By Ryan Geller
A special election will be held in April to fill a vacant seat on the Benicia Unified School District Governing Board after community members who applied for the seat petitioned to overturn the board’s special appointment process, alleging nepotism.
Three candidates are now running for the seat, although no candidates registered to run in November’s general election, which triggered the board’s appointment process.
Source: Benicia to hold special election for vacant school board seat
By Richard Bammer
Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the tsunami of overdose deaths — driven largely by the spread of illicit fentanyl — may have peaked in March 2022.
Researchers found an astonishing 110,236 people, many under the age of 40, died in a single 12-month period, a record, the CDC reported.
While last year was certainly deadly, there are signs the worst of it may be over, some officials believe.
Source: FSUSD to host final meetings of Fentanyl Awareness Town Hall series – The Vacaville Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Student scholars at Fairfield’s Vanden High walked away Sunday with bragging rights and medals around their necks for their triumph at the Academic Decathlon for the North Bay region.
Winning first place overall, the Travis Unified students have been invited to go on to compete and represent Solano County at the state competition. Campolindo High School took second and also can proceed to represent Contra Costa County at state. Third place was awarded to Basis Independent Silicon Valley Charter from Santa Clara County.
Source: Vanden whiz kids triumph at Academic Decathlon for North Bay region – The Vacaville Reporter
By Susan Hiland
A subcommittee of the Fairfield-Suisun School District’s governing board will begin work soon to develop plans for how best to spend nearly $250 million in facilities property tax funding approved by voters in November.
“We are just in the beginning stages of discussing Measure S,” Superintendent Kris Corey wrote in an email to the Daily Republic.
The first Facilities Subcommittee meeting of the year will begin at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun trustees prep to tackle plans for new Measure S money
Officials with the Fairfield-Suisun School District last week released information about field trips for students the same day an elected trustee challenged the district in a published opinion piece to do more to support such outings.
The governing board each year approves a School Plan for Student Achievement for each school in the district, the district reports in a press release issued Wednesday. The development and execution of these plans “include the input, feedback, approval and monitoring of educational partners such as parents, teachers and classified staff.”
Those taking part in the process “determine how their state and federal taxpayer dollars will be spent to support students at their schools.”
Source: Fairfield-Suisun School District defends funding student field trips
Children at Rolling Hills Elementary School this week took part in The Great Kindness Challenge, the 11th year for one of the first schools in Northern California to bring the challenge to its students.
“We take great pride in the fact that we are one of the founding schools of the Great Kindness Challenge,” Principal Danny Gentry said in a press release. “Over the years, we have hosted VIPs from around the country and around the world who come to see our program and experience the kindness that makes Rolling Hills such a special place for students and adults alike.”
Source: Rolling Hills students start 2023 by spreading kindness
By Susan Hiland
Vanden High School took first place Saturday overall in the North Bay Region Academic Decathlon.
The team is invited to go on to compete and represent Solano County at the state competition.
Also going to the state competition is Campolindo High School, whose team took second overall. They will represent Contra Costa County at state. Third place was awarded to Basis Independent Silicon Valley Charter from Santa Clara County.
Source: Vanden High School takes first at North Bay Academic Decathlon, heads to state
By Todd R. Hansen
The state Covid-19 emergency that started in March 2020 is scheduled to end March 1.
The last day would be Feb. 28.“
Gov. (Gavin) Newsom could extend it, but I don’t see why he would,” Dr. Bela Matyas, the Solano County public health officer, said in a phone interview Thursday.
Matyas said not only is the trend of Covid cases declining, but trends for all common winter respiratory diseases are coming down, too.
Source: Winter diseases coming down across Solano; state readies to end Covid emergency
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a new partnership at a press event today between the California Department of Education (CDE) and California Volunteers, Office of the Governor, to promote new pathways for California Volunteers service corps members—a group that includes 10,000 per year across all corps, including the California Climate Action Corps, AmeriCorps, #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs, and #CaliforniansForAll College Corps—to become teachers in California classrooms.
While the CDE has not traditionally engaged in recruitment, Thurmond has elevated the educator crisis as a key challenge and made the support of local educational agencies a priority of his administration.
Source: CDE, CA Volunteers Partner for Teacher Recruitment – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
By Nick Sestanovich
Just a few months after starting high school, Linda Hernandez is already set to have a busy 2023.
The Will C. Wood freshman was named the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year for 2023, where she will serve as the club’s ambassador for the year and be entered into the National Youth of the Year competition.
Linda’s new title was announced in a ceremony held at the Opera House Wednesday evening, where the Boys & Girls Club kickoff the first major celebration of what will be the club’s 20th year of operation in Vacaville. The evening not only looked back at the past but also toward the future, which will see a much larger main campus on Brown Street.
Source: Will C. Wood freshman named 2023 Youth of the Year – The Vacaville Reporter
By Todd R. Hansen
Solano County supervisors on Tuesday set April 11 for a special election to fill the vacant Trustee Area 5 seat on the Benicia School District board.
The action allows the county Registrar of Voters to conduct the election.
The district board had appointed Ariana Martinez to fill the vacancy after no one ran for the post in the November election. The three others considered for the appointed, however, filed a petition arguing there was a conflict of interest and contended the board intentionally kept active parents from serving on the board, nepotism, collusion and failure to disclose that Martinez, who holds a master’s degree in social work, is the daughter of the executive assistant to the superintendent.
Source: Solano to run special election for Benicia Trustee Area 5
By Joe Hong
Black students’ standardized test scores and graduation rates have long trailed those of their white and Asian peers. For decades, educators and legislators have tried to close that achievement gap, and a school funding proposal in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget illustrates just how difficult it is to do.
The idea for the proposed funding began as a bill authored last year by Assemblymember Akilah Weber, a Democrat from La Mesa, that would have provided more money for Black K-12 students. The bill made it through both the Assembly and Senate with unanimous support. While Newsom never vetoed the bill, he ultimately refused to sign it. Weber agreed to drop the bill when the governor promised to include the funding in his proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
Source: School funding proposal aims to achieve equity, but does it go far enough? – The Vacaville Reporter
By Susan Hiland
Students at many of the schools in the Fairfield-Suisun School District are performing poorly when compared to their peers across the state, according to state test results and related assessments from the prior school year.
Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent for Educational Services, gave a report Thursday on the 2022 State Dashboard, which provides a snapshot of student performance on tests that assess English-language arts and math proficiency across grade levels. The assessments make up California’s school accountability system.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun trustees hear about student testing shortfalls
By Susan Hiland
The Matt Garcia Career and College Academy is struggling and it is possible in the future the Fairfield-Suisun School District will shut it down.
After a tour by staff and board members a few weeks ago, issues were revealed that put the question of the school’s continued value in the spotlight.
Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent of Educational Services, and Kristen Witt, senior director of Secondary Education, gave a summation Thursday night of the positives and negatives facing the school.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun board may ax Matt Garcia campus
Solano County Office of Education has received a $4 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The grant’s focus is to advance healing and improve social determinants of health among youth and families in communities that have experienced community violence, disproportionate impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and other significant collective trauma over the past 24 months.
Source: $4M SCOE grant to support mental health, wellness
By Susan Hiland
The Fairfield-Suisun School District – along with public schools across the state – are feeling the pinch of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2023-24 budget, with the likely end of pandemic-driven one-time funding and no no relief provided as CalPERS retirement rates increase and CalSTRS retirement rates remain high.
The situation is such that schools will likely see most – if not all – spending for recent programs curtailed just to maintain baseline programs.
That was the gist of the message provided Tuesday to trustees of the Fairfield Suisun School District by Laneia Grindle, assistant superintendent of Business Services, who presented the governor’s budget plan and resulting budget year projections for the district.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun board considers implications of governor’s budget
By Susan Hiland
Trustees of the Travis School district last week received information about how students are faring both academically and socially, along with an update of what the district is doing to help both students and their parents.
Sue Brothers, assistant superintendent of Educational Studies, presented an update Tuesday on the midyear Local Control and Accountability Plan.
Brothers covered student performance and district progress on both school board goals and state-mandated Local Control and Accountability Plan goals in the areas of basic services, family involvement, student social-emotional wellness and academic achievement.
Source: Travis trustees hear high, low points of student progress, well-being
The Solano County Office of Education was awarded a $4,000,000 federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The aim, according to a press statement, is to “advance healing and improve social determinants of health among youth and families in communities that have experienced community violence, disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other significant collective trauma over the past 24 months.”
“SCOE is honored and well-positioned to be entrusted with such an important grant that will support building capacity for increased mental health supports in our school communities,” said Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson in the statement. “Schools across Solano County have seen an increase in student mental health and wellness needs, and we will use this grant to continue to be a conduit and leader in this work for students and families.”
Source: SCOE awarded $4 million grant for mental health, wellness – The Vacaville Reporter
U.S. military veterans and Japanese-American citizens who were unable to finish high school due to wartime circumstances can now get their diplomas. The Solano County Office of Education is again hosting the “Operation Recognition” event, scheduled March 24, and is accepting applications from eligible individuals or from families of someone who is eligible.
Source: HS diplomas available for Solano vets who left school for war
U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-04) and John Garamendi (CA-08) presented a $2 million check to officials from Solano County Transit (SolTrans) for the 100 percent Battery Electric Commuter Coaches project. This funding was secured in the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill.
“Climate change is an ever-pressing issue that demands our immediate attention, and any step we can take to reduce emissions is a good one,” said Thompson. “The electrification of public transit is a big step in the right direction that will help SolTrans reduce pollution and provide a cleaner transportation option for the people of Solano County who rely on public transit. I was proud to work with SolTrans to secure this funding and I look forward to seeing these electric buses in action soon.”
Source: January 26 Vallejo/Vacaville Arts and Entertainment Source: Faces and Places – Times-Herald