By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
A raise for substitute teachers and another slew of contracts Vallejo City Unified School District officials want approved fill the agenda for the school board’s meeting Wednesday.
The trustees are being asked to approve a restructuring of substitute pay to a tiered model with $160 for daily subs, $170 daily for long-term subs and $205 daily for retiree subs.
The district has had problems finding subs, so, in an effort to make the district more competitive with surrounding school districts, the staff is proposing increasing substitute pay. This is expected to cost about $2.3 million.
The agenda also includes what amounts to an appeal for one contract denied at the last meeting.
As part of the superintendent’s report, Chief Academic Officer Cheri Summers will offer what amounts to an appeal of the board’s decision to deny implementation of Imagine Learning, Inc. at the Aug. 1 meeting. That contract would have provided 2018-19 school year licenses to support language, literacy, and math strategy developments for all K-5 students, and especially English Learners, students performing significantly below grade level and students with gaps in specific concepts and skills. Principals and other staff members have requested the opportunity to address the board about the impact of this action.
Source: Possible substitute teacher raises, more possible vendor contracts on VCUSD agenda
By Susanna Loeb
Early childhood education in the United States is tangle of options—varying in quality, price, structure, and a range of other dimensions. In part as a result, children start kindergarten having had very different experiences in care and very different opportunities to develop the skills and dispositions that will serve them well during school. Systematic differences across groups by income, race, ethnicity, home language, and geographic location are particularly troubling because inequalities that appear early are often sustained through school and affect prospects throughout life.
Convincing research has demonstrated that high-quality early childhood programs can reduce these differences across groups.  A few small programs have demonstrated strong positive effects throughout the life cycle, but even some large-scale programs, such as those in Boston and Tulsa have shown effects on math and reading learning.  These positive results combined with evident need have led to substantial public investment in early childhood education. State spending on preschool more than doubled between 2002 and 2016, from $3.3 to $7.4 billion (constant 2017 dollars). 
Source: Accountability for Early Education — A Different Approach and Some Positive Signs – Education Next : Education Next
By Susan Hiland
Children were waiting in line at 5 a.m. Saturday to get a free backpack at the Fairfield-Suisun School District Family Resource Fair at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.
The line was wrapped around the building by 10 a.m.
“We couldn’t believe that they came that early,” said Elizabeth Teresi, assistant director of Student Services for the school district.
The event gave parents a chance to get a free backpack filled with school supplies and to learn about programs offered in Solano County to benefit low-income families.
Source: Back-to-school fair preps children for new school year
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Many would agree that it’s hard enough to be a public school teacher without having to come out of pocket for classroom supplies. So, some Vallejo folks created a way to help.
With signs around the walls saying, “You are a VCUSD Superstar,” and “We celebrate VCUSD educators,” the 4-year-old Teacher Supply Store occupies two portables on the Vallejo High School campus. It stocks a wide range of donated school supplies and all Vallejo City Unified School District teachers are welcome to stop by and stock up, former school board member, store organizer and head volunteer Hazel Wilson said.
Source: Free teacher supply store open at Vallejo High School
By Tim Goree
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District schools follow specific guidelines when air quality changes. These guidelines were established in cooperation with the Solano County Public Health Department.
Staff members at each school check the “Current Conditions” section of the Air Now website (https://goo.gl/cDPN8J) and then use the following guide to determine activities. The website is checked multiple times per day if there is reason to believe that air quality is changing rapidly.
– School is in Green/Yellow zone – Outdoor activities are conducted normally.
– School is in Orange zone – Outdoor activities can happen, but should be limited. Staff keep a close eye on students who have air quality sensitivities and provide them with alternative, inside activities. School may have lunch outside, but PE should be conducted inside.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Procedures in Response to Changes in Air Quality
By Nick Sestanovich
The Benicia school board election is well underway. This year, three seats are up for grabs but of those three, only President Diane Ferrucci has made an attempt to run for re-election. This will essentially guarantee new faces on the board, and according to the Solano County Registrar of Voters’ website, at least four challengers are going through the process of filing papers to establish candidacies. Of these, one is now an established candidate as of press time.
Sheri Zada, a retired elementary school librarian and local volunteer, is the first candidate in the race. She cites a lifelong love for education and children that she hopes to bring to the board.
“I’ve been heavily involved in volunteering for children and education, which is my passion,” she said.
Source: Retired librarian becomes first candidate in school board race
By Thomas Gase
With the start of the high school football season just a week away, the clock was ticking down and both Vallejo and Jesse Bethel high schools could see the light at the end of the tunnel concerning the end of summer practices.
So with many final preparations for the season underway, Vallejo Unified School District came through and made sure that the home field for both schools would actually have a clock ticking down and lights at the end of a tunnel.
Corbus Field, without a working scoreboard for about a year and without lights since a fire occurred nearby last spring, finally got new installments for both on Wednesday, just in time for the start of Bethel’s first home game, which is Aug. 17.
Source: Corbus Field gets new lights, scoreboard in time for fall season
By Joel Rosenbaum
From the shy kindergartner to the confident high school senior, students across the city of Dixon on Thursday headed back to the classroom.
Mia Lodigiani opened the door to her room at 8:15 a.m. when the first bell rang and welcomed in the newest crop of kindergartners, some nervously clinging to their mothers and fathers, others walking around wide-eyed taking in their new surroundings.
Some parents gave their child a big hug and kiss goodbye, while others hung around in the room and watched as Lodigiani gathered the students on a colorful rug to teach them the classroom rules; sitting with your legs crossed, raising your hand and waiting until you are called upon to talk.
Source: Students in Dixon Unified School District begin new school year
By Ian Thompson
School board races in Fairfield, Vacaville and Suisun City are taking form as the candidate filing period for some of the seats is set to close Friday.
The races now range from the Vacaville School District, where five people are looking to run for three available seats, to one of Travis School District’s trustee areas where no one is yet running.
Mayrene Bates and Dana Dean are expected to run unopposed to keep their Solano County Board of Education trustee area seats since they are the only ones who have filed for their respective seats.
Source: School board races coalesce as filing deadline nears
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
The Vallejo City Unified School District will be serving free breakfast and lunch for all students at five public school sites for the 2018-2019 school year, officials announced.
All students will be served lunch and breakfast at no charge at Everest Academy, Franklin Middle School, Lincoln Elementary School, Mare Island Health and Fitness Academy, and Patterson Elementary School, they said.
The Vallejo school district announced its policy to serve nutritious meals every school day under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program through June 30, 2019. Children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals if the household income is less than or equal to the federal guidelines.
Source: All students in five Vallejo schools to get free meals
By Kimberly K. Fu
To ensure students, staff and faculty have a great and safe school year, Solano Community College officials have unveiled the “Solano Safe App” for mobile phones.
“We are proud to add another layer of safety and protection to the campus community,” said Solano Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Travis, the campus’ service area manager, in a press statement. “Our students, faculty and staff thrive when they are free and safe to focus on their work. Solano Safe provides the peace of mind to quickly connect with us at any time.”
The app, Travis said, is “a one-and-done deal” that provides users with all the safety information they need, including contact numbers.
“At the click of a tab on a cellphone, they can make an emergency call, send their location to the campus Sheriff’s Office, or report a tip,” Travis said.
There’s apparently other important information on the app.
Source: Solano Community College unveils Safe App for mobile phones
By Daily Republic Staff
Solano Community College will host “Doing What Matters for Jobs in Solano County” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the school’s cafeteria, Building 1400.
The event will update Career Technical Education opportunities, provide for tours of facilities, as well as offer a chance to meet faculty and staff. The event will also discuss the next steps and feature a tour of the college’s Maker Space and Advanced Manufacturing facilities.
Source: Solano College hosts Doing What Matters event
By Richard Bammer
A public hearing on the appeal of a Vallejo-based charter school petition, previously denied by the city’s education leaders two months ago, an update on the Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, and a Patriot Day resolution are on the agenda when Solano County Office of Education trustees meet tonight in Fairfield.
The seven-member governing board will hear from Marie Issa Gil, whose petition to form Rocketship Vallejo Elementary Charter School was nixed by Vallejo City Unified trustees on June 20, after district staffers characterized the petition as “deficient in many key respects.”
SCOE governing board members will “consider the level of support for the petition by teachers employed in the school district, other employees of the school district, and parents,” according to agenda documents.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged educators, parents, school board members, community leaders and all residents to voice their support for state legislation that will improve mental health services for students.
Torlakson is putting a major focus on mental health awareness and treatment, suicide prevention, and school safety as the Legislature reconvenes August 6 for the final weeks of the 2017–18 session.
“Students need to have good mental health to succeed in the classroom and in life. Schools can help by creating a caring and supportive environment and by working to help identify mental health problems early so students can receive the treatment they need,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a high school science teacher and served as a track and cross country coach.
Source: Torlakson Urges Support for Mental Health Bills – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Do you live within Travis Unified boundaries, which include two elementaries in Vacaville, and want to make a difference toward the fiscal and policy direction of the Fairfield-based school district?
Three seats on the five-member governing board are up for election on Nov. 6.
One is Trustee Area 1, which consists of all areas within the boundaries of Travis Air Force Base; and there are two vacancies for Trustee Area 2, which consists of the remaining district areas, Annie Arthur, the administrative assistant to Superintendent Pamela Conklin, noted in a press release.
Area 2 trustee John Dickerson said Friday he will not seek re-election, and former trustee Jamilah Whiteside, who represented Area 1, resigned in June.
Source: Three Travis Unified School District trustee seats up for grabs in November
By Nick Sestanovich
The Benicia Unified School District announced its guidelines for free or reduced meal programs under the National School Lunch/Breakfast Programs for the 2018-19 school year.
According to a news release, BUSD’s Food and Nutrition Department offers lunch services at Matthew Turner Elementary School, breakfast and lunch services at Mary Farmar Elementary, Joe Henderson Elementary, Robert Semple Elementary, Benicia Middle School and Liberty High School, and breakfast, lunch and nutritional snack break services at Benicia High School. The cost of breakfast is $2 and the cost of milk is 50 cents for all grades, and the cost of lunch is $3 for elementary schoolers and $3.50 for middle and high schoolers.
Source: BUSD announces guidelines for free, discount meal eligibility in 18-19
By Susan Hiland
Simaima Suba, 19, of Fairfield, is one of the 19 classmates who graduated from the first Youth Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training Program on Friday.
For the last five weeks, she has trained in four industries certifications, HAZWOPER certification, and fundamentals in construction, concrete-pouring techniques, trades math, fitness and more, according to Leonard Gonzales, executive director of the Laborers Training Center.
“I hope to try concrete work first,” Suba said. “I am so excited. I can’t wait to get started.”
She was also interested in hazardous waste work and thought that would be something new, exciting and dangerous.
Source: 1st class graduates from pre-apprenticeship training program
By Joel Rosenbaum
Back to school time can become an expensive undertaking for any family and members of the United States armed forces are no exception.
That’s why Operation Homefront steps up to help
Its mission, according to their website, is to “build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive, not simply struggle to get by, in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.”
Thursday, Michelle Hagge, program manager for Operation Homefront, was at Travis Air Force Base at First Street Church along with the base’s Airman and Family Readiness Center to outfit children with school supplies.
Source: Operation Homefront helps Travis Air Force Base families with school supplies
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Ramona Bishop’s dream of opening a charter school in the area has been dashed.
The Vallejo school board shared a rare moment of unity Wednesday night, voting 5-0 to reject Bishop’s ELITE Charter School petition.
Wednesday’s denial is the second such repudiation for the former Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent in 2018. It comes nearly seven months after the Solano County Board of Education dismissed Bishop’s earlier plan to open a countywide charter school network.
Wednesday’s rejection at the district’s Board of Trustees meeting prompted a quick exodus of interested onlookers.
The board room was filled by many audience members wearing purple “Elite Parent by Choice” T-shirts in support of Bishop’s proposed charter school. When that petition was ultimately turned down, the room immediately drained of people, laughing and talking loudly, preventing the meeting from going forward for several minutes.
Source: Elite Charter School denied, many thousands in outside contracts, approved by Vallejo school board
By Katrina Schwartz
As technology becomes more ubiquitous in classrooms, many schools are choosing Chromebooks because it’s one of the least expensive devices, a big win for schools balancing spending priorities. A 2017 report of the education market found Chromebooks dominate with 58 percent of the market for school mobile device purchases. But many teachers aren’t using these new tools for much more than notetaking and slideshow presentations.
Tanya Avrith is a self-proclaimed techy-teacher. She piloted iPads in one school she worked at and Chromebooks in another. “By January I felt like I hit a wall,” Avrith said. She found the Chromebook more limited for student project creation than iPads and started digging for Google apps and plug-ins that could add functionality.
She teamed up with Holly Clark, an education strategist, to write “The Google Infused Classroom,” a book they hope will help teachers see Chromebooks as more than a testing device or an expensive notebook.
Source: How To Use Chromebooks For Powerful Creation in School | MindShift | KQED News