By Katy St. Clair
School board members balked Thursday at a plan to spend up to $500,000 with a national firm to provide teachers and related professionals during the current school year to blunt a shortage of staff.
The matter was the only item on the agenda for a special meeting that began after the regular board meeting Thursday had ended.
Source: Vaca board balks at $500,000 plan to address staffing shortage at school sites
By Katy S. Clair
School board members put off a decision this week on how best to spend nearly $9.235 million in pandemic relief money.
Superintendent Jane Shamieh outlined how the district would use the money to:
- Comply with Covid-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Address the impact of lost instructional time.
- Respond to the needs of all students, particularly those disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as low-income, unhoused and children and teens with special needs.
Source: Vaca school board delays final discussion on plan to spend nearly $10M in Covid relief funds
The Vacaville School District is seeking public input on how to utilize Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding from the state.
To get feedback, the district is using a tool called ThoughtExchange. Go to tejoin.com/scroll/279357871 to participate.
Participants will be asked to respond to one open-ended question. Stars can be assigned to ideas shared by others. It’s an opportunity to see what is important to the group.
Source: Vaca schools seek public input on spending through ThoughtExchange
Rocky Hill Trail project artist Leslie Molera is looking for up to seven local youth artists to participate on her project.
The artwork consists of a mural on four steel panels and staggered cement piers with a portion of the panel artwork to be student-designed.
Molera is a Vacaville artist who has taught in after-school mural painting programs with students at Markham Elementary School and the Mariposa Boys and Girls Club, and at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School.
Source: Vaca artist seeks student assistants on Rocky Hill project
By Nick Sestanovich
Mick Simpson is more than just Alamo Elementary School’s custodian.
In many ways, he has been a source of joy for the students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, whether playing characters for the school’s morning announcements, painting murals of different cartoon characters, or taking the otherwise mundane task of disinfecting classrooms to a new level by imagining himself as a Ghostbuster, only working to keep the virus at bay rather than paranormal creatures.
It is this approach to Simpson’s job that has earned him a reputation not only across campus but beyond. He was featured on a local news broadcast back in April and more recently in the pages of Time magazine for a feature honoring school staff throughout the country.
Source: Alamo custodian brings joy during pandemic, gets national recognition – The Vacaville Reporter
By Jasmine Aguilera, Madeleine Carlisle and Katie Reilly
Mick Simpson noticed that kindergartners seemed a little scared when they returned to the school building in the spring and saw him walking around with a backpack of disinfectant, spraying everything down. So he got playful, decorating his gear with a Ghostbusters sticker and dubbing himself the “COVID Buster.”
“I try to keep it fun and exciting to come to school,” says Simpson, 50, a custodian at Alamo Elementary School in Vacaville, Calif.—a city of about 97,000 residents, roughly 55 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Source: Meet the Educators Who Saved A Pandemic School Year | Time
By Kimberly K. Fu
Dozens gathered at Nashe Mesta Park in Vacaville’s Brighton Landing neighborhood Friday to enjoy food, fun and celebrate progress of Kairos Public Schools’ school expansion.
As students scampered around the playground during the Kairos Innovative Scholars Program annual picnic, parents and education officials perused renderings of two phases of the planned Kairos campus. It will be located just beyond the park, on 11 acres owned by the school.
Jared Austin, Kairos co-founder and executive director, detailed the soon-to-be 11,000 square foot learning center complete with ample bells and whistles.
Source: Officials unveil plans for new Kairos learning center, campus – The Vacaville Reporter
By Joel Rosenbaum
Vacaville High School senior, Ella Conolley, 17 reacts to the cheers of her family and friends after she was crowned the 2021 Homecoming Queen during halftime of the Bulldogs’ 49-9 victory Friday over visiting Tracy High School.
Source: Vaca High crowns Homecoming royalty – The Vacaville Reporter
By Susan Hiland
Kairos Public Schools hosted its annual Kairos Innovative Scholars Program family picnic Friday with a little more to celebrate this year.
The school will soon be opening an 11,000-square-foot Kairos Learning Center in the Brighton Landing Development area. The Silicon Schools Fund gifted the school $125,000 at the picnic Friday with about 75 families and children in attendance.
“At the moment we are going through the city to get everything approved,” Kairos co-founder and executive director Jared Austin said. “We are looking at developing this over five years.”
Source: Kairos Schools growing in Vacaville thanks to cash infusion
By Joel Rosenbaum
Dressed in a crazy outfit, Vacaville High School senior, Lucca Sartorio, 17 strikes a pose as he struts across the stage during a wacky fashion show Wednesday at lunchtime. The event is organized by the Vaca High Students Council and is part of the school’s Homecoming week festivities. The Bulldogs battle Tracy High School Friday night at Tom Zunino Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with the Homecoming queen crowed at halftime.
Source: Vaca High Celebrates Homecoming In Wacky Fashion – The Vacaville Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
In one Hemlock Elementary School kindergarten classroom Thursday morning, it was business as usual. Students modeled letters of the alphabet using Play-Doh, learned about the months of the year and listened to stories.
However, what seemed like a typical kindergarten class on the surface was actually something brand new for Vacaville Unified School District: a mixture of general education students and students with individualized education plans (IEPs). Hemlock has the district’s first inclusive kindergarten program, intended to bring students of different abilities into one classroom as they begin their K-12 education.
The idea came from Hemlock Principal Jennifer Austin who attended an Every Student Succeeding training by the Association of California School Administrators in 2019. There, she attended a class on making classrooms fully inclusive.
Source: Hemlock pilots first inclusive kindergarten class – The Vacaville Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
As Vacaville Unified School District enters its second month of the 2021-22 school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials will present an update on how the district is responding to the pandemic at Thursday’s school board meeting.
The update will be presented by Assistant Superintendent Sasha Begell and Abigail Hilliard, communications and crisis manager. The contents of the presentation have been included in the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
Currently, masks are required for students indoors and optional when they are outdoors. If a student is unmasked and exposed to someone who tested positive, they will be required to quarantine for 10 days. If they came into close contact with a positive patient and were unvaccinated, they will be required to submit a test up to twice a day and will be barred from extracurricular activities, even if they were wearing a mask.
Source: Vacaville school board to receive updates on COVID guidelines – The Vacaville Reporter
By Matt Miller
The Vacaville School District is testing out a new pilot program this school year that allows any high school student who chooses to do so to leave campus during the lunch hour.
All secondary schools are continuing to offer free lunches on campus and many students are taking advantage of that opportunity, school district officials report. But allowing students to leave, if they choose, makes for quicker food distribution on campus and more adequate physical spacing to deal with Covid-19 concerns, school officials said.
“It’s been so far, so good,” said Ed Santopadre, assistant superintendent for education services. “We haven’t compared any of the data yet, but I think they are starting to figure out if they want to go off-campus or stay for the free lunch.”
Source: Vaca district tests open lunch policy for all high schoolers
By Nick Sestanovich
Familiar feelings were experienced throughout Vacaville Unified School District on its first day of school Thursday: excitement, nervousness, wonderment and even relief.
Eighteen months after being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, kids were back on campus full time and no longer behind a computer screen. The only major difference from the first day of school two years ago was that students and staff were masked up, as is the requirement for indoors, but the feeling was otherwise a sense of a return to normalcy.
This was especially evident at Cooper Elementary School, where first-year Principal Samantha Chizauskie expressed how excited she was.
Source: VUSD students back on campus, excited to learn – The Vacaville Reporter
Wednesday marks the start of a new school year in Vacaville and at two elementary schools, new leadership.
Amye Scott has been named principal at Markham Elementary School and Samantha Chizauskie will take the reins at Cooper Elementary School.
Scott, from West Park Elementary School in the Napa Valley School District, succeeds Jose Bermudez.
She has 25 years of experience as an educator and administrator. She has experience in implementing AVID, trauma informed practices and targeted interventions to remove barriers for all learners. She was the induction program lead trainer and instructional coach for 12 years.
Source: Markham, Cooper schools welcome new principals – The Vacaville Reporter
By Matt Miller
Vacaville School District Superintendent Jane Shamieh said Tuesday that “this return to a ‘new normal,’ ” but fully in-person school year has been a long time coming.
The district has been working since the end of the previous school year in June to make in-person learning possible.
More than 8,100 students will return Thursday to the nine elementary schools, one K-8, two middle schools, five high school teaching environments and one adult school, except for those few who opted out and chose an independent study program.
Source: Vacaville district ready to open new school year amid new pandemic ‘normal’
The Vacaville School District has announced new two principals for the new school year at both Cooper Elementary School and at Edwin Markham Elementary.
Samantha Chizauskie is the new principal at Cooper. Amye Scott has been named the new principal of Edwin Markham.
Chizauskie joins the district after serving at Foxboro Elementary School in the Travis School District. She succeeds former Cooper Elementary School principal La Tonya Cruthird.
Source: Vaca’s Cooper, Markham have new principals
By Richard Bammer
First, consider her family’s history, a family of teachers that stretches back nearly 100 years in Vacaville.
Second, consider her resume, packed with references to pioneering teaching strategies and programs that continue to thrive and a history of mentoring staff and students.
And third, this consideration: After many years of teaching, leading schools and later serving as a district trustee and continues to do so, Shelley Dally was honored Thursday by the Vacaville Unified governing board, which, on a unanimous vote, named a new early learning center after her.
Source: New preschool center named for longtime VUSD educator, principal, trustee – The Vacaville Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
The return to school is always an eventful experience. At Vacaville Unified School District, which resumes classes Thursday, this is more true than ever.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Vacaville schools have been largely closed for in-person learning, with educators shifting to a virtual format through sites like Zoom. The district adopted a hybrid schedule starting in March, and now with eased statewide restrictions, students will be returning to campus full time for in-person learning, with modifications mostly centered around the wearing of masks indoors.
“It’s really been very positive because it’s so much more like a regular year than we did last year,” Ed Santopadre, associate superintendent of educational services, said.
Source: VUSD gearing up for return to in-person classes – The Vacaville Reporter
The Vacaville School District governing board unanimously approved naming a new early learning center for governing board member and longtime community educator Shelley Dally.
The new addition to the district’s 18 school sites will be located at 621 South Orchard Ave. and will be referred to as the Shelley Dally Early Learning Village. The campus will open to preschoolers in January.
Dally was praised in a press release for her vision as a teacher, administrator and community leader.
Source: District names new Vacaville preschool named for Shelley Dally