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March 15, 2011 > Sunol Glen School Board meeting review

Sunol Glen School Board meeting review

By Alyson Whitaker

Sunol Glen School Board met for their monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 8. Public comments from several parents expressed their appreciation for the current direction of the school.

Kindra Mendall shared an article, citing a recent study by Pepperdine University regarding the percentage of school district budgets spent in the classroom as opposed to non-classroom costs such as administrators' salaries, travel, conferences and consulting unrelated to instruction. Sunol Glen USD was at the top of the list for Alameda County, with 72 percent of the district budget spent directly on classroom-related expenditures. Ms. Mendall expressed her appreciation for the current administration's desire to put students first.

Other parents made positive statements regarding class size of middle school grades, the positive impact of the multi-age classrooms, and increased communication and collaboration between parents, teachers, and staff.

Sue Wiltz, fourth grade teacher at Sunol Glen, demonstrated the web-based program "TypeWith.me." Five of her students were at the meeting and participated. The free program allows online, live interaction, computer to computer. Mrs. Wiltz "chatted" from her computer in the library with the students who were in the computer lab, showcasing the program capabilities.

Ben Coplan spoke as a representative of the SPEAC-UP Committee, which stands for "School Preservation and Enhancement Action Committee". The committee is working to establish a foundation seeking outside funding sources for the school and introducing adult education classes at the school for local residents.

Jeff Potter from Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE), financial advisor to the district, updated the board and audience on the second Interim Financial Report. He shared that the district has filed a positive certification, demonstrating that they will be able to meet their funding obligations for this school year and have plans in place for the subsequent two school years. The district has seen an increase in local revenue, based largely on the increased success of the two local programs-Eagle's Nest childcare, and the Sunol Glen Preschool program.

The district recently received the third of five installments of a $1million Deferred Maintenance Extreme Hardship grant earmarked for much-needed facility repairs.

A representative from the Community Club updated the board on upcoming events and activities, including the annual Spring Fling fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at the Sunol Event Center. The evening will include dinner and both live and silent auctions. Classes are putting together collaborative art projects, which will be included in the items up for bid.

Donations from the Community Club have funded purchase and acquisition of laptops, document cameras, and projectors for each of the grade-level teachers, giving every classroom access to this valuable technology.

Kindra Mendall updated the board on the actions of the school-wide Technology Committee comprised of staff members, parent volunteers, a representative of the Community Club, and a representative from the ACOE. Currently, the aging infrastructure at the school makes it challenging for teachers to maximize their use of technology. There are approximately 100 computers at the school, with the average age of each workstation between 6-8 years. The bare bones bandwidth of the school internet connections also are a hindrance to incorporating web-based programs into classroom instruction. The board approved a motion to upgrade the bandwidth speed, based on recommendations from the technology committee, and Jonathan Allen, IT representative from ACOE.

Principal/Superintendent Molly Barnes reported that enrollment for the 2011/2012 school year is beginning. A high percentage of Sunol Glen students live outside the town limits, and must complete inter-district transfer requests to transfer out of their home school district into SGUSD. Fremont USD has indicated they will not sign any transfer requests prior to April 1, so many families have not been able to complete their enrollment paperwork for the 2011/2012 school year. The hope is that all grades will continue to be filled, keeping enrollment levels up, which directly impacts revenue for the district.

The board passed a vote to issue precautionary layoff notices to three teachers. If enrollment stays at its current level for next year, all three teachers will be rehired; no further cuts are anticipated. Board member Diane Everett expressed her sadness as she made the motion "with a heavy heart."

Board member Neil Davies reported that Mrs. Barnes was selected as the Amador Valley Charter Region 6 ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) recipient of Superintendent/Principal of the Year. Mrs. Barnes will be honored at an awards banquet on May 6.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 19.

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