Sharpen those pencils and charge those laptops, because it's time to get back to school.

Thousands of students are returning to the classroom in the next few weeks, including more than 33,800 students at the 35 schools in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, while more than 1,400 teachers prepare lesson plans.

We don't have to tell residents how highly rated the local schools are. Many of you moved here and chose to raise families here because the district has an Academic Performance Index of 928, ranking eighth among all unified schools districts in the state and third in Northern California.

Not only are the individual students performing well, with more than 94 percent of seniors attending college or university upon graduation, but district schools have also been recognized for excellence and have received the state Education Department's Distinguished Schools Award more than 50 times.

Looking forward to the new school year, the statewide California PTA offers several tips to help parents help their children start off on the right foot and succeed in school.

  • Go to school. Attendance is essential for learning and developing fundamental skills. According to the California PTA, children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are far less likely to read proficiently at the end of third grade.


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  • Support learning at home. Create a home environment that helps a child develop good study habits and attitudes that lead to becoming lifelong learners. Designate a regular place and time to do homework. Parents are encouraged to make themselves available during this time to answer questions.

  • A healthy student leads to a successful student. Make sure children get plenty of rest and exercise and eat healthy meals, including a balanced breakfast, and they will be ready to learn when they get to class.

  • Get to know the teachers. Attend Back to School Night programs, meet and build a relationship with the teachers. An open avenue of communication is essential, as is staying informed through online tools for school calendars and portals for checking grades.

    So start packing those lunches, gather the school supplies, arrange carpools and most importantly, drive carefully around the school zones at drop-off and pickup times. An apple for the teacher? Why not.

    ANOTHER NEW MILESTONE IN SAN RAMON will be celebrated Sept. 9, when the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new City Hall will be held, starting at 5 p.m.

    Located at the southeast corner of Central Park adjacent to Bollinger Canyon Road at Market Place, the new City Hall will be a 44,000-square-foot building designed by Korth Sunseri Hagey Architects of San Francisco. It's a $14 million project that will feature a glass rotunda entrance, police substation, two floors of staff offices, a half-dozen public meeting rooms and council chambers. It will also be environmentally friendly with a Silver Leadership Energy and Environmental Design certification standards.

    The building will be on the site of the current basketball courts, which are in the process of being relocated. The Bollinger Canyon Road entrance to Central Park, across from the Market Place, will be closed during construction. The driveway to the east of this intersection and construction site will be open for access to Central Park. The Alcosta Boulevard entrance to the Community Center and parking lots and park will not be affected by the construction.

    Contact Monica Lander at landerfamily@comcast.net.