Dear Benicia Community,

The Power of Community: I hope this letter finds you well and your children experiencing a positive and productive school year.  Now in my third year as Superintendent, I continue to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the unique, close-knit culture of this town and school district.  With the tragic event in Florida, it is more important than ever for communities to pull together to promote and preserve a strong sense of normalcy and safety for one another, and in particular, our children and young adults.  

I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for the dedicated employees who work for the Benicia Unified School District, knowing and observing, daily, the commitment these individuals have for the well-being, care and safety of our students.  I also want to thank the parent community for being engaged, for participating and sharing your time, thoughts and hard work.  We would not be the outstanding school district we are without you.  Thank you, parents, teachers, classified staff, and management!  

Steady Progress:  The state of this school district is strong and getting stronger each year.  Our overall instructional program is built on a solid foundation, rooted in quality teaching and processes that include the analysis of various data to track our progress and make adjustments as needed.  One of the most powerful activities we engage in yearly includes the Strategic Plan-LCAP development process.

Each year we ask all stakeholders to provide feedback regarding our overall program. This information helps drive our actions and services outlined in our District’s Strategic Plan-LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan). Your feedback is vital to this process and we thank you for taking the time to participate.  If you have not had an opportunity to complete the feedback survey, I encourage you to take a moment to do so.  The following link will take you to the survey.   https://goo.gl/forms/IGF95fHI1GB6yNcm2

In the Spirit of Continual Improvement:  On February 13th, we held our district-wide professional learning day where all BUSD teachers participated in staff led break-out sessions which covered a variety of topics based on teacher interest and need.  I want to thank all of the talented and forward thinking teachers who put together dynamic learning sessions for their colleagues.  The value of this day provides staff with the opportunity to grow their practice, collaborate with one another and take on leadership roles.

State-Wide Assessment:  The statewide assessment, CAASPP, will be administered to all 3rd-8th & 11th graders this year in May.  Our analysis of the data from this assessment provides us with important information on our programming, areas where we are strong and areas on which we need to focus and improve. This assessment is a central component of the accountability system designed by the state of California.  

We are proud of the growth we have seen and continue to closely analyze the results and work to ensure our instructional practices and curriculum design are aligned with the standards and expectations measured on this complex assessment.  If you are interested in learning more about this assessment, follow this link:  https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/sbacparentguides.asp

We also utilize a number of our own internal assessments, knowing multiple measures provides the most accurate picture of student progress and overall progress effectiveness.  

Negotiations Update:  In my previous newsletter, I provided you with an overview of the negotiations process with the Benicia Teacher’s Union, including related budget information.  Since that time, we have moved to impasse, which means a mediator has been assigned to work with both sides to reach a settlement agreement.  Our first meeting with the mediator will take place on March 6.

I think it is important to stress the values of the Governing Board as we strive to reach a settlement agreement.  These values include:  maintaining and enhancing our high-quality educational program; securing the short and long-term fiscal solvency of the District; offering a competitive compensation package to all employee groups in order to attract and retain high-quality employees.  

As I highlighted in my previous letter, Benicia remains very competitive within Solano County, doing so with one of the lowest State LCFF funding in the area. In fact, the BUSD has remained consistent regarding its expenditures over the last three years.  Over the past three years, while balancing the yearly budget challenges of declining enrollment coupled with dramatically increasing pension costs, the budget consistently reflects 86% going toward salary and benefits for employees and 14% toward district operations.  Most school districts in California operate within this range with approximately 85%/15% split between salary, benefits, supplies and services.

Categories for the 14% include books and supplies, general equipment, utilities, special education services, facility repairs and services, insurance, professional development, mileage reimbursement, technology software, legal and audit services, transportation and field-trips and the school resource officer.

I will keep you updated as we move forward with this process.   

Measure S Update:  We continue to make excellent progress with our Measure S Bond Projects. The following is a list of completed and in-progress projects.  For more detail, please click on the following link that will take you to the District Website. https://beniciaunified.org/measure-s/

COMPLETED BOND PROJECTS TO DATE

  • Technology infrastructure upgrades at all schools
  • Phone systems all schools
  • Playground upgrades at elementary schools
  • BMS roof
  • Mary Farmar roof
  • BHS softball field bleachers
  • BHS exterior painting
  • Security surveillance all schools
  • BMS fire alarm replacement
  • BHS fire alarm replacement
  • BHS stadium track and field

APPROVED BOND PROJECTS IN PROGRESS

  • BMS modernization
  • Mary Farmar fire alarm replacement
  • Robert Semple fire alarm replacement
  • Matthew Turner fire alarm upgrades
  • Joe Henderson fire alarm upgrades
  • Liberty and District Office fire alarm replacement
  • Misc. infrastructure upgrades
  • BHS gym floor
  • Alternative education improvements
  • BHS performing arts building (PAB) improvements: The District applied for PAB CTE grant funding, which if awarded will require District to match with up to a maximum of $3,000,000 in local funds. If the CTE grant is not awarded, a minimum allocation of $400,000 for improvements within the PAB was discussed.

ADDITIONAL BOND PROJECTS DISCUSSED AT THE 02/15/18 BOARD MEETING

  • Mary Farmar modernization
  • Security upgrades
  • Joe Henderson bathroom facility

Thank you, Benicia Community.  It is an honor to serve as your Superintendent.

Sincerely,
Dr. Charles Young
BUSD Superintendent of Schools

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