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May 18, 2010 > Fremont Unified School Board meeting

Fremont Unified School Board meeting

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are selected highlights from the Fremont Unified School District Board meeting held on May 12.

Superintendent Report:
Retiring FUSD Superintendent Dr. Milt Werner introduced Fremont's newly hired Superintendent, Dr. James Morris, who has worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District for almost 30 years. "We will be working together to transition successfully for the ongoing excellence of FUSD," said Werner. Dr. Morris will begin his position at Fremont Unified on July 1.

Phase 2 of the Race to the Top (RTTT) program is due in by June 1. Five billion dollars has been committed to schools nationwide through the U.S. Department of Education's 'Race to the Top' and of that total, $350-$500 million are a possibility for California school districts.

District Teacher of the Year:
Twenty-eight teachers were nominated for Fremont's Teacher of the Year. At the Board meeting, Livia Thomas of Grimmer Elementary School, was announced as this year's winner. "My heart is full," said Thomas. "It feels strange to be awarded for doing something I love so much."

The other 27 nominees were as follows:
Elizabeth Coolper, American High School; Shawn Nealy, American High School;
Antoinette Schlobohm, Ardenwood Elementary; Nancy Finney, Ardenwood Elementary School; Deborah Afana, Brookvale Elementary School; Maria Romo, Grimmer Elementary School; Candace Lindskog, Hopkins Jr. High School; Robert Quigley, Hopkins Jr. High School; Stephanie Ruzicka, Horner Jr. High School; Clint Johns, Irvington Sr. High School; Ryan Willer, Irvington Sr. High School; Silvia Rojas, Kennedy High School; Carmina Lee, Leitch Elementary School; Kami Ferguson, Leitch Elementary School; Linda Lorenz, Leitch Elementary School; Linda Martinez, Leitch Elementary School; Jan Bergesen, Mission San Jose Elementary; Seema Pande, Mission San Jose Elementary School; Ury Gonzalez, Oliveira Elementary School; Jane Turner, Thornton Jr. High School; Kimberley Pedrotti, Walters Jr. High School; Lisa Alves, Walters Jr. High School; Jeanne Aragon, Warm Springs Elementary School; Karyn Uyehara, Warm Springs Elementary School; April Bishop, Warwick Elementary School; Lucia Silva, Warwick Elementary School; and Rebecca Olson, Warwick Elementary School.

Budget Update:

Assistant Superintendent for Business, Bill Stephens, stated that although Fremont is the second largest school district in the county, it is a "low-revenue" district when compared to other school districts.

"We maximize our staff to keep overhead really low," said Stephens. "We anticipate $27 million worth of cuts this year and even less money from the state. We're spending $22 million a month and $260 million a year. I am honestly concerned about making payroll and that is why with this deficit that we have to look at budget cuts," said Stephens. "The Trustees have to make hard decisions."

Trustee Ivy Wu mentioned that the school district has a donation fund which community members may donate to in order to help out during this time of financial crisis. Currently, over $20,000 has been raised and it will be maintained in a separate fund until needed. Checks should be made out to FUSD's Donation Task Force and sent to FUSD, Administration, 4210 Technology Drive, Fremont, CA 94538.

Service Learning:
Nate Ivy reported on the Service Learning Program which was developed to encourage student involvement in community life and giving back to others. In the year 2000, FUSD established a service requirement for high school graduation and is currently expanding this into Board Policy. "It truly has a positive influence on all students participating and their recipients," said Ivy.

Instructional Equity Commission:
Discussion ensued regarding Irvington High School's Quest Program, which requires ongoing participation, usually every other week, in community service projects. This exceeds the 40 compulsory hours required at other district high schools for graduation.

GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) Program:
As reported by Judith Cameron and Julie Williams, "The GATE program provides differentiated learning opportunities for the GATE identified student to reach his/her full affective and academic potential."

This past school year approximately 2,000 third through fifth grade students were tested. In previous years only those students recommended by teachers or occasionally per parental request, were tested, usually in the second grade. Since then it was determined that the second grade might be too early to test these students.

At the School Board meeting many parents spoke on their concerns that GATE students are getting preferential treatment as far as admission into Honors classes. Others indicated that Honors classes should be reserved only for those students who have achieved high STAR test scores and grades.

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