Horace Tufts “Whit” Whitman was a former Air Force officer and former commercial airlines pilot who, in retirement, became a fierce advocate for public education.
He served on the Vacaville Unified governing board for nine years, his tenure ending in 2018, and was known for his strong opinions but also his generosity of time, spirit and money related to school district matters.
Whitman, 77 and a native of the Upper Midwest, had battled depression for some time and committed suicide Sunday, said family spokeswoman and sister-in-law Lois Chancellor. District officials on Monday also reported information about his death on the VUSD website.
Trusteee candidates for two seats on the Vacaville Unified governing board, plus two candidates running unopposed for two more, fielded a variety of questions during Thursday night’s virtual Vacaville People’s Forum.
Participating candidates with opponents included Tracee Stacy, an educator and publisher, and attorney Kelly Welsh, each vying for a seat to represent Trustee Area 6. Others were incumbent Michael Kitzes, manager of the Vacaville Children’s Clinic for Solano County Mental Health; and George Burton Jr., a district parent and businessman, each seeking the Area 7 seat. Khala Hastings, also seeking the Area 7 seat, declined to participate in the one-hour, 40-minute forum.
The 800-member Vacaville Teachers Association on Thursday announced its endorsements for four seats on the Vacaville Unified governing board, two for the Solano County Office of Education board and a City Council candidate who currently serves as a district trustee.
By occupation, the seven candidates range from an incumbent and an administrator at Travis Federal Credit Union to an attorney and a physician, among others.
In a press release, union president Todd Blanset, an English teacher at Will C. Wood High, said the ratification vote was held Tuesday, with final selections coming after “a long and exhaustive process.”
Members of the Vacaville School District governing board will meet in special closed session Tuesday to consider two items related to personnel.
People may comment on those items at the start of the meeting, but will be limited to three minutes each, with a 20-minute time limit for each item. The board is required by law to report any action that may be taken in the closed session.
The first item under consideration falls under the heading of Public Employee Employment/Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Re-Assignment/Resignation.
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.
When Vacaville Unified leaders meet Thursday night, Superintendent Jane Shamieh will present her COVID-19 update, and trustees will consider several salary-related matters for district employees, including employment contracts for two senior managers.
Because the district adheres to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 12 executive order, the 6:30 p.m. open session will be livestreamed on Zoom, the virtual meeting platform that has come under increased scrutiny for its data security, encryption policies, and a phenomenon known as “Zoom-bombing,” when individuals and pranksters “crash” and hijack meetings.
Responding to the development, the San Jose-based company, headed by CEO Eric S. Yuan, recently indicated that all Zoom meetings now require a password to join.
Vacaville Unified School District has decided not to move forward with a plan to create two smaller credit recovery campuses at the Will C. Wood and Vacaville high school campuses.
Instead, the school board will be considering a new proposal to move Country High School to the Buckingham Charter Magnet High School campus, move Buckingham to the current Country High campus and merge Country High with the Ernest Kimme Charter Academy for Independent Learning, which will move into the building across the way, the district announced in a Facebook post.
The goal is for both programs to work together to bring more resources to students.
In September, the district announced that it was considering establishing smaller continuation campuses on the general education high school campuses for Country High students to take classes in self-contained classrooms. However, Country High students, parents and staff expressed concerns about this proposal — namely that Country High students benefited from being in a smaller campus away from the larger comprehensive campuses — at the Sept. 28 school board meeting and on social media.
A discussion on a proposal to move Country High School’s operations to the comprehensive high school campuses may not have been on the agenda for Thursday’s school board meeting, as it was previously scheduled, but parents, teachers and students still took time to express their concerns.
On Sept. 16, Vacaville Unified School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh issued a letter to families announcing that the district was considering establishing two smaller continuation school campuses on the Vacaville and Will C. Wood high school campuses. Country High students would be assigned to a campus based on their area of residence and take classes in self-contained classrooms.
The district’s goals were to provide easier access to Career Technical Education courses for Country High students, allow CHS students to participate in lunch and extracurricular activities with their comprehensive high school peers and make it easier for them to transition back to their home campus if they finish up their credits.
A discussion and action regarding the relocation of Country High School operations that was scheduled to be heard at Thursday’s school board meeting has been postponed, Vacaville Unified School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh announced in a letter Friday.
Earlier this week, VUSD announced it had agendized a discussion regarding a proposal to establish two smaller continuation campuses for Country High students on the grounds of Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools. Shamieh wrote in the earlier letter that the goal was to give Country High students easier access to Career Technical Education courses and allow Country High students who were caught up on their credits to transition back to their home campuses to finish up their remaining credits for graduation.
The story about Vacaville Unified’s new by-area trustee map, which will affect how governing board members are chosen in the future, is not quite finished.
The Solano County Committee, comprised of the Solano County Office of Education trustees, will host a public hearing today in Vacaville to review the newly configured elections map approved Nov. 29 by Vacaville Unified trustees.
The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the Catwalk Theater at Will C. Wood High, 998 Marshall Road, Vacaville.
Marking a fundamental change in how governing board members are elected, Vacaville Unified leaders tonight will consider choosing a by-area trustee map and are expected to approve a transition from at-large to by-area elections.
The special governing board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Educational Services Center, 401 Nut Tree Road, Vacaville.
Formal approval of a resolution, which will follow a public hearing about draft trustee-area boundary maps, comes more than two months after trustees declared their intent to switch to the by-area format, some 50 days after communitywide hearings on the matter, nearly two weeks after public hearings on the proposed maps, and more than 18 months after a Reporter opinion piece urged the governing board to approve by-area elections to avoid a potential lawsuit.
The Latest on results of Solano County elections as the polls close on Election Day and vote counts continue. County elections officials report the next update to the vote count will come at the end of the workday Wednesday.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price maintains a commanding lead in his race for re-election based on the latest Election Day results posted by the Solano County Elections Office.
Price has 61.3 percent of the vote with all of the city’s 35 precincts reporting at 1:15 a.m. Wednesday. Challenger Aneta Wise has 37.88 percent.
Vacaville Unified leaders seek public input about the school district’s “by-area” voting map, the first stages of which are still under development.
Facing the possibility of a lawsuit, district trustees on Sept. 20 passed a resolution declaring an intent to transition from an “at-large” to a by-area election system. The governing board’s decision came years after at least three other Solano County districts — Travis, Fairfield-Suisun and Vallejo City — switched to the by-area format, in which trustees represent certain city sectors rather than the entire district.
The ongoing forums continue today from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the McBride Senior Center, 91 Town Square Place. Coffee and donuts will be served.
Familiar and not-so-familiar names are among candidates endorsed by the Vacaville Teachers Association for Vacaville and Solano county schools district posts up for grabs on Election Day, Nov. 6.
For the Vacaville Unified governing board, the 760-member union gave nods to incumbents John Jansen, a retired Vacaville firefighter, and Shelley Dally, a longtime educator and former school administrator. Solano Community College biotechnology professor Michael Silva received the educators’ endorsement for the third opening on the board overseeing the 14,000-student district.
“This was not an easy decision,” said Tracy Begley, VTA president. “Our members talked with everyone who sought our endorsement and, at the end of our process, we felt that John, Shelley and Michael would be the best candidates for us to support during this election cycle.”