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September 7, 2010 > FUSD special meeting

FUSD special meeting

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following is a summary of the special meeting, held by the Fremont Unified School Board on August 30, which focused on Measure K and the Save Fremont Students campaign.

Measure K (Parcel Tax):
In July, the School Board passed the resolution calling for a local funding measure to be placed on the November 2010 ballot. The language of the Parcel Tax, now known as Measure K, is as follows:

"To provide Fremont schools stable funding for quality local education and programs that cannot be taken away by the state including:

Maintaining math, science, reading and writing programs;
Keeping school libraries open;
Supporting classroom/learning technology;
Maintaining college and workforce preparation programs; and
Retaining qualified teachers.

Shall the Fremont Unified School District levy $53 per parcel annually for five years, exempting seniors, with citizen oversight, no money for administrator salaries and all money benefiting local schools?"

Superintendent of FUSD, Dr. Morris stated, "How will the money be spent if it passes, is a question," and asked Assistant Superintendent of Business, Bill Stephens to give an overview of the budget situation.

"We are suffering in this national recession. Seven out of eighteen school districts in Alameda County are facing problems," said Stephens. "Fremont is completing its calculation of the budget with a report for 2009-10, called Unaudited Actuals. At this time, it appears that FUSD deficit spent $6 million rather than the expected $10 million; so the district's reserves did not deplete by 4 million as anticipated due to good management, and the transferring of unending program balances including Tier III funds."

Stephens also attributed the district's strengths to, "the sincere, hard work of the teachers and Board Staff to try to maintain and hold onto every dollar." However, these "savings" are considered one-time funds, and do not eliminate the deficit budget that the district has to contend with.

Fremont's 2010/11 District General Fund Revenue budget of $235 million reflects a $15 million decrease from last year's budget, based on the Governor's May Revise and FUSD's fiscal deficit is expected to grow in 2010/2011.

Stephens explained that to obtain added revenue for schools, a $53 assessment per parcel for Measure K (Parcel Tax) is being proposed to create a local funding source for the district. There are approximately 63,000 parcels in Fremont and this would give the district $3.3 million for 5 years, beginning in 2012.

A district parent, Hui Ng, voiced his concern that the $4 million could have been utilized by the district. Ng also added that, "We shouldn't purchase technology items for the schools with the Parcel Tax because we have too many technology problems in our infrastructure. We should support the areas of math, science, reading/writing programs and teachers."

Trustee Ivy Wu responded to Ng, "We do have a lot of challenges. We do the best we can. A lot of changes are not within our control. The $3.3 million is not a lot but it does reflect a group effort. The Parcel Tax gives us an opportunity to reach out to the community and work together," said Wu.

"I think the Parcel Tax is critical," added Trustee Lily Mei. "Look what the Save Fremont Students (SFS) campaign did this summer. I hope people see schools not just as a building on a corner, but as an integral part of our community."

In response to Hui Ng's previous comments, Superintendent Morris stated, "There is a variance in the district's budget. We are still deficit spending. The district has a pattern of being very conservative regarding vacant positions and as such is holding off hiring certain positions because of the uncertainty."

Other savings attributed to the $4 million balance resulted, according to the Superintendent, because FUSD does very well in CAHSEE results. For that reason, the district hasn't needed to spend CAHSEE Intervention funds.

With 6 ayes, the Board passed the motion to continue support for the Measure K Parcel Tax and seek community members to administer it as part of the Citizen's Oversight Committee.

Save Fremont Students (SFS):
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Steve Betando, announced that because of the SFS funds received, the district was able to add four Elementary Prep Teachers (Subject Matter Specialists) positions this year. There will be four Music teachers at 50 percent of the time and P.E. and Science Specialists at all of the Elementary school sites.

At the Secondary school level, funds raised would be allocated at each school, by the number of students, based on $9.15 per student. Each School Site Council will develop a plan and report to the Board what they would like to spend their money on. The Board will then review it prior to approval.

The SFS campaign has raised over $500,000 for Fremont schools. During the meeting, more good news was reported by the President of the Fremont Education Foundation, Sherea Westra. "As of August 30, corporate matching funds came in with an additional $19,790.69 for elementary schools and $12,053.50 for secondary schools.

With 6 ayes, the Board voted to accept the funds from the SFS campaign.

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