Dear Benicia Community,

I am delighted to be writing to you in this, my first installment of what will be regular updates regarding the happenings in this great school district. While I have only been on the job for four months, I have quickly learned about the many strengths and potential areas of growth in BUSD.

As always, my door is open to you, should you want to share good news, ideas, concerns, etc.  My goal is to partner with you as we continually strive to make BUSD an amazing place for students to reach their fullest potential as human beings.

My intention is to keep these updates brief, readable and relevant.  If I were to list everything I would like to highlight in this first installment, I would not be following this intention, so, here are a few highlights that I would like to share.

Measure S Bond:  With foresight and a commitment to maintaining a solid infrastructure of our schools, you passed Measure S last school year.  To date, we are making considerable progress.  As a reminder, the bond has four categories for improvement and include:

  • health, safety and security improvements

  • modernization and technology updates

  • infrastructure improvements

  • student support facilities

Items that have been completed this year include:  a new roof for Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School; new playgrounds for Mary Farmar, Matthew Turner, and Robert Semple Elementary Schools, and playground enhancements for Joe Henderson Elementary; district wide technology upgrade; district wide new phone system; and new blue and gold exterior paint at Benicia High School.

We are currently discussing the upper field renovation project for the high school.  This is a very exciting and much needed renovation that will have a decidedly positive impact on our school community.  The Board will be discussing the project again on November 5th as we finalize the plans and move ahead with the project.

The Bond Oversight Committee is working closely with H.Y. Architects in the development of the Facilities Master Plan.  This plan will add detail to the facilities needs assessment completed in order to pass the bond.  The goal is to complete the plan, with Board approval, by February of this school year.

Tech additions:   We are excited to announce that we will be adding a number of technology devices, ChromeBooks and laptops, to our schools.  The goal is to increase the ratio of devices to students in our ongoing effort to capitalize on the powerful instructional uses technology presents.  This is a sizable undertaking, and I would like to thank our Technology Department team, under the leadership of Ruben Fernandez, as they prepare and deliver devices, making sure to provide robust support services for staff.

Exciting News in Reading and Writing:  Our efforts around reading and writing instruction are making great gains with the implementation of the Units of Study.  This work is out of Columbia Teacher’s College in New York, authored by Lucy Calkins, well known and widely respected educational leader. It is evidenced based and is affecting the student experience with reading and writing in very powerful ways.

The focus of this approach is in grades K-8, with aspects being implemented at the high school as well.  We hope you are observing positive results with your child and will contact your child’s teacher should you have any questions.

Communication:  I want to thank all of you for your deep interest and involvement in the safety and well being of our students.  We experienced a few disturbing challenges to our community as of late and I so appreciate you providing us with feedback, letting us know about potential concerns and helping us continue to improve our communication with you in all matters.

With this in mind. I would like to mention that we have activated a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/benicia.unified .  We invite you to join, along with my twitter handle @busdsup, as we utilize social media tools to keep to keep you updated.

Okay, that’s a lot for now.  More to come!
Have a terrific weekend!
Sincerely,
Dr. Young

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