The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District secured a two million dollar grant from the California Department of Education (CDE) to implement social-emotional supports and programs for students and staff. As part of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, the CDE awarded twenty-one grants throughout California that ranged from $15,000 to $2,000,000. Fairfield-Suisun Unified was only one of four grantees throughout California to earn the top award.
By Carolyn Jones
Homeless youth and families, who’ve been largely left out of federal coronavirus aid, would get more than $1 billion under a bipartisan proposal put forth this week in the U.S. Senate.
The proposal includes money for shelters, motel bills, food, school supplies and other services intended to help homeless students, whose numbers are expected to grow as unemployment soars to Depression-era levels nationwide.
“It’s what we need right now during this crisis,” said Darla Barbine, executive director of the National Network for Youth, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “We were already at record levels of youth homelessness before the pandemic, but the coronavirus has put a spotlight on these deep fissures in our society.”
By John Glidden
Without comment, the Vallejo City Unified School District approved several Measure S related items during Wednesday’s board meeting.
They approved a contract between the district and Miller Pacific Engineering for geotechnical evaluation for the Corbus Field resurfacing project, according to a staff report to the five-person school board.
The $14,500 contract includes a field drainage assessment, assistance with field design if needed and construction observation and testing, staff said.
By John Fensterwald and Daniel Willis
By July 1, California school districts should get some financial relief from their share of $1.65 billion in federal stimulus funds that the state is expected to receive. Educators are hoping it will be the first installment of a bigger influx of federal aid later this summer that will let them shore up their budgets from expected cuts in state funding, as well as cover additional expenses from the coronavirus.
For school districts facing the potential prospect of big cuts in state funding next year, the funds represent a gift horse — flexible cash with few strings attached that can be spent on multiple costs of the pandemic. These could include items such as buying computers and internet access, covering the costs of distance learning, extended learning next year or paying for cleaning supports and costs of reopening schools.
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has officially announced that $13.5 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for K-12 schools is now available.
The billions in additional aid was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law by President Donald Trump last month. The money will initially go to states, but at least 90 percent ultimately must be passed along to school districts via the Title I formula designed to help schools with large shares of students from low-income households.
Schools can use this pot of CARES Act money for a variety of purposes to help them deal with the fallout of the virus, which has forced dozens of states to shut down in-person classes for the rest of the school year. For example, educators can use it to provide access to the internet for students struggling to learn remotely, mental health supports, and support for special populations of students such as those who are homeless.
The U.S. Department of Education has granted preliminary approval to California’s request for flexibility in using federal funds to ease the immediate impacts of COVID-19 school closures.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond submitted the request for waivers, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on Friday, April 10, 2020. The waivers were approved today.
The waivers loosen restrictions on how and when federal education funds can be spent. They remove a cap on technology purchases, ease limits on the amount of unspent federal funds that can be carried over from one federal fiscal year to the next, and relax rules about the use of money for teacher professional development.
By Richard Bammer
For California school district leaders worried about the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, help is on the way.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Thursday announced that $100 million will be sent to the more than 1,000 school districts.
The money, included in SB 117, one of two COVID-19 emergency bills passed by the Legislature on March 17, comes as California’s districts — classified as elementary, high school or unified — have suspended classes until early May and may face the possibility of closure until the fall.
By Andrew Ujifusa
Stimulus legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to cope with impact of the coronavirus pandemic would create a $50 billion fund to stabilize states’ education budgets, including a minimum of roughly $15 billion specifically for K-12 school districts.
In addition, the House’s Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act would loosen rules under the E-Rate program in order to help schools and other organizations provide internet-connected devices and mobile broadband internet access to students. And it would provide $200 million to Project SERV grants, which assist schools that are affected by natural disasters and community violence, as well as additional money for Head Start.
California School Districts with Suits Filed Against JUUL Labs, Inc. (Graphic: Business Wire)
The five lawsuits, filed on behalf of Pacific Grove Unified School District, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, El Dorado Union High School District, Downey Unified School District, and Santa Cruz City Schools were filed in their respective counties, and the Case Numbers are 20CV000991, FCS054513, PC20200144, 20STCV09614, respectively.
These districts join 18 other school districts that have also filed, including Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the nation; San Diego Unified, the second largest district in California; Glendale Unified; Compton Unified; Anaheim Elementary; King City Union; Ceres Unified; Chico Unified; Davis Joint Unified; Poway Unified; Rocklin Unified; Acalanes Union High; Monterey Peninsula Unified; Anaheim Union High; Castro Valley Unified; Campbell Union High; Cajon Valley Union; and North Monterey County Unified School District to take a stand against JUUL’s promotion of dangerous and addictive products.
Source: Baron & Budd and Panish Shea & Boyle File Suit on Behalf of Five More California School Districts to Hold JUUL Labs, Inc. Accountable for Targeting Youth and Creating an E-Cigarette Epidemic that Impedes District-Wide Learning
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.
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano Community College District earlier this month received an upgrade in its credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service.
The district then refinanced bonds Nov. 13 to save taxpayers almost $21 million, according to a press release.
Moody’s raised its rating on the district’s general obligation bonds from AA3 to AA2, meaning “high quality and very low credit risk.”
By Alyson Klein
More than $500 million in funding for construction projects at schools serving the children of military personnel could be in jeopardy, thanks to President Donald Trump’s move to declare a national emergency and shift some $8 billion allocated to defense construction and other purposes to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
That’s according to an analysis of military construction projects circulated by the House Appropriations Committee, which is controlled by Democrats. The list of potentially impacted projects includes turning the former Fort Campbell High School in Fort Campbell, Ky., into a new middle school. Construction projects at schools on military bases in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom could also be affected.
For its part, the Trump administration has said it will divert roughly $3.6 billion from military construction to wall construction, but it has not yet identified which projects would be affected.
By Andrew Ujifusa
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has released proposed guidance to schools about a provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act that prohibits schools from cutting state and local money from education and simply filling the hole with federal funding.
DeVos released the proposed nonregulatory guidance on Friday. Among other things, it clearly states that districts do not need to ensure that there is equal per-pupil spending between Title I schools (those with relatively high shares of low-income students) and non-Title I schools.
After ESSA passed in 2015, the Obama administration proposed regulations that would have required spending at Title I schools to be at least equal to that of the non-Title I schools. But the idea got a torrent of criticism from state and local school officials and others, although civil rights advocates in particular defended the proposal. Those regulations were never finalized before the Trump administration took over.
By Daily Republic Staff
The Leadership Today Class of 2018 is hosting a fundraiser for the Public Safety Academy.
Leadership Today is attended by select city employees and community business leaders. Attendees are selected by both the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce and the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.
The course focuses on group activities to develop leadership skills.
CPR training is planned from 10 a.m. to noon April 28 at NorthBay Healthcare’s HealthSpring Fitness, 1020 Nut Tree Road in Vacaville and from 6 to 8 p.m. April 30 at Brandman University, 2450 Martin Road in Fairfield.
By Nick Sestanovich
Tim Rahill, Benicia Unified School District’s chief business official, will be presenting the second interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting. The report shows, among other things, that BUSD is operating at a $1.9 million deficit.
At the Dec. 14 school board meeting, Rahill presented the first interim financial report which was approved by the board later that evening, although Trustee Peter Morgan voted against it and suggested the district take a serious look at the budget. After Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his final budget proposal in January, Rahill said BUSD would need to make $800,000 in continuing adjustments for the budget to become balanced.
The operating deficit of $1.9 million outlined in the second interim financial report is slightly higher than the $1.8 million figure in the first report. Rahill said the 2017-18 deficit includes one-time spending funds of $900,000 and a $1 million operating loss for general ongoing operations. It does not include costs for negotiations with the district employee groups.
By Richard Bammer
Solano County Office of Education leaders likely will approve the 2017-18 second interim budget report when they meet tonight in Fairfield.
By law, California school districts must issue two annual budget reports for their current fiscal year, usually by mid-December and mid-March, to let state officials know that they can pay their bills.
In her overview, Becky Lentz, director of internal business services, will tell the seven-member governing board that Gov. Jerry Brown continues to predict a recession “but the timing is unknown.”
Additionally, cuts to federal programs are expected and so are changes to the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 during the Obama administration and intended to constrain healthcare costs. SCOE, which administers community and court schools and some special education programs, among others, is experiencing declining enrollment in its Alternative Education program, Lentz will add.
By John Glidden
The Vallejo school board is expected to name four additional members to the district’s Budget Advisory Committee on Wednesday.
Vallejo school district Superintendent Adam Clark is recommending the board appoint Ken Salas, Lynette Henley, Hazel Wilson, and Shawnee Blaylock.
The California School Employee Association and Vallejo Education Association will be represented by Salas and Henley, respectively.
Wilson is a former Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board trustee and will represent the community while Blaylock is a parent/guardian member.
The four will join VCUSD Trustee Marianne Kearney-Brown, the district’s Chief Operations Officer Mitchell Romao, community members Allan Yeap and Ravi Shankar, Kimberly Mitchell-Lewis and Rosalind Hines of the Vallejo School Managers Association.
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a discussion and then vote on the district’s 2017-18 first interim financial report at Thursday’s school board meeting.The district provides the report using information from the budget adopted by the state in June along with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as well as other budget assumptions.
The LCFF is a funding system approved by the state in 2013 which establishes grants in place of funding streams. It is how school districts in California, including BUSD, are funded. According to a presentation by Chief Business Official Tim Rahill, the LCFF provides $8262 per BUSD student and includes a base grant as well as a 20 percent increase for English language learning or foster youth students as well as those enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. According to Rahill, those three groups make up 22 percent of BUSD’s student population.Utilizing information from the state budget, Rahill wrote that the district would be operating at a $1.8 million operating deficit, not including negotiating costs with any of the district employee groups and would provide for the state’s 3 percent Reserve for Economic Uncertainties and the Local Board Policy Reserve, consisting of an additional 4 percent reserve.
By Richard Bammer
The first interim 2017-18 budget report, nomination and election of new governing board officers, and new or modified course proposals are on the agenda when Travis Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Chief Business Officer Sonia Lasyone will update the five-member governing board on the district’s financial picture for the current year, one of two annual interim reports required by state law.
She will present her numbers as the state’s financial outlook remains generally healthy, with revenue collections exceeding expectations but with Gov. Jerry Brown warning public entities not to commit to ongoing, multiyear agreements.
By John Glidden
Almost a year after directing staff to prepare a Request for Proposal for new banking services, the Vallejo school board again asked staff to move forward with an RFP.
The item of banking services came up Wednesday during the board’s organizational meeting. Vallejo City Unified School District staff had requested the board approve Wells Fargo Bank as the designated bank for the district’s clearing account, student body and scholarship funds, and revolving account.
Interim Chief Business Officer Adrian Vargas said he found out about the original RFP while staff prepared the agenda item for the board.
He said the RFP went out last spring but an issue prevented it from coming to fruition. Reached by phone Thursday, board President Burky Worel said a personnel issue was the reason for the delay in following up with the RFP.