By Richard Bammer
At a regular governing board meeting Tuesday, Travis Unified leaders heard an update about learning and reopening district schools amid the pandemic, an overview of the budget and enrollment projections and an update about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed $227 billion 2021-22 budget, which includes $90 billion for K-14 education.
Since the updates and reports were informational items, no action was taken during the 6 p.m. meeting, which was held online.
Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent for educational services, updated the five-member board on learning and reopening, ending her slide presentation with “next steps,” which included a “family choice” between hybrid, meaning some in-person instruction coupled with distance learning, or continuing with distance learning. She indicated that the information would be sent to families to “consider what is best for their children.” Families will respond online, a date to be determined.
Source: TUSD leaders hear reports on school reopenings, budget and enrollment projections – The Reporter
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
Jamaal Willis of Barstow (San Bernardino County), a senior at Barstow High School in the Barstow Unified School District, and Sathvik Nori of Atherton (San Mateo County), a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School in the Sequoia Union High School District, were selected for their exceptional leadership skills, remarkable commitment to their schools and communities, and scholastic achievement as California’s delegates in this highly competitive program.
“I could not be prouder to recognize these students for this honor. These young scholars will represent our state on a national stage, and I’m confident they will one day rise to leadership positions that help advance the dreams, aspirations, and ambitions of Californians for years to come,” Thurmond said. “I am impressed and inspired by their strong leadership and passion. From advocating for racial equity and civil rights to working on mental health awareness and increasing civic engagement among their peers, these students desire to empower the disadvantaged and improve the lives of others, which fills me with great optimism for our future.”
Source: 2021 U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
By Kris Corey
Crescent Elementary School recently held its first ever Virtual Family and Staff Paint Night. The event was an overwhelming success. Students, family members and staff joined together via Zoom and had a fun time painting under the direction of Crescent’s Art Teacher, Dana Lockhart. To participate, the staff created a reservation system, and families stopped by to pick up pre-packaged art kits for the evening.
Crescent’s Principal, Jodie Phan, received positive feedback from families and students who are eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to create art together in a virtual setting. Principal Phan was excited to have such a positive event to bring the school family together. First grader Avery Bell said, “It was super fun!” Savannah Snyder, a 3rd grader at Crescent shared, “It was awesome! Can we do it again?”
Source: Press Release: Crescent Stars Soar When Creating Flying Hearts
By Kris Corey
During this very different 2020-2021 school year, Sem Yeto students are still finding ways to be successful. Sem Yeto staff are finding creative ways to recognize their students’ efforts.
When the pandemic hit, Sem Yeto staff did not want to lose sight of the accomplishments of their students. A virtual celebration was developed as an alternative to an in-person recognition ceremony. This recognition serves as a conduit for Sem Yeto staff and families to come together to support, recognize, and appreciate the quarterly accomplishments of Sem Yeto students.
Source: Good News: Sem Yeto Recognizes Student Accomplishments During Pandemic
By Nick Sestanovich
Students at Dixon Unified School District may be heading back to class soon. The when and how will be up for debate once the school board considers a reopening plan at Thursday’s meeting.
As with all schools in California, DUSD schools closed for in-person learning in the middle of March to stop the spread of COVID-19. Initially, the campuses were to remain closed until May 1, but as cases continued to rise throughout the state, the school board voted to keep campuses closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.
Schools continued to remain closed through the Fall 2020 semester and the start of the Spring 2021 semester. In the intervening time, students have been taking part in distance learning through applications like Zoom.
Source: Coronavirus: Dixon school board to consider reopening plan – The Reporter
By Matt Sieger
The outcome of the match was less important than the fact that it happened.
When Vacaville and Vanden High schools met for a girls tennis contest Tuesday afternoon at Vanden, it was the first competition for any sport in the Monticello Empire League in almost a year.
Vanden prevailed in the contest, 5-4. However, players, athletic directors, coaches and parents were just happy to be out competing and watching.
No spectators were allowed due to the coronavirus, so parents viewed the contest from their cars in the parking lot.
Source: Welcome back! Vanden tennis beats Vacaville in first live action since March – The Reporter
Travis School District trustees will be updated on distance learning, current health conditions and the district’s progress to reopen classrooms when they meet Tuesday.
The virtual meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. after a closed session during which the board will be updated on an employee discipline matter and labor negotiations.
The closed session is set for 5 p.m.
Source: Travis school trustees to discuss plans to reopen schools
By Matt Sieger
“Life is weird. When my mom died six months ago, I didn’t even know what my grandparents looked like. Now, I’m getting ready to bake cookies in their hundred-something-year-old mansion with their photos looking down on me in almost every room.”
Thus begins “The Ghosters,” the first book in a series by Vacaville author Diana Corbitt, who has just finished the fourth volume. The house, it turns out, is haunted, because Corbitt has always loved a good scary tale.
The narrator in the first book is Theresa, a seventh-grader who, along with her autistic brother Joey, Joey’s friend Elbie and Theresa’s friend Kerry, grow a little bit older in each book.
Source: Vacaville children’s author loves a good spooky story – The Reporter
By Susan Hiland
The Fairfield-Suisun School District governing board voted Thursday to return to in-person learning once Solano County returns to the state’s red tier level.
Schools must have an approved Covid-19 reopening plan to do so.
Dr. Bela Matyas, the county’s public health officer, said this week that several smaller schools had already submitted their reopening plans for review.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun board votes to resume in-person learning once Solano County goes ‘red’
By Richard Bammer
Thursday’s Vacaville Unified governing board meeting, with updates on the district’s pandemic-related safety plan, sports activities, and mental health on the agenda, drew 24 speakers.
All but one expressed a desire to quickly return to in-person instruction, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and some voiced antagonism toward employees unions’ cautious approach.
Parent Kristina Holden alluded to a district survey that she said indicated a majority of parents want schools to reopen. Addressing the seven trustees, she wondered if members of the Vacaville Teachers Union are more important than students’ wishes to return to in-person instruction in the district’s 17 schools that serve 12,500 students.
Source: Coronavirus: Parents, students sound off at Vacaville school board meeting – The Reporter
By Kris Corey
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District (FSUSD) honored Betty Weihe as the Classified Employee of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting. As the Classified Employee of the Year, Ms. Weihe will represent FSUSD at the Solano County Educator of the Year event in April 2021. The Governing Board officially announced Ms. Weihe’s achievement and recognized sixteen additional classified employees during the February 11, 2021 meeting.
Ms. Weihe has served FSUSD as a Staff Accountant in the Business office for over twenty years. Her supervisor and peers appreciate her institutional knowledge and dedication to the staff, students, and parents. Michelle Henson, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services stated, Betty is my go-to person when strengthening the District’s practices and board policies with asset monitoring, Associated Student Body (ASB) management, and donation tracking. She is well-versed in sound business practices, board governance, risk management, and administrative compliance. We are so fortunate to have her on our team!” Amanda Rish, Director of Purchasing, stated, “Betty’s team player mind-set, enthusiastic embrace of change, and ability to multi-task speaks to her unwavering commitment to exceed our customer service expectations. I praise Betty’s outstanding level of service and dedication to FSUSD, and no other is more deserving of CSEA Employee of the Year.”
Source: Good News: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Announces Classified Employee of the Year
By Richard Bammer
A Fairfield-Suisun Unified official says that while Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed $227 billion 2021-2022 budget “is not without its challenges,” which include deferral of payments from the state to the district, it requires attention to a “critical cash management” in the coming months.
In a press release and an interview earlier this week with The Reporter, Laneia Grindle, director of fiscal services for Solano County’s largest district, said there is good news, too, even amid the pandemic and the virtual learning model.
In a Jan. 8 statement about the new budget, Newsom promised a commitment to “equity in and for our school communities,” reflected by the highest level of K-14 school funding in the state’s history, $90 billion, and targets the “inequitable impacts of the pandemic on schools and families,” including $2 billion to support a safe return to in-person instruction, $4.6 billion to help students recover from the pandemic’s impacts, and $400 million for school-based mental health services.
Source: FSUSD official: State’s 2021-22 budget presents challenges – The Reporter
By Matt O’Donnell
By now, the general public has become accustomed to wearing a mask in grocery stores and other retail outlets during the coronavirus pandemic.
How about playing a competitive tennis match with a mask wrapped around your face?
That’s something players like Benicia High School’s Kai Wills and his teammates will have to familiarize themselves with as the boys tennis season begins later this month.
“Personally, I’m pretty used to it but I think it’s something some players will struggle with,” Wills said. “I was training coming back from an injury and I had to do it for about three months.”
Source: Kai Wills, Benicia High boys tennis team ready for season to begin – Times-Herald
By Richard Bammer
Updates on a COVID-19 safety plan, school sports activities permissible during the pandemic and mental health services are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet Thursday night via a Zoom webinar.
For those interested, members of the public must register to attend in order to view and, if desired, participate in the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.
To register, visit https://vacavilleusd.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZzX7g9LVQm-SPhCY9hRrwA.
After registering, a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar will be sent.
Source: Updates on school safety plans, sports, mental health services on VUSD agenda – The Reporter
BY Kimberly K. Fu
A row of desks lined a parking lot at Vacaville High School early Wednesday, the two dozen students sitting at them working diligently on laptops just as if they were in the classroom.
But they weren’t, which was the issue, they said, calling the peaceful protest their way of demanding that schools reopen for the year.
Since last March, the pandemic forced public schools in Solano and throughout the state to shutter and move to a distance-learning format to meet public health guidelines. The Class of 2020 lost out on their senior year, including proms, football games and graduations, and all students lost interactions with their teachers, staff and peers.
Source: Vacaville students peacefully protest in support of reopening schools – The Reporter
By Todd R. Hansen
Even with the anticipated novel coronavirus case correction Wednesday – 132 confirmed cases – Solano County’s five-day average is low enough to allow school districts to open up classrooms for transitional kindergarten through sixth grade.
“But they need an approved plan,” Dr. Bela Matyas, the county’s public health officer, said in a phone interview.
Matyas said a number of the smaller schools have submitted requests to allow them to open.
The threshold the county needed to reach was a daily average of 110 cases over five days, and the county, based on the timeframe reviewed, is below 105, Matyas said.
Source: Solano schools eligible to open early grade level classrooms
By Todd R. Hansen
Benicia Mayor Steve Young asked the Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to move teachers to the front of the vaccination line so schools can open quickly and safely.
“And the key, as I see it, and absolutely to do that, is being able to vaccinate each teacher and member of the (schools’) staff,” Young said.
Educators are scheduled as part of the first tier of Phase 1B, the same as residents who are 65 to 74, agriculture workers, as well as child care and adult care workers.
Source: Benicia mayor asks Solano supervisors to move teachers to front of vaccination line
By Matt O’Donnell
Deep Purple is the classic rock group that features screaming vocals from Ian Gillian and blazing guitar solos from Richie Blackmore.
Benicia High School is not in “deep purple” yet. The Panthers are more likely in “early purple” mode.
Source: Some Benicia High School sports set to practice on Monday – Times-Herald
By John Fensterwald
Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed his solution to a long-running, contentious dispute over the Local Control Funding Formula, the equity-based formula for distributing the bulk of money that school districts get from the state.
At issue is whether school districts can use leftover, year-end funding intended for “high-needs students” however they want. Newsom’s answer is, no, they can’t; the money must be committed to those students — who generally are the farthest behind academically and face the challenges of poverty — and districts must document that.
Some of those who have been calling for reform for years say the governor’s approach is a big step forward but not fully right.
Source: Gov. Newsom calls for closing big ‘loophole’ in funding for high-needs students – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Willis Jepson Middle School math teacher Keri Tafuro understands that not all her seventh- and eighth-graders immediately grasp pre-algebra and algebra and geometry concepts such as the number system, variables, equations, the meaning of slope, the Pythagorean Theorem, polygons, linear functions and more.
So she uses a whimsical but still down-to-earth method to teach the building blocks that will contribute to their understanding and success in math when they reach high school.
“I try to tell a story, make it into a story, even if it’s a silly story,” Tafuro, a longtime educator who’s in her fourth year at the Elder Street campus, said during a Thursday interview. “Right now we’re talking about square roots, likening it to leaving the mythical square root forest. And you have a twin to leave. And so, when you’re through a magical gate, one of them disappears. I just hope they remember that. We try to have fun with it.”
Source: At Jepson Middle School, a ‘lifelong learner’ excels at teaching – The Reporter