Construction continuing at SYHS through fall

Santa Ynez Valley High School’s campus renovations will continue this fall even though classes began Aug. 9, according to Principal Mark Swanitz.

Construction crews are replacing the air conditioning units in a handful of classrooms, which will make those classrooms unavailable for a few days, but the work should not interfere with instruction overall, he added.

The Old Gym also remains closed, so PE classes will use other campus facilities such as the New Gym. The east and south side parking lots will remain closed until further notice.

Construction “is going to have an impact until about the end of November,” Swanitz said.


College District expanding its programs

College School District has launched a “Second Chance Breakfast” program, which will be offered each day during the recess break.

“We appreciate Solvang’s school food service partnership as our provider for breakfast and lunch,” said Superintendent and Principal Maurene Donner.

The district is also continuing to develop a strong STEAM program with an extra emphasis on theater and art. It is transforming a classroom into an art room and has purchased a 3D printer for student use.

The district’s focus this year will be further developing a positive schoolwide culture, built around behavior and social and emotional needs. It has created a leadership team that received a $25,000 grant to train staff and faculty in California’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.

“Our belief is a positive and safe schoolwide culture will lead to increased student learning,” Donner said.


Solvang School launches Dual Language Immersion Program, new electives

Solvang School’s first Dual Language Immersion class launched Aug. 15 with a full class of 24 kindergartners. The class, a blend of both English- and Spanish-speaking students, will be provided instruction in both languages with the goal of dual literacy by fifth grade.

Solvang School’s Upper Campus has also launched a number of new electives. The additions of Beginning German, Art in Science, Speech/Debate/Model UN, and Filmmaking gives sixth- through ninth-graders a total of 17 elective choices throughout their time at the school.


Buellton district launches STEAM Lab, more electives

Oak Valley Elementary School is turning an unused large room into a school-wide space for science, tech, engineering, art and math (STEAM) learning.

“The idea came from when I observed a third-grade teacher teaching a lesson on volume using blue water. The kids loved it, but I could tell that she was nervous to spill the water. I kept thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if she could spill? Or even better, what if the kids could do this and spill?’” said Principal Hans Rheinschild.

Rheinschild and teachers are working to make the classroom a space for hands-on science, art, and exploration outside of the classroom.

Jonata Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders will all have three different electives and rotate the electives by trimester. Electives include Theater Arts, Spanish, STEM, Global Community, Weights, and School of Rock — which Rheinschild is teaching himself after receiving a $10,000 grant from the Santa Barbara Bowl.

The former Jonata band room has been converted into the School of Rock Room, where Rheinschild will teach students the basics of percussion, keyboards and electric guitar.

“I’m very excited about this, as it will give me a chance to spend 40 minutes every day directly with the students helping them learn how to rock out,” Rheinschild said.

The Buellton Union School District will also have a $99 parcel tax on the ballot in the November election. Funds raised from the tax would be used for staffing and program improvements.


SYV Charter School welcomes new executive director

Dr. John Dewey, who has 20 years of K-12 experience in educational administration in the Santa Barbara area, became the new executive director of Santa Ynez Valley Charter School this month.

Dewey has served as assistant principal at Bishop Garcia Diego High School and as principal of Garden Street Academy. He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from UCSB in 2010 and for many years has served as a committee chairman for the Accrediting Commission for Schools. He is married with three daughters, all of whom are teachers.

“As soon as I walked onto the campus and met the teachers, parents and students I could tell this was a very special learning environment. I look forward to serving this vibrant, collaborative community, continuing the strong mission and vision of the school,” Dewey said.

Santa Ynez Valley Charter School is approaching its 20th year as a public school of choice where students benefit from a supportive, innovative and academically challenging learning community. The school vision is to foster collaboration between students, families and teachers to ensure a successful and rewarding future.


Vista Del Mar welcomes interim principal-superintendent

William Banning has been selected by the school board of Vista Del Mar Union School District to serve as interim district superintendent and principal at Vista de Last Cruces school after Dr. Emilio Handall was hired this spring to be superintendent of the Guadalupe Union School District.

Banning retired in June 2017 after five years as the superintendent of Goleta Union School District. His career in public education began in 1978 as a junior high school music teacher.

Banning will work at the school part time. A “Teacher in Charge” will oversee the day-to-day operations in his absence.


Olive Grove expands location, adds staff

Olive Grove Charter School’s Buellton location has expanded into a space next door to its original location at 240 E. Highway 246. The original space will be a new classroom for math and English support lab classes, as well as art classes. The lab space will continue to offer biology, photography and robotics labs.

New staff members include long-time Buellton resident Stacey Adams as principal, who had been working at the Santa Maria Learning Center.

The Buellton location will also offer a new online curriculum. StrongMind offers approved state-of-the-art courses for eighth through 12th graders. The school has also adopted new social studies and English language arts curricula, both from Pearson Realize.

For more information or enrollment, call 805-623-1111.


Dunn School named a Level 1 Arboretum

The variety of native and endemic trees on Dunn School’s sprawling campus is being recognized internationally with the campus’ recent designation as an arboretum.

This fall, Dunn students will identify and label the various species of trees on campus with permanent plaques, and then maps of the trees will be available to the public.

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program awarded Dunn School a “Level 1 Accreditation” for its 55-acre campus that boasts more than 25 species of trees. The ArbNet program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboretums at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism.

This fall, students will identify and label the various species of trees on campus with permanent plaques, and then maps of the trees will be available to the public.

The program has more than 245 accredited arboretums in 15 countries, but Dunn is one of only six school campuses worldwide with this arboretum accreditation.

“We are pleased to add Dunn School Arboretum to our ArbNet community of accredited arboreta,” said Sue Paist, coordinator of the accreditation program. “Student engagement with a campus arboretum such as Dunn School will expand the classroom beyond its walls, carrying out our collective mission for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.”

Chad Stacy, chief financial officer of the school, along with Environmental Sustainability Coordinators Beth McCoy and Meg West, led the application effort with a committee of other staff, faculty, students and members of the broader community.

“This is a great recognition of the unique campus that Dunn has,” said school spokesman Jon Hooten. “This designation affirms the wealth of natural resources and beauty our students have access to as part of their Dunn School education.”