Benicia Unified School District

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Benicia Unified School District
350 East K St.
Solano County, California, 94510
United States
District information
Type Public
Motto Educate. Challenge. Inspire.
Grades Pre-K through 12
Established May 1850 (May 1850)
Superintendent Dr. Charles Young
Asst. Superintendent(s) Dr. Michael Gardner, Leslie Beatson
Director of education Leslie Beatson
Schools Elementary 4
Middle 1
High 2
District ID 0604620[1]
Students and staff
Students 5000
Teachers 225
Staff 150
Other information

Benicia Unified School District is a public school district based in Benicia, a city in Solano County, California. It operates two high schools, a middle school and four elementary schools. The district had approximately 5,000 students enrolled in the 2013–2014 school year.[2]

Early history[edit]

Benicia was one of the earliest communities in California to establish a public education system, and the first public school there was opened in 1849 by Reverend Sylvester Woodbridge, Jr., an Old School Presbyterian missionary from Long Island, New York. Woodbridge also established in Benicia the first Protestant church in California.[3] Woodbridge was one of four Presbyterian missionaries sent to California during the Gold Rush in 1849. One of them, Reverend Francis Hart of Missouri, died on the trip to California.[4]

The Board of Education in Benicia, which later became the Benicia Unified School District, was organized in May 1850. The board agreed to pay Woodbridge $1000.00 for his work as a teacher that first year, making the payment to him in city bonds.[5] Woodbridge was later appointed the first Commissioner of Common Schools for Solano County.[6]

Benicia was California's state capital for just over a year in 1853 and 1854. The state capital was then relocated permanently to Sacramento.[3] By 1855, there were 71 students enrolled in the Benicia school system.[5]

Charter school planning[edit]

The district has investigated the possibility of establishing a charter school[7] but in 2009, was unable to reach an agreement with Pathways Charter Schools to establish one.[8] Pathways operates in five North Bay counties, and has an office nearby in Vallejo, California.[9]

Unsuccessful tax measures[edit]

The district has tried but failed to increase local taxes to better support the schools in recent years. A proposed $105.00 per year parcel tax to give financial support to the district failed by 175 votes in November, 2004.[10] Another parcel tax measure was on the ballot in June, 2006,[10] but was unsuccessful. A six-year, $58.00 annual parcel tax measure was on the ballot in 2010, and received 62.8% of the vote. The measure failed, though because it required 2/3 approval to pass,[11] according to the provisions of California's Proposition 13, a state constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 1978.


  • Benicia High School
  • Benicia Middle School
  • Joe Henderson Elementary School
  • Mary Farmar Elementary School
  • Matthew Turner Elementary School
  • Robert Semple Elementary School
  • Liberty High School, an alternative high school for students who "enter the school behind in credits and not on track for graduation".

Former Schools

  • Mills Elementary School- 1951-2005


  1. ^ "Search for Public School Districts – District Detail for Benicia Unified School District". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved December 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Our District". Benicia Unified School District. 2015. Retrieved December 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Hoover, Mildred Brooke; Kyle, Douglas E. (2002). Historic Spots in California. Stanford University Press. pp. 496, 515. ISBN 9780804778176. 
  4. ^ California Pioneer Decade of 1849: The Presbyterian Church With Some Mention of Other Churches, and Incidental Reference to Current Events and Civil Affairs of Early and Later Date. San Francisco: Press of the Hansen Co. 1922. p. 92. 
  5. ^ a b "District History". Benicia Unified School District. 2015. Retrieved December 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ Munro-Fraser, J. P. (1879). History of Solano County: Comprising an Account of Its Geographical Position; The Origin of Its Name; Topography; Geology and Springs; Its Organization; Township System: Early Settlement, With Description of Scenes as Viewed by the Pioneers; The First American Argonauts of California; The Bear Flag; The Discovery of Gold: The Progress of Population and Agriculture; The Mexican Grants; The Principal Murders; Incidents of Settlement, Elections and Tables of County Officers, and Histories of Its Cities, Towns, Villages, Churches, Schools, Secret Societies, Etc. as also A Full and Particular Biography of Its Early Settlers and Principal Inhabitants, Illustrated. San Francisco: Wood, Alley & Co. p. 114. 
  7. ^ Maslan, Maryann (January 16, 2004). "Benicia school board holds forum on possibilities of charter school". Vallejo Times Herald. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ Lowe, Chauntel (June 13, 2009). "Charter school unable to reach terms in Benicia". Vallejo Times Herald. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Pathways Charter School". Pathways Charter School District. 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Rohrs, Sarah (January 24, 2006). "Benicia school tax makes ballot". The Reporter. Vacaville, California. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ Palmer, David Ryan (November 5, 2010). "School board saddened by parcel tax loss". Benicia Herald. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]