Benicia Unified School District

Superintendent September Newsletter

Posted On: August 30, 2023



As a District, BUSD remains committed to ensuring “all students achieve at their highest potential in an engaging, inspiring and challenging learning environment,” as we understand that students rely on professionals to provide the necessary tools to excel beyond their TK-12 experience. BUSD will accomplish this vision by implementing the four LCAP focus areas: Social-Emotional Learning and Sense of Belonging, Literacy and Humanities, Math and STEAM, and Equity and Opportunity.

5 C’s

Cultivating our strengths by protecting, nurturing, and growing relationships to ensure all staff, students, and educational partners feel valued to foster organizational growth. BUSD will use the five components of trust to navigate relationships and measure progress: Competence, Consistency, Concern, Candor, and Connection.

Emergency Contact Information

Parent Data Confirmation is an essential start-of-year process that ensures we have up-to-date emergency contact information on file, are aware of any medical needs for your student, and allow you to review your educational rights and responsibilities. This process is mandatory for all students. A big thank you to the 85% of families who completed it! If you still need to complete the process, please visit AERIES to get started. If you need help logging into your Aeries account or creating a new account, please see the Data Confirmation link. If you need additional support, please email [email protected], and we will assist you.

Chromebook Insurance

For families with students enrolled at Benicia Middle School, Liberty, or Benicia High School, safeguarding your student’s Chromebook is crucial. We encourage you to purchase Chromebook insurance for just $30, providing comprehensive coverage throughout the 2023/2024 academic year. Please click on the following link to learn more about this valuable protection. Your student’s device safety is our priority! Click Here

Employment Opportunities

Our schools are off to a great start! Benicia Unified School District has vacant positions in the following areas: Food Service, Child Development Unit, Paraprofessional after school, Library Technician, Wellness Center, Special Education Assistant, Student Supervision Assistants, and Crossing Guards. If you or someone you know is looking for a job and interested in serving our students and our community, please click on this EdJoin Link and apply. If you have any questions, please email Human Resources at: [email protected]

School Improvement Measure

On May 25, 2023, the Benicia Unified School District Governing Board approved Isom Advisors to survey Benicia residents about the feasibility of accessing state and local funding through a school improvement measure. BUSD has determined that the uncompleted projects on the Facilities Master plan and additional facilities are necessary to provide local students with a safe learning environment. Isom Advisors are currently surveying Benicia residents regarding this school improvement measure. BUSD appreciates your continued support and looks forward to working with you.

Safe Routes to School

The Solano Transportation Authority (STA) seeks input on concerns surrounding pedestrian/bike access and overall circulation focused on Safe Routes 2 School at area schools. An online tool that allows residents, parents, students, teachers, or others to comment on any subject related to school access in real-time has been created. STA’s consultant will tabulate the results and formulate a work plan to assist with future SR2S grants. To view the tool, click here.

Universal Meals Program

Under the Universal Meals Program for school children, BUSD will provide every student with two free meals daily, complimentary breakfast, and lunch during the 2023-2024 school year. You can find more information on the Universal Meals Program linked here: California Universal Meals Program.

We encourage all families to complete the Free and Reduced Meal Application. If eligible, the District would receive additional funding for programs, and families may have college applications waived, internet and utility discounts, SAT/PSAT/ACT Testing Discounts, and EBT Cards.

Traffic Impacting Benicia Area

A 104-hour full highway closure of westbound I-80 is scheduled on Labor Day weekend starting Thursday, August 31 at 9pm and concluding at 5am on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. WB I-80 will be closed and traffic detoured beginning at the WB I-80/I-780 interchange in Vallejo.

Motorists traveling eastbound on I-80 will need to exit onto eastbound SR-4 in Hercules and continue on EB SR-4 to Northbound I-680. Motorists can use NB I-680 to reach I-80 in Fairfield or use WB I-780 to access the Benicia and Vallejo areas. Cummings Skyway between SR-4 and I-80 will also be open for motorists heading to the Crockett area.

Motorists traveling westbound on I-80 at I-780 (Curtola Pkwy) will need to exit onto eastbound I-780 in Vallejo and continue on EB I-780 to SB I-680. Motorists can use SB I-680 to reach WB SR-4, WB SR-24 or WB I-580 to access central and south Bay Area destinations.

If you have a question or want to share a concern about the project, please call the CC I-80 Pave Project Hotline (510) 286-0319. Project Webpage:

Benicia Public Library Strategic Plan

The Benicia Public Library has been crafting a strategic plan to envision the future of the library. The public library personnel invites the community to view the plan on Friday, September 8, 2023, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Benicia Public Library, 150 East L Street. To RSVP, Click Here.

Launch of 2023-24 School Year

BUSD prepared for the 2023-2024 school year with a two-day leadership retreat and districtwide professional learning event focused on leading with transparency, social-emotional learning through restorative practices, and aligning work among grade level teams and departments. Our work set the foundation to welcome students to the school year and as a District, we opened our doors gracefully. The energy and excitement from staff and students were inspiring, and we aim to foster positive morale throughout the school year. CBS News captured the excitement and enthusiasm at Robert Semple Elementary School by airing three video segments on the first day of school. You will find one news broadcast linked here: CBS News at Semple

Volunteer Protocols 

BUSD appreciates our parents and community members for supporting students and programs through volunteer work. As an organization, we prioritize safety for our students, staff, and those supporting our programs. Historically, BUSD only required the volunteers who transported students in vehicles for field trips or activities or those that facilitated activities alone with students, to complete the fingerprint requirement through the Department of Justice (DOJ), which provides the district notifications for matters within California.

BUSD is now revising the fingerprinting requirement so that all volunteers complete the DOJ and FBI fingerprint requirements. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) requirements provide the District notifications that occur nationwide. This revision enables the District to monitor volunteers more efficiently and gives us flexibility within our volunteer pool. Please contact your respective school site administrator or Human Resources with additional questions.

Human Growth, Development, and Sexual Health

Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) board meetings have historically been and will remain a platform for the community to speak during the public comment portion of the agenda. BUSD remains open to engaging our community in dialogue about the District programs. Per the Brown Act, while the District cannot respond to public comment during board meetings, the Governing Board and staff consider all voices and follow up on potential issues that may impact our students or staff. As an organization, the District does not engage in matters outside the scope of its work.

Human Growth, Development, and Sexual Health is a complex topic, as people may have varying beliefs about how to educate children best. As a District, we are guided by and continue to follow California Department of Education standards to ensure we are legally compliant. Recently, some inaccuracies were reported within various media platforms regarding the Human Growth, Development, and Sexual Health courses. On March 23, 2023, the Benicia Unified School District adopted the “Puberty Talk” curriculum to teach Human Growth, Development, and Sexual Health for the fifth grade. While the curriculum includes Core Lessons and Extra Activities, the District determined that only the Core Lessons would be taught.

California Education Code § 51938(b)(4) states, “Schools may not require active consent (“opt-in”) for participation in comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education. Parents/guardians must request in writing that their child not participate in the instruction (passive consent, or “opt-out).”

Parents/Guardians have the right to Opt their students out of all or part of Sexual Health Instruction. The District will share communication and teaching schedules regarding Sexual Health at least two weeks before instruction begins. BUSD will also host parent/guardian information nights regarding the curriculum.

Additional information regarding Human Growth, Development, and Sexual Health can be found on our website at Human Growth Development and Sexual Health.

Health Services

If you have identified your child as having a severe allergy in Aeries but have not yet provided your child’s school office with the necessary medication (Epi-pen, Avi-Q, Benadryl) along with the required forms, please take the time to do so as soon as possible. Updating and providing yearly health information allows BUSD to support and manage your students’ health needs during the school day safely and efficiently. Please contact your student’s school or the district nurse (Michelle DiLello, District Nurse, [email protected]) for further information or assistance. Please also see the attachment for the required mediation forms.

Measure S

On behalf of the District, we thank our community members for supporting the Measure S Facilities Bond. Due to your support, the District facilitated several significant projects over the summer, including:

  • Relocating and renovating three modular classrooms for Robert Semple Elementary School, 
  • HVAC upgrades within the Robert Semple Multipurpose room. The anticipated completion window is October 2023,
  • Replacing the leaking roof at Matthew Turner Elementary School,
  • Replacing the E- WING restroom at Joe Henderson Elementary School and
  • Launching the phase one modernization project at Mary Farmar, including redesigning the entryway. The projected completion date window is November through December 2023.


Girls Flag Football

Thursday, August 24, 2023, was a historic night for Benicia High School as the first-ever Girls’ Flag Football team took the field and won 26 to 0 over California High School. Head coach Rodrigo Escalante and Assistant coaches Kathrine Cole and Ryan Richardson led the team to victory. 

Here is a quick game summary:

  • Kaity Nichols, starting quarterback, connected with Samantha Segle for the first touchdown in school history. 
  • Hailey Hartman captured the first ever interception. 
  • In the second half, Samantha Segle scored two additional touchdowns. 
  • Kaity Nichols ran the ball in from the 10-yard line to score extra points after a touchdown by Segle. 
  • Rylee Jarmin scored a touchdown and threw for a touchdown as quarterback. 
  • Chloe Alejo scored the final touchdown on the pass from Rylee Jarmin.

Please review the article from the Vallejo Times Herald linked here:

Daily Attendance Partnership 

The California Department of Education defines Chronic absenteeism as “missing 10% or greater of the total number of days enrolled during the school year for any reason. It includes excused, unexcused, out-of-school suspensions, and in-school suspensions that last more than half the school day.” Chronic absenteeism is on the rise throughout the state, where in 2022, 30% of kindergarten through 8th-grade students were absent 10% or more of the instructional days they were enrolled. In reviewing BUSD data for 2022, 21.4% of kindergarten through grade 8 students were absent 10% or more of the instructional days they were enrolled. While we remain below the state average, our average daily attendance rate has declined over the past few years from 96% to 92.6%. 

It is essential that students attend school every day to benefit from the collective expertise of our staff. Highlighting John Hattie’s research, teacher efficacy, which is a belief of teachers in their ability to affect students positively, Response to Intervention, and classroom discussion are a few of the most influential determinants of student success. In BUSD, we have outstanding teachers, some of the best in the region. Despite the talent of providing instruction, not accessing critical instruction may significantly reduce learning, increase a student’s risk of academic failure, and be an early predictor of high school dropout.

BUSD aims to support students in their academic and career endeavors. Please partner with BUSD. We want all students to attend school and progress toward goals.

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