Thursday, May 30, 2013

Solano EDC breakfast focuses on children

From page A3 | May 30, 2013 |        
FAIRFIELD — First 5 Solano made a pitch to the business community Wednesday concerning the county’s youth.

The group hosted the Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast. It asked businesses and individuals to sponsor sending children to pre-kindergarten academies this summer.

“Today, our goal is really to pique your interest and get your commitment on behalf of Solano County’s youngest citizens,” Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert told the gathering at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Solano County will have 16 academies this summer, hosted by school district and youth program providers, for 450 children. The academies are for children who have not attended preschool and who will start kindergarten this fall.

Businesses and individuals can sponsor a child for a pre-kindergarten academy for $200. First 5 Solano will match the amount.Go to or call 784-1338 for more information.

District Attorney Don du Bain and county Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck made the case that what happens in early childhood education is important for the entire community.

Du Bain told the audience that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison as are youths who stay in school.

Dropout rates in the country range from 2 percent for the Travis School District to 9 percent for the Fairfield-Suisun School District to 35 percent for Vallejo City Schools, he said. That means one out of every three Vallejo youths are in that high-risk category for jail or prison.

“You can imagine the problems that creates for the city of Vallejo,” du Bain said.

Finally, du Bain talked about efforts to reduce truancy, such as a truancy court that has worked with 55 parents since its inception in October 2011. The goal is to get the parents’ attention rather than to prosecute them, he said.

“Truancy affects crime,” du Bain said. “My goal is not just about reducing truancy, but about crime prevention.”

He outlined a strategy to deal with such challenges – supportive parenting, preschool and after-school programs.

Du Bain gave an example of a supportive parenting program. He talked about Solano County’s nurse-family partnership, which has nurses work with low-income, first-time mothers on health and parenting issues.

Speck talked about the importance of children simply being at school. Sixty-four percent of children with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade read at grade level in third grade, he said.

“Chronic absence is an indicator we need to pay attention to,” Speck said.

California defines “chronically absent” as missing 10 percent or more of the school year. Speck said about 5,000 Solano County children fall into this category.

“Kids who are not ready, they are already on the path to dropping out or failure,” Speck said.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s work force, Solano Economic Development Corp. President Sandy Person said. The issues discussed at the breakfast involve a “critical economic benefit” for the county, she said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or Follow him on Twitter at

Solano County leaders see link between crime, dropout rates

Posted: 05/30/2013 01:31:14 AM PDT

One Solano County leader noted that 5,000 Solano County public school students have been identified as chronically absent. Another noted that 75 percent of habitual truants will drop out of school, and some two-thirds of U.S. prison inmates are school dropouts. And still another leader said 50 percent of all Solano 5-year-olds receive no preschool instruction before reaching kindergarten.
Jay Speck, superintendent of the County Office of Education, District Attorney Don du Bain and Supervisor Linda Siefert made persuasive links between the importance of early childhood education, regular school attendance, truancy, dropout rates and crime during a Tuesday breakfast meeting in Fairfield, sponsored by Solano Economic Development Corporation.
Their remarks come at a time when California's high school graduation rate rose sharply last year, to 80 percent, with Latino and black students showing gains higher than those of white and Asian students. Still, the state is ranked 39th out of 50 states in graduation rates, and it ranks 49th, down from 47th in the past year, in per-pupil spending, according to Ed Source, an independent online forum that seeks to clarify education issues.
An educator for nearly 40 years, Speck, speaking briefly to some 250 people gathered in the Hilton Hotel, suggested that signs a student may drop out surface before the child reaches high school.
Important factors leading to dropout rates, he noted, using computer-aided slides, are school readiness, being able to read proficiently by third grade, making progress toward graduation, student engagement and attendance.
The lead architect of "Every Minute Matters," a program designed to stem chronic absenteeism, beginning in the primary grades, Speck noted that absences -- whether excused, unexcused or due to suspension -- stymie a student's ability to succeed, and chronic absenteeism, defined as a student who misses 18 or more days of school, or more than one-tenth of the year, is a harbinger for trouble.
In the past year, the SCOE has begun tracking chronic absenteeism, and research shows that 5,000 Solano students, or 9 percent, are defined as chronically absent, he said.
Nearly 80 percent of children in the juvenile justice system are classified as chronically absent, said Speck, who dispelled some myths about root causes of absenteeism, among them "missing school has no impact" on a student as long as the schoolwork is made up; and it is acceptable "as long as parents give permission."
To battle chronic absenteeism, he noted that SCOE has made some headway. Specifically, it has begun tracking data -- at school sites and even to particular teachers -- supporting families in truancy court; distributing "tool kits" about the consequences of chronic absenteeism, and making public service announcements.
Du Bain, in his remarks, noted that two-thirds of U.S. prison inmates are high school dropouts; compared the state's overall dropout rates to Solano's, 13 percent to 16 percent, respectively; then detailed the dropout rates among the county's major school districts: Travis (2 percent), Benicia (3 percent), Vacaville and Fairfield-Suisun (9 percent); Dixon (14 percent), and Vallejo (35 percent).
"One out of three kids are dropping out of high school in Vallejo," said du Bain, then asked the audience to guess how much dropouts cost California taxpayers every year. The answer: $46 billion.
"Truancy affects crime" rates, he said, adding that supportive parenting -- or lack of it -- before children reach 3 1/2 years of age is "a predictor of high school graduation."
Du Bain also cited the importance of nurse-family partnerships, preschool, and the presence of Boys & Girls Clubs in low-income neighborhoods as ways to cut the truancy and crime rates.
As many as 75 percent of habitual truants eventually will drop out of school, he said.
Siefert, just before recognizing a host of Pre-K Business Champion Award honorees, called the statistics "pretty alarming."
More than half of all Solano children never step into a preschool class, she noted, then made a reference to First 5 Solano, an innovative program and services to help young children grow up healthy and do well in school and life.
The demand for pre-kindergarten instruction in Solano has risen recently, Siefert noted, from 200 to 400 children countywide.
Follow Staff Writer Richard Bammer at

Thursday, May 2, 2013


May 2, 2013 (707) 399-2445 

National Travel and Tourism Week, May 4-12, 2013

FAIRFIELD, CA – In recognition of travel and tourism’s significant economic, social and cultural impact in Fairfield, the Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau is joining the rest of the nation in observance of National Travel and Tourism Week, May 4-12, 2013.

“This national observance provides us an opportunity to truly appreciate what Fairfield and the SuisunValley has to offer leisure travelers, small conferences and meetings, and tour groups. Attractions that set us apart from other destinations includes Suisun Valley wineries and the Western Railway Museum, Jelly Belly and Anheuser-Busch Brewery tours, plus wildlife viewing and nature hikes at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area and Solano Land Trust open spaces,” said Anand Patel, President/CEO, Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau. “It’s also a time to recognize what tourism means for us in terms of jobs and much needed revenues for local businesses,” added Patel.

Highlights of SolanoCounty and Fairfield tourism:

· Tourism generates $583 million in travel expenditures, resulting in an estimated $36.8 million in state and local tax revenues.

· Tourism employs 6,930 SolanoCounty residents, representing a payroll of $156.9 million.

 · Fairfield collected more than $1.7 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) in 2012.

The Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau is a destination marketing organization that was created by a Business Improvement District (BID) to market and promote tourism to the area, including overnight stays. The independent non-profit 501C6 organization is funded by 18 lodging properties in Fairfield.

For more information about Fairfield tourism, call the Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau at (707) 399-2445 or visit You can also follow Fairfield on Facebook at