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Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report
By Miriam G. Mazliach
January 6, 2012
The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board meeting held on December 14, 2011.
Community Leadership/Superintendent’s Report:
School Superintendent Dr. James Morris mentioned the following items:
Throughout the school year, the district has had to deal with the challenge of the school budget and diminishing resources.
Three schools are piloting the use of online enrollment this year: Kennedy High School, Walters Jr. High and Fruitvale Elementary.
Kennedy High School and Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program (MVROP) entered into a cooperative program, “Construction Trades Academy.”
Future issues of the City of Fremont’s “Fremont City News” publication will now include a section for FUSD news items.
R2Ratio is the allowable number set by the State Education Code, regarding the maximum number of administrators allowed per district. Although Fremont’s is 115, the district only has 65 administrators, far below what FUSD could have.
Jean Faust, the Records Clerk at Mission San Jose High School, was called an “unsung hero,” for going above and beyond to help a former student, whose records had been lost by her university.
Oral Communications/Public Comment:
Over 20 people addressed the Board in support of Tan Tran, a Junior Varsity basketball coach at Irvington. In response to Tran being released from his duties, current students, former students, parents and several colleagues spoke of Tran’s dedication, compassion, kindness, respect and professionalism. Parents want Tran reinstated to his position and indicated they have spoken to the current Irvington Principal, but to no avail.
Speaking on a different topic, Debra Watanuki of the Fremont Education Foundation noted that their “Run for Education” event, held in October, raised over $5,600 for the Guy Emanuele Sports Fund. This enabled the organization to provide financial assistance to 30 students at five local high schools. Additionally, grants of $300 were allocated to 22 elementary schools for their boys/girls basketball programs.
A parent volunteer and several students from Chadbourne Elementary School described the green efforts by their school community and in particular, how they have reduced lunch waste by 75 percent. Additionally, this has made it possible for the school to save hundreds of dollars in garbage collection fees. They are hoping to spread the program to all the schools in Fremont, with the potential for the district to save $40,000 - $80,000 each school year, if all schools participate.
Board of Education Agenda Item:
The annual Board reorganization (assignment rotation) took place with the election of Lily Mei to Board President, Ivy Wu to Vice President, Larry Sweeney to Clerk and Lara York and Bryan Gebhardt as Board Members.
Regular Board Agenda Item – New K-6 English Language Arts Texts:
For a number of years, FUSD has been using the SRA McGraw Hill Open Court reading series, (copyright 2000), as the core of their Language/Reading program. However, as it is no longer in print, replacing worn or missing materials is no longer an option.
The past few months a committee comprised of a teacher from each elementary school, special education and immersion teachers, literacy coaches, elementary principals, and District program administrators as well as a teacher’s union representative, reviewed potential programs before narrowing it down to two in particular: Imagine It! and Treasures. The public was able to preview the materials and provide input, according to Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Deborah Sims.
The final recommendation put forth at the Board meeting was for the adoption of the “Treasures” English/Language Arts program for K-6. Committee members described the variety and depth of the materials, ranging from the vocabulary exercises, critical thinking skills, and benchmark activities for students of varied skill levels, to the user-friendly teacher manuals, colorful flip charts, visual materials and assessment tools. The program also has correlated Spanish Language Arts materials and support for English language learners.
The publishers will also include professional development opportunities for teachers, throughout the life of the program’s adoption by the district.
With a vote of 5 ayes, the Board approved the purchase of the “Treasures” program for K-6 English/Language Arts.
Regular Board Agenda Item – Budget History and Update:
By reviewing the 2010-2011 budget, Assistant Superintendent, Micaela Ochoa and Director of Accounting, Robert Pascual, gave a detailed explanation of how the District moves through the annual budget cycle. They explained the process by which the various budget balances are tabulated and noted that when additional revenue is received from the State, revisions need to be made.
Additionally, with five ayes, the Board approved the 1st Interim Financial Report, for July 1 – October 31 of the current year. This document is required by the State to verify that the district is able to meet its financial obligations in order to receive “positive certification.”
Regular Board Agenda Item – Health and Sex Education Curriculum:
At the October 26 Board meeting, portions of the new 4th and 5th grade curriculum for Health and Sex Education were passed. However, at the same time, the 6th grade component was held for further review and clarification until the December 14 Board meeting.
In the interim, brochures were revised, materials and information reviewed and permission forms were developed so that parents could give permission for their child to participate or not. For those students who “opt out” of the Health and Sex Education program, an alternate learning activity will be made available.
Trustee Lara York was emphatic in her support, “The old curriculum is so outdated and disrespectful to students. I don’t think we can pass up an opportunity to teach our kids what’s o.k. and what’s not o.k.”
Board Vice President, Ivy Wu still expressed some unease with the Health and Sex Education component stating, “I don’t think we should overeducate [about sex] our kids.”
However, after further discussion and now with a clearer understanding of the curriculum’s content, the motion to accept the new 6th grade Health and Sex Education curriculum passed with five ayes by the Board.