Dear Benicia Community,

We are well into the second half of the academic year and making outstanding progress in so many areas. I continue to be impressed with this fine school district and appreciate the strong partnership with you. 

In a recent meeting with parents to solicit feedback on the qualities they would like to see in their new middle school principal, we discussed the changing nature of the world our students live in. I asked parents what the biggest change they have observed over time and they unanimously identified social media.

Social Media: For sure, we live in a new era and the use of social media plays a big role in all of our lives. Because its growth has been rapid and so widespread, there is often the feeling of the Wild-West, where seemingly obvious social agreements around civility would be equally known and practiced by all. However, this isn’t always the case. 
In our efforts to work with students in this new, exciting and sometimes precarious environment, we are utilizing a variety of informational tools to help educate students on the appropriate use of social media and the importance of being fully aware of one’s online footprint. A particularly useful source is called Common Sense Media:
The site contains a number of useful resources in the following headings: Reviews, Top Picks, Family Guides, Parent Concerns, Videos, Blogs, For Educators, Kid’s Actions, Latino, About Us. 

Keep the Dialog Open: I strongly encourage you to explore the site, particularly the Parent Concerns tab. Engage your child openly regarding your expectations and appropriate use of social media. They are going to use social media – it’s their world, so you might as well stay fully engaged and navigate this amazing new world together while reinforcing safe and productive practices. We all play a role in helping to make the Internet a place of civility and respect for others, or as my parents used to refer to our great nation: A Polite Society.

Gold Ribbon Schools: My congratulations and support goes out to our Gold Ribbon elementary school nominees: Joe Henderson, Robert Semple and Mary Farmar.

Schools are invited to apply and their applications are reviewed by the California Department of Education (CDE). Schools are then selected by the CDE for a verification review by staff members from the County Office of Education.

Joe Henderson highlighted their school wide focus on building a reading life, Robert Semple highlighted the impact that Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has made on their school culture as well as their reading intervention support program, and Mary Farmar highlighted the positive impact that classroom-embedded professional development through Teachers College Reading & Writing Project has made on their instructional practice and grade-level collaboration.

Turner Elementary was recognized as a California Distinguished School in 2013.
This is an outstanding achievement and we are all very proud of our amazing elementary schools!BUSD Safe & Reliable Communication System
In an effort to provide students a safe learning environment at all of the schools in the Benicia Unified School District (BUSD), a Safe & Reliable Communication System was discussed at the 11/19/2015 BUSD school board meeting and subsequent School Facility Master Plan meetings at all of the schools. The Safe & Reliable Communication System is part of the Measure S School Bond Program and includes Fire Alarms, Clocks/Bells/Public Address (PA), and Surveillance. The Fire Alarms are under review and design. The current phase of the Safe & Reliable Communication System at each of our schools includes the installation of the systems for Clocks/Bells/PA and Surveillance which will assist the schools not only with the day-to-day communications but also with those communications that are essential in time of emergency.

The Clocks/Bells/PA will address the immediate need at some of our schools to provide audible communication to all classrooms and exterior areas. The new system will provide reliable communications, for day-to-day operations and emergencies, including written messages that scroll as part of the clock mechanism. It will also address the manual maintenance to keep accurate time and bell schedules, and the replacement of amplifiers which are failing.The Surveillance system will replace the aging and limited system at Benicia High School, and be added to the other campuses. The surveillance will assist the schools in monitoring traffic and activity on the campuses, as well as assist with administering appropriate actions in case of emergencies. In addition, the surveillance will assist with efforts to prevent vandalism and theft. The primary areas under surveillance will be exterior areas and some common interior areas such as the main entrance/office and multi-use facilities.All of these items are part of the Safe & Reliable Communication System which has been categorized in the Measure S School Bond Program as Health, Safety and Security Improvements essential to the safe operations of our schools

District Wide Professional Development: Professional Development plays a key role in the ongoing improvement for teachers and classified staff. This Monday we will engage in our second District wide professional development day.

I will be starting the day at the high school, kicking off the discussion regarding the bell schedule. Dr. Denise Pope from Stanford University will be joining the conversation and engaging the entire staff. She is the author of the recent book Overload and Underprepared – Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids.  

You might enjoy visiting her website

Student Records: The California Department of Education (“CDE”) is currently engaged in litigation with two non-profit associations comprised of parents and guardians of children with disabilities. The plaintiffs in that litigation have requested numerous documents, as well as student data collected and stored by CDE, which may include personally identifiable student information.To comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), CDE has been ordered, among other things, to inform parents and students of the disclosure of such information. CDE has requested that school districts and SELPAs post the following link to CDE’s website: The link provides a Notice and Objection form to allow parents to object, by April 1, 2016, to the disclosure of personally identifiable information related to their children.Please note that Benicia Unified School District is not a party to the litigation and is not required to disclose any student data.If you have any questions, please contact CDE directly at 916-319-0800.


Dr. Charles Young, Superintendent