By Fermin Leal
In his proposed budget for the coming year, Gov. Jerry Brown indicated that he wants California to continue addressing the statewide shortage of qualified teachers with ongoing initiatives rather than by funding new reforms.
The initial 2017-18 budget Brown released last week doesn’t include any new money to combat the state’s teacher shortage. Instead, it highlights the $35 million in programs allocated this year to help school districts recruit new teachers.
“No additional investments are being proposed in the governor’s budget, given both the investments that were made (in the 2016-17 budget) as well as the fiscal pressures now facing the state,” said H.D Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance.
Source: Gov. Brown’s proposed budget lacks new funds to combat teacher shortage | EdSource
By Louise Feedberg
Aspects of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposal for a massive $20 billion “school choice” program are running into resistance from an unexpected source: charter school advocates in at least two states.
According to the plan he announced last September, the goal would to allow parents to use federal and state dollars to enroll their children “in the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them.”
The plan would include provide parents with tax-payer supported vouchers that could be used to pay for private school tuition. That has been a central passion of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s multibillionaire nominee to be secretary of education, who will testify before the Senate Health, Labor, Pensions and Education Committee at her confirmation hearing beginning at 2 p.m. PST on Tuesday. She has also been a vigorous supporter of charter schools, and has been a driving force in promoting charter schools in her home state of Michigan. Her husband, Dick DeVos, the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, even started one, the West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids.
Source: Charter school advocates in two states oppose aspects of Trump ‘school choice’ proposal | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a further overview on Benicia Unified School District students’ responses to the Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognitions, Heart (REACH) survey at Thursday’s board meeting.
The REACH survey is considered a supplement to the California Healthy Kids Survey and further examines the relationships between students and teachers and identifies internal assets known to increase achievement. The survey was issued for the first time in the 2015-2016 school year, and Dr. Carolyn Patton— the district’s special services director— presented an overview at the Sept. 1 meeting. Benicia Middle School, Benicia High School and Liberty High School students were polled on the following five categories:
*Relationships: Do teachers believe in their students?
*Effort: How students view their own intelligence influences the effort they put into their school work.
*Aspirations: Do students have positive visions of their futures and set and work toward their goals?
Source: School board to hear additional data of REACH Survey at Thursday’s meeting
By Nick Sestanovich
The method of learning by doing is certainly true of poetry. After all, one can learn a lot about becoming a great poet by immersing oneself in the great poetic works and performing them for an audience.
That is the basic premise of Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest founded by California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia which teaches poetry to high schoolers through memorization and recitation. The competitions begin at the local level, then move on to the county competitions, the state competitions and finally the National Finals in Washington, D.C.
Benicia High School and Liberty High School have participated for a number of years and had some success, including in 2012 when Austin Carr made it to the state finals. This is the first year students will be advised by Benicia High English teacher Michele Lesko, who has a lot of experience in the field. She is the founding editor of IthacaLit.com, a quarterly online journal that publishes poetry and visual art. Additionally, Lesko herself is a professional writer whose poems and short stories in journals, and one of them won a Reader’s Choice Award from Pedestal Magazine. She also has taught creative writing and incorporates poetry as part of her English curriculum.
Source: Benicia high schoolers gearing up for poetry competition
By John Glidden
The Vallejo City Unified School District is seeking to replace its internal paging system, a move which is estimated to cost about $200,000 to $250,000.
The VCUSD Board of Education will review the request during its meeting Wednesday night.
“For general announcements and emergency pages, it is recommended that wall-mounted speakers designed specifically for paging purposes be installed and tied into a paging system that is housed locally at the site, but can be monitored and administered centrally, according to a district staff report. “In addition, several schools are utilizing paging systems that are more than 30 years old and cannot be administered centrally.”
District staff is recommending that a control system, along with wiring, and speakers be installed at each school site to allow for paging services and emergency broadcasts.
Source: VCUSD eyes replacing paging system
By Jasmine Weis
One of the many privileges of being a student at Benicia High School is having the opportunity to enroll in any number of the diverse range of clubs the school has to offer. In recent years, several computer and technology based clubs have made their way onto the list, keeping in pace with the increasing popularity of technical careers and growing number of tech-savvy consumers. I had the opportunity to talk with Maddie Beyer and Victoria Travao, both juniors involved in tech clubs, and gained some insight into what these clubs have to offer.
In search of something to keep her occupied with after school, and with a little encouragement from her teacher, Mr. Andreas Kaiser, Beyer decided to join the Computer Refurbishing Club. The club was established a few years ago by Mr. Kaiser, after the science department was granted new laptops, leading to an influx of old laptops with no place to go. Members of the club are allowed to take the computers home, where they first wipe the drives, then install new software and better operating systems to make them run faster. For people like Beyer, who entered the club with little prior experience dealing with computers, the process is broken down by more experienced members, one of whom even, according to Maddie, “made an instructional manual for the newbies.”
Source: Benicia High offers computer clubs for tech-savvy students
By Richard Freedman
Tom Olson didn’t have to be at Vallejo High School on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Then again, being a retired contractor, Olson didn’t really have to be anywhere. But there he was — with about 70 others — helping work some magic around the Vallejo High School campus on Monday on behalf of Rebuilding Together Solano County.
It’s basically a pay-it-forward type deal, Olson said.
“I have one son who is handicapped and people have done a lot for him,” Olson said. “I figure I’m going to give back.”
Olson, 72, also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.
“I’ve done this for years,” he said of volunteering.
By John Glidden
Vallejo High School will be the recipient of Rebuilding Together Solano County’s 8th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, it was announced this week.
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Home Depot, and Recology Vallejo, numerous volunteers on Monday are expected to make improvements to the faculty lounge, clean the auditorium, and perform weeding and other yard work at the high school.
The workday will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Vallejo High School, 840 Nebraska St. with a prep-workday scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Source: Vallejo High School to benefit from MLK workday
By Richard Bammer
An increasing number of Vacaville High students are college-ready and the building of new classrooms at the West Monte Vista Avenue school will get under way in the coming days, Principal Ed Santopadre told Vacaville Unified leaders during his twice-yearly report about the campus he oversees.
As part of a 20-minute slide presentation Thursday in the Educational Services Center, Santopadre updated the seven-member governing board on myriad aspects of the school, from the mission and Advance Placement test results to standardized test results and graduation/dropout rates to school climate and multimillion-dollar Measure A projects. As expected, his news was mostly upbeat, with an eye cast on improvements in academic areas and responses to intervention for at-risk students.
Not quite midway through his presentation, he noted that the number of college-qualified VHS seniors has jumped from 26 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2015.
Source: VHS principal: Increasing number of grads are college-ready
By Jessica Rogness
Some opted out of their day off Monday to observe Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday with a “day on” working at local schools.
Employees from Kaiser Permanente’s Napa-Solano Region and volunteers from Rebuilding Together Solano County joined students, parents and school staff to spruce up the campus at Dan O. Root Elementary School in Suisun City.
While they raked debris, planted shrubs, spread mulch, washed windows and steam-cleaned the faculty room, some wore a Rebuilding Together shirt, while others opted for a turquoise shirt displaying King’s portrait and a declaration to “Make it a day on. Not a day off.”
Source: Volunteers donate day off to Dan O. Root school
By Ryan McCarthy
Trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District meet Tuesday when Superintendent Kris Corey discusses major district accomplishments and progress in achieving goals outlined by trustees during a prior evaluation.
The closed board session is part of the mid-year check-in of the superintendent’s evaluation.
Corey was selected as superintendent in April 2013 after the announced retirement of Jacki Cottingim-Dias.
Source: Superintendent, trustees meet Tuesday
By Susan Hiland
The Fairfield-Suisun CSEA Chapter 302 donated an estimated $100 in school supplies on Jan. 6.The mission of the California School Employees Association local is to “improve the lives of our members, students, and community.”
Shelbie Petersen, of Vacaville, a Biology and Honors Humanities major at Azusa Pacific University, served through the Center for Student Action during the fall semester in Local Ministries.
From assisting in food banks to providing after-school tutoring and mentoring, the Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific mobilizes and educates students about community service through a collaborative network of offices and programs.
Source: District’s classified staff donate supplies
By Ryan McCarthy
A special school board meeting held in December went well, the president of the board of trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District said.
Judi Honeychurch said the Dec. 17 retreat at the school district administration building produced a revised governance handbook that trustees will take up Jan. 26.
“It was a very productive and positive day,” she said.
Honeychurch spoke at the board’s Jan. 12 meeting about the December workshop.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school board retreat ‘very productive,’ president says
By Ryan McCarthy
A plan for signs at school construction sites – where Measure J money from the $249 million Fairfield-Suisun School District bond will pay for projects – about the work is a good idea, trustee Chris Wilson said.
“People can see their money is well spent,” Wilson said.
He spoke at the Jan. 12 school board meeting.
It will be good to let the public know where their tax money is going, Wilson said.
Voters passed the bond last June.
Source: Signs at school construction has trustee’s support
The State Board of Education (SBE) today took the final steps in approving a landmark Accountability and Improvement System that will provide a wealth of new information to help parents, educators, and the public evaluate schools and districts, identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide targeted assistance.
Today’s actions pave the way for the system, called the California School Dashboard, to be unveiled to the public in late February or March. Next year several changes will be made to strengthen and improve the Dashboard for the 2017-18 school year when it will be fully operational.
“This completes the final pieces of a groundbreaking system to help the public better understand what is going on in our schools,” said California State Board of Education President Mike Kirst. “I look forward to the launch of the California School Dashboard later this year, but this is just the beginning. We plan to make significant improvements in future years.”
Kirst and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked the California Department of Education (CDE) staff and educators throughout the state for their creativity and hard work in producing the California School Dashboard, which was years in the making.
Source: State Board Approves California School Dashboard – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Glidden
A request to replace Ruscal Cayangyang as Vallejo school board president was dropped from the agenda Wednesday night before the matter could be discussed.
While adopting the meeting agenda for the night, the board, in a 4-1 vote, removed a request from board Vice President Burky Worel seeking to install Trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown as board president.
Trustee Tony Ubalde was first to raise concern about the agenda item.
“I feel that to have a positive working relationship; it’s important that we affirm each other,” he said. “To do something like this, is not helpful or affirmative or respectful of each other.”
Source: Vallejo School trustees pull request to change board president
By Richard Bammer
The state’s new “report card” on schools will give parents another way to evaluate their child’s learning environment.
The State Board of Education formally approved what it is calling “a landmark accountability and improvement system” that will provide lots of new information to help parents, educators, and the public evaluate schools and districts, identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide targeted assistance.
Approved Wednesday in Sacramento, the action by the board paves the way for the California School Dashboard, years in the making, to be made public in late February or March. Next year, several changes will be made to strengthen and improve the Dashboard for the 2017-18 school year, when it will go into full effect, Peter Tira, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, noted in a press release.
Source: State ed board OKs new school accountability system
By Ryan McCarthy
A $4,800 contract for a one-day workshop about building student-teacher relationships was among pacts approved Thursday by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Tina Schuler, with the consulting firm TurnAround Schools, will conduct the Jan. 28 workshop.
Schuler has a passion for consulting about behavior management in the classroom, according to the website for No Excuses University, which is associated with Texas-based TurnAround Schools.
Source: School district OKs $4,800 pact for 1-day workshop
By Ryan McCarthy
Students at Solano Community College can get a four-year degree for about $10,000 in biomanufacturing and finish college without debt, professor Jim DeKloe said Thursday at a meeting of three local chambers of commerce.
Industrial biotechnology professor DeKloe recounted how Genentech said in 1994 it would open a Vacaville site and how the corporation has assisted Solano College.
“They have been a wonderful partner,” DeKloe said.
Source: 4-year degree for about $10,000, Solano College professor tells business groups
By Ryan McCarthy
A progress report that’s part of accreditation for the Fairfield-Suisun Adult School on Travis Boulevard – and states $40,000 has been set aside to get out the good news to the public about the school – was accepted Thursday by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
The report notes a new electronic marquee was installed during the summer to advertise classes, events and recognize students.
The school also embraced an online presence and nearly 8,000 class schedules were sent to homes and placed throughout the city, the report adds.
During the 2013-14 school year the adult school earned a six-year accreditation with a required one-day midcycle visit, a school district staff report said.
Source: $40,000 to get good news out about Fairfield-Susiun Adult School