By Dennis Li
I’m a data geek. I have spreadsheets for almost everything: planning my wedding, comparing car leases, optimizing where I purchase contact lenses, inventorying items when I travel, etc.
Despite my love of data, two years into working as the data integration and reporting administrator at a public school district, I had grown disenchanted with how student data was being used. When I crisscrossed the district to talk to principals and administrators about their student data, I was often met with fear, confusion, and skepticism. On more than one occasion, I had to reassure and console a principal who thought they would lose their job because of one flat or downward sloping line chart.
Source: Why Student Data Should Be Students’ Data | Edutopia
By John Fensterwald
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is making big changes in how special education teachers will be trained, adding core courses and an assessment already mandated for general classroom teachers.
Commissioners view the overhaul of preparation requirements as critical to improve the education of the state’s roughly 740,000 students with disabilities and predict the changes could be transformative: More students with disabilities will be identified and served earlier, taught more effectively and “mainstreamed” more often in classrooms serving all students.
Though four years, several reports and iterations in the making, the commission’s most recent decision came one day after the state released data showing that students with disabilities did worse than other student groups in California on multiple indicators of achievement. Two-thirds of the 228 districts that will receive assistance from county offices of education were designated because of the poor performance of students receiving special education services.
Source: Big changes in requirements to become a special education teacher in California | EdSource
By John Glidden
Vallejo school district Superintendent Adam Clark said the district will need to put a serious fiscal plan in place to prevent financial ruin.
Clark spoke to the Times-Herald Monday, almost a week after the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education learned that $12 million in cuts need to be made over the next two years.
“We were disappointed by the results of the first interim report,” Clark said about the budget update given to the board. “Although it isn’t a surprise.”
Like many districts in the state, Clark said VCUSD has a declining student population, plus, the district must deal with rising retirement costs.
Trustees learned Dec. 6 that the district must cut $8 million next school year, plus an additional $4 million during the 2019-20 or have a general fund $14 million in the red.
Source: Vallejo school district to make cuts, name budget committee
By Richard Bammer
A public hearing about a new charter school petition to set up schools in three Solano County cities and the election of officers are on the Solano County Office of Education agenda when trustees meet tonight in Fairfield.
Leaders of Elite Public School submitted their petition to the county board on Oct. 27, and, by law, school districts must either approve or deny within 60 days of receiving it but can extend the deadline with a vote.
A copy of the petition is available for public review at the county office website, at www.solanocoe.net.
The drive to establish independent charter schools in Vacaville, Vallejo and Fairfield is spearheaded by the former Superintendent of Vallejo City Unified, Ramona Bishop, who was fired on a 3-2 governing board vote in March after serving six years. Her termination was made without cause.
Source: Solano County Office of Education board to hear independent charter school petition
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified’s special education department, including its goals for the current year, funding and staffing levels, will be the primary focus of a special governing board workshop tonight in Vacaville.
Sasha Begell, the department director, and Kimberly Forrest, assistant superintendent of student services and special education, will make what appears to be a highly detailed presentation consisting of more than 80 computer-aided slides.
According to agenda documents, they will tell the seven-member governing board that the department’s focus for the 2017-18 is to improve communication and identify needs, stemming, in part, from the department’s “vision statement”: “Supporting student success through equitable access, collaboration and empowerment.”
Begell and Forrest will note the importance of “building relationships” among teachers, parents and administrators, by “validating and showing appreciation,” “being responsive and having difficult conversations with honesty,” and “establishing monthly meetings,” respectively.
Source: Special ed program the focus of Vacaville workshop tonight
By Ryan McCarthy
Ambitious enrollment claims by backers of the proposed Elite Charter School come despite declines in the number of students attending Vallejo public schools when Ramona Bishop, lead petitioner for Elite, was superintendent there, opponents of the charter school contend.
A white paper titled “Grounds for Denial of the Elite Public Schools Charter Petition,” written by four people involved in public schools, also states that when Bishop was superintendent of the Vallejo City School District the dropout rates were much higher than any other school district in Solano County.
Marianne Kearney-Brown, among the people who prepared the paper, said she is not opposed in principle to charter schools and would support Elite if she believed it was warranted.
Source: ‘White paper’ challenges plans for Elite Charter School
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a discussion and then vote on the district’s 2017-18 first interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting.The district provides the report using information from the budget adopted by the state in June along with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as well as other budget assumptions.
The LCFF is a funding system approved by the state in 2013 which establishes grants in place of funding streams. It is how school districts in California, including BUSD, are funded. According to a presentation by Chief Business Official Tim Rahill, the LCFF provides $8262 per BUSD student and includes a base grant as well as a 20 percent increase for English language learning or foster youth students as well as those enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. According to Rahill, those three groups make up 22 percent of BUSD’s student population.Utilizing information from the state budget, Rahill wrote that the district would be operating at a $1.8 million operating deficit, not including negotiating costs with any of the district employee groups and would provide for the state’s 3 percent Reserve for Economic Uncertainties and the Local Board Policy Reserve, consisting of an additional 4 percent reserve.
Source: First interim financial report up for school board review
By John Glidden
Vallejo school district Superintendent Adam Clark confirmed Monday that district employees are free to support “other endeavours” like the ELITE Public Charter School petition.
The Times-Herald posed the question to Clark after two senior Vallejo City Unified School District administrators have publicly shown support for a charter school proposal from Ramona Bishop.
Bishop was the VCUSD Superintendent from 2011 until she was fired, without cause, earlier this year by district trustees.
Edison Kelly, VCUSD’s director of alternative education, is listed as one of ELITE’s founding members, according to the petition. The others are Bishop and Bel Reyes.
Towards the end of the petition, the district’s Chief Partnerships & Community Engagement Officer Alana Shackelford signed her name in support of the charter.
Source: Senior VCUSD officials support charter
By John Glidden
If approved by the Solano County Board of Education, the ELITE Public Charter School will harm local neighborhood schools, forcing them to make difficult budget cuts, the Napa-Solano County Central Labor Council says.
In an un-yet published letter to the editor, Steven Quinlan, a trustee on the labor council, said the group officially opposes the charter school plan brought forth by Ramona Bishop.
Bishop was the Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent from 2011 until earlier this year. She was fired without cause by a majority of the VCUSD Board of Education on March 15.
Bishop is seeking to open a charter school network throughout Solano County, with a campus opening in Vallejo next year and campuses slated for Fairfield and Vacaville a year after that.
Source: Local unions oppose charter school petition
By Richard Bammer
Casting an eye on the state’s new school accountability system, Vacaville Unified’s chief academic officer said the district’s salient strength is its graduation rate, its greatest weaknesses English and math scores on standardized tests.
Mark Frazier made his remarks during Thursday’s governing board meeting, when he updated trustees about progress made on the district’s 2017-18 Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, the document that guides virtually all of a California school district’s spending, especially for programs that aid poor students, English language learners and foster youth.
Toward the end of his slide presentation, he referred to the fall 2017 California School Dashboard, a website released Thursday that offers information in numerous categories — besides test scores, career and college readiness, English learner progress suspension and absenteeism rates — about school and student performance.
Source: Graduation Rates – VUSD
By Richard Bammer
The first interim 2017-18 budget report, nomination and election of new governing board officers, and new or modified course proposals are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Chief Business Officer Sonia Lasyone will update the five-member governing board on the district’s financial picture for the current year, one of two annual interim reports required by state law.
She will present her numbers as the state’s financial outlook remains generally healthy, with revenue collections exceeding expectations but with Gov. Jerry Brown warning public entities not to commit to ongoing, multiyear agreements.
Source: Interim budget report, officer elections on Travis Unified School District agenda
By Richard Bammer
The 20th-century German novelist Thomas Mann once wrote, “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace,” and it is certainly hellish, as Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman famously noted.
The problems of peace and the hell of war specifically affected the many American veterans of 20th-century wars and also many Japanese-Americans interned during World War II whose dreams of high school graduation evaporated with the advent of armed conflicts.
During the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, millions of young men and women left high school and their homes to serve in the U.S. military. Consider that more than 14 million were on active duty in 1945 alone, according to Department of Defense data.
Additionally, during World War II Japanese-American citizens were forced into detention camps across the United States, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, signed an executive order relocating some 110,000 Japanese-Americans away from the West Coast after the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. Some young Japanese-American men, rather than stay in the camps, were later permitted to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. Notably, the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed mostly of Japanese-American men, became the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history.
Source: Deadline approaching for Operation Recognition
By Nick Sestanovich
Benicia Middle School and Joe Henderson Elementary School were among 13 schools in Solano County to receive a Wong Music Mini-Grant from the Solano Community Foundation.
Benicia Middle School and Joe Henderson Elementary School were among 13 schools in Solano County to receive a Wong Music Mini-Grant from the Solano Community Foundation.The grant was established in 2011 by Donald and Rose Marie Wong who were concerned by the amount of schools eliminating or reducing music education programs. Since then, funds have been used to repair or provide new instruments, pay for band uniforms and sheet music, and more. Rose Marie died in 2016, but her name lives on to ensure that students have the materials for a proper music education.
Source: BMS, Henderson receive $1,000 music grants
By the Editor
Art Blakey said that “Music washes away the dust of every day life.” The L.A. Swing Barons are helping make that happen in Southern California. The classic 13-piece jazz big band was formed in 2015 when it became clear that no one in the greater Los Angeles area was playing music capturing the hard swingin’ 1930s /1940s Kansas City sound of Count Basie and his peers.
Dancers from all over Southern California come once a month to the iconic and historic Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles to dance to the Swing Barons’ live & lively music. Many dress in vintage clothing from the era.
They have just released their first CD, and it features a graduate of the Benicia Unified School District’s music program and 2013 Benicia High School graduate Liam Robertson, who plays lead alto saxophone.
Source: Benicia High School grad helps bring next swing revival to LA
By John Glidden
The county’s board of education will have its first look Wednesday night at a charter school petition brought forward by a former Vallejo school district superintendent.
Ramona Bishop, who served as superintendent for the Vallejo City Unified School District from 2011 until March of this year, is leading the charge for a charter school network throughout Solano County.
Called ELITE Public Charter School, Bishop is hoping to open a campus in Vallejo for the 2018-19 school year, followed by the establishment of campuses in Fairfield and Vacaville for the 2019-20 school year.
Reached by phone recently, Bishop expressed confidence the county school board will find the petition in good order. She further stated the charter school team is filled with qualified educators who can provide a solid education to students.
Source: County school board to review charter school petition
By John Glidden
A financial consultant warned the Vallejo school board that if the district continues its current spending pattern, the district may not be able to meet its financial obligations in two years.
Terri Ryland of Ryland School Business Consulting presented the grim news during a budget presentation before the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education on Wednesday night.
The district’s general fund is expected to lose $10 million during the current fiscal year, Ryland explained. If the district can’t add $12 million — $8 million in 2018-19, and $4 million in 2019-20 — in revenue to the budget, then cuts to the general fund will need to be made.
Ryland warned the district it “can’t do business as usual.”
Source: Deep cuts needed for Vallejo City Unified School District
By Arletta Kelley Cortright
The Fairfield – Nirasaki Sister City Program invites all interested high school students and their parents to attend an information meeting on Wednesday, December 13th, at 6 PM in the Fairfield Adult Recreation Center. Students can learn about participating in the 2018 summer exchange visit to Fairfield’s Sister City, Nirasaki, Japan. During the three-week stay, students live with host families and travel to Kyoto, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and many local historic and cultural sites in the Nirasaki area. This exciting opportunity is open to all high school students who reside in Fairfield or attend a Fairfield high school. Applications for the exchange group will be available at the meeting.
Source: Press Release: Japan Student Exchange Group Information Meeting
By Richard Bammer
At least two of Vacaville Unified’s three dependent charter schools face enough serious red ink in the coming years that staff layoffs may be required to balance the books, district leaders said Thursday night.
As Jennifer Stahlheber, chief business officer for the 12,600-student district, neared the end of her first interim 2017-18 budget report, trustee Whit Whitman raised concerns about projected decreasing ending fund balances not only for the district in general but especially for Ernest Kimme Charter Academy, Buckingham Charter High and Fairmont Charter, an elementary school.
But seeing and hearing Stahlheber’s numbers during a presentation in the Educational Services Center, he expressed worries that the schools, which are overseen by the district, face negative ending fund balances in the coming years.
Source: Staff layoffs loom for Vacaville charter schools?
By Michael Morris
The children-crafted decorations were hung in the McBride Senior Center with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there.
The eager children weren’t nestled or snug in their beds, they were there for breakfast dressed in white, green and red.
Families spilled into the local senior center as the aroma of pancakes and sausage circulated through the air Saturday morning.
For recreation coordinator Penny Hernandez, the opportunity to host the annual event for families is accented by the volunteer efforts of her own family. With much-appreciated assistance from her husband Joe Hernandez in the kitchen, Penny was able to host the North Pole native for the sixth straight year.
Source: Santa Claus stops for pancake breakfast in Vacaville
By Ryan McCarthy
Nicole Rodgers ran the 26-mile Sacramento International Marathon on Sunday – and was in charge Friday of a shorter, but important four-lap, mile-long run at David A. Weir K-8 Preparatory Academy.
Eighth-grade teacher Rodgers started by taking students along an imaginary run in the forest where she told youths jogging in place to duck for a tree branch, jump over a log and – to begin their real four-lap run at the school – to race away from a bear.
The Holiday Hoopla at David Weir raises funds and this year the money will go to NorCal Wildfires Relief.
Source: 4 laps cap David A. Weir fundraising for NorCal wildfires relief