Benicia Unified School District

Superintendent March Newsletter

Posted On: March 19, 2024



Benicia Elementary School students who want to attend a school outside their school of residence boundary area may apply for Intradistrict/Open Enrollment. The process began on March 1, 2024, and will close on March 31, 2024. For consideration, please complete the Intradistrict/Open Enrollment form and request attendance consideration at a district school where space may be available (The process can be found here). Please remember that not all district schools are open to transfers due to space. The District will review transfer requests and communicate decisions via email once determinations are made later in the Spring. Students with siblings will be considered first in this process. Intradistrict/Open Enrollment is not the process for out-of-district transfer requests.

SolTrans Board Approved Youth Ride Free Pilot Program:

SolTrans has announced a Youth Free Fare Pilot to begin on Monday, April 1, 2024, and run until June 30, 2025. This program offers a convenient and cost-free way for all youth ages six through eighteen to travel on any SolTrans Local or Solano Express bus. As Benicia Unified School District is active in our attendance campaign, we appreciate SolTrans’ partnership in providing a free alternative way for our students to get to school. SolTrans local routes 15 and 17 have stops at or near all Benicia Schools, further enhancing the convenience of this program.

Youth Ride Free starting April 1 ages 6-18

Fiestas Primavera

The Solano Aids Coalition (SAC), along with logistical support from the City of Benicia, the Benicia Public Library, the Benicia Unified School District, Benicia Black Lives Matters, and the Kyle Hyland Foundation, is proud to announce the creation of a beautiful and inclusive Benicia cultural event “Fiestas Primavera” a Mexican/Latino Indigenous tradition to celebrate and honor the coming of spring. Please review the promotional video linked here: Fiestas Primavera

Spring Break

BUSD Schools are closed for Spring Break from Friday, March 29th through Friday, April 5th. We hope you take this time to enjoy time with your loved ones.

Debate Team Finalists:

The Benicia High School Debate Team, led by Ms. Michelle Gains, continues to dominate the field. To read the entire press release and support these young scholars, please click on the link: Benicia High School Debate Team Headed to New York for National Finals

Benicia Herald

Rotary Club Donation

The Rotary Club of Benicia donated $1,000 to help the Benicia High School Debate Team finalists with travel expenses to New York. We are incredibly grateful for their generosity and support.

BUSD Assessments:

NWEA Map Assessment:
Elementary and middle school students within the District
will take the NWEA Map Assessments between March 18, 2024, and March 28, 2024. NWEA Map assessment results will produce student growth reports to illustrate progress during the school year. The District will share this data with parents in April. Parents may always view the results in the Aeries Parent Portal under the “Assessment” tab after the window is closed. Here are Parent Resources at a Glance.

Benicia High School students will take the NWEA Map Assessment later this Spring.

CAST (CA Science Test) portion of SBAC:
Benicia High School eleventh and twelfth-grade students who did not take the CAST assessment last school year can take it between March 25 and March 28, 2024.

Summative ELPAC (English Language Proficiency Assessment of CA):
From March 18, 2024, through March 28, 2024, Benicia High School Multi-Language Learners will take the ELPAC Summative Exam to identify their progress and areas where the District can support them. The exam will also determine the reclassification of students who have met the criteria. Please review the information linked here: ELPAC Parent Information.

New Curriculum

BUSD elementary teachers are training in the Science of Reading. The knowledge obtained through the Science of Reading training will support our teachers with the transition to the new ELA curriculum for kindergarten through third grade. BUSD fourth and fifth-grade teachers are also training and putting forward a recommendation to adopt a new curriculum for next school year, “Wonders” 2023. You can view the “Wonders” curriculum: 

On January 16, 2024, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) launched two free online behavioral health services platforms available to all California children, youth, and families, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status. The platforms, part of the CalHOPE program, offer free one-on-one support with live coaches, a library of multimedia resources, wellness exercises, and peer communities moderated by trained behavioral health professionals.

Details on the specific Apps:

  • BrightLife Kids is for parents or caregivers and kids 0-12 years old and is available via iOS (on Android mid-2024).
  • Soluna is for teens and young adults ages 13-25 and is available via iOS and Android.

If you have additional questions, please reach out to – [email protected]


Superintendent’s Message

Damon Wright

Dear BUSD Families,

Benicia is a small community. Small enough that when someone sneezes on 1st Street, someone blesses them from the top of Rose Drive. So, one can imagine the noise within the echo chamber when grievances play out publicly. What concerns me more is that much of the information communicated through social media channels is inaccurate and unsubstantiated. The educators on the receiving end of these public grievances may live in the community, may have ties to the community, and, in some cases, have children in our school system watching disagreements play out publicly. As students watch adults tussle over various media channels, they watch the same behavior we encourage them not to engage in with their peers. So, let’s be mindful of how we, as adults, handle concerns. Social media is a valuable tool. However, posting a narrative that does not include all the information and attempting to put pieces of a puzzle together with inaccurate information can be reckless, it doesn’t solve the issue, and may create further divisiveness. For issues regarding BUSD employees, please follow the proper procedures. 

These are my thoughts, and I share them out of care and concern for our community.  


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

Women’s History Month

The Benicia Unified School District observes Women’s History Month to honor the contributions women from all races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds have made to our great nation. It is also a time to recognize those who advocated for gender equality and acknowledge there is work still to be done. To women across the globe, we appreciate you!

Women in Construction

The Benicia Unified School District Maintenance and Operations Department celebrates women in Construction. Please review the slideshow linked here.

Fentanyl Awareness Assembly

The Solano County District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the Benicia Unified School District, will conduct school assemblies to discuss the dangers of fentanyl. The assembly schedule is listed below:

Fentanyl Awareness Assembly Schedule

March 20, 2024 



Grade Level 

1st Period 


9th grade

3rd period 


10th grade

Fentanyl Awareness Assembly Schedule

March 21, 2024

2nd Period 


11th grade

4th period 


12th grade

Water Explorer Field Trip

BUSD third-grade students participated in a Water Explorer field trip sponsored by the Solano County RCD. Solano County RCD and the City of Benicia provided transportation. The onsite pre-work was informative, and the hike and exploration of our waterways along the strait, coupled with learning the importance of keeping our areas clean for our waterways and even learning how to plant native plants, was amazing! This trip is the beginning of our students’ trips through Solano RCD. This grant allows us to continue the water study with our fourth graders learning about our wastewater treatment in town, fifth-grade learning about our water plant, and sixth-grade going to Rush Ranch. To hear our third graders share their water knowledge was AMAZING!

Night of Stars Event Highlight

On Friday, February 16, 2024, BUSD celebrated our employees of the year and all BUSD staff at the annual Night of the Stars event. While we extend our heartfelt congratulations to our award recipients listed below, we also express our deep gratitude to the following:

  • Ms. Chelsea Whitney, for organizing this event,
  • Northgate for their partnership and sharing their venue, 
  • Kiwanis Club of Benicia for their collaboration, 
  • School site PTG/ PTSA and District staff setting up tables and sponsoring our honorees.
  • Elvaritias for catering the event,
  • DJ Groove Tonight for adding the entertainment factor 
  • BUSD District staff for supporting the event
Night of Stars

Employees of the Year 




Benicia Middle School 

Kris Altman

Brett Beard

Benicia High School 

Kevin Sinats

Chuck Schauer

Liberty High School

MiIla Abono

Rosalinda Ortiz

Turner Elementary

Dora Tang

Erin Buchanan

Semple Elementary

Bessie Bazos

Lyndsy Jump

Farmar Elementary

Kelly Ingraham

Leah Coombs

Henderson Elementary

Ivania Martin

Lisa Saari

District Office Classified

Max Harville


Rhonda Flemming 


Kris Altman

Chuck Schauer 

Spinning Salmon Project

Liberty High School has partnered with UC Davis for their Spinning Salmon Project. Students, alongside UC Davis researchers, conducted lab and field tests to understand the declining salmon population.

Solano County Biomonitoring Program: The AP Environmental Science class at Benicia High School  has a unique and exciting opportunity to collaborate with the Solano County Biomonitoring Program. They will embark on a class visit this March, followed by a thrilling field trip in April. The Biomonitoring Program, renowned for its work in stream ecology, will guide our students in a comprehensive study of a single creek. They will evaluate the health of the watershed through physical, chemical, and biological assessments, a truly enriching experience.

Math Steeplechase: We are excited to announce that BHS is sending a record-breaking number of students, approximately fifty, to the highly competitive Math Steeplechase competition. The JV and Varsity teams are all set to showcase their mathematical prowess, a testament to our school’s academic excellence.

Community Service: BHS is proud to initiate a new annual tradition,’ Seniors Giving Back,’ a day dedicated to community service. This year, we are starting small but with a big heart. We are partnering with the City of Benicia to provide a special St. Patrick’s-themed lunch at the Senior Center. We plan to expand this event to include a larger community service project each February. This event could involve cleaning up Community Park before Opening Day weekends for softball and baseball, and possibly Cemetery Clean-up. This initiative will provide an excellent opportunity for over 150 Seniors to give back to their community each year, a testament to the strong community spirit at BHS.

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