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May 14, 2010 > City Council and FUSD School Board meeting

City Council and FUSD School Board meeting

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following is a summary from the joint meeting held on May 3, between the Fremont City Council and the Fremont Unified School District Board.

Styrofoam Ban:
Kathy Cote and Ken Pianin from the Environmental Services Division (ESD) spoke regarding a new city ordinance, being drafted for consideration by the City Council, concerning the banning of "expanded polystyrene" food service ware (aka Styrofoam).

Discussions initially began in 2008 to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam. At the time, Fremont followed a more voluntary phase. Now a full ban is being proposed that will focus on polystyrene (Styrofoam) only.

Approximately 1.2 million polystyrene trays are used a year by Fremont schools, at a cost of $36,000. The district is looking into the costs and options for a more ecologically-friendly replacement for the trays.

"There are alternatives that are out there now and we want to encourage their use such as recyclable or biodegradable food containers made of cornstarch and sugar cane, as well as the recyclable plastics," Pianin explained. "The ban would take place effective January 1, 2011 which the Environmental Services Division feels is effective and gives enough lead time," said Pianin.

School Board Trustee, Ivy Wu asked about the possible penalties for those who do not comply with the ban once it is in effect. Pianin responded, "The city would issue citations. For the first offense a warning would be issued; for the next occurrence a $100 citation, $200 for a repeat offense and $500 for repeated violations."

FUSD Board President Lara York asked, "Do the school districts need to follow all the ordinances? ...I'm very much in support of this but I'm concerned how it affects our bottom line and purchasing food, considering our budget."

"Yes," responded Pianin, "cafeterias are considered food prep, but we would work with the school district's Nutrition Services which is looking at alternatives to Styrofoam trays now being used."

"Obviously, we will move forward with the suggestions," said Superintendent Milt Werner. "Irvington High School and Brier Elementary are already involved in "green initiatives." Our Staff and administration are very aware in moving forward that cost effectiveness is a consideration; but it's good for the planet and the kids."

Parcel Tax:
Superintendent Werner noted that Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) has over 32,000 students and is known for its academic excellence. "We're going to promote our academic record in moving forward with a Parcel Tax. We should get more than $6,000 per student from the State but we get less than $5,000 per student for the year. That is a net loss of $1,400 per student and we anticipate a $27 million deficit next year."

FUSD would have an Oversight Committee to report to the Board, just like they had for the bonds. A "senior waiver" could be included in the initiative for senior citizens to opt out, if they didn't want to or couldn't afford the Parcel Tax.

A suggested amount for the Parcel Tax would be $100 per property parcel. "We believe we could accrue around $5 million from the Parcel Tax. But going forward it will have a significant input on the district for 5 years," said Werner.

Currently a Parcel Tax is in the community discussion phase, to be followed by a feasibility study and outreach. This process will take place in the next 4 - 8 weeks and acted on by the School Board in July for the November 2010 ballot.

Patterson Ranch:
Planning Director for the City of Fremont, Jeff Schwob, spoke on the proposal for the development of the Patterson Ranch area.

There is one application to develop 500 - 520 housing units located east of Ardenwood Boulevard. The area west of Ardenwood Boulevard, in the agricultural flood zone, will not be developed. Instead that portion could be gifted as a church/religious site, open space, regional park or pump station for the Union Sanitary District.

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be discussed at the June 10 Planning Commission meeting. On June 15, the Fremont City Council will review it and begin a 45-day period of open public comment. Additional City Council input and reviews will follow, with a final approval anticipated by late summer or fall.

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