Free glasses help Benicia students see their future – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

For 37 students at Robert Semple Elementary in Benicia, Tina Tran and Robert Mitchum are super heroes.

No, they can’t fly. They don’t have super strength. They certainly can’t change the weather by blinking. And while Tran and Mitchum can’t see the future, they did their part Thursday to make sure the kids could — literally.

As optometrists for the non-profit Vision to Learn, the two were part of the team sent to Semple three weeks ago to screen students for free eyeglasses, returning Thursday afternoon to hand out the actual glasses with an assist from Assemblymember Tim Grayson.

Source: Free glasses help Benicia students

Cooper kids put new writing skills to work in Valentine’s Day cards – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

The capital letters were correct. And the exclamation point was in the right place.

Getting it all perfect isn’t always easy when you’re in kindergarten. Of course, when there’s Valentine’s Day cupcakes within sniffing distance, it’s a welcomed reward.

And the students in Monique Rountree’s class at Cooper Elementary School in Vallejo couldn’t help but be tickled red with Wednesday’s activities.

“I like giving out candy on Valentine’s Day and giving Valentine’s Day cards,” said Casanti Feaster.

And don’t forget those party cupcakes …

“They taste so good,” Feaster said grinning. “I also like to drink Capri Sun that me and my mommy brought from the store and a balloon.”

Valentine’s Day for classmate Aubree Davis “is about loving people and it’s about sharing with people. When people are feeling left out, you can play with them.”

Source: Cooper kids put writing skills to work

Health survey, farm on Dixon Unified agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Results from a student health survey, an update to the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan, and an update on the funding process for the Dixon High School Farm are among the topics Dixon Unified leaders will hear about and discuss when they meet tonight in Dixon.

Julie Kehoe, executive director for special education and pupil services, will offer a presentation of results from the California Healthy Kids Survey taken last spring.

She will tell the five-member governing board that students in grades seven, nine and 11 annually take the survey that measures the students’ connection to their respective schools as well as their views on drugs and alcohol.

Source: Health survey, farm on Dixon Unified agenda

Human trafficking prevention on Vacaville USD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Human trafficking prevention, the possible funding of teacher effectiveness programs at two charter schools, and a report about Cooper Elementary are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Kim Forrest, assistant superintendent of student services, and Ramiro Barron, director of student attendance and welfare, will offer information about Assembly Bill 1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Education, and Training Act, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

Among the points they will make during their slide presentation are periodic instruction for middle and high school students about the nature of human trafficking; periodic staff training about human trafficking, including sexual abuse and how it can be prevented; a calendar of instruction dates and locations; required topics of instruction, including the nature of sexually transmitted diseases; parenting, adoption and abortion; the importance of prenatal care; information about sexual harassment, sexual assault and strategies to prevent them; and information about adolescent relationship abuse and intimate partner violence, including early warning signs.

Source: Human trafficking prevention on Vacaville Unified School District agenda

Travis school trustees approve 2 employee contracts – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Travis School District trustees Tuesday approved the 2017-18 contracts with the Travis Unified Teachers Association and California School Employees Association, Travis Chapter 454.

The votes were 4-1 with Trustee Angela Weinzinger dissenting.

Weinzinger said in transcribed comments from district staff that as an elected official, she has been entrusted by taxpayers to make decisions for the district with the fiscal responsibility to those taxpayers and the solvency of the district in mind.

“I am in total agreement that our staff at (the Travis district) are very deserving of the raise and increase in benefits. They are incredible at what they do,” Weinzinger said in the transcribed comments. “But as I look to the future, I am concerned that down the line we will not be faced with even bigger financial issues.

Source: Travis school trustees approve 2 employee contracts

Science education funding still in Trump’s crosshairs, despite being saved by Congress | EdSource

By Carolyn Jones

Days after Congress passed a budget that mostly preserves funding for science education, President Donald Trump released a new budget proposal for 2019 that would eliminate many of those same programs.

Trump’s budget proposal, released on Monday, was drawn up before Congress passed its two-year deal last week. Although Congress already approved a budget, Trump’s proposal can offer funding priorities within approved budget caps, and it lays out his overall vision for the country. It calls for a $26 billion increase in defense spending next year, but $5 billion in cuts to non-defense programs, including a 10.5 percent cut to the Department of Education.

Source: Science education funding still in Trump’s crosshairs, despite being saved by Congress | EdSource

Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 32 schools were newly designated as Model Continuation High Schools for 2018. These schools are recognized for creating innovative programs that focus on academics and social and emotional learning and helping students who have faced many challenges, including chronic absenteeism and truancy, get back on the path to realizing their full academic potential.

“These model continuation high schools provide a space where students can feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence and receive strong educational support,” said Torlakson. ”Creating an academically challenging yet encouraging school climate can help turn an at-risk student on the verge of dropping out into a high school graduate prepared for a future career or college.”

Source: Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Olympics of the Mind – you’re invited to join the Academic Decathlon – Daily Republic

BY Ashley Ching

It’s Academic Decathlon season, and you’re invited to volunteer for the state championship, March 23-24 in Sacramento.

Volunteer for one or two days. Must be 18 or older.

Presented by Northrop Grumman, the California Academic Decathlon includes 68 high schools throughout California. We are expecting 600 high school students to compete this year.

Like the decathlon of the ancient Greeks, the Academic Decathlon consists of ten exciting events. While the Greek events were contests of physical strength, the Academic Decathlon is a contest of academic strength. The Academic Decathlon includes tests in Art, Music, Language and Literature, Mathematics, Economics, Science, and Social Science. In addition, there are communication tests that include the writing of an essay, the delivery of a prepared and an impromptu speech, and an interview.

Source: Olympics of the Mind – you’re invited to join the Academic Decathlon

School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

As Measure S bond projects continue to move along, attendees of this Thursday’s school board meeting can get a greater understanding of which projects have been completed, which ones are nearing completion and which projects will be taken on next. The discussion will be presented by Bond Director Roxanne Egan.

Measure S was a ballot initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 aimed at providing $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at each of the Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. As of Dec. 31, 11 projects had been completed, technology infrastructure upgrades at all the schools, playground modernizations at the elementary schools, fixing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School, painting the exteriors at Benicia High School and renovating Benicia High’s stadium.

Egan also identified 10 approved bond projects in progress. These include fire alarm replacements at Liberty High School and the District Office as well as Mary Farmar, Joe Henderson and Robert Semple elementary schools, a fire alarm upgrade at Matthew Turner Elementary School, a modernization of Benicia Middle School’s campus, miscellaneous infrastructure upgrades, alternative education improvements and repairing the gym floor at Benicia High. Another approved project is improvements to Benicia High’s Performing Arts Building, which Egan said is part of the district’s efforts to apply for a Career Technical Education grant for the building. If the grant is awarded, then the district will be required to match up to a maximum of $3 million in local funding. If the grant is not awarded, then a minimum amount of $400,000 will be allocated for PAB improvements.

Source: School board to hear quarterly bond update at Thursday’s meeting

Solano County Office of Education board holds special meeting – Times Herald

By Richard Bammer

Solano County Office of Education leaders, when they meet tonight in Fairfield, will face a relatively light agenda, followed by a special meeting and a closed hearing.

Nicola Parr, director of student and program support, will update the seven-member board on the SCOE’s Local Control Accountability Plan, a key part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula. LCAPs are annual documents that guide virtually all of a school district’s spending, especially for English learners, low-income students and foster youth.

Parr will note the stakeholders “engagement process,” to include the frequency of meetings with parents, students, staff and foster youth advocates.

Additionally, she will note a pending Career Technical Education advisory meeting, to include a guest speaker who will offer an update on the economic climate for the North Bay; input from local businesses about the skills they want in graduates, among other things.

Source: Solano County Office of Education board holds special meeting

Open enrollment continues at Sierra Vista, Kairos – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Two Vacaville schools continue to accept applications during their open enrollment periods for the 2018-19 academic year.

At Sierra Vista K-8 School, 301 Bel Air Drive, completed packets must be returned to the main office at the close of business Friday.

School officials made the announcement in a flier and on their website,

Any packets turned in after Friday will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

If the number of students interested in enrolling exceeds capacity, they will be enrolled in order of enrollment priority grouping “per our priorities,” according to wording on the flier attributable to Principal Catherine Bozzini.

Source: Open enrollment continues at Sierra Vista, Kairos

Benicia High School debate team preps for State Qualifiers – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Winter Olympics are taking place right now, but it is not just athletes who are practicing to do their best to compete. Just ask Benicia High School’s Debate Team.

The team will be taking part in the Golden Gate Speech Association’s State Qualifiers at James Logan High School in Union City on Sunday, March 3. To raise money for participation in the event, the team will be hosting a Debate Night at BHS this Friday.

The Debate Team’s competitions are another step forward for Benicia High’s growing speech and debate program, which started as a class taught by Michele Gaines last year and spun off a student club which hosted a series of lunchtime debates known as Debate Week.Rayna Fitzgerald, a senior, said she was recruited by then-club leader Timothy Knox for Debate Week. Fitzgerald had participated in in-class debates during Gaines’ Advanced Placement Language and Composition class, but she had never officially debated before that.“It was my first time debating in front of a more public audience,” she said. “I really ended up enjoying it. I would say it’s transformed into one of my passions.”Senior Morgan Bundy was also introduced to public speech through Gaines’ AP Lang class, then took part in the lunchtime debates and is now in the speech and debate class.“I’ve always been opinionated, but I’ve never been able to formally debate issues,” she said. “That’s why I thought the speech and debate class would be interesting.”Senior Juan Salinas was also recruited by Knox to debate. He felt his first debate was not very strong, but he liked the idea of doing research on issues and being able to speak in front of an audience.

Source: Benicia High School debate team preps for State Qualifiers

BHS holds fundraiser for paralyzed wrestler – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

For the past few weeks, Benicia High School has been raising money fora severely injured wrestler from Pleasant Hill.

On Jan. 10, College Park High School sophomore Ryan Joseph sufferedan injury to his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck downand affecting his ability to breathe and speak on his own. He wastransferred to John Muir Medical Center’s trauma department andrecently moved over to Craig Hospital in Colorado, where he isreceiving specialized treatment. As of his most recent prognosis, hehas regained the ability to speak and has practiced breathing withouta ventilator.

Friends of Joseph established a GoFundMe page to help his family payfor medical expenses, rehabilitation and accessibility. The campaignhas raised more than $183,000, and nearby high schools, includingBenicia High, have found ways to support Joseph and his family.Craig Holden, Benicia High’s athletic director, said he had becomeaware of Joseph’s story through word of mouth, namely Facebook postsand at a meeting for athletic directors in the North Coast Section,the league which College Park High competes in and which Benicia Highis moving to next year. The next day, on Jan. 18, Benicia High wasgoing to have a dual wrestling match against Fairfield High School,and the athletics department decided it would be a good opportunity tosupport Joseph.

Source: BHS holds fundraiser for paralyzed wrestler

Employee contracts on Travis Unified School District agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Routine approval of new employee contracts and three reports — the California School Dashboard, Federal Impact Aid, and projected enrollment — are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.

The five-member governing board is expected to OK a teachers wage-and-benefits pact for the 2017-18 year, retroactive to Jan. 1.

District officials and negotiators for the 285-member Travis Unified Teachers Association huddled periodically for more than eight months before agreeing, last month, to a 3.25 percent wage hike and $100 per month in health benefits, or about 3.75 percent overall salary increase. Additionally, workday hours were established for district psychologists program specialists, and nurses. The agreement will add $1.2 million to the district’s expenses during the contract year, according to agenda documents.

Source: Employee contracts on Travis Unified School District agenda

Trump Seeks to Cut Education Budget by 5 Percent – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

President Donald Trump is seeking a roughly 5 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget for fiscal 2019 in a proposal that also mirrors his spending plan from last year by seeking to eliminate a major teacher-focused grant and to expand school choice.

Trump’s proposed budget, released Monday, would provide the Education Department with $63.2 billion in discretionary aid, a $3.6 billion cut—or 5.3 percent— from current spending levels, for the budget year starting Oct. 1. That’s actually less of a cut than what the president sought for fiscal 2018, when he proposed slashing $9.2 billion—or 13.5 percent—from the department.

In order to achieve those proposed spending cuts, the president copied two major education cuts he proposed last year: the elimination of Title II teacher grants and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Those two cuts combined would come to about $3.1 billion from current levels. Overall, 39 discretionary programs would be cut, eliminated, or “streamlined.”

Source: Trump Seeks to Cut Education Budget by 5 Percent, Expand School Choice Push – Politics K-12 – Education Week

The Fairfield Host Lions Club Community Service Foundation Student Speaker Winner is from Vanden!

By Community Contributor

The Fairfield HOST Lions Club Community Service Foundation held their local California Lions Club 81st Student Speaker Contest this afternoon, Wednesday February 7th.

After the Student’s gave their presentation and the scores were tallied the Fairfield HOST Lions are pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s contest is ALEXANDRA ADAMS, a Senior at Vanden High School.

The Finalist all gave great presentations and their hard work showed.

The other participants in today’s contest were Jade Vanta and Kalia Dumheller from Fairfield High, Ramil Chettfour and Victoria Lawson from Armijo High and Zachariah Winn from Vacaville Heritage Park.


Sullivan seeks Vacaville City Council seat – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Nolan Sullivan, a former Vacaville Unified trustee and a longtime Yolo County manager, plans to run for one of two Vacaville City Council seats up for grabs on Nov. 6.

A lifelong Vacaville resident, he will seek the seat currently held by Curtis Hunt, who has indicated he will not seek re-election, Sullivan noted in a press release.

“I have lived in Vacaville my entire life and I truly feel this is my moment to step up,” he wrote in the prepared statement.

Sullivan’s resume of public service and volunteer work is extensive.

Within the past decade, he has served on several nonprofit boards, notably as president of the Vacaville Public Education Foundation for eight years, helping to raise thousands of dollars for local public schools.

Source: Sullivan seeks Vacaville City Council seat

Title shift for abandoned right of way gets Fairfield-Suisun district OK – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Accepting title from Suisun City to an abandoned right of way needed for a new building at Fairview Elementary School won approval Thursday from Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.

A survey during design and development for a new administration and kindergarten building at the school on First Street in Fairfield identified the waterline right of way in the area best suited for the new building, a school district staff report said.

Because the waterline associated with the right of way was believed to be abandoned, the district asked the Suisun-Solano Water Authority to investigate, the report said.

Suisun City Council members at their Jan. 16 meeting, acting as the water authority, passed a resolution relinquishing the city’s interest in the waterline easement to the school district and allowing removal of the easement.

Source: Title shift for abandoned right of way gets Fairfield-Suisun district OK

Some Solano govt. offices shut down for holiday – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Some government offices and schools will be open Monday while others will close to observe the federal holiday.

Solano County offices and the courts are closed Monday in observance of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and again Feb. 19 in observance of George Washington’s birthday.

Schools in the Fairfield-Suisun School District are closed both Mondays. Schools in the Vacaville School District are open Monday but will close Feb. 19-23 to observe Presidents Week. Schools in Vallejo are open Monday but closed Feb. 19. Schools in Dixon will be closed Friday and again Feb. 19 to observe the Presidents Day holiday. Schools in Benicia are closed both Monday and Feb. 19.

Source: Some Solano govt. office shut down for holiday

Solano 4-H SET program offers teens training workshop – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

High school students are invited to participate in the Solano County 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology program, which offers a chance for teens to engage in community service, learn new skills and experience teaching firsthand.

Program participants will be trained to teach science in teams to elementary-age children in after-school programs.

Training will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday at the 4-H office, 501 Texas St. Teens must attend both days. The deadline to register is Friday.

Source: Solano 4-H SET program offers teens training workshop