforce.
Source: Proposed Vallejo city-school taskforce stalls
By Richard Bammer
A new Vacaville Unified program will bring together preschoolers with and without disabilities to learn together, district officials have announced.
Integrated Preschool Program classes, to be offered at Hemlock Elementary and the Irene Larsen Preschool Center, are intended “to help children experience different developmental, social and behavioral models from other children,” Rae Ann Quinata, an assistant in the district’s public information office, wrote in a press release.
The blended environment, in two-hour per day classroom settings, emphasizes compassion, understanding and positive perceptions of diversity and disability, she added.
In the written statement, Kuljeet Nijjar, a district special education preschool coordinator, said the program will provide “greater compassion and a more positive perception of children with disabilities.”
Source: New Vacaville school program to pair preschoolers with and without disabilities
By John Glidden
Just over two months after the Vallejo school board officially approved a motion asking the Vallejo City Council for a joint meeting, councilmembers will decide the fate of that invitation.
The Vallejo City Council is expected to make a decision during its meeting Tuesday night.
For over a year, Vallejo City Unified School District Trustee Burky Worel repeatedly asked his colleagues to call for a joint meeting with the council to discuss various issues, including school safety.
Worel, and VCUSD Vice President Ruscal Cayangyang have attended city council meetings, asking councilmembers to initiate the joint meeting, as well.
Source: Vallejo City Council to decide on joint meeting with school board
By Richard Freedman
Demetrius Johnson may not have been at wit’s end, but he was close.
A year out of Bethel High School, Johnson was stuffed into a dorm room at San Diego State University paying about $1,200 a month.
The former basketball and football player was not happy.
“The three of us in a small room paying all this money,” he remembers.
When financial aid evaporated, the Television, Film, and New Media major was desperate. Always a Will Smith fan, Johnson posted a heartfelt letter to Smith’s Facebook page, realizing the slim odds of the actor actually reading it.
source: Bethel grad gets Will Smith’s attention – Times Herald
By John Glidden
Two years after a $239 million school bond intended to address district facilities failed to receive enough support from the community, the Vallejo school board will decide Wednesday night if it will try again.
The Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education is expected to approve placing two companion general obligation bond measures on the November ballot.
Despite receiving 61 percent approval from Vallejo voters, Measure E failed to attain the 66 percent approval required by law during the November 2014 election.
VCUSD staff is recommending placing two smaller $139 million bonds on the fall ballot. One is reserved for middle and high schools, while the second will help the district’s elementary schools.
Source: Vallejo school board to decide on possible November bonds
By Ryan McCarthy
Students learn to stand at attention, march and address adults as “sir” or “ma’am” at the Public Safety Academy – whose enrollment will expand to about 700 next school year and mark its first graduating class, says a report to Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
The academy on Atlantic Avenue opened in the fall of 2012 with 390 students in grades 5-8 and plans to expand one grade level per year through the 12th grade, according to the annual report that describes the schools as “paramilitary in structure.”
Source: Public Safety Academy enrollment will expand to 700 next school year
By Ryan McCarthy
A contract to install surveillance cameras at Armijo and Fairfield high schools, Green Valley Middle School, B. Gale Wilson Elementary and the Adult School on Travis Boulevard goes before Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees Thursday.
The school district solicited proposals for installation of the cameras.
The name of company recommended for the contract was not available Friday but will be provided next week, a staff report said.
Source: Surveillance cameras eyed for Armijo and Fairfield high schools, Green Valley and B. Gale Wilson
By Nick Sestanovich
Education plays a big role in determining students’ futures. As they move through their schooling, students take at least one class that inspires them to enter that field or influences what they want to do with their lives. Additionally, as technology becomes more omnipresent, more career opportunities open up for everybody.
Therefore, it has become expected for schools to inspire students—especially female students— to enter the fields they are most passionate about, not necessarily the ones society has traditionally suggested they take.This was the premise behind C-STEM GIRL (Girls in Robotic Leadership) Camp, a weeklong partnership between Benicia Unified School District and UC Davis, in which incoming seventh and eighth-grade girls learned about robotics and coding as well as leadership, public speaking and team building skills.
Source: UC Davis-sponsored camp teaches Benicia Middle School girls about importance of computing, tech and more
By Evie Blad
Child nutrition groups and Democrats in Congress say a proposal to offer blanket block grants to fund school meal programs in up to three states may threaten equity and lead to inadequate nutrition for low-income children who often rely on school food more than their wealthier peers.
The House plan to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which sets rules for school meals, would offer the block grants in exchange for lifting federal meal program rules in participating states. In exchange, the states, which would have to apply to participate in the block grant option, would have to offer at least one “affordable” meal a day. Supporters of the plan, including sponsor Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), say it would allow for flexibility at the state and local level and allow for innovative use of federal funds to feed students.
Source: Proposed Block Grants for School Meals Trouble Child-Nutrition Groups – Rules for Engagement – Education Week
By Robert Pondiscio
Last month, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, the hashtag #BeckyWithTheBadGrades began trending on Twitter. If you’re not sure what that phrase means or why it was so hotly discussed on social media, don’t despair. You’re not poorly educated, misinformed, or illiterate. But you’re probably missing a bit of cultural knowledge common among young people, particularly young people of color. The clever hashtag offers a lesson in the value of cultural literacy—often a touchy subject in education—but with a nifty twist: This time, it’s our students who got a cultural reference that left many adults scratching their heads.
Source: Cultural Literacy in the Age of the Hashtag – Education Next : Education Next
By Ryan McCarthy
A July 26 workshop will be held for people interested in running for the Fairfield-Suisun School District board Nov. 8.
Board members will cover roles, responsibilities and expectations of a trustee and answer questions from potential candidates.
The school district will have positions open for election in the Trustee Areas 1, 2, 3 and 6.
A map of trustee areas is on the district website (www.fsusd.org) under the Governing Board tab. Residents can also go to www.solanocounty.com/depts/rov/ and type in their address to determine their trustee area or call the voter registrar’s office at 784-6675, the school district said.
Source: Workshop set for Fairfield-Suisun board candidates
By John Glidden
Marianne Kearney-Brown wants to bring an “educator’s perspective” to the Vallejo school board.
Kearney-Brown announced this week that she is running for a seat on the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education this November.
“Parents and students have important issues and concerns which are not being addressed by the current board,” Kearney-Brown said in a news release announcing her campaign.
Since October 2012, Kearney-Brown has tutored many of Vallejo’s students. She opened the WIT Academy, a math support center in downtown Vallejo.
By Richard Bammer
Brothers Jesus and Oscar Silva, seated at a table, closely eyed a computer program displayed on a laptop as Omena Mushale explained how their LEGO Mindstorms robot was meant to work.
Migrant Education students in Fairfield-Suisun Unified were in a classroom for high schoolers Monday at Anna Kyle Elementary in Fairfield where they participated in a two-week STEM camp specifically for students like them, sons and daughters of migrant workers who either follow seasonal plantings and harvests or move frequently within a certain geographic area, including a city or town, as they seek work.
source: Bridging “opportunity gap,” Migrant Ed students go to STEM camp – The Reporter
By Mac Drake
It was at the spry age of 13 that former Vacaville High School Bulldog Elliott Paylor first fell in love with the game of golf and decided he wanted to compete on the PGA Tour one day.
Chasing the dream has proven to be a grueling journey, but after years of hard work and dedication to the game Paylor was rewarded as he made his PGA Tour debut at the Barracuda Championship last weekend at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno.
Although Paylor didn’t make the weekend cut, being able to compete in a PGA Tour event was a big accomplishment for a man who has made great sacrifices in pursuit of his dream.
“It was a dream come true,” said Paylor, who works as an Assistant Golf Professional at Yocha Dehe Golf Club in Brooks at the Cache Creek Casino Resort. “I don’t think I stopped smiling all week. I was very thankful for the opportunity to be out there.”
Source: Former Vacaville High School golfer Elliott Paylor makes PGA Tour debut
By Richard Bammer
Can you help a backpack campaign for homeless and foster youth called Stuff the Bus?
During the past year, Solano County Office of Education (SCOE) officials identified nearly 1,500 homeless students and nearly 500 foster youths.
As defined under a federal law, the McKinney-Vento Act, a homeless youth may be unaccompanied and “couch-surfing” from home to home, living on the streets, in shelters, or staying temporarily with family or friends due to a loss of housing or financial problems.
Foster youth — that is, any child who has been removed from the custody of a parent or parents or a guardian or guardians by Juvenile Court — may live with a relative, in a foster home or in a group home.
Source: Can you help Stuff the Bus? The Reporter
By Melissa Murphy
Solano County Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck announced he will retire Dec. 31.
A press release from the Solano County Office of Education noted that Speck just concluded his 40th year with that office having begun his career in 1976 as a teacher at the T.C. McDaniel Center in Fairfield.
During that time, he served many roles including teacher, program manager, principal, special education director, assistant superintendent for human resources, and superintendent. He began his first term as Solano County Superintendent of Schools in January 2011.
“Jay’s countywide leadership has been nothing short of stellar through very challenging times, including the recession and the massive shift in education policy that the adoption of the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) and the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) model represent,” said Board President Dana Dean. “While Jay will be deeply missed, he leaves behind an organization that is a model of strength and harmony with a focus where it should be – on our children.
Source: Solano County Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck to retire
By Richard Bammer
School is out for the summer at Vacaville’s Padan Elementary, but robotics is in, and, by all accounts, is nothing short of way cool.
Word got out of the science goings-on at the 200 Padan School Road and, Wednesday, some 75 parents and community members showed up for an open house to highlight the school’s summer school robotics program, Jennifer Leonard, the public information officer for Vacaville Unified, wrote in a press release.
Guests were invited to tour “city landscapes” on monitors designed and created by the upper-grade elementary students who then programmed robots to independently navigate the cityscapes.
Source: News, Breaking News and More: The Reporter
By Paul Farmer
Wally Hunt doesn’t move to the beat of a different drummer.
He’s the different drummer, the one who writes and arranges marches used by his Grange Middle School Blue Ranger marching band – and any other middle school or small high school band that uses his work.
Hunt, 58, has been a music teacher in the Fairfield-Suisun School District for 26 years, the last seven as band director at Grange, the previous 17 at then Dover Middle School, the rest split between Amy Blanc, David Weir and Fairview elementary schools.
Source: Grange’s Hunt the leader of – and composer for – the band