Bay Area high schools get OK for in-person graduation ceremonies | KRON4

By Tristi Rodriguez

A handful of high schools in the Bay Area have announced they will be holding in-person graduation ceremonies this summer.

The Vacaville Unified School District got the O.K. from Solano Public Health and the Vacaville Unified School District Governing Board to host in-person commencement celebrations in June for the graduating classes of both 2020 and 2021.

Source: Bay Area high schools get OK for in-person graduation ceremonies | KRON4

Kairos holds assembly to honor retiring police chief – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

A major focus of Kairos Public Schools’ curriculum is the concept of community and the people who comprise it.

One prominent figure in the Vacaville community for the last three decades has been Police Chief John Carli, who will be retiring from the department in April after 32 years of service, including the last seven as chief. To honor Carli’s service and longtime support of Kairos, students and staff held a surprise assembly for the chief Tuesday.

Jared Austin, executive director of Kairos, said he told Carli to come to the campus so students could say “Thank you.” What he didn’t tell him was that Carli would be greeted with cheers by most of the students, be presented with gifts and receive a video message from his granddaughter, a first-grader at Kairos.

Source: Kairos holds assembly to honor retiring police chief – The Reporter

Vacaville public charter school shows the way during pandemic – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

Gov. Gavin Newsom flipped the switch Thursday on a Safe Schools for All website, and backed his initiative with a $90 billion budget proposal.

“I am of the firm belief that we can safely get back our children, youngest children, get them back safely into schools in small cohorts,” Newsom said.

“We can get this done. We must get it done,” he said.

Jared Austin agrees with the governor, but said he thinks students should have been back in the classrooms months ago.

Source: Vacaville public charter school shows the way during pandemic

Kairos director concerned about state school reopening plan – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

The executive director of Kairos Public Schools is not too happy about a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom to provide financial incentives to school districts that adopt safety and reopening plans.

In a news release, Jared Austin felt the plan would jeopardize his schools’ ability to continue teaching students in person, which it has been doing since Oct. 13 after applying for a state elementary school waiver and receiving guidance from Solano County Public Health.

“Although we appreciate the governor focusing on the safety of our students and staff, this new plan really concerns me,” he said.

Source: Kairos director concerned about state school reopening plan – The Reporter

Kairos eighth-graders witness a moment in history – The Reporter

By Joel Rosenbaum

As he stood on the western steps of the United States Capitol with the eyes of the world on him, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke of uniting the country.

Locally, the eighth-grade students of Jason Railing’s United States History class at ​Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy watched in rapt attention as the newly sworn-in president delivered his inauguration address Wednesday morning proclaiming that “democracy has prevailed.”

What Railing wanted his students to take away from the inauguration and the speech was the message of unity.

Source: Kairos eighth-graders witness a moment in history – The Reporter

Coronavirus: Kairos becomes clinical testing lab – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Kairos Public Schools no longer has to wait days for a staff member to test negative for COVID-19 to return to campus. Through the acquisition of a rapid testing kit, all of that can be done in a matter of minutes.

On Dec. 15, Kairos received certification from the California Department of Public Health to be designated as a licensed clinical laboratory, allowing staff to receive a test and get results within 15 minutes. Jared Austin, executive director of Kairos, said that one of the challenges since reopening has been staff taking periods of time off as they await results. Currently, if a staff member is exhibiting symptoms, they must stay home until they receive a negative result or quarantine for 10 days. While no staff member has tested positive yet, he said that prolonged absences would create operational challenges.

Source: Coronavirus: Kairos becomes clinical testing lab – The Reporter

Mini Grants to Address Equity Now Available – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

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)

Kairos returns for in-person learning – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

After seven whole months of students learning from home, the Kairos Public Schools Vacaville Academy was once again bustling with students, albeit with social distancing protocols in place.

Kairos resumed in-person classes Tuesday for students who wished to return, which amounted to about 78 percent of them. Despite the fact that it was 10 weeks into the school year on a brisk October morning, there was definitely the feeling of a back-to-school day, complete with Kairos’ middle school ambassadors welcoming back the younger students with signs.

There were also indicators that this year on campus would begin differently than previous years, such as barriers at the desks, shorter recesses and a socially distanced physical education class where students did their stretches while spaced 6 feet apart.

Source: Coronavirus: Kairos returns for in-person learning – The Reporter

Local educators: Few specifics from CDE about reopening schools – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Reacting to the state Department of Education’s livestreamed discussion about safely reopening schools in the fall, Solano educators said the Thursday morning event — which included comments from state schools chief Tony Thurmond — offered few specific guidelines on how to do it.

They collectively agreed that, ultimately, the decision will be left to each of California’s 1,000 school districts.

Jared Austin, executive director and co-founder of Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy, called the discussion a “missed opportunity.” He said Thurmond and Dr. Gil Chavez, of California Department of Public Health, did not offer specific guidelines for the safe reopening of schools for the state’s 6.2 million students.

Source: Coronavirus: Local educators: Few specifics from CDE about reopening schools – The Reporter

Kairos board positions available – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A “help wanted” sign is out at Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy.

The K-8 independent charter school’s board of directors, serving as the governing body for the Elm Street campus, has openings for two board positions, Jared Austin, school co-founder and executive director, wrote in an email on Wednesday.

General responsibilities for board members, who are unelected, can be found at the school’s website, www.kairospublicschools.org.

The board meets monthly to receive school reports and approve policies and procedures, Austin noted.

Source: Kairos board positions available – The Reporter

MIT Academy named one of America’s best high schools – Times-Herald

By Times Herald

For the fifth year in a row, Mare Island Technology (MIT) Academy in Vallejo has been named by U.S. News and World Report as “One of America’s Best High Schools,” according to a press release from the charter school.

The award is “based on the … principles that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators,” the school shared.

“This award specifically names MIT Academy High School, but as is often pointed out, you can’t have a great high school without a great middle school to support it. In every way, this award recognizes both the middle and high school programs and the articulated effort both schools make to support our students,” wrote Matt Smith, former superintendent/CEO. “And though we are justifiably proud of each of the awards we’ve won, this year’s is especially appropriate in light of the severe challenges posed by the national school shutdowns and the pivot to distance learning.

Source: MIT Academy named one of America’s best high schools – Times-Herald

Solano County school closures extended through May 1 – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Solano County Office of Education has advised public school districts and charter schools to continue distance learning through at least May 1.

The guidance was issued after consulting with Solano County Public Health and is in accordance with both the county’s stay-at-home order and the similar executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, SCOE officials announced in a news release Thursday.

Previously, the superintendents of Solano County’s school districts had announced closures with tentative dates for reopening beginning in late March and then rescheduled to mid-April. However, since Newsom has called for individuals to stay home and prohibit mass gatherings of more than 10 people indefinitely, SCOE — as well as school district superintendents and charter school leaders — settled on May 1 as a tentative return date but would work with state and local health officials to determine if the date will be extended further.

Source: Coronavirus: Solano County school closures extended through May 1 – The Reporter

Vacaville boy builds LEGO figures to raise money for charity – The Reporter

By Joel Rosenbaum

One young Vacaville boy is using his time during the ongoing school closure to continue his work supporting local charities.

Cody Bassey, a 9-year-old third-grade student at ACE Charter School, is taking his love of LEGO and raising money for Pink Heals Solano by building mini LEGO figures of real people.

Pink Heals Solano is a non-profit organization that raises awareness and supportes men, women, and children suffering from cancer by visiting cancer patients around the county on a pink fire engine dubbed, “Christine.” Cody has been part of the crew, usually when there is a child who is battling the disease.

Source: Coronavirus: Vacaville boy builds LEGO figures to raise money for charity – The Reporter

Elite Public Schools extends closures due to virus-containment protocols – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Board of Directors at Elite Public Schools has approved keeping the school closed until April 13, two weeks past the original March 30 closure date.

The extended closure mean students will return after spring break, according to a press release. School officials say the date is tentative based on whether county, state or federal agencies provide updated guidance or directives, in which case the board will adjust the closure date accordingly.

Students will be able to continue their academic program and connect with teachers through distance learning and video conferencing.

Source: Elite Public Schools extends closures due to virus-containment protocols

Solano County Schools To Close For 2 Weeks: Coronavirus | Dixon, CA Patch

By Maggie Fusek

All public and charter schools in Solano County are closed beginning Monday because of the situation surrounding the coronavirus — COVID-19 — the Solano County Office of Education announced Friday.

“In light of the ever-changing situation with COVID-19, Solano County superintendents and charter school administrators have made the difficult decision to close schools ­­­­­­­­­for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020,” SCOE said in statement. “Superintendents and charter school administrators will make a determination at that time about any further closures.”

Source: Solano County Schools To Close For 2 Weeks: Coronavirus | Dixon, CA Patch

For fifth time, Kairos earns a state Civic Learning Award – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

For the fifth time in as many years, Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy has earned a state-sponsored Civic Learning Award, an honor that recognizes a school’s efforts to engage students in civic learning.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond made the announcement in a press release issued Thursday, noting that the Elm Street K-8 independent charter school was one of 75 California schools acknowledged for their strong civics curriculum and service-learning projects in their communities.

Co-sponsored by Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, the awards, now in their eighth year, are “designed to both celebrate successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and to identify successful models that can be replicated in other schools,” read the written statement.

Source: For fifth time, Kairos earns a state Civic Learning Award – The Reporter

Academic Decathlon comes to Solano College Saturday – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Approximately 300 students from 15 high schools – including Dixon, Rodriguez, Vanden, Buckingham Charter, Jesse Bethel, MIT Academy and Vallejo – will compete in the North Bay Region’s Academic Decathlon scheduled Saturday at Solano Community College.

“I am excited to see Academic Decathlon growing in our county and region. Students deserve tremendous credit and praise for their teamwork, dedication and work ethic in representing their schools at the North Bay Regional Academic Decathlon Competition,” Ken Scarberry, program director of Youth Development for the Solano County Office of Education, said in a statement.

Source: Academic Decathlon comes to Solano College Saturday

Dixon Montessori students become citizen scientists at Suisun Marsh – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Sixth-graders at Dixon Montessori Charter School (DMCS) became botanists, geologists, hydrologists and ornithologists all over the course of one morning Thursday as they did activities at the Suisun Marsh.

They were among nearly 2,000 sixth and seventh-graders to visit this month as part of the Solano Resource Conservation District’s Watershed Education Program. The youths hike through the largest brackish water marsh on the West Coast and learn about wildlife, plant life, soil and water, as well as ways to protect it from pollution. Along the way, they perform numerous activities and record data.

Source: Dixon Montessori students become citizen scientists at Suisun Marsh – The Reporter

VCUSD budget update — expected to drop under 10,000 students in two years – Times-Herald

By John Glidden

Vallejo Unified School District officials anticipate there will be less than 10,000 students attending district schools by the 2021-22 school year, continuing the trend of declining enrollment.

The Vallejo school board on Dec. 11 unanimously approved the first interim report for the district’s budget — which includes anticipated student attendance.

Adrian Vargas, the district’s chief business official, said the district expects to have about 9,892 students in two years — down at least 1,300 students from the current count of 11,259. He noted student loss to ELITE Charter School and the new Griffin Academy High School as two of the primary reasons.

Source: Vallejo district gets budget update — expected to drop under 10,000 students in two years – Times-Herald

New Charter Schools Division Director Named – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Stephanie Farland as the Director of the Charter Schools Division for the California Department of Education (CDE).

The Charter Schools Division oversees State Board of Education-approved charter schools throughout California and administers the Federal Public Charter Schools Grant Program.

Currently, Farland is the Executive Director and Founder of Collaborative Solutions for Charter Authorizers, a private consulting firm dedicated to assisting school districts and county offices of education in their work as charter school authorizers. In that position, she works on all aspects of charter authorizing and oversight to ensure that a fair process is being implemented in California.

Source: New Charter Schools Division Director Named – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)