Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 year in review: Benicia Unified has big year

(Originally published in the 12/31/15 edition)

   The past year for Benicia Unified School District has been characterized primarily by changes in leadership and continuing bond projects.
   In February, Superintendent Janice Adams announced her retirement after eight years with the district. In May, Dr. Charles Young was chosen as her successor. Young had spent four years as associate superintendent of educational services in the Palo Alto Unified School District and earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from California State University- East Bay in 1995 and his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of La Verne. 
   Benicia High School and Benicia Middle School also saw new leadership. Benicia Middle School principal Christina Moore was appointed to become the new principal at Robert Semple Elementary, where she previously taught for 16 years. She was succeeded by Stephen Brady, who had previously served as principal of Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord. Maya Nelson, an art teacher at Benicia High, was appointed to become one of Benicia Middle School’s new vice principals. 
   At Benicia High, Mark Corti was announced as the new interim principal following Damon Wright’s resignation in June. Corti received his master’s degree in educational leadership at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga and served as principal of California High School in San Ramon for 15 years. 
   Measure S projects continued to dominate school board discussions in 2015, and some projects were even completed. The bond revenue initiative was passed by voters in June 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding for projects at the district’s schools. In September, new playgrounds were constructed at Robert Semple Elementary School and Mary Farmar Elementary School, and buildings at Benicia High received new coats of paint designed to fit more with the school’s blue and gold colors. The renovation of Benicia High’s stadium was discussed at many school board meetings, and the draft design was approved in November. The project is scheduled to be completed in October.

   On a sad note, longtime board member Rosie Switzer passed away Nov. 29. Switzwer had been representing the district for 46 continuous years, first as an elementary school teacher from 1969 to 2004 and then as a board member from 2005 until her death. The board observed a moment of silence for Switzer at its Dec. 10 meeting, and members praised her generosity and dedication to students. The board will appoint a new member Jan. 21 after an application process. The new trustee will serve until the general election in November.

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