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March 8, 2011 > Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report

Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are a selection of highlights from the Fremont Unified School District board meeting held on February 23, 2011.

Superintendent's Report:
Representing FUSD's Elementary Education department, Director, Debbie Amundson and Lucy Lineback announced the top six finishers of the District Spelling Bee, held on January 20 at Mission San Jose Elementary School. The top six spellers were each presented with a trophy and Border's gift certificate. The next step leads to the Alameda County Spelling Bee on Saturday, March 19 at Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley.

First place winner: Victor Dong, Chadbourne Elementary School.
Second place winner: Damon Liang, Niles Elementary School.
Third place winner: Manasi Maheshwari, Ardenwood Elementary School.
Fourth place winner: Vivian Doan, Brier Elementary School.
Fifth place winner: Grace Van, Chadbourne Elementary School.
Sixth place winner: Louisa Campbell, Cabrillo Elementary School.

Superintendent Morris reported that the Irvington High School Decathlon team is going to the State Championship and wished them good luck in their endeavor.

Thornton Junior High school team took Second Place at the Science Olympiad, held in Pleasanton on February 19.

Toyota Corporation has given a significant donation to the district in support of mathematics and will be recognized at the next Board meeting.

Also, Fremont Education Foundation (FEF) was presented with a $40,000 check from representatives of the Wells Fargo Bank Foundation, who have long supported the various programs of FEF, which supports Fremont schools, students and teachers.

Consent Calendar Items:
During the process of adopting resolutions for the following mentioned months, Fremont parent Ann Crosbie asked the Board, "What are we doing [in regard to school activities] for Arts Education Month and Women's History Month?"

Prior to approval of the Summer School schedule, the Board and Staff explained that because of the severe budget constraints, FUSD would only be able to provide summer school services to 600 of the district's most academically struggling students.

Regular Board Agenda Items -
Oral Communications:
Niles Elementary School teacher, Kari Webber, commented on the Collective Bargaining process currently taking place between the District and Teacher's Union and the language of the proposed contract. "Why take away our right to talk? Stating that teachers deserve fair salaries, Weber explained, "I am fighting to keep my head above water," saying that nearly one-third of her gross pay goes for medical coverage.

Another teacher, Sherri Hamilton of Oliveira Elementary, shared her views that there has been a huge increase in teacher expectation and workload in the 20 years she has worked in the District. "We are pigeonholed into working more hours for less pay."

Niles Elementary parent, Gail Edwards-Bryan, although sympathetic to the teachers' plight, recognized that with the current budget situation that "these are painful times." She added, "I urge you [teachers] to remember for whom and why you are here."

Dianne Jones, a Parkmont Elementary parent, echoed similar sentiments to those of the previous speaker. "Hardworking teachers deserve better, but other workers have also experienced difficulties due to the economic circumstances. Employees have to accept what is realistic."

Sherea Westra gave an update from Fremont Education Foundation on the Save Fremont Students campaign. An additional $21,301.10 has been received, primarily from corporate matching funds. This will be used for the Elementary Education fund, to purchase instructional materials.

State Budget Update:
The district is required to present a balanced budget over a three-year period. The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) gives back a "report card" with feedback for the district on its First Interim Report and any other information that could be useful. Damon Smith, Chief Business Officer for the ACOE, came to the Board meeting and congratulated the staff for its efforts. He also explained that the Governor's proposal to keep K-12 Education funding flat depends on the continuation of the temporary sales tax and vehicle license fees, to be placed on the June ballot. If the measure fails to pass, then even more cuts could be made by the State. Smith added, "There is a lot of uncertainty in front of you. It's a very, very difficult time for us in Education."

The FUSD Board passed the motion in support of adopting a resolution in support of placing a revenue extension measure on the ballot. (The vote was 5 ayes; Trustee Wu was absent.)

Receive ARRA Staffing/Program Recommendations:
The Federal Government provided funding to school districts in the 2008-09 school year, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funds were directed to assist academically struggling students to become more proficient. As these are one-time funds, ARRA expenditures have to be completed by September 2011.

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Deborah Sims, presented recommendations, in light of the budget reductions as to how to address early intervention and direct instruction to students who need academic assistance the most.

Measure K Oversight Committee Criteria:
At the February 9 Board meeting, the process began on developing recommendations for the Measure K (Parcel Tax) Oversight Committee. Following a February 14 meeting with two Board Trustees, a Measure K representative, and the President of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association, the following recommendations were proposed:

1. To hold a Public Hearing on March 9, time to be announced, in order to hear from the public how the funds derived from the parcel tax should be spent.

2. Composition of the Measure K Oversight Committee to include: 2 business/community members, 6 parents/guardians of FUSD students, 2 senior citizens, and 1 student representative.

The Board approved the recommendation for the process and criteria for forming a Measure K Oversight Committee. (Vote: 5 ayes; Trustee Wu absent.)

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