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August 24, 2010 > Fremont Unified School District Board meeting summary

Fremont Unified School District Board meeting summary

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District Board meeting held on August 18.

Management Appointments:
The Board appointed Judy Nye to the position of Interim Grimmer Elementary Principal. Judy began her educational career in Fremont as a student teacher in 2001. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Computer Science, and a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. Judy taught 3rd grade at Azevada, 4th grade at Glenmoor Elementary School, and was a Teacher on Special Assignment with the Department of Federal and State Projects.

On the same Board motion, Deanna Wendel was appointed to the position of Administrative Assistant for Instructional Services. In 1977, Deanna was hired as a Special Education Para-educator and worked at Mission Valley and Durham Elementary schools. In 2001, she moved to Pupil Personnel Services as an Office Assistant. She then took the Staff Secretary position in 2001 in the Instructional Materials Center and has worked there for the past nine years.

Superintendent's Report:
According to Fremont Superintendent of Schools, Dr. James Morris, "The overall Standardized Testing and Reporting or STAR test results, are an incredible success story for Fremont schools." He further explained, "We are required to have all students proficient in English Language Arts and Math by 2014, in line with 'No Child Left Behind,' [signed into law by President Bush in 2002.]"

Director of Assessment and Elementary Instruction, Roxane Jablonski-Liu and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Deborah Sims, elaborated further with a presentation reviewing some of the preliminary STAR assessment results. The data shows that while there is a steady growth and most students are exceeding the proficient levels, Hispanic and African-American students are falling below those levels. In the upcoming weeks, further evaluation will be taking place to develop a plan with viable solutions.

According to Dr. Morris, API scores will be available from the District on August 31.

Technology Advisory Committee Report:
Originally begun as a task force by the Board of Education in 2004, it progressed into a group of professionals, community members, and district staff by 2006. Their role is that of a working committee to review, monitor, and evaluate the district's technology needs and communicate back to the Staff and Board.

The committee reported on the network problems experienced by the District as well as the technology challenges at the school level, due to aging equipment. Unfortunately, with the budget crisis, there are limited resources. Additionally, there are no specified funds reserved for upgrading software.

Board members' School Visits:
Yearly, School Board trustees visit each of their assigned school sites at various times throughout the school year.

Ivy Wu reported on her visits to all the Senior High schools, the Fremont Adult School, MVROP (Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program), and Robertson, Vista and Opportunity, which are continuation or alternative schools. American High School is the only closed campus and students would like that situation changed. The school is now under new leadership, but because of past problems Dr. Morris stated that he will re-evaluate during a series of planned visits to the campus this year.

Wu also highlighted Kennedy High School's Peer Resource program, "Green Tech Academy," and its school newspaper, begun with the assistance of the Tri-City Voice Newspaper.

Mission San Jose High has an organized program of students and parents, called "S.O.S." to prevent "stressed out students." It continues to be an extremely high performing school academically.

Washington High school has set up "learning communities" wherein students are grouped by subject matter with a core group of teachers.

Irvington High School has been recognized as the "Greenest School in America," and last year won a hybrid school bus for the district. It has a variety of wonderful programs including the Change program, Model UN, and Quest Project for Community Involvement. Also, in the September issue of the Ladies Home Journal, Irvington High School was named as one of the "10 Most Amazing Schools in the U.S."

Lily Mei spoke about the Junior High schools and C.O.I.L (Circle of Independent Learning, Charter school).

Bryan Gebhardt visited the large elementary schools (700+ students), Larry Sweeney went to the medium-sized elementary schools (500-700 students), and Lara York interacted with the small elementary schools comprised of less than 500 students. York singled out Niles Elementary school for having "the most accurate information and up-to-date website."

This coming school year the trustees will be rotate and cover different school sites.

Business and Finance Report:
Assistant Superintendent of Business, Bill Stephens gave an update on the Federal Jobs Bill and FUSD Budget. Recently, President Obama signed into law legislation to provide $10 billion to save approximately 160,000 teaching jobs throughout the country. However, it will be spread out based on student ratio. Additionally, the district would be allotted the same amount of money funded in 2009. California anticipates 1.2 billion from the Federal government.

As Stephens explained, "We are not sure yet if this money will be used for one or two years. We are still awaiting the definition on what it can be used for and how much we are going to receive. My guess is that we could receive $4-3/4 to $5 million, probably to be used for the General Fund or Title I programs."

"No matter the amount, the district is still deficit spending and we are using our reserves right now," said Stephens. "The $4 - $5 million will still not cover our deficit. It only defers, for another year, some additional cuts."

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