Category Archives: Benicia Unified School District

Ariana Martinez for Benicia School Board, April 11 Special Election

Ariana Martinez has more experience working with a wide range of children than any other candidate

By Betty Lucas, Benicia resident, January 23, 2024

Ariana Martinez, LCSW, candidate for Benicia Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area 5

Ariana Martinez is the best candidate to serve as the Board Member (Trustee) for Area 5* of the Benicia Unified School District, in the special election that will be held on April 11. To start with, she has more experience working with a wide range of children than any other candidate. More specifically:

As a social worker with a Master’s Degree in Social Work, Ms. Martinez assists a wide array of children of all ages, as well as their parents and other family members, in dealing with various educational and other challenges. She weathered the dark days of the pandemic and all of the new problems it brought, helping children and parents get through the worst of the storm. A passion for helping families still drives her.

In addition, her experience with the Benicia school system is personal, direct and in key respects more recent than other Board members or candidates. After graduating from high school here, Ms. Martinez also helped her significantly younger siblings navigate their schooling in Benicia. She remains an active member and resident of our community.

How else do I know that Ms. Martinez is the most qualified candidate for Board Member? Because, after a careful, thorough application and review process, the BUSD Governing Board chose her for the position back in November. Along with her many other qualifications, the Board took into consideration her dedication to a fair and effective school system and knowledge of special education issues.

So if she was already chosen as the most qualified applicant, why is Ms. Martinez running for the same office now?

To start with, no one ran to represent Area 5 last year, resulting in the vacancy that the Board was required to fill. Any interested, eligible candidate (parent or non-parent) could accordingly apply for the post.

As a result, in November, the Governing Board interviewed four applicants for the position. Ms. Martinez was one of them. After comparing the needs of the district with the experience and backgrounds of each of the candidates, the Board chose by a majority vote to provisionally appoint Ms. Ariana Martinez.

Once Ms. Martinez was chosen, the three unsuccessful applicants – who, again, could each have run in an election for the position last year if they were so inclined – aired various concerns to the Board. They questioned Ms. Martinez’s qualifications, alleged conflicts of interest and suggested that the Board intentionally excluded parents of current pupils from serving on the Board.

The Board took these three unsuccessful candidates’ complaints very seriously. Each complaint was repeatedly reviewed in view of relevant policy regulations and with the assistance of legal counsel. The review firmly determined, among other things, that Ms. Martinez was indeed qualified for the post, that there was no conflict of interest, that Ms. Martinez could be appointed without creating a conflict of interest, that the Governing Board did not violate policy and that there was no reason to reverse the appointment decision made last November.

Ariana Martinez is not a parent, but she brings a wealth of professional and personal experience to the table. And let’s bear in mind that she does not need to be a parent to serve Benicia’s children admirably, just as she has not needed to be a parent to be a social worker serving children. Teachers do not have to be parents to teach; pediatricians do not have to be parents to see patients; the list goes on.

In addition, the majority of current Board members have had children attending Benicia’s schools, so it’s not as though the Board lacks experience in that regard.

Our school boards need people whose dedication and experience enable them to best meet the needs of the children and schools. Even better if their qualifications complement those of other board members. Ms. Martinez was chosen because she passed all of those tests with flying colors.

In response to the Board’s justified and carefully considered decision, the three unsuccessful applicants chose to in effect cost Benicia’s schools anywhere from roughly $60,000 to $80,000, by demanding the April 11 special election for Ms. Martinez’s position. One of their number is now an opposing candidate.

That’s $60,000-$80,000 that could have gone toward an additional student/teacher(s), school supplies, computer resources, athletic equipment, school maintenance or many other needs. That’s $60,000-$80,000 that would not need to be spent now if one of the unsuccessful applicants had opted to run for the position last year. That’s $60,000-$80,000 that Benicia’s schools cannot afford to spare.

Sadly, the expenditure of $60,000-$80,000 was triggered by the unsuccessful applicants circulating a petition that required only 62 signatures to initiate a special election. This imposition on the school budget works out to about $1,000 or more per signature.

Shame on those who decided to waste valuable school dollars on an unnecessary special election, especially since they could have easily run for the position last year and saved the schools all that money.

I sincerely hope that Area 5 residents vote for the most qualified person, Ariana Martinez, on April 11, 2023 or through the mail-in ballots that will be provided in March.

BUSD Area Map (click to enlarge)

*Area 5 includes: Mathew Turner School, Lake Herman, Water’s End areas.  Click on map to enlarge. Area 5 is in purple.

More information on this matter can be found by searching online for “Important Message From BUSD Governing Board re: Trustee Area 5 Appointment and Petition“.

Betty Lucas, Benicia

Betty Lucas

Benicia Resident

Benicia School District Superintendent to retire at end of this school year

After seven years as Benicia Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Charles F. Young sent the following message to the community this morning.

Superintendent Community and Staff Update, January 21, 2022

Jan 21, 2022 | Latest News

Dear BUSD Community and Staff,

After much contemplation, prayer, and conversation with my loving family, and with the utmost admiration and respect for this very special community, I have made the difficult decision to retire at the end of this school year.  This is my 35th year in public education and I have deeply enjoyed my time serving students, families, educators, and communities in the Bay Area.  My career as an educator has been profoundly gratifying and humbling.  I want to express how honored and blessed I feel to have served as your Superintendent these last seven years.

BUSD is an outstanding school district with amazing students, talented, hard-working staff, and a supportive, caring, involved community and it has been such a joy for me to work with everyone over the years.  When I set out on my career path many years ago, it was important to me to live a life worth meaning, and so I pursued a career in public education.

Within this profession, I have had the opportunity to help support and educate our youth as well as work alongside some of the most caring, intelligent, and gracious individuals I have ever met, all of whom have been motivated to see students grow and succeed. I am profoundly grateful for each student I have taught, each teacher, principal, administrator, staff member of the many departments within a school district, and parent I have had the opportunity to work with.

And now, with great care and intention, the Board will engage in the process of selecting your new superintendent and will keep you informed and engaged as they go through this important process.  I am excited for the next superintendent of this wonderful school district who will, as I have, enjoy the distinct honor of serving this wonderful school district and town.

I look forward to the remainder of this school year as we continue to collaborate as a community, working to provide outstanding educational services on behalf of our deserving students.

Thank you again for your support and commitment to BUSD. These last seven years have been some of the most deeply meaningful and fulfilling of my career and it would not have been possible without all of you. I thank each of you and hope for an even brighter future for each student, their families, staff, and everyone within the Benicia community.

On we go!

Charles F. Young, Ed.D.

Benicia School District responds to tough questions about clean air controls during the pandemic

How good are the Benicia Schools’ HVAC Systems?

By Roger Straw, March 16, 2021

On February 26, a Benicia resident asked an intriguing question on Nextdoor:

How good are the Benicia Schools HVAC systems? Before we expel school board members and chop up the teachers union, how up – to date & how well maintained our our school’s hvac systems?  If it costs approx $300,000 to recall a board member can we put that money into upgrading the schools’ hvac systems and hiring more janitors instead?

The Nextdoor question had obvious political implications, with which, incidentally, I agree wholeheartedly.  Our school infrastructure, supplies and services for teachers and students are so important.  The recent effort to attack and unseat two BUSD trustees is ridiculously expensive ($300,000!) and the recall is also misguided in intent, targeting two fine Trustees, including the School Board President.  EVERYONE please DO NOT SIGN THE RECALL PETITION!

But… what stood out to me was the opening question, “How good are the Benicia Schools HVAC systems?”

I wondered if anyone has a good answer to that question.  A little research uncovered that Benicia’s 2014 Ballot Measure S included significant provisions for upgrading the District’s HVAC systems.

So I dug around and found that I could write to Roxanne Egan, the Bond Director for Benicia Unified School District.

I emailed Ms. Egan some tough questions, and got a thorough response.  Here is my opening contextual statement and my four questions:

Given the pandemic guidelines’ strong call for good ventilation and heating/AC in schools before returning to in-person learning, I would like to know some details:

      1. What has been done to improve BUSD HVAC systems since passage of Measure S in 2014?
      2. What improvements have been made to BUSD HVAC systems in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
      3. Has the BUSD received specific federal and state guidance on HVAC recommendations and requirements in order to provide safe space as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and if so, what are those recommendations and requirements?
      4. In what particulars are BUSD schools up to HVAC standards proposed by the CDC and the CA Department of Health, and in what particulars are we still deficient?

Ms. Egan and directors of several other BUSD departments were thorough in gathering information that would address my questions.  I received a two-page letter from Ms. Egan and Alfredo Romero, Director of Maintenance and Operations on March 11.  After the opening thank you, Egan and Romero answered each question, beginning with the first:

What has been done to improve BUSD HVAC systems since passage of Measure S in 2014?

      • Measure S has funded HVAC improvements including the replacement of over 28 HVAC units, service and repairs to existing HVAC units, upgrades to HVAC economizers, which are the mechanical assembly that responds to the thermostat “demand” to allow fresh air intake. In addition to Measure S funding, BUSD received State Proposition 39 funding through the California Energy Commission for qualified energy improvements which included thermostat upgrades at all schools. The upgraded thermostats provide the ability to remotely access the thermostats including the ability to monitor fresh air intake and allow maintenance operators to increase and decrease the fresh air minimums based on ambient conditions. The minimums for fresh air intake are consistent with state building codes and during the COVID-19 pandemic, these minimums may be exceeded to introduce a larger amount of fresh air.
BUSD letter on HVAC improvements, March 11, 2021

The letter goes on like this.  I find it on the one hand reassuring, but on the other, rather general and couched in technical language that leaves me wondering.  I’m guessing the public might still have questions.  Please read the whole letter, and see if you agree.

READ THE LETTER from Roxanne Egan, Bond Director, and Alfredo Romero, Director of Maintenance and Operations, March 11, 2021.


If not for the pandemic, parents and grandparents like me could all gather in a school auditorium and ask questions, or maybe even get a guided tour with HVAC examples.  I wonder if the District could convene a ZOOM meeting and interact with us on these and other in-person learning issues that concern us.

Benicia City Council to consider whether to discuss BUSD recall effort

By Roger Straw, February 28, 2021

Here’s an opportunity to voice your opinion on the misguided and ridiculously expensive recall effort of two Benicia School Board members.

This Tuesday, March 2, Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell will ask the Benicia City Council to consider whether the City Council should take a position on the proposed Benicia City School Board recall effort.

The Council agenda will allow for public comment before Council members discuss the request and provide direction to staff on whether or not to schedule this topic for future Council discussion.

Please call or email Council members before Tuesday’s Council meeting, and if you can, attend the meeting and let the Council know that School Board members Sheri Zada and Mark Macelli need our support.  (Email addresses and zoom instructions below.)

Mayor Young and Vice Mayor Campbell are submitting the request and will support the measure.  Please email the three other Benicia City Council Members, Christina Strawbridge, Lionel Largaespada and Trevor Macenski, to let them know that the City and its residents will oppose this $300,000 effort to target and remove two excellent School Board members.

Zoom instructions and how to comment are available on the City Council’s March 2 AGENDA.

From the March 2 Agenda:


Vice Mayor Campbell and Mayor Young submitted a two-step process request for Council’s consideration of whether the City Council should take a position on the proposed Benicia School Board recall effort.

Discuss the request and provide direction to staff on whether or not to schedule this topic for future Council discussion.