Benicia Unified School District

Superintendent January/February Newsletter

Posted On: February 2, 2024


Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The District opened the newly constructed restrooms located at Joe Henderson Elementary School’s  E-Wing. On Monday, January 22, 2024, Joe Henderson commemorated the grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. On behalf of the District, I want to thank the community for supporting the Measure S facility improvement measure from 2015, as the funds made this construction project possible. Henderson students now have a renovated restroom facility that meets the standards and expectations of our community.

Left to right:Roxanne Egan, Director of Facility Bond Projects; Damon Wright,Ed.D., BUSD Superintendent; Dr. Gethsemane Moss, BUSD Board Trustee; and Sheri Zada, BUSD Board President.

Left to right:Roxanne Egan, Director of Facility Bond Projects; Damon Wright,Ed.D., BUSD Superintendent; Dr. Gethsemane Moss, BUSD Board Trustee; and Sheri Zada, BUSD Board President.

New Food Services Facility, BHS

The Food & Nutritional Services Department opened a new Lunch Box serving facility at Benicia High School. With assistance from the Maintenance & Operations and the Information Technology Departments, the Lunch Box opened for business when students returned from Winter Break on January 8, 2024. In addition, the District purchased twenty-four new, faster Point of Service (POS) stations to expedite lunch service at all school sites.

New Food Service Facility, BHS

Measure C Factual Information

The Benicia Unified School District is pursuing a $122.5 million facilities improvement measure on the March 2024 election ballot. Please visit the Measure C tab on the BUSD webpage for factual information linked here: Measure C- Factual Information

A Salute to BUSD Teachers, NWEA MAP Celebration:

The District’s attention and focus on math is showing significant gains. At the start of this school year, the District allocated one teaching release period to Christine Mitchell, BMS math teacher, to provide hands-on coaching support to teachers with implementing the “CPM Inspiring Connections” curriculum. Thus far, BMS has recorded exceptional growth in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The seventh-grade cohort grew by thirty-two percentile points.

In addition, the elementary age students have shown great promise as they have met the NWEA MAP GROWTH Targets in math at all grade levels. Benicia High School still needs to complete its NWEA assessment, but we also anticipate substantial growth from the high school team.

Great work, BUSD teachers. We are excited to see these gains and look forward to an upward achievement trajectory!

Chief Greene’s Letter to BUSD

Mike Greene, Police Chief and partner of the Benicia Unified District, is retiring in February 2024. Please click “Chief Greene’s Letter to BUSD” below to read his heartfelt letter to the District.

Chief Greene's Letter to BUSD

Dear Benicia Unified School District,

I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for the longstanding partnership and to emphasize the importance of our common values and goals. Our commitment to student health, safety, and education has always been at the forefront of our collaboration, and I am grateful for the positive impact we have collectively made in these areas.

The School District has consistently demonstrated a steadfast dedication to the well-being and education of its students. It is evident that safety and security are a top priority, and this commitment has not gone unnoticed. For example, the SRO program has proven to be invaluable in fostering a secure and productive learning environment. Through the SRO program, we have witnessed numerous instances where the collaborative efforts between our officers and the district have contributed significantly to the overall safety and well-being of the students. The program has not only acted as a deterrent to potential threats but has also facilitated positive relationships between law enforcement, educators, and students.

Moreover, the joint awareness of dangerous trends and proactive measures taken by the district, in partnership with parents and community members, have been crucial in ensuring a safe and supportive educational environment. By working together to tackle emerging issues, we have been able to address challenges effectively.

In closing, I want to express my gratitude for the tireless efforts of everyone involved in making our schools safe, nurturing, and academically enriching. I look forward to the continued success of our partnership and the positive impact it will undoubtedly have on the future.

I would like to extend an invitation to my last public presentation on February 12, 2024, from 6-7p.m. This presentation will focus on the state of the Department and to address the challenges of tomorrow. To register, please visit

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to excellence in education and student well-being.


Mike Greene
Chief of Police
Benicia Police Department
200 East L Street
Benicia, CA 94510

Attendance Gains

The Benicia Unified School District and most school districts in California experienced a sharp increase in the chronic absenteeism rate after the COVID-19 school closures. The California Department of Education defines Chronic absenteeism as a student who misses 10% or more of their days enrolled. The absences include excused, unexcused, and suspensions.

Inconsistent school attendance minimizes access to valuable instruction and engagement in school connectedness activities. In response, BUSD launched a comprehensive attendance campaign, including adjusting attendance monitoring protocols, launching positive reward incentives in partnership with Pizza Pirate, and implementing friendly competitions amongst District schools by awarding the school with the highest attendance rate and the most improved attendance percentage a trophy.

I am pleased to share that the District has remarkably improved its chronic absenteeism rate. Monday, January 29, 2024, marked the one-hundredth day of school, and the BUSD Chronic Absenteeism rate dropped by 7.6%. The gains signify a collaborative effort from staff, parents, and students. Thank you for your partnership, and let’s continue on this trajectory.

President’s Week Reminder:

The Benicia Unified School District Schools are closed the week of February 19, 2024, for the President’s Week break. School will resume on February 23, 2024.

Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten Enrollment for the 24/25 School Year

The following information is for Benicia residents only at this time. If you reside outside of Benicia, please apply for an IDA with your school district of residency. You can find Inter-district Attendance Agreements (IDAs) information at:

Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten enrollment for the 24/25 school year began February 1, 2024. Parents/Guardians will find information about New Student Enrollment and the Online Enrollment Form on the BUSD website here:

Please review the helpful notes below:

  • State Preschool students who qualify for TK and/or Kindergarten MUST complete the Online Enrollment Process, as their enrollment records will not automatically transition to the next grade level. 
  • Current TK students (who are not on an IDA) will not need to complete the Online Enrollment Form, as their records WILL transition to the next grade level. 
  • Your child must turn five years old by September 1, 2024, to qualify for Kindergarten or turn five years old between September 2, 2023, and June 2, 2025, to be eligible for TK.

COVID-19 and Sick Day Guidelines

On January 9, 2024, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) revised the COVID-19 recommended guidelines. To continue implementing best practices related to the health and well-being of our students, staff, and families, effective immediately, BUSD  updated the protocol to these changes. Please assess the update protocols on the BUSD website by clicking this link:  COVID 19 Guidelines. Also BUSD updated “Sick Day Guidelines” to consider when your student is ill. Please review the guidelines linked here: Sick Day Guidelines.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Recognition Ceremony 2024

The 18th annual Community Advisory Committee Recognition Ceremony is on May 6, 2024, at the Solano County Office of Education! Do you know a school employee, student, or community member who goes above and beyond in service of students with disabilities? Please nominate them to be recognized at this spectacular annual event!

Link to nomination form:

Happy School Counseling Week

On behalf of BUSD, I wish our School Counselors a happy National School Counseling Week (February 5, 2024, through February 9, 2024). We appreciate all you do to support the social-emotional needs of our students and the effort you put into preparing them for careers and college. We are stronger with you!

Feb 5-9, 2024 National School Counseling week

Employment Opportunities

Looking for a Job! Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) is Hiring teachers and classified employees for the 2024-25 school year.

Thursday – February 29, 2024
3:30pm – 7:00pm
BUSD District Office 
350 East K St, Benicia, CA 94510

RECRUITMENT FAIR Thursday - February 29, 2024 3:30pm - 7:00pm BUSD District Office 350 East K St, Benicia, CA 94510

Superintendent Message

Damon Wright

Dear BUSD Families,

BUSD and educational partners recognize Random Acts of Kindness week from February 11, 2024, through February 17, 2024. Recognizing random acts of kindness is an opportunity to reflect on our explicit and implicit behaviors and their impact on others. As an organization, we value equity and inclusion and support social-emotional wellness to foster student and staff learning and growth.  The BUSD Equity Statement captures this belief:

“The Benicia Unified School District ensures that historically marginalized students’ voices, cultures, identities and stories are valued and celebrated. To assure our students thrive, BUSD will dismantle barriers and advance policies and practices that support our diverse community.”

During my childhood, I, and I am sure many of you, recited the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” as a defense mechanism to combat verbal teasing and bullying, increase self-confidence and resilience, and to de-escalate the conflict. While the intended purpose is positive, we must remember that derogatory words do hurt and may lead to emotional distress, compromised self-esteem, and may contribute to a hostile environment.

Benicia is a beautiful community and school district, but we are imperfect and have room for growth. The Benicia Unified School District commits to supporting a physically, socially, emotionally safe, inclusive, and respectful environment for all students to thrive; thus, dehumanizing language and behaviors have no place within our school district community.

Derogatory slurs with racist, homophobic, and dehumanizing undertones including, the “N-word”, “R-word”, “F-word” and others are occurring on our school campuses. In some instances, students have used these terms loosely, light-heartedly, and without intent to cause harm; however, based on the deep historical roots that slurs carry, the impactful harm capsizes the intent and often projects racial and gender insensitivity, reinforces discrimination and exclusion, and have the potential to trigger a hostile environment.

The Benicia Unified School District will not tolerate the use of derogatory terms. We call on educators at school and home to reinforce positive citizenship as students are impressionable and continue gaining wisdom from life experiences. BUSD remains committed to educating and mentoring students and looks forward to your partnership. Thank you for modeling our core values and our adopted equity statement.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation suggests activities to spread kindness. Here is a link to their website: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.


Damon J. Wright, Ed.D.
Benicia Unified School District

Be kind

BUSD Employees of the Year

On Thursday, February 1, 2024, the BUSD Governing Board formally recognized the District’s Classified, Certificated, and Management employees of the year. The District will celebrate their amazing accomplishments and the successes of all staff members at the Night of Stars event on March 16, 2024. Please join me in congratulating the following award recipients: 

Benicia High School 

  • Chuck Schauer, Classified Employee of the Year
  • Kevin Sinats, Teacher of the Year

Benicia Middle School 

  • Brett Beard, Classified Employee of the Year
  • Kris Altman, Teacher of the Year

Farmar Elementary

  • Leah Coombs, Classified Employee of the Year
  • Kelly Ingraham, Teacher of the Year

Henderson Elementary

  • Lisa Saari, Classified Employee of the Year
  • Ivania Martin, Teacher of the Year

Liberty High School

  • Rosalinda Ortiz, Classified Employee of the Year
  • MiIla Abono, Teacher of the Year

Semple Elementary

  • Lyndsy Jump, Classified Employee of the Year
  • Bessie Bazos, Teacher of the Year

Turner Elementary

  • Erin Buchanan, Classified Employee of the Year
  • Dora Tang, Teacher of the Year

District Office 

  • Max Harville, Classified Employee of the Year

Management Employee of the year

  • Rhonda Flemming, Principal Mary Farmar 

District-Wide Employees of the year

  • Chuck Schauer, Custodian, Benicia High School
  • Kris Altman, Teacher, Benicia Middle School
BUSD Employees of the Year

Black History Month

The Benicia Unified School District and educational partners proudly celebrate Black History Month. This month spotlights and encourages a deeper understanding of the pivotal contributions African Americans have made to our great nation, from notable leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to community heroes who protected our country through the armed forces, police and fire departments, and invested in our future through educating children. We appreciate you and honor your efforts.

This year, let’s reflect not only on the struggles and achievements of the past but also on the investment in the future. A future that is diversified, unified, and prioritizes equity and inclusion for all.

Happy Black History Month!

Langston Hughes was a Black writer whose poems, columns, novels, and plays made him a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

Happy Black History Month

BUSD District Wide Professional Learning Day:

The District values professional learning and appreciates the collaborative staff members who share expertise and learn together.

On January 16, 2024, District staff participated in this school year’s second professional learning day. We launched the event by reviewing Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) data and providing feedback for consideration during the LCAP development process. District staff also assembled in jobalike teams and engaged in learning activities topics including Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), Positive Behavior Interventions of Support (PBIS), restorative practices and community building through circles, and learning developmental aspects of the adolescent brain. District staff  discussed improving existing programs such as Advisory, participated in CPR training, and learned behavior intervention strategies with the District Behaviorist as well.

Infamous Traditions

We want to bring your awareness to an unsanctioned and dangerous activity that Benicia teens have participated in over the last twenty years, an underground, unwelcome event in our community. It is a chase-and-capture game referenced as “La Migra”. This activity happens in the Spring, usually on a Friday evening in late March or April.

While this activity is not in any way organized or condoned by the schools, Benicia Unified School District, or the City of Benicia, there is an urgent need to provide our community with information and ask for your partnership in putting an end to this event once and for all. We want to provide awareness about this event and see it stopped for two important reasons: the inappropriate, racist, and offensive nature of the game and the incredible safety concerns for our students and innocent bystanders.

“La Migra” is slang for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is the name used for this controversial game based on ICE agents deporting undocumented immigrants. The event involves older students chasing younger students through the city, trying to catch them, and possibly transporting or holding them against their will. The event begins at one location, typically a park in town, with the younger students attempting to get to a second designated location without being caught by an older student. A student who is captured is sometimes dropped off in an unknown location. There are reports of highly unsafe situations in the course of this event, including dangerous driving, students dressed in all black with masks running through backyards and private property, speeding, physical contact causing injury, unsafe physical detainment, and students being left without the ability to contact someone to pick them up. It is essential to stop this activity immediately to keep students from being injured or harmed.

In addition to the physical safety concerns, Benicia Unified School District strongly advocates for respect for all individuals, regardless of race, place of origin, sexual orientation, or disability. A game such as “La Migra” causes harm, both physical and emotional, to members of our community.

We urge every family to discuss this event, use this as an opportunity for education and understanding, and help us end this game in our community.


Damon J. Wright, Ed.D.
Benicia Unified School District

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