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June 3, 2011 > Sunol Glen School Board meeting review

Sunol Glen School Board meeting review

By Alyson Whitaker

The first agenda item of the Sunol Glen School Board meeting, held on May 17, was a presentation by San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) on the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. Project Manager Dan Wade gave a general overview on the projects throughout the Sunol Valley, as well as a more detailed update on the Calaveras Dam.

The rebuilding of this dam is a major part of SFPUC's Water System Improvement Program to ensure a reliable water supply to customers, including the town of Sunol, in case of a major earthquake or drought. The existing Calaveras Dam is the system's largest Bay Area drinking water reservoir. Because of seismic safety concerns about the existing dam, the reservoir level has been maintained at 40 percent of its normal capacity since 2001. The project will replace the existing dam with a 210-feet high new earth and rock-filled dam immediately adjacent to the existing structure and will restore the historic capacity of the reservoir.

Construction is scheduled to begin later this summer, and continue through 2015. The SFPUC is requesting temporary closures of a portion of Calaveras Road just south of Geary Road extending to the Alameda County Line in the interest of traffic safety. The first closure is tentatively scheduled for a two-month period in Fall 2011, with a lengthier 18-month closure in late 2012 or early 2013. The road closure is scheduled for weekdays only and the Sunol-Ohlone Wilderness Park will remain open during construction.

Portions of the construction area are in geologic formations that include serpentine rock, which is known to contain naturally occurring asbestos. This type of rock is present throughout much of California, and construction activities could cause asbestos fibers to become airborne. The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project team has put extensive care into the planning of air quality monitoring stations surrounding the immediate construction site, as well as other locations in the Sunol Valley, including one very close to Sunol Glen School. Any detections at the monitoring stations indicating elevated levels of asbestos will cause the project team to modify or even temporarily halt construction to ensure that unacceptable levels of airborne asbestos do not leave the construction site.

More information about the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project can be found online at

A representative from the Community Club reported that the Tiki Tiki Luau fundraiser event held on May 14 was a huge success, and brought in just over $17,000 profit to benefit students at the school.

A brief discussion was held on the state of technology at the school. The Technology Committee is working closely with Jonathan Allen, ACOE (Alameda County Office of Education), to determine the best course of action for upgrading the school's technology. A donation of numerous servers has prompted the committee to look at the possibility of switching to a server-based system, as opposed to individual computer units. This would provide a more standardized and consistent computer model throughout the school, with each desktop image being uniform.

Once the issues with the hardware are resolved, then teaching teams will be able to determine the course of action for the software they use. Currently, the outdated hardware is a hindrance for both teachers and students to fully utilize software available for education.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, a parent expressed appreciation for the character traits that are being taught right along with core curriculum.

Another parent expressed concern that the 5th grade teacher is being pulled away from his grade-level class to meet other teaching commitments, and encouraged the board and school administration to work to remedy the situation. She also shared that her child's experience with this teacher has increased her passion for learning as individuality and self-thinking behaviors are encouraged.

During her Superintendent's Report, Molly Barnes shared the overwhelming kindness shown by parents during Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week, celebrated the week of May 16-20. Staff members were treated to themed luncheons, morning treats, custom-made smoothies, massages, and daily prize drawings.

Mrs. Barnes also recognized 5th grade student Lily Monahan and her father, Michael for their outstanding service and dedication to the reconstruction of the school garden this year.

The district is in the process of revising the policy for Inter-district Transfers, stating more clearly the expectations of teachers, students, and parents. The first step in the process has been the development of a letter which will be sent to all inter-district transfer families, welcoming them to the district and outlining the expectations. This goal of this process is to develop a plan of support to help all students reach their full potential.

Mrs. Barnes shared that the school has been awarded a mini-grant in the amount of $2,800 from the Education Advisory Board. Jannet Benz, a parent of a 6th grade student, sought out and completed the grant application for an improved recycling and compost system to implement at the school. The school "Green Team" has been educating and motivating students to reduce waste by composting, packing no-waste lunches, and recycling whenever possible. The "Green Team" collects CRV cans and bottles on the last Friday of each month, and the money raised helps fund classroom technology and the promotion of environmental awareness at the school.

The 2nd Interim Budget approval is consistent with the District's positive budget certification. A few cautionary warnings were issued with the approval, to closely monitor spending and cash flow as the state financial situation is uncertain and cuts or reductions in state funding for education may come later in the year.

During closing statements, board member Gerry Beemiller shared an idea he got from attending an energy conservation seminar. A local school created an incentive program to motivate students to reduce the monthly school utility bill. Mr. Beemiller suggested Sunol Glen look at implementing a similar program, with the proceeds from the savings going toward the 7th/8th grade trip to Washington D.C.

The next scheduled board meeting will be held on Thursday, June 30. This is a variance from the regular schedule of Tuesday meetings, as board member Neil Davies will be out of town. There will be no board meeting in July.

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