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May 4, 2010 > FUSD Board meeting summary

FUSD Board meeting summary

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District Board meeting held on April 28.

Later School Start Times:
A glitch was thrown into changing school times for next fall when it was determined that the change would cause four additional bus routes to be added, costing the district an unanticipated $100,000. School Board members questioned the Staff about why they had not been made aware of this previously. Over the past 18 months, a variety of community meetings had been held as well as a survey of the preferences of the community, leading to the March 24 Board approval of the "later school start times."

"We're only asking them to move everything a half an hour," said Board President, Lara York. "What's the problem?" "New Haven Schools made it happen. We have been talking about this for a long time. I am dismayed there is a roadblock being thrown up. I would like Staff to make this happen rather than push it back," said York. "We voted to try this out and make a difference for our kids."

In addition to the cost factor, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Parvin Ahmadi, explained that during her meetings with high school principals, some had commented that they needed more time to work out how the change would affect class schedules.

"How can we force it on sites and now there's a cost factor we weren't aware of," asked Board Trustee Larry Sweeney.

Trustee Bryan Gebhardt asked, "If this (changing the start times) has to be delayed, could it then be implemented mid-year for the second semester?"

York asked Staff to look into what times or scheduling would work for the district's Transportation department, in order to avoid the costs, and to report back by the next Board meeting.


Mission San Jose High School Students:
A large contingent of students from MSJHS came to speak out against schools cuts and in particular to speak in support of Honors Geometry/Algebra teacher, Mr. Charlie Brucker. Due to the budget crisis, teachers without seniority are on the "surplus" list and may be shuffled to another school. As the policy now stands, there would be no guarantee after a year, to return to the original school.

"I definitely enjoy Mr. Brucker's class," said Adi Jung. "He comes up with new and interesting ways to teach about math and serves as an advisor for the Technology, Robotics and cycling clubs."

"Good teachers are hard to come by," said Joy Chen. "Mr. Brucker stays after school and at lunchtime to help students out. The district should not look only at seniority. Releasing teachers should not be an option. Look at other ways to find more funding."


Fremont Education Foundation and After School Band Program:
Sherea Westra appealed to the Fremont community to support the After School Band Program.
The telethon fell far short of its goal and the Foundation still needs $45,000 in order to continue to provide this important program to students.

After School Band Program
Fremont Education Foundation
www.fremont-education.org
musictelethon@yahoo.com
(510) 659-2561 messages


ARRA funds to restore Librarians/LMTs:
Assistant Superintendent of Business, Bill Stephens recommended that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), be used to reinstate the hours and positions of Library Specialists/Librarians and Library Media Technicians, whose positions were cut due to the fiscal crisis. "This is an excellent use of ARRA funds," said Stephens As the monies are for one time only, the hope is that the Parcel Tax, if passed would be able sustain this in future years.

The motion was passed by the Board with a round of applause from the audience.


Student Wellness Program:
Kristen Keith from FUSD's Nutrition Services, reported that her department has been working on developing a "Wellness Plan," nutrition guidelines for students in our district, as required by the Federal government. For the past year Keith has been working with the community, students, volunteers and PTAs to obtain their input on promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing childhood obesity.

Chinese Immersion Program:
FUSD is considering a K-6 Chinese Mandarin Dual Immersion Program. Similar programs have operated to great success in the Bay Area.

Director of Federal and State Projects, Juan Espinosa, spoke about the globalization of the world and the importance of bilingualism. It is felt that Fremont, with a large Asian population, would look favorably upon this program and Espinosa recommended a feasibility study to gauge community support and identify funding sources. It is estimated that the program would cost approximately $100,000 to run effectively. Also, a school location would need to be selected.

Students in Kindergarten would start out being taught 90 percent of the time in Mandarin and then by 5th grade, classes would be taught 50 percent of the time in English and 50 percent in Mandarin. Parents would have to be willing to commit to a 7 year cycle, until their child completes elementary school.

A decision on whether or not to proceed with the program, will be discussed at the June 9 School Board meeting.


Earthquake Safety Grant:
Diane Jones, a parent at Parkmont Elementary School, asked the community to support FUSD's PRAA Safety Subcommittee volunteers who have submitted a grant application to Raley's for needed earthquake safety supplies. (Supply toolkits will include: bolt cutters, a water shut-off tool, crescent wrench, crow bar, screw driver, safety vest, rain poncho, whistle, gloves, keys and site specific laminated instructions with maps and photos.)

Votes are needed to win the grant for the district's schools. Recipients are decided on through the online voting process and you must be a registered user of Raleys.com to vote. You may vote once a day between April 21 and May 12. First register at http://www.raleys.com. Once your registration is completed, click the "Raleys Reach" banner in the upper right. Click on "browse all ideas." In the search window, enter "utility" to find the Utility Control Toolkit grant.

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