Dear Benicia Community,

Thanksgiving Gratitude:  2016.  I still marvel every time I write that date.  It is hard to believe we are marching well into the 21st Century and are living in arguably one of the most exciting times in human history.  The concept of the J-Curve, where change accelerates at an ever increasing speed each year, is well upon us.  While change can be exciting and may hold the potential to enrich our daily lives immeasurably, traveling at our new speed of human history can also be a little scary and sometimes exhausting.  I say all this to remind us of the importance of gratitude, the simple act of slowing down and reflecting on what matters most in our lives.

A quick Internet search of the word gratitude will reveal the benefits of its effect, told not only from the annals of psychological journals but the halls of spirituality as well.  Simply put, the benefits of daily gratitude help elevate the human experience, centering our thoughts and energy, through simple, focused reflection, on what matters most to us, what brings us joy, what makes us feel alive and happy.

The Thanksgiving season is a guidepost holiday for us all and we can engage in thanksgiving each day by taking a few minutes upon waking, when going to sleep, when driving, during a lunch break, etc., to just quiet our thoughts and picture those areas in our life and those individuals for which and who we are grateful.

Give it a try; I guarantee you will see immediate, positive results.

Great News on Measure S- We continue to make steady progress with the projects funded by Measure S funds.  Our facilities master plan drives our decisions, and we are excited with the progress we are making:

Completed Bond Projects:

  1.      Technology infrastructure upgrades – all schools
  2.      Phone systems – all schools
  3.      Playground upgrades – all Elementary Sites
  4.      Roof – Benicia Middle School
  5.      Roof – Mary Farmar Elementary School
  6.      Softball field bleachers
  7.      Exterior painting – Benicia High School
  8.      Fire alarm system – Benicia Middle School
  9.      Camera security system
  10.   IT server and disaster recovery upgrade

Bond Projects in Process:

  1.      Clocks/bells/PA upgrade and replacement – Estimated completion Fall 2016
  2.      BHS stadium track and field

Bond Projects in Planning Stage:

  1.      BHS fire alarm upgrades for construction in Summer 2017
  2.      Solar updates and Prop 39 work
  3.      Portable replacement and upgrades at Benicia Middle School

Other Great News Regarding the Bond: The District is pleased to announce the Series B Measure S GO Bonds for $29.6M sold with an overall average interest rate of 2.83%.  Previously estimated during the pre-pricing meeting at  2.854%, the lower interest rate has saved the Benicia Taxpayers approximately $400,000 over the term of the bonds.  That $400,000 savings is in addition to the $1.9M in savings by offering 23-year bonds versus 25-year bonds.  That brings a total cumulative savings to the Benicia taxpayers of $2.3M.  The District is very fortunate to be able to issue these Series B GO Bonds during a time with record low-interest rates.  The District will use these funds in accordance with Measure S to renovate our school facilities.

Internet Safety – BUSD partnered with Benicia Police Department in October to share best practices regarding student safety and the Internet.  The following link will take you to the presentation for that evening and includes a number of useful resources for parents.  (Click here for the presentation.)

While the Internet offers a world of immediate resources, there is a Wild West element to this new frontier.  We are wise to anchor ourselves in best practices as we teach our children the safest ways to develop an online profile and to navigate the seemingly endless array of resources.

The Ultimate Question – Survey Data – I want to thank all of your for responding to the two question survey I put out.  The two questions were – on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how likely is it that you would recommend BUSD to a friend or colleague?  The second question stated: what are the reasons for your response?

The response rate was excellent, with over 1,000 parents weighing in.  There is good news here as approximately 75% of the responses fell into the 8-10 categories.  We are coding the narrative responses, looking for themes and patterns and will use this information as we reflect on our overall practices as a school district and in the development of our LCAP-Strategic Plan.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Break Everyone!  I am honored to be your Superintendent and so appreciate your partnership as we pursue our vision:

BUSD – Where all students achieve at their highest potential in an engaging, inspiring and challenging learning environment.