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26th May 2023
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CA school bond measure passes Senate, headed to Assembly
The California Senate has approved Senate Bill 28, a $15.5bn school construction bond measure that could go before voters in March, and is similar to the $15bn Proposition 13, a failed measure that garnered only 47% voter support in March 2020. SB 28, introduced by state Sen. Steven Glazer (D-Orinda), would provide funding for the construction and modernization of the state's preschools, public schools, community colleges and state universities. Supporters of SB 28 believe, in part, that Proposition 13 failed, because it sowed confusion among voters, since it was labeled the same as the Proposition 13 approved by voters in 1978 that restricts property taxes from rising more than 2% annually unless the property changes hands. The measure now heads to the Assembly. If it passes there, the governor would have to sign it and then a simple majority of voters would need to approve. 
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Ed. Dept. shares AI recommendations
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology (OET) has published a new report which summarizes the opportunities and risks for artificial intelligence (AI) in teaching, learning, research and assessment. The report, entitled "AI and the Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations," addresses the clear need for sharing knowledge, engaging educators and communities, and refining technology plans and policies for AI use in education. It recognizes that AI can enable new forms of interaction between educators and students, help educators address variability in learning, increase feedback loops, and support educators. It also outlines risks associated with AI, including algorithmic bias challenges, and the importance of trust, safety, and appropriate guardrails to protect educators and students.
Yuba County Superintendent of Schools to retire
Yuba County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Francisco Reveles, has announced his retirement from his position at the end of June. Assistant Superintendent Bobbi Abold has been appointed as the new Deputy Superintendent until a new county Superintendent of Schools is selected. Dr. Reveles served as the primary conduit between schools and local, state, and national government agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also worked to develop a Master Plan highlighting Career Technical Education and Adult Education opportunities within Yuba County. With over 40 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Reveles has worked at a state and national level as a researcher focused on strategies for educating children living in at-risk environments. Upon his retirement, Dr. Reveles plans to teach university courses and continue writing motivational books for young students as well as a film and educational magazine project.
Independence High on lockdown due to potential threat
The Kern High School District placed Independence High School on lockout due to a potential threat. The lockdown was not a typical one where teachers lock their doors and students huddle inside a classroom. Rather, the campus did not allow anyone to enter its grounds. The threat was investigated by KHSD police officers, Bakersfield police, and administrators and was found to be unfounded. The type of threat was not specified in the letter sent to parents by the principal.
States 'stepping up' against fentanyl dangers
Oregon has passed a bill that requires schools to educate students on the dangers of fentanyl. The bill, which has bipartisan support, requires the Oregon Health Authority, State Board of Education, and Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop curriculum supplements that school districts must use. The materials will cover the potential risks involved in fentanyl use and the use of other synthetic opioids, and highlight laws in Oregon that provide legal immunity for people who seek treatment. At least three other states - Illinois, Texas and California - are considering similar legislation. Teen deaths from overdoses increased in 2020 and 2021, and overall population deaths from fentanyl have risen significantly since 2016.
School construction and renovations 'a national concern'
In the context of New Jersey's struggling Schools Development Authority, a dedicated state body to secure money to repair old schools and build new ones, a report focuses on the potential solutions that educators and school finance experts have suggested across the country to tackle the staggering costs involved in renovations, particularly in underserved, overburdened urban districts that lack the property tax base to pay for such projects on their own. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., has championed the issue, introducing the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which would invest $100bn in need-based grants over the course of five years and $30bn in bond authority to high-poverty schools, and require state governments to publish databases on public school conditions. Education advocates however fear that states and local school districts are poorly equipped to tackle such an expansive and expensive challenge, as schools make up the second-largest chunk of public infrastructure spending after highways. “This is just a problem that is so expensive in scope that it goes beyond the ability of one community tax base to be able to afford to address,” comments Elleka Yost, director of advocacy for the Association of School Business Officials International. “If someone has figured it out,” she adds, “they are sitting on the secret.”

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