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November 25, 2009 > Fremont Unified Schools Board of Education Updates

Fremont Unified Schools Board of Education Updates

Highlights of the November 18, 2009 meeting of the Fremont Board of Education

By Miriam G. Mazliach

Parent Survey on Later School Start Times:

The Parent Representative Advisory Assembly (PRAA) had been asked by FUSD to survey parents about starting the high school day later than the current schedule. Parents have been requesting a change for many years concerned about their sons and daughters lack of adequate sleep which can be a detriment physically, emotionally and academically to growing teens.

Parents and students addressed the Board and Staff, primarily in support of the change with reasons cited such as: hormonal and biological changes during the teenage years that perpetuate the problem, as students tend to stay up late and then have difficulty awakening in the morning.

Several students explained that they and many of their peers sleep during the first one or two periods of classes in the morning. This proves frustrating to the teachers and hampers the learning experience of the students. Three Kennedy High School students commented that the lack of sleep affects their immune system and with concerns about Swine Flu, that's a consideration.

Irvington parent, Sylvia Amico stated an opposing view, "How do parents get to work on time if we change school start times? There is no bussing here. In winter, as it gets darker, what happens with after school sports?"

In rebuttal, G. Ortega, stated that parents can arrange carpools if needed. He encouraged the Board to, "Talk to the kids and get their input. We've done enough research and surveys. Let's move on and make this happen."

A revised survey to include input from students will be distributed with findings to be addressed as an agenda item at a future Board meeting.

PRAA has found many articles and research studies. Please go to www.fremont.k12.ca.us and look for Later High School Start Times under the Quick Links.


Special Education:

The Board adopted a resolution proclaiming December 3 as 'The Day of the Special Educator' in Fremont. Additionally, parents of children with disabilities will form a new district-wide Special Education Advisory Committee to deal with their concerns. This would not require any extra funding.


Budget Woes:

Bill Stephens, Superintendent of Business stated that financial situation hasn't changed and that the district was looking at every option available.

Hui Ng, a Fremont parent, brought up the $5 million "Race to the Top" funds that are available through the federal government, to qualifying school districts. The deadline of January 19, for the application process, is fast approaching.

"Please work together. We need this money and have to submit a competitive application. We need every nickel and dime," says Ng.

Determination of recipients is decided by the evaluation of California teachers' performance standards and student learning achievements.


YouTube Report:

Feedback to the September 30 meeting when Mission San Jose High School Government teacher, Jaime Richards, asked the Board to open up YouTube access to teachers for classroom instructional purposes.

Currently, teachers can request contact to blocked sites, on a case by case basis by contacting the district's technology officer, David Hotchkiss. Speaking at this November 18 Board meeting, Richards asked, "So what's the big deal with giving the teachers a password to the internet?"

John Boatman, MSJHS English teacher, stated, "Recommendations to establish a video library are problematic and time consuming to submit. It makes extra work and if I find something useful for my students, I'll download or put it on the website for class use. A central repository is difficult .It is a non sequitur and without merit."

Board of Education member, Bryan Gebhardt voiced his opinion. "Let's research passwords by January, if not sooner. Let's get to a policy where education is driving the tools and not the tools driving Education."

Board Vice President, Lara York added, "I'd rather work on the passwords itself. Without it teachers can't fully do their work in the workplace. Let's move forward."

A motion was made and passed to provide a status report at the December 9 meeting with a target then set for January, if workable, for password access.


Hybrid Bus Donation:

The Board officially accepted the donation of the $200,000 Hybrid School bus won by Irvington High School as 'America's Greenest School.' The bus will become part of the district's fleet; however, Irvington High School will have priority over its use on certain occasions.

The bus has been specially designed to accommodate handicapped students to ease their access.

Bill Stephens will confer with the district's Maintenance department to determine if there will be any additional costs that may be incurred to maintain this special hybrid bus. Stephens will report back to the Board.


Native American Program and Museum:

For the past 10 years, the Native American Program and Museum has been housed in a classroom at Irvington High School. With the increased student population at the school and overcrowding, the much needed extra classroom space became a bone of contention. Additionally, the Native American Program and Museum was difficult to access during the school day.

After discussing many options and looking at various sites, the Fremont Adult School is under consideration as the new home of the Native American Program and Museum. There is ample space and grounds for the afterschool tutoring and culture programs. Speakers were excited about the location.

The main hurdle, at this time, is funds needed to move the artifacts and keep them intact at the new site. This would require the installation of museum quality air conditioning and lighting. The district will see if some of the stimulus money might be used for this purpose. A future goal would be to open the museum to the public.

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