Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2017 California Expanded Learning award winners.

“Expanded Learning programs can play a critical role in motivating and engaging students and helping them succeed inside and outside the classroom,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to thank the dedicated staff members who work each day to teach, challenge, and encourage students to achieve their full potential.”

The awards ceremony is part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of after school programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.

Improving and expanding after school and other learning programs outside regular school hours has been a top priority for Torlakson since he entered public service. Torlakson has fought for adequate funding of these programs and created the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division. Torlakson has vigorously opposed President Trump’s proposal to eliminate all federal funding for Expanded Learning, calling it “counterproductive and short-sighted.” The President proposed eliminating all federal funding for Expanded Learning programs, which would take away $127 million or about 18 percent of the total amount California spends on Expanded Learning.

Source: Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Henderson, Semple student achievement plans on table for Board Meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

At the Oct. 19 school board meeting, the principals of Benicia Unified School District’s three secondary schools delivered the Single Plans for Student Achievement for their schools, which were unanimously approved by the board. Now the board is in the process of hearing from the elementary school principals, but unlike in past years where all four elementary principals would present their plans, the board will instead hear presentations from two at a time. This Thursday, the principals of Joe Henderson and Robert Semple elementary schools will go over their goals.

In her planned presentation, Henderson’s new Principal Melanie Buck highlighted three goals for the school, which are all aligned to BUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) goals. The first objective is to have the number of students meeting or exceeding the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s English Language Arts portion from 61 to 68 percent by June 2018. Buck wrote that the previous year’s goal of having 100 percent of all kindergarteners through second graders show growth in the area of literacy was not met, as only 77 percent in this range met or exceeded the standards in this category. Likewise, Buck noted that achieving the same level of growth for third through fifth-graders was not met either, with 72 percent meeting or exceeding the standards, although this was an increase from the 71 percent at this level in the 2015-16 school year.

Vallejo trustees to mull over polling contract – Times Herald

By John Glidden

For the third time in five years, the Vallejo school board is expected to seek input from residents about a possible school bond.

Vallejo City Unified School District staff is recommending the board approve a contract Wednesday night with the firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3)for public opinion polling services.

The contract will cost the district between $23,000 to $33,000 and be paid for from the facilities general fund budget, staff said.


Source: Vallejo trustees to mull over polling contract

Buckingham Robo Knights start new year this weekend with high spirits – Daily Republic

By Buckingham PR Team

The Buckingham Charter Magnet High School Robotics team is gearing up for another successful year.

“This will be an exciting year,” says team Vice President Natalie LaRowe. “The Robo Knights are ready to build on last year’s season when we competed at the World Championships in Houston. This year, we intend to win!”

On Nov. 4, from 6-8 p.m., the Robo Knights will host their annual Spaghetti Feed fundraiser to support the team. The Robo Knights will serve fresh, homemade pasta dishes, salad, garlic bread, and ice cream floats, all for $10. The event features live and silent auctions, and the Robo Knights will demonstrate their robots.

Source: Buckingham Robo Knights start new year this weekend with high spirits

Students play hard at Special Olympics soccer event – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

The Special Olympics oath once again rang true Friday throughout Schaefer Stadium at Fairfield High School as elementary school students of all abilities met up for their annual soccer match.

Some 360 students from Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District elementary schools — Anna Kyle, Center, Crescent, Dan O. Root, K.I. Jones, Laurel Creek, Nelda Mundy and David Weir — paraded around the track, receiving applause from Fairfield High School students, officers from the Fairfield Police Department, California State Prison, Solano and the California Highway Patrol, as well as Fairfield firefighters.

Source: Students play hard at Special Olympics soccer event

Sparking dreams, pathways – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Buckingham High senior Cole Reiner, his hands on a video control pad, operated a small white drone inside the school’s multipurpose room during the Career Fair Friday.

With his eyes locked on the tablet computer, the slightly built, blond-haired teen appeared to be a budding entrepreneur.

He was, indeed.

Standing in a corner, away from nearly 200 students filing into the room, where they were met by more than 30 vendors, Reiner has, with his father, started a business: R6 Systems, an aerial photography firm.

Source: Sparking dreams, pathways

Ed. Dept. Scrutinizing Rule on Minority Representation in Special Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

As a part of its regulatory reform efforts, the U.S. Department of Education is considering delaying a rule that would require states to use a standard method to determine if their districts have wide disparities in how they identify, place in segregated settings, or discipline minority students with disabilities.

As first reported by Politico, a draft Federal Register notice is seeking public comment on putting the rule off for two years. If nothing changes, the rule issued under the Obama administration is set to go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.

Districts already must use 15 percent of their special education funding to address widespread disparities in identification, placement, or discipline of such students. That funding requirement has been in place since the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but only a fraction of districts around the country have been identified as having problems big enough to require the spending shift.

Source: Ed. Dept. Scrutinizing Rule on Minority Representation in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week

Student clubs advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms at BHS – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Two of Benicia High School’s most prominent student activist clubs have been working to promote a more inclusive campus. To further this, the club’s student leaders have been promoting the establishment of a gender-neutral, single occupancy restroom.The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and Intersectional Gender Equity and Feminism (IGEF) clubs have joined forces to craft a proposal recommending that at least one of the school’s since occupancy bathrooms change its signage to reflect being open to transgender and gender non-conforming students.

“Students cannot succeed in academia if they feel unsafe or unwelcome in their learning environment,” the proposal states. “This proposal would establish at least one all gender/gender neutral bathroom in order to create a safer, more inclusive learning environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students and their allies.”Valentina Quintana, GSA president and club member for all her four years of high school, said she had wanted to establish an all-gender bathroom for a couple years and frequently mentioned it at student forums.

Source: Student clubs advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms at BHS

Pensions pack punch for school district budgets, superintendent says – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Pension costs could run school districts out of business, a superintendent said Thursday at the State of Education in Solano County forum.

Schools may first reach a point where they do less for students because of contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System, said Brian Dolan, superintendent of the Dixon School District.

Source: Pensions pack punch for school district budgets, superintendent says

English Learner progress, facility use fee schedule on FSUSD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

English learner progress, a facility use fee schedule and a new appointee to the Measure J Citizens Oversight Committee are on the agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

Howard Kornblum, director of English Learners and Instructional Support for the district, will present the 2017-18 report on the progress of English Learners, students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn adequately in English and often live in homes where English is not the first language.

In his report, Kornblum will highlight to the seven-member governing board several things, among them: 1) Progress of English Learners toward proficiency in English; 2) Percentage of students reclassified as “English-proficient”; the number or percentage of students who are — or may be — at risk of being deemed “long-term” English Learners; achievement levels on state standardized tests of core subjects; and, for comparison purposes, previous year data.

Source: English Learner progress, facility use fee schedule on FSUSD agenda tonight

School board shoots down facility use fees for nonprofits – Daily Republic

By Glen Faison

Trustees in the Fairfield-Suisun School District shot down updated facility use fees Thursday that would have added charges to dozens of nonprofit groups starting in January.

Nonprofits are currently exempt from facility use fees, with the exception of covering any required after-hours staff costs. Current fees – and accompanying exemptions – have been in place for nearly a decade.

Trustees in comments last week telegraphed potential rejection of the plan. They spoke of specific exemptions and a possible sweat-equity program to help offset the new fees for nonprofits. One said he did not support the proposal.

Source: School board shoots down facility use fees for nonprofits

Do State ESSA Plans Have Strong Connections to Higher Education? – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

We’ve written a lot about states’ long term goals in their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some of those goals deal with students’ successful transition from K-12 schools to higher education. But the extent to which states are aligning those two systems varies, at least as far as their ESSA plans go.

That’s one general conclusion reached in an analysis of ESSA plans released Wednesday by the Education Strategy Group, a consulting firm that works on college- and career-readiness with state education departments, districts, and education-oriented groups.

The group’s report found that 41 states addressed college- and career-readiness in some fashion in their proposed ESSA accountability systems. However, just 17 states “directly linked their long-term K-12 goals in ESSA to the state’s higher education attainment goals.”

Source: Do State ESSA Plans Have Strong Connections to Higher Education? – Politics K-12 – Education Week

California community college tuition still the lowest nationally | EdSource

By Larry Gordon

While California continues to have the lowest community college tuition in the county, the costs for UC rank above the average of other research universities, a new report shows.

Listed at $1,430 for a full-time student, the tuition and fees for California’s community colleges are the lowest nationwide in 2017-18, as they have been for years, according to the study by the College Board. That annual price, before being adjusted for financial aid, is less than half the $3,570 national average, the survey found.

California’s ranking as having the least expensive community colleges was not affected by plans in other states like Tennessee and New York that offer free college tuition in various forms and durations. The College Board noted that those states still establish a tuition level and that their programs are partly dependent on federal aid or cut off the grants for higher income students. California Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a law that could make the first year of community college free to all if funding is allocated and the schools adopts key reforms.

Source: California community college tuition still the lowest nationally; UC above average, study finds. | EdSource

K–12 Test Scores Vary Widely across Student Groups – Public Policy Institute of California

By Paul Warren

The 2017 test results for California’s public K–12 school students were essentially unchanged from 2016. But behind the overall results, there were significant differences among student groups. Economically disadvantaged students—mostly those who are eligible for free or reduced price school meals—continued to score far below students not in this category. Students with disabilities and English Learner (EL) students performed at levels significantly below those of low-income students. Gaps in achievement among these groups were essentially unchanged in 2017.

Known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), tests in English and mathematics are administered to virtually all K–12 students in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 11. Students take the computer-based assessments in late spring each year. The scores are reported across four performance levels. In English this year, 45% percent of students performed at the top two levels, which signal that they are working at or above the state’s standard for proficiency. About 28% of all tested students fell into the lowest performance level, “below standard.” In comparison, fewer students had mastered the mathematics skills needed to meet state standards, with 38% earning a proficient score. More than a third (36%) scored at the lowest performance level.

Source: K–12 Test Scores Vary Widely across Student Groups – Public Policy Institute of California

Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

One of the Trump administration’s first executive orders was directing federal agencies to search for—and eliminate, if possible— regulations considered to be burdensome to the American public.

On Friday, the federal office for special education and rehabilitative services took its first crack at clearing the book of “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective regulations.” In all, 63 pieces of guidance from the office for special education programs were identified for elimination, along with 9 documents fro the Rehabilitation Services Administration, for 72 documents in all.

That sounds like a lot. But it appears that many of the special education guidance documents were targeted because they’re just very old. For example, 50 of the guidance documents from OSEP marked for elimination predate the most recent reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed in November 2004. One memo, which does not have a link available, is a 35-year-old letter to state chiefs about data collection for fiscal year 1983.

Source: Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations – On Special Education – Education Week

California teachers union endorses Newsom for governor, Thurmond for state superintendent | EdSource

By Louis Freedberg

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom got a major boost in his bid for governor next year when he received the endorsement of the California Teachers Association over the weekend, as did Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In addition to Newsom and Thurmond, the CTA also endorsed incumbent Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is running for re-election after being appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in January, State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma for State Treasurer and state Senator Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, for lieutenant governor.

The CTA’s State Council of Education, the top governing body of the 325,000-member organization, made the endorsements at their meeting in Los Angeles.

Source: California teachers union endorses Newsom for governor, Thurmond for state superintendent | EdSource

BHS Panther Band hosts first golf tournament fundraiser over weekend – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia High School’s Panther Band Boosters held the program’s first-ever golf tournament fundraiser at Hiddenbrooke Golf Club on Sunday where money was raised and fun was had by all.

Benicia High School’s band program– including its jazz band, Color Guard, drumline and two concert bands– remains one of the school’s proudest organizations. The program has won an ocean of awards over the years and traveled all over to participate in band reviews, competitions and other events. After all, this was the same program that was part of the Rose Parade for two years and has even performed outside the state in places like Chicago and Georgia.

However, it does cost money to participate in these events, so the Boosters group puts on a variety of fundraisers to benefit the program. These include the Jazz ‘N’ Crab Fundraiser in January, the Benicia Bay Winter Review Fundraiser and the Classic Car Show Fundraiser in the spring. With three fundraisers in the spring semester, Booster President Holly Ojendyk said the parent group was looking for another one to hold in the fall.

Source: BHS Panther Band hosts first golf tournament fundraiser over weekend

School board adopts resolution providing input to council on cannabis – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Ever since the passage of Proposition 64 in November, the city of Benicia has had many discussions at various meetings over how the statewide legalization of cannabis should be treated within the city. On Sept. 19, the Benicia City Council reviewed a draft ordinance making recommendations for cannabis activities. Among these suggestions were allowing up to two dispensaries in commercial areas, restricting dispensaries to at least 600 feet away from schools, evaluating a recommended distance from youth centers and parks, limiting dispensaries’ hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., limiting personal cultivation to no more than six mature plants grown indoors, allowing manufacturing facilities and testing labs in the industrial zones, permitting cannabis deliveries for medical users, and requiring cannabis business operators to have a license.

In addition to many discussions at council meetings throughout the year, the issue was at the forefront of the Oct. 13 Planning Commission meeting. The issue even made its way to Benicia Unified School District’s governing board meeting, where the board unanimously adopted a resolution provide concerns and recommendations on the matter to the council for its Nov. 7 meeting, where it is slated to hold a final vote ahead of the state regulations taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Source: School board adopts resolution providing input to council on cannabis

4-H’ers schedule science training – The Reporter

By Reporter Staff

It is a way for Solano County high school students to experience community service while learning and then teaching children.

Area 4-H leaders have scheduled three days of science, engineering and technology(SET) training Oct. 28 to 30, when interested teens will be trained to teach science to elementary-aged children in after-school programs in teams of two to four.

The 10-hour training will be held at the 4-H office, 501 Texas St., Fairfield, during the three days: 6:30 to 8:30 Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday.

Those interested must participate in all of the training days, organizers said in a press release.

Vacaville Unified trustees delay vote on PLAs until full board convenes – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

After some fraught discussion and public comment, Vacaville Unified leaders on Thursday tabled a motion, on a close 3-2 vote, to resume talks on Project Labor Agreements for the Markham Elementary School modernization project.

Before the vote, Board President Michael Kitzes, noting the absence of two trustees, John Jansen and Sherie Mahlberg, and opposing opinions about resuming negotiations with labor unions, referred to trustee Whit Whitman’s suggestion to hold off on making a decision until the full, seven-member board convened to discuss the matter, most likely at the Nov. 2 meeting.

Source: Vacaville Unified trustees delay vote on PLAs until full board convenes