By Mayrene Bates
I wrote in my previous column about a number of events related to education that were accomplished with the support and cooperation of educators, the extended education community, parents and business partners. None of us could accomplish many of these things without the support of our various extended communities working together.
I must admit that I didn’t have Solano Community College on my list of events to attend. But, when husband Jim received a graduation invitation from a former Grange Middle School student, Arica Janel Neary, I just knew that we had to attend. Neary was in one of Jim’s math classes and wanted him to know that she would be receiving an associate teacher certificate of achievement and an associate degree in early childhood education.
Source: Solano Voices: Year-end celebrations continue
The recent shift in federal education policy prompted by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has helped raise the stakes for schools around student absences. Under ESSA, at least 37 states are now looking at school-level chronic absence rates as their non-academic indicator in their ESSA plans. The implications of this are important. Previous policies assumed that parents were primarily responsible for attendance and answerable to absences. Now in many states, state policy indicates that absenteeism is an issue that schools have to address.
What, then, are schools to do in order to move the needle on student attendance? As researchers work toward understanding the impact of different interventions and practices, on-the-ground experiences in schools highlight the pervasive use of incentives from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Schools have employed a wide range of incentives to improve attendance, with varied levels of success, according to senior researchers Rekha Balu at MDRC and Stacy Ehrlich at NORC at the University of Chicago.
In their article published February 2018 in JASPER, Making Sense out of Incentives: A Framework for Considering the Design, Use, and Implementation of Incentives to Improve Attendance, Balu and Ehrlich provide a framework to help school staff think about how—and when—to use incentives to improve student attendance. A number of other earlier research studies show the negative impact chronic absence has on student academic achievement.
Source: What Makes an Attendance Incentive Program Successful? – Attendance Works
By John Glidden
Fiscal uncertainty continues for the Vallejo City Unified School District.
The Vallejo school board will hold a public hearing Wednesday night on its tentative 2018-19 fiscal year budget and the news isn’t good.
According to the budget’s executive summary, during the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, the district is projecting that it will be able to meet its current fiscal obligations.
However, the district may not be able to pay its bills in years 2019-20, and 20-21.
“During 2019-20, the district estimates that the General Fund is projected to deficit spend by $8.2 million resulting in an unrestricted ending General Fund balance of approximately $3.5 million — $1.3 million short of making the state required minimum 3 percent reserve for economic uncertainty,” according to the same summary. “During 2020-21, the district estimates that the General Fund is projected to deficit spend by $11 million resulting in an unrestricted ending General Fund balance of -$7.5 million (about) $12.4 million short of making the state required minimum 3 percent reserve for economic uncertainty and $13.1 million short of making the District Board reserve of 3.5 percent.”
Source: Vallejo school board to hold hearing on budget
By Richard Bammer
For Lisette Estrella-Henderson of Vacaville, her race to gain the job she now holds, superintendent of the Solano County Office of Education, was never in doubt: She was unopposed, had been so for months, but she is now officially elected.
By 11 p.m. Tuesday night, her total vote count, with 77 of 167 percent of county precincts reporting, was 36,278.
(As expected for a midterm election year, voter turnout was relatively light. Some 220,000 Solano County residents are registered voters, and John Gardner, assistant registrar of voters, predicted 50,000 to 60,000 would cast ballots.)
Source: Unopposed, county school supe Estrella-Henderson is officially elected to post she holds
By Nick Sestanovich
When Upraj Singh entered Benicia High School, he did not know he would be the top student in his class.
“Freshman and sophomore year, I didn’t even have a concept of what the valedictorian was,” he said. “It was only junior year I was seeing people striving for this position and basically striving for academic excellence, and I thought, I definitely could be part of them. So, junior year, I thought, I’m gonna strive for this position.”
Madeline Beyer figured she could rank near the top, but she had a lot of competition.
“I knew I was at the top for all four years and that I’ve always been a little bit ahead of everybody GPA-wise just because I was able to take a couple of AP classes early on,” she said, “but I never thought I’d make it to the top two. It was really competitive.”
Source: Benicia High School top 2018 graduates ready for next big step
By Matt O’Donnell
An accomplished former professional and college basketball player, no one bullies Eric Crookshank these days.
But it wasn’t that long ago when Crookshank was just a young kid growing up, trying to find his way on Marin Street in West Vallejo.
Crookshank, 39, has been trying to spread awareness about childhood bullying through his organization — Bench Bullying. He held alumni games and a 3-point shooting contest at Jesse Bethel High School on Saturday.
“Growing up without a lot of financial help, I was bullied a lot,” Crookshank said. “When I played basketball, I was bullied as well. I decided to take the celebrity I have now and convert that into a positive.”
Source: Hogan High grad Crookshank tackles bullying during event at Jesse Bethel
By Richard Bammer
Research indicates the learning of a foreign language results in a myriad of lifelong benefits.
With that in mind, state education leaders have decided to launch an ambitious program to increase, in the coming decade, K-12 students’ proficiency in two or more languages.
State schools chief Tom Torlakson made the announcement last week at a Southern California elementary school.
In a press release, he said “Global California 2030” would greatly expand the teaching and learning of world languages and the number of students proficient in more than one language over the next 12 years.
The initiative aims to better prepare California students for the 21st-century economy, “broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic,” Torlakson spokesman Bill Ainsworth wrote in the prepared statement.
Source: CDE launches program to expand learning of foreign languages
By Tony Wade
The Summer 2018 Armijo Alumni Association newsletter is now available on our website! There is a feature story on Armijo’s first female principal Sheila Smith, Assist-A-Grad scholarship winners, a look back at 1959 hit records as seen by a student, upcoming class reunion info and much more.
Source: Armijo Alumni Association newsletter features story on Sheila Smith, first female Armijo Principal
By Daily Republic Staff
The Vacaville Rotary Club distributed 23 scholarships totaling $38,000 at a recent awards ceremony at the Solano College campus in Vacaville.
The $3,500 President scholarships went to Jonathan Dye (Will C. Wood High School), Corey Kato (Vacaville High School), Jack Gardner (Vacaville Christian High School) and Maxie Harington (Vacaville Christian).
The $2,000 Leadership scholarships went to Cameron Mitchell (Vacaville High), Adam Grabowski (Vacaville Christian), Camille Stephens (Vanden High School) and Zoe Johnson (Buckingham Charter Magnet High School).
Source: Vacaville Rotary hands out $38,000 in scholarships
By Susan Hiland
Students dressed in green, purple and white robes got an early graduation nod Sunday with a baccalaureate ceremony at St. Stephen CME Church.
Fifty students from various Solano County schools took part.
Sereniti Robinson, 18, of Fairfield, will graduate this week from Fairfield High School and is looking forward to her future in the culinary arts.
“I have recipes passed down from family members and I love to cook,” she said.
Source: Sorority acknowledges Solano grads at 26th baccalaureate
By Nick Sestanovich
The Benicia Teachers Association voted to reject the tentative agreement Wednesday that had been reached with the Benicia Unified School District, Governing Board President Diane Ferrucci announced as Thursday’s school board meeting.
In January, BUSD had proposed a one-time bonus of 1 percent off the salary schedule for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. BTA countered with a 5 percent increase for 2017-18 and a 4.25 percent increase for 2018-19 school year. After being unable to reach an agreement, BTA requested to file for impasse. Teachers, students and parents voiced their disapproval at subsequent school board meetings, with some educators even providing lists of free services they would no longer offer to students outside of their contract hours unless an agreement was reached.
On May 17, a fact-finding hearing was held in which both parties presented their case to a neutral three-person panel so that a contract agreement could be reached. The meeting spilled over into the early morning hours of May 18 when a tentative agreement was reached. However, when the time came for the BTA to vote to accept the agreement on Wednesday, it was voted down.
Source: Teachers union votes down tentative agreement with district
By Nick Sestanovich
Budget numbers for the Benicia Unified School District are expected to fluctuate over the next few years, but Chief Business Official Tim Rahill is optimistic about next year when the district is projected to have a one-time $88,000 surplus. The latest budget update was provided in a public hearing at Thursday’s school board meeting.
Rahill said revenues are budgeted at $46.6 million, which has mostly come from funding through the state, Local Control Funding Formula and U.S. Department of Education title programs. Meanwhile, expenditures are projected at $46.5 million, which included certificated and classified salaries, employee benefits, supplies and capital outlay. Rahill said the tentative agreement with the Benicia Teachers Association were included in the figures, but the agreement was voted down Wednesday so it may be removed from the expenditures when the budget is brought back to the board for a vote.
Source: BUSD CBO: One-time surplus of $88K anticipated in 18-19 school year
The first phase of the Arts & Culture Commission’s Public Art Initiative will commence next week when two young artists paint the traffic controller signal box at the corner of First and Military.
Last year, the Art & Culture Commission unveiled its new project, which aims to install more public art in Benicia, including murals on buildings and traffic control boxes. The first phase of the project consists of painting art on traffic control boxes which will take place over the summer, beginning Monday, June 11 when two Benicia Unified School District students paint art on the box at the start of the pathway leading to Eunice Jensen Park and the Benicia Public Library.
The artists are Jiana Lyons and Samantha Johnson, who this fall will be entering ninth and 10th grade at Benicia High School respectively. Through the supervision of retired art educator, working artist and former Benicia resident Karen Norton, Johnson and Lyons submitted a proposed to the city a design consisting of a reader enjoying a book while underneath a tree, selected from shelves of books in the background. The proposal was approved by the City Council.
Source: First traffic signal box to be painted next week
By Joel Rosenbaum
Wearing their caps and gowns one week ahead of schedule, the nearly 350 graduating seniors of the Will C. Wood Class of 2018 spent Thursday walking in a slightly different procession.
Will C. Wood principal, Adam Rich talked about the event which he says started about seven or eight years ago.
“It’s kind of become a tradition on our side of town, where our seniors go back to their elementary schools in their full gradation regalia. It’s really to do two things, to say thank you to the teachers that helped them get to where they are today and also to show the elementary and middle school students what the ultimate goal is of their educational career here in Vacaville, which is to earn a high school diploma and to show them what that looks like.”
Source: Donning cap and gown, Will C. Wood graduating class revisits elementary, middle schools
By Katy St. Clair
The Benicia Teachers Association has voted “overwhelmingly” to reject the tentative agreement reached with the district two weeks ago, according to a union source.
The Benicia Unified School District and the teachers association had mediated a “fact-finding” discussion with a panel of three independent entities in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a contract on May 17.
The meeting ended up running nearly 24 hours long, and by 6:45 a.m. on May 18, a tentative agreement had been reached, temporarily halting any organizing by the union until the teachers association could vote on whether to accept the agreement.
The teachers met on Wednesday night this week and voted the agreement down. Since the union has rejected it, the next step involves a report written up by the neutral member of the fact-finding panel, an outside person who will present her findings in about a month.
Source: Benicia teachers reject tentative agreement with district
By Richard Bammer
Debate has deep roots in the 2,500-year-old Western intellectual tradition. It can be traced to medieval universities and original Greek and Roman educational practices. Also called forensics, debate, at the high school and college level, may be called a varsity sport for the mind and heart, the ability to use the power of logical thinking coupled with clear — and perhaps passionate — expression, to argue effectively while examining problems with a point in mind.
Which is what the Dixon High Migrant Education Debate Team did early last month during the annual statewide Speech and Debate Tournament in Visalia, taking home the first-place trophy in the Spanish division in debate (the other division is conducted in English).
Source: Dixon High Migrant Ed Debate Team rises to 2018 state championship