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.
School and college boards governed over the end of one school year and the beginning of another in a very, very different world.
The Covid-19 pandemic added the term distance learning to the common educational lexicon.
And some of those boards got a new makeup of members in November.
Judi Honeychurch, for the second election cycle, faced no opposition and therefore did not appear on the ballot for her Trustee Area 3 seat on the Fairfield-Suisun School District. Bethany Smith similarly returns as the Trustee Area 1 representative.
Based on the latest election results posted Wednesday by the Solano County Registrar of Voters, many area school boards will feature new trustees.
With all 15 precincts reporting in Travis, which oversees two elementary schools in Vacaville, Foxboro and Cambridge, the apparent winner of the trustee Area 1 is Meghan M. Thompson, a district parent, who received 6,059 votes, or 68 percent of 8,968 votes cast. Challenger Renell L. Travis, a U.S. airman stationed at Travis Air Force Base, received 2,909 votes, or 32 percent, of the total.
Candidates for the Travis School District Board of Trustees had an opportunity this week to introduce themselves to voters during an online candidate forum organized by Travis School District parent Maria Figueroa.
Six candidates participated in the forum Tuesday, with two seats available.
Ivery Hood, the lone incumbent in Area 2, participated, along with Dave Amar, Christina Palmer and Manveer Sandhu, all of whom are running for two seats in Area 2.
Six candidates for three seats on the Travis Unified governing board fielded more than a half-dozen questions during a virtual candidate forum Tuesday night, the inquiries ranging from priorities, if elected, to the purpose of a public education, and with one candidate making some pointed criticisms of incumbent Ivery Hood.
Candidates attending the forum were Meghan Thompson, a district parent; and Renell Travis, an active-duty airman stationed at Travis Air Force Base, both vying for the Area 1 seat on the five-member board.
The others, besides Hood, were Dave Amar, a retired business executive; Christina Palmer, a local business owner; and Manveer Sandhu, an intelligence analyst and entrepreneur, all vying for the two seats to represent Area 2.
Judi Honeychurch did not face a challenger in her last election and will have no need to campaign this fall, either.
Judi Honeychurch“I look forward to the challenges of the future and working with the superintendent and the teachers and staff,” said Honeychurch, who will enter her third term on the Fairfield-Suisun School District board of trustees.
She is the only incumbent who does not have a challenger.
Clifford Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Music & Sound in downtown Fairfield, pulled and filed candidacy papers Thursday for the Trustee Area 1 seat held by Bethany Smith. Trustee Area 2 incumbent Joan Gaut will run against Leslie Unverferth, and Area 6 incumbent John Silva faces Ana Petero.
The four incumbents and two challengers for seats on the Fairfield-Suisun School District board of trustees have filed candidacy papers, the county Elections Office reported Monday evening.
This is the last week to file for anyone interested in running for a position on 10 school or two college district boards.
Fairfield-Suisun school incumbents Joan Gaut, in Trustee Area 2, and John Silva, in Trustee Area 6, each faces a challenger. Leslie Unverferth, a real estate agent, looks to unseat Gaut, while Ana Petero, a teacher, wants to replace Silva.
Incumbents Bethany Smith, in Trustee Area 1, and Judi Honeychurch, in Trustee Area 3, are thus far unchallenged.
Students in the Travis School District will start the new school year being “home-schooled” due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Throughout this unprecedented crisis,” Superintendent Pam Conklin said in a statement, “our guiding principle has been to deliver the most effective instruction possible while protecting the health of our students, staff and their families. I believe the board’s decision to initially open our 2020-21 school year with distance learning accomplishes this goal.”
The Board of Trustees made the decision Tuesday during a Zoom meeting.
Citing “the alarming increased virus activity in Solano County and statewide,” Travis Unified leaders on Tuesday OK’d a plan to use the distance-learning model when classes resume Aug. 13 for the district’s 5,400 students.
The decision, a choice among five proposed learning models being considered, came during a special governing board meeting Tuesday in the Travis Education Center on De Ronde Drive in Fairfield and mirror recent decisions by two of the largest school districts in California: Los Angeles and San Diego.
The return to distance, or all-online, learning, in effect from mid-March to the end of the 2019-20 academic year, was made based on guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom, state and county public health advice and the widely publicized reports of a surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in California, Annie Arthur, an administrative assistant to Superintendent Pamela Conklin, said in a press release Wednesday.
Travis School District trustees will discuss opening the schools in August when they meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Part of the discussion is “to determine in which stage schools will reopen, staff will use information about local Covid-19 activity rates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention) and other public health officials,” the agenda states.
The item follows a closed session during which the board will be updated on labor negotiations.
Travis School District trustees on Tuesday will review the state of the district’s various budget categories, some of which show tens of thousands of dollars in red ink and others that improved dramatically over the course of the academic year.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. All board members will attend via teleconference.
Trustees are expected to review the district’s third interim budget report, which shows end-of-the projections of various funds as of April 30. Those projections show increased reductions in various fund balances for the current year and for the next two years, the staff report states.
Travis School District trustees will take part in a special meeting Tuesday to consider requesting the county to transfer more than $4.75 million in advance payments to cover cash shortages caused by delays in receiving funds from the state.
The funds will primarily be used to cover payroll and vendors.
However, the trustees are expected to attend the meeting only by calling in, which includes a closed session prior to the public meeting during which the board could appoint a new chief business officer.
Travis School District trustees will consider adding 10 courses to the Vanden High curriculum when they meet Tuesday in the Travis Education Center.
The courses are Advanced Drama; Advanced Placement Environmental Science; Astronomy (semester); Fitness and Conditioning (semester or year); Forensic Science (semester); Genre Studies (semester); Intermediate Drama; Keyboarding and Word Processing (semester); Physics, Engineering and Technology; and Weight Training (semester or year).
The Parent Involvement Policy for Golden West Middle School is also on the agenda.
The Travis School District governing board honored a number of high-achieving students Tuesday and also recognized several long-serving teachers and staff members.
Vanden High School valedictorians Victoria Melton, Jane Frances-Uche and Alvin Vo, and salutatorians Jennea Bajala, Alana Silva Cacdac, Justin Milolajcik and Samantha Vanpelt, were recognized by the board for their academic achievements.
The board also recognized teachers and staff members who reached various service milestones.