By John Fensterwald, EdSource
School districts say they now have another reason to be skittish about planning to reopen schools in the spring: new statewide emergency temporary regulations on protecting workers from exposure to Covid-19.
School officials are complaining that the new rules, which went into effect Nov. 30 after adoption by Cal/OSHA earlier in the month, are creating confusion and could significantly raise school districts’ costs. This applies particularly to Covid testing expenses, which districts and county offices of education are responsible for.
And they view the imposition of the regulations, with Cal/OSHA’s exacting demands for detailed reporting and documentation, as one more burden in an already taxing year.
Source: School districts balk at California’s new COVID worker safety regulations – Times-Herald
By Kris Corey
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District (FSUSD) auditor’s annual review of the 2019-2020 FSUSD Financial Statements show that the district is in full compliance and there are no negative findings. FSUSD has had ten years with no negative findings.
The firm of Crowe, LLP has audited the District’s financial statements of the governmental activities, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information of FSUSD, as of and for the year ended June 30, 2020. An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. The procedures selected depend on the auditor’s judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD Receives Clean Audit for Fiscal 2019-20
Lilibeth Pinpin is starting to rack up the awards for her work at the Solano County Office of Education.
Pinpin, the director of Innovative Programs and Student Success, is the recipient of the University of California, Davis C-STEM Administrator of the Year award.
“Students of Solano County have greatly benefitted from Ms. Pinpin’s many years of experience as well as her passion for all things related to STEM,” Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement. “We extend our gratitude to Ms. Pinpin for her dedication and commitment to ensuring STEM education is accessible to all students and congratulate her on her recognition.”
Source: STEM work earns award for SCOE’s innovation director
By Joel Rosenbaum
Dressed as Santa Claus, David Willingham (rear) and his wife, Veronica pass out gifts to students in front of Hemlock Elementary School Thursday in Vacaville. According to Veronica Willingham who is the President of the Hemlock PTA, she decided to pass out holiday gifts to the students because the school had to cancel their annual Breakfast with Santa event due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the PTA at the school handed out gift bags to the kids.
Source: Hemlock Elementary School parents bring some Christmas joy – The Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that California school districts and charter schools can now begin applying for mini grants to address equity and opportunity gaps in student learning.
Announced earlier this month as part of its ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on students, the California Department of Education (CDE) will award grants of up to $20,000 each to schools, districts, and charter schools that can demonstrate how they will address equity and opportunity gaps by utilizing the funds to target educators’ or students’ needs in distance learning, in-person instruction, or hybrid models.
The application process and criteria were emailed to all county and district superintendents and charter school administrators in California earlier today, and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Friday, January 8, 2021. The grants have been funded through a $200,000 contribution from the Stuart Foundation External link opens in new window or tab..
Source: Mini Grants to Address Equity Now Available – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Tribune Content Agency
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday urged Education Department employees to continue to resist any policies that they believe could hurt students with a new administration preparing to take over.
“Many of you know well that most everything in this town, when it comes to education, is focused on schools — not students,” DeVos told agency employees in a virtual meeting Tuesday. “So, let me leave you with this last plea: Resist. Be the resistance against a familiar force that will distract you from doing what’s right for students.”
Source: DeVos tells Education Department employees to resist certain changes
By Richard Bammer
They may have had stars, planets and rockets in their collective mind’s eye before and after hearing from two members of America’s newest military branch, the United States Space Force.
Students at Sheldon Academy of Innovative Learning on Thursday learned more about the USSF, career opportunities and the importance of mastering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects when Capt. Haynes and Lt. Johnson spoke to seven classes during a virtual visit to the Woolner Avenue campus in Fairfield. (The officers’ first names were not available at press time Tuesday.)
“I am grateful that the third- to sixth-grade students had the opportunity to learn about a career in the Space Force,” Lisa Lewis, principal of the K-8 school, said in a press release. “They were fascinated by the presentation and asked a lot of questions. Many students were interested in the career and asked what they can do now.”
Source: The Space Force was with them at Sheldon Academy – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
With green solutions and ultimately cost-savings in mind, Vacaville Unified School District leaders ordered and received the first of three electric buses from Lion Electric on Nov. 20. The other two are expected to be delivered during summer of 2021, district officials announced Monday.
Each yellow electric bus will replace an older, fossil fuel-burning diesel bus in the fleet. The goal is to obtain 10 electric buses in the next five years, Elaine Kong, the district’s spokeswoman noted in a press release.
The district’s purchase comes as bus manufacturers nationwide, including Blue Bird, are beginning to see increased demand for EV school buses, especially in California, a the nation’s most populous state and a huge market for them. The Twin Rivers School District in Sacramento uses 25 electric school buses built by Lion and is thought to be the largest such fleet in the country.
Source: A green deal: VUSD receives first all-electric school bus – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
Graduation season might be six months away, but Solano County Office of Education honored students in its Adult Transition Program who have now graduated and are ready to conquer the world.
In true 2020 fashion, the students were recognized Monday through a virtual ceremony and then a car parade that brought their certificates to them.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for the young people who have accomplished this huge milestone,” Lisette Estrella-Henderson, Solano County superintendent of Schools, said. “We did not want to let COVID get in the way of recognizing their accomplishments.”
Source: Solano County adult graduates honored in virtual ceremony, car parade – The Reporter
The California Department of Education (CDE) today released high school graduation data that showed rates remained largely steady overall in 2019–20—and some of the state’s highest-need students saw increases—during a school year in which the majority of California’s schools abruptly shifted to distance learning midway through their spring semesters due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“The COVID-19 crisis upended the senior years of hundreds of thousands of high school students throughout California, and I am proud of the resilience of these young adults and of the educators who went above and beyond to help keep them on track to graduate,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Among all students statewide who started high school in 2016, 84.3 percent graduated with their peers, compared to the 84.5 percent from the year before. Rates for many student groups remained level year-to-year, though some experienced decreases (Asian, Filipino, White) while others, including some of the state’s highest-need students, saw increases (American Indian or Alaska Native, English Learners, Foster Youth, Students with Disabilities). (See Table 1).
Source: 2019-20 High School Graduation and Dropout Rates – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
Graduates of the Solano County Office of Education Adult Transition Program are throwing a parade Monday.
The program serves 18- to 22-year-old students with intellectual disabilities and/or autism who have received a certificate of completion from high school and have significant needs for support as they transition to adulthood, according to a press release.
The program serves the Solano Special Education Local Plan Area, which includes the Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield-Suisun, Travis and Vacaville school districts.
Source: Parade celebrates Solano Adult Transition Program graduates
One veteran representative and two newcomers to the Travis School District board of trustees will take their oaths of office Tuesday.
Ivery Hood, the current board president, as well as Manveer Sandhu and Meghan Thompson were elected to the posts Nov. 3. Hood and Sandhu will serve four-year terms; Thompson’s term is for two years.
Source: 2 new trustees to join Travis school board
Rechelle Nettles has been selected as the new representative for Fairfield on the Solano Commission for Women and Girls, and Andrea Lemos will represent the Solano County Office of Education.
The commission’s new officers are Chairwoman Laura Petty, Vice Chairwoman Jennifer Hamilton, Secretary Gayle Vaughan and Treasurer Sakina Ali.
Nettles brings 20 years of nonprofit experience to the commission, including as the development director of the Girl Scouts of America and as a director for the Boys and Girls Club of America. She also has worked with the homeless and those leaving prison or jail.
Source: Commission for Women and Girls announces new members, officers
By Matt O’Donnell
The year 2021 promises some hope for college athletes but the early portion of the year may look a lot like 2020.
Solano Community College recently chose to “opt out” of playing sports like men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer. Those sports were originally scheduled to start in 2020 but were pushed to the new year for hope that the coronavirus pandemic outlook would improve.
Source: Coronavirus: Solano Community College chooses to ‘opt out’ for several sports – Times-Herald
By Kris Corey
Oakbrook Academy of the Arts receives Golden Bell Award from California School Boards Association. Celebrating outstanding education programs and governance practices.
Fairfield, Calif., (December 9, 2020) –Oakbrook Academy of the Arts was selected as one of 40 recipients of California’s leading educational honor, the Golden Bell Award. The Golden Bell Awards, celebrating their 41st year, are presented by the California School Boards Association to promote excellence in public education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices. The awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs.
Source: Good News: Oakbrook Recognized with Distinguished California Education Honor
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Tuesday that the California Department of Education (CDE) is launching additional virtual educator trainings and mini-grants designed to accelerate ongoing efforts to address equity gaps, strengthen distance learning, and support students’ social emotional wellness during the pandemic.
The latest professional development webinars and the new grant opportunities are the latest efforts to build on the CDE’s training, guidance, and direct assistance provided to schools and educators throughout the months-long pandemic.
“Like all educators, I am concerned about the pandemic’s continued impact on our students, especially those students already pushed to the margins by historic and systemic inequities that have existed for generations and created persistent barriers to educational opportunity,” Thurmond said. “We know that until we eradicate the COVID-19 virus, some forms of remote learning will remain necessary in the weeks and months ahead for our schools to continue safe teaching and learning. That means we must continue putting resources into supporting our educators who are going above and beyond to engage all students.”
Source: New Grants and Training to Address Learning Gaps – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Amid the pandemic, sometimes distance learning falls short for some students who struggle with the teaching method forced upon teachers and families this year as COVID-19 again surges in the fall months of 2020.
But Grange Middle School administrators, teachers, and support staff at Blossom Avenue campus in Fairfield believe they have an answer to the challenge.
Concerned about the number of students not engaged in distance learning at the start of the 2020-2021 school year — and rather than watch the numbers continue to decline — the staff coalesced around the idea “to create a layer of support to ensure children were receiving what they needed to be successful in distance education,” Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent of educational services in Fairfield-Suisun Unified, wrote in a press release.
Source: Grange Middle School staffers bring the learning and more to Fairfield neighborhoods – The Reporter
Two trustees who lost bids for re-election will be honored Thursday for their service to Fairfield-Suisun School District students and staff.
The recognition of Trustees Joan K. Gaut and John P. Silva comes during a special meeting of the school board that starts at 5 p.m.Helen Tilley defeated Gaut and one other challenger for the Area 2 seat in the Nov. 3 election. Gaut finished second. Ana Petero defeated Silva in a head-to-head contest for the Area 6 seat.
Source: School Board set to bid farewell to 2 trustees
By Kris Corey
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District (FSUSD) has recently completed a two-year construction project at Fairview Elementary, one of the oldest campuses in the District. The K-5 school received a new 12,096 square foot administration and kindergarten complex with five kindergarten classrooms and play area. The new 5,055 square foot library, previously housed in a portable, includes an innovation lab with a large roll-up door to incorporate outdoor learning experiences. All twenty-three classrooms of the original school built in 1954 were modernized and the offices reconfigured to allow ample working space for staff. Other improvements include modernized and expanded kitchen, new play equipment, new shade structures, an expanded parking lot, and a refurbished play field.
Source: Press Release: FSUSD Completes Measure J Project at Fairview Elementary School
By Richard Freedman
Lilibeth Pinpin, Solano County Office of Education’s (SCOE) director of innovative programs and student success, recently received the Spotlight on Quality Award that is issued annually by the California Department of Education’s Region 4 System of Support for Expanded Learning (SSEL) programs office and Alameda County Office of Education.
Source: December 10 Arts and Entertainment Source: Always Something To Celebrate – Times-Herald