By Thomas Gase
Continuing with its remedy for being served with a Notice of Violation by the city’s school district, Griffin Technology Academies is appointing new members to its accountability team this week.
Nick Driver, the Vallejo City Unified School District’s new superintendent, named Brent Zionic — an educator and technology expert with a deep background in workflow and compliance processes — as GTA’s new Chief Accountability Officer.
Driver also named Jane Henzerling, charter school founder and educational systems and measurement expert, as a second key member of the new team.
Source: Griffin Technology Academies announces new members to accountability team – Times-Herald
The Griffin Technology Academies Board of Directors announced this week that Nick Driver, who has been serving as acting superintendent since March, will fill the position permanently starting July 1. The board voted to approve his three-year contract during its June 14 meeting.
Driver’s base salary is set at $196,720 for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. He will lead the charter school network, which operates two middle and two high schools. Originally known as Mare Island Technology Academy, GTA became the first to operate as a charter school within the boundaries of the Vallejo City Unified School District in 1999. The network has since expanded and currently has about 1,300 enrolled students.
GTA also announced that Shawna Gilroy was elevated to board chair, while Vivian Wesley was made the board’s vice-chair. The network also announced that Alex Insaurralde will return as chief academic officer.
Source: Vallejo charter network names Nick Driver as new superintendent
By Thomas Gase
The Griffin Technology Academies Board of Directors announced several new leadership positions on Wednesday, including new Board Chair Shawna Gilroy, Board Vice-Chair Vivian Wesley and the appointment of Nick Driver as permanent superintendent.
Driver has spent nearly two decades in a variety of roles serving students and the charter school community. As a founding staff member at the California Charter Schools Association, he supported GTA and its schools beginning in 2004.
“I’m very excited about the future of GTA and our new school leadership,” Driver said in a news release. “I’m incredibly honored to be selected as permanent Superintendent and entrusted to lead our schools forward. Ms. Gilroy and Ms. Wesley are committed leaders, and also strongly believe in supporting the Vallejo community through activism, volunteerism, and resilience — and I’m convinced they will continue to bring that same commitment to their new board roles.”
Source: Griffin Technology Academies announces new board officers – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
Griffin Technology Academies says it agrees with school district issues with its four charter schools and is acting in good faith to resolve the concerns.
The Vallejo City Unified School District sent out draft Notices of Violations and Opportunity to Cure to GTA last month. A Notice of Violations is the first step in initiating charter revocation proceedings against the four charter schools. If not corrected, the VCUSD Board can consider the action of sending a Notice of Intent to Revoke to one or more of the four schools — Mare Island Technology Academy middle and high schools as well as Griffin Academy middle and high schools.
Source: Griffin Technology Academies hope to move forward after getting ‘wake up call’ – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
When keynote speaker and former Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan addressed the crowd at Beverly Hills Elementary School in Vallejo, he began by reciting the definition of the world “resilient.” Someone who is resilient is someone able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
Or in this case the 2022 graduating class at Mare Island Technology Academy in Vallejo.
Family and friends cheered on 104 students receiving their diplomas on Wednesday night after four years of studying during difficult times in the world.
Source: Mare Island Technology Academy uses ‘resilence’ to graduate – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
Vallejo High School valedictorian Rachel Contreras Ramirez had some difficulty giving her speech at times on Thursday afternoon. In many segments, especially while thanking her family, she was overcome with emotion, shedding tears.
However, much like her fellow students in the Class of 2022, she pushed on despite the challenges.
Those tears from Ramirez eventually subsided and her smile eventually matched the ones of 292 other students as family, friends, teachers and others celebrated the Redhawks making it through an often difficult four years to get to commencement
Source: Vallejo High School ‘achieves greater lengths’ to graduate – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
It wasn’t a cold winter day in Boston, but Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent William Spalding gave the same advice to John Finney High School graduates once given to a Harvard freshman named Ketanji Brown Jackson.
“This has been the hardest year of the hardest three years for students,” Spalding told the crowd and students at Corbus Field Wednesday. “These students had to persevere under so much and yet, here we are. You can credit that to stamina, resilience, and tenacity. So give these students a round of applause as they probably had to work harder than any other student to get here.”
Source: John Finney students ‘rise’ to graduate – Times-Herald
The Griffin Technology Academies (GTA) Board of Directors formally responded this week to allegations of wrongdoing levied by the Vallejo school board in late April.
The Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education voted on April 28 to send a notice of violations to each of the four charter schools operated by GTA – paving the way for the district to strip the charters of their status. The district alleged the charter board committed numerous violations, including failing to protect students, mismanaging the network’s finances, allowing mold to flourish inside school facilities, and violating the state’s open meeting law.
Source: Vallejo charter schools promise ‘turnaround’ after district’s threat to status
By Thomas Gase
As COVID infections rise once again throughout the country, masks are returning to Vallejo schools.
After a rise in COVID cases attributed to the BA.2 Omicron strain, the Vallejo City Unified School District decided over the weekend to have its staff and students to wear masks in all indoor settings.
VCUSD Superintendent William Spalding said in a news release, “We believe that this simple measure provides us the best opportunity to finish this school year without further significant disruption and to be able to hold planned events.”
Source: VCUSD teachers, students to wear masks indoors for rest of school year – Times-Herald
With smiles on their faces, the Vallejo city council happily agreed to a request from First 5 Solano Children and Families to provide $500,000 in funding to establish an Early Learning Center at the former Beverly Hills Elementary School site in South Vallejo.
The funding will be split in at least two ways with the city redirecting $160,000 from its Youth Initiative budget, and $340,000 from American Rescue Plan Act funding.
Source: Council pledges $500K toward early childhood center in South Vallejo
The Vallejo City Unified School District’s two high schools, Jesse Bethel and Vallejo High Schools will host a College and Career High School Open House. Jesse Bethel High School will open its doors on Tuesday, May 24, and Vallejo High School will welcome visitors on Wednesday, May 25.
Both events will be held in the Big Gyms and run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
All community members are welcome to learn more about their local high schools, whether you have a child entering high school or not.
Source: VCUSD’s College and Career Open House coming soon – Times-Herald
By Richard Bammer
A Vallejo City Unified teacher and a Solano County Office of Education (SCOE) employee bested a field of their peers and were named top educator and top school-support employee for 2022 during SCOE’s annual Educator of the Year Awards celebration.
At celebration’s end, a blue-ribbon committee of past honorees named Jeanette Starring, a third-grade teacher in Vallejo City Unified, and Dave Candelo, a facilities and maintenance coordinator for SCOE, as top educator and classified employee, respectively.
In a press release, a spokeswoman for SCOE, Jennifer Leonard, said Starring, a teacher at Dan Mini Elementary, where she teaches multiple subjects, has been teaching for 30 years, 10 in her current job.
Source: Vallejo Unified’s Jeanette Starring named top educator in Solano County – Times-Herald
The Vallejo school board took its first steps toward potentially stripping Griffin Technology Academies (GTA) of its four school charters over concerns that the organization has mismanaged finances, failed to protect students from mold infestations, and violated state open meeting law.
The five-person school board unanimously approved sending notice of violations to the GTA board of directors on Thursday, giving them until June 6 to remedy or refute the alleged violations. If the school board believes the organization hasn’t shown enough improvement, the board could continue the process of revoking the charters.
Source: Vallejo school board tells charter schools to fix issues or risk losing status
By Thomas Gase
Life is kind of similar to rides at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo — it’s full of twists and turns, ups and downs and many screams.
On Tuesday morning, the park was also the scene for inspiration.
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the Empower Youth Summit was a day of education and inspiration for Vallejo eighth graders. This was the third time Kaiser Permanente in Napa Solano has put on the Empower Youth Summit in the Vallejo City Unified School District, with the inaugural event starting in 2019 and reaching more than 700 students.
Source: Vallejo youth inspired at empowerment event at Six Flags – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
The Vallejo City Unified School District announced in a news release Tuesday that it sent out draft Notices of Violations and Opportunity to Cure to Griffin Technology Academies (GTA) concerning its four charter schools.
Those schools include Mare Island Technology Academy middle and high schools as well as Griffin Academy middle and high schools.
The VCUSD’s Board of Trustees will review, consider, and vote on whether to formally issue the draft notices sent to GTA’s four schools on Thursday at 5 p.m. during a special board meeting.
Source: Vallejo City Unified School District sends notices to four charter schools – Times-Herald
Beginning next month, the Vallejo school board intends to return to in-person meetings for the first time in two years.
Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent William Spalding announced during Wednesday’s school board meeting a tentative plan for the five-person school board to return to in-person meetings starting on May 4.
The board typically would meet on the first and third Wednesdays of each month inside district offices on Mare Island. But it has met via teleconference for nearly two years following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Vallejo school board plans lifting pandemic restrictions, return to in-person meetings
By Thomas Gase
As hundreds of kids ran around laughing and shrieking at Loma Vista Farms Saturday, Julia Allen looked around her and could only smile.
“I feel so great to be out here today and see all of the people,” the current President of Friends of Loma Vista Farms said. “We have such a loyal following with the families that come here over and over, but I’m always also looking forward to meeting new people. I have no idea how many times I’ve heard people say, “Oh my God this place is great and I never knew it was here this whole time.”
Loma Vista Farms held a Spring Open House on Saturday and the event served the community in an educational way as well as a form of entertainment.
Source: Vallejo’s Loma Vista Farms opens up to kids, families – Times-Herald
The Vallejo City Unified School District will host an in-person job fair on Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to noon at the district offices at 665 Walnut Ave.
Currently, open positions include teachers, substitutes, support staff, and managers.
Attendees will be able to interview for positions and, if qualified, be offered a job on the spot.
“We are very excited to be able to provide job offers that day,” Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Gigi Patrick said in a news release. “If we find the right fit for one of our vacancies, we want to hire them. We have all types of positions available, and we are hoping that this event will attract candidates who could thrive at VCUSD.”
Source: Vallejo City Unified School District to host job fair – Times-Herald
The Glen Cove Community Association donated $900 of equipment to Glen Cove Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon as part of its yearly donation to its local neighborhood school.
The President of the Glen Cove Community Association (GCCA) Joseph Hayden and Vallejo City Unified School District (VCUSD) Board of Trustees and GCCA Board Member John Fox presented the items to Glen Cove Elementary Principal Christine Lucero.
“We are very thankful to the Glen Cove Community Association for reaching out and supporting our school,” Lucero said in a news release. “We hope to maintain a strong partnership with our community and neighbors. The items that the GCCA donated are already in use and will continue to support programming at Glen Cove Elementary for years to come. Thank you again to the GCCA!”
Source: Glen Cove Community Association donates supplies to local elementary school – Times-Herald
Twelve fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from across Solano County will compete Tuesday in the final round of the Solano County Elementary School Spelling Bee.
The event will start at 6 p.m. at Journey Downtown Coffee, 308 Main St. in Vacaville. The top two spellers will advance to the state competition May 14 in Stockton.
The initial round of the county competition was held March 27 with the top 12 moving on to the final round. There were 79 participants in the preliminary competition.
Source: Final round of Solano County Spelling Bee is Tuesday