B. Project Abstract
Benicia lies 26 miles north of Berkeley, just across the $2 bridges from Concord and Crockett.
Our 28,000 citizens nestle in a pocket of rolling hills between the bay and Vallejo, our nearest
neighbor. A few years ago, Benicia was ranked No. 1 for family living in a San Francisco Survey of
Bay Area Cities. For a long time we referred to Benicia as a bedroom community -- quiet,
conveniently removed from the hectic pace of the Bay Area proper. That description is no longer
accurate. The bustle of the Bay Area has swollen to encompass us.
Our Industrial Park is thriving with innovative new industries. Our city is rich with citizens
involved in the new social paradigms -- Internet communication and commerce, computer
integration into every segment of every business, alternative energy sources, information
organization, wireless connectivity, electronic proliferation of products. Benicia is wide awake and
actively in the thick of the Digital Age. In a student survey given for this application it was learned
that 83-percent of BHS students have one or more parents who use a computer daily in their
occupation; 66-percent of residents have at least some college education. We have a 3-percent
unemployment rate, and an ever-growing demand for technically skilled employees at all ranges.
We as a community are concerned and serious about preparing our students to survive and thrive
with technology in their lives. When news of this pending Digital High application was made public,
the community got involved immediately and within seven months had the matching funds
deposited in the bank to meet all the requirements of the match criteria of this grant. The money was
donated by local citizens through the East Bay Community Foundation. The parents also formed a
committee calling themselves Parent Technology Support (PTS). That group met with the
Faculty Technology Support (FTS) committee monthly throughout the writing of this grant
application. The PTS has committed to remain active and involved throughout the three-year grant
cycle and beyond. They will actively fund raise and provide technical assistance to our two high
school, Benicia High and Liberty Continuation High.
Benicia High School (BHS) has over 1,700 students, grades 9-12, and 87 classrooms spread over
20 buildings across several acres. Our current API rating is 759. We have 93 certificated teachers, 28
classified employees, and four administrators. Among the staff are 24 Masters Degrees and three
Doctorate Degrees. Student population shows 69-percent Caucasian, 10.9-percent Hispanic, 8.2-
percent African American, 5.4-percent Filipino, 4.9-percent Asian, 1.1-percent Pacific Islander, and
less than 1-percent American Indian. We have 140 students identified with special needs -- 83 are
resource, 38 are Special Day Class, 13 are in SED program, 6 are part of Solano County Severely
Handicapped program housed at BHS. Less than six percent participate in the Free/Reduced Lunch
program -- 64 receive free lunch and 28 received reduced cost lunch. BHS has one of the lowest
student dropout rates in Solano County. Statistics show BHS with a 0.1-percent rating, compared
with an overall Solano County average of l.7-percent and a state average of 2.9-percent.
Benicia High is involved in many staff and student programs to better inform and appreciate
diversity. We have four Challenge Days, Multicultural Day, California School Leadership Academy,
Bay Area Culture, Youth Empowerment Systems Conference, and the Success Consortium. We
celebrate ethnic holidays with displays, assemblies, and lunchtime activities.
Currently BHS has eight computer labs -- business accounting, programming, basic computing,
journalism, drafting, general purpose, special education, and a library lab. Thanks to parent support
we have an East Bay Community Foundation endowment that allowed us to wire all classrooms for
the Internet and place one computer in each room. These computers attach to classroom televisions
for display purposes.
Liberty High School (LHS) is continuation school providing an alternative education to 80
students with a staff of 4.2 teachers, an administrator, a secretary, a teacher’s aide and a 1day/week
district psychologist. Classes average 18-20 students, with 90-percent of them coming in as transfers
from Benicia High made by the District’s Student Attendance Review Board (SARB), transfers from
the Solano County Day Center and out-of-district transfer students. There are a significant number
of transfers between BHS and LHS and dropouts (48-percent of student body changes during the
school year) that make for a high level of teacher-student contacts (120-130) within the school year.
The general student population can be characterized as having one or a combination of the following
problems in earning a high school diploma: deficient in academic skills; history of chronic tardies
and absenteeism; Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD), hyperactivity, and other psychological
problems. At the end of a semester of success at LHS, they are allowed to return to BHS or graduate
with LHS upon completion of 222 credits. Approximately 15-percent return to BHS. The number of
students continuing with education at the college level or enrolling in professional career training is
about 25-percent of each graduating class;59-percent of Liberty students have one or more parents
who use computers daily in their occupation. Teachers from BHS and LHS work together on review
boards, mentorship programs, club activities, and in collaborative teams designed to help students
make smooth transitions between schools. Both sites have a DHS coordinator to help synchronize
Currently, Liberty High has all six classrooms and one lab, all wired for the Internet. They have a
total of 14 installed computers and 40 more in storage from a recent donation that will be installed in
the fall of 2000. The current student skill level at LHS is comparable to that of BHS students, though
more LHS students state they do not have computers at home (20-percent LHS vs. 3-percent BHS).
We will have technology that is invisible, ubiquitous, and reliable. It will be used as second
nature by students and staff across the curriculum. We will have the Internet and our networked
resources as readily available as classroom dictionaries, whiteboards, reference books, and
Our teachers will have classroom and departmental Web sites, resource portals, and email trees
for their coursework so that students can stay in touch and involved even when absent. Our teachers
will be familiar with a variety of software applications and prove that knowledge by incorporating
technology-based projects and goals into their departmental curricula. Our students will be familiar
with that same variety of software applications and prove that knowledge by compiling their digital
works throughout their high school years and producing as seniors a Digital Portfolio that they can
take with them. Portions of that portfolio can be posted on the Internet or mailed in with college and
employment applications. We will graduate seniors who are comfortable with technology and
embrace it in their future schooling and careers.
We will have continuous on-site support for the equipment as well as for training students and
staff. When a teacher or student needs help with technology, that help is immediate and only a phone
call away. We will stay up-to-date on software and hardware improvements, striving always to be on
the cutting edge.
Our hope is that this level of technology support will eventually encompass the middle and
elementary schools in the Benicia Unified School District. We at the high school will extend our
support to our other schools and will help lead the way.