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August 31, 2010 > Hayward Unified School District Board meeting report

Hayward Unified School District Board meeting report

Superintendent thanks all for a positive start to the school year. Board member urges all to practice good manners.

By Robin Michel

At the August 25 Hayward Unified School Board meeting, both Superintendent Janis Duran and Hayward Education Association President Mercedes Faraj complimented teaching staff and students for an enthusiastic beginning to the new school year, which began on Monday, August 23. Superintendent Duran described the excellent teaching that she witnessed when visiting school sites during the first three days, commending certificated and classified staff, "and most importantly, our students," adding that it was a thrill to see the teaching and learning already underway.

During public comments, Ms. Faraj also thanked the members of the bargaining unit, saying, "Despite not enough materials, despite rooms not clean, despite teacher reassignments, thanks to our teachers' professionalism, kids went home excited [about the new school year]."

When the President asked for a motion to approve the Consent Agenda, several items were removed for discussion. One of these included pay warrants, so that Trustee Luis Reynoso could receive more specific information.

One of the Board meeting highlights was the presentation of the Superintendent's Action Plan for 2010-2011. The Action Plan is centered on board approved goals for the upcoming year, which are:
Goal #1: Increase academic excellence through rigorous standards based instruction creating equitable and sustainable systems that promote high student achievement for each student
Goal #2: Foster district and school leadership
Goal #3: Prioritize systems that create a safe and supportive learning environment
Goal #4: Sustain efficient business service practices
Goal #5: Build positive community relations

During the presentation, Superintendent Duran said, "If we fail our students, we fail families and families for generations. [We must] break the cycle of negativity, the cycle of poverty, and the predictive powers of demographics..." She added that the plan would be further developed and brought back for consideration at the September 8 board meeting.

Board trustees thanked her for her work, with the exception of Trustee Reynoso, who appeared to be dismissive of the presentation.

The next agenda item was to approve the Board of Education Governance Handbook, based on work with a consultant from California School Boards Association over eleven sessions. Trustee Reynoso said, "We don't need a handbook on good manners. We need to practice good manners."

HUSD Board President Paul Frumkin spoke about the need for increased collaboration among all HUSD stakeholders, adding "...but we must be careful about the words we use. We talk collaboration...but sometimes the words we choose [has the wrong effect and] it becomes more adversarial."

Board member Jesus Armas thanked President Frumkin for his comments, who announced earlier this month that he would not be seeking re-election this November.

Trustee Armas thanked Superintendent Duran for a presentation she made to staff on their first day back, saying he was moved by her message, saying that "we have an obligation to the students of our district, the children of our community...it is incumbent upon all of us to do what we can."

Another agenda item of special interest concerned Board Member compensation. When looking at ways to reduce the District's costs, an error in calculation surfaced. For a number of years-at least a decade, and possibly two decades-the HUSD Board of Education has been accidentally overpaid in the stipends members receive. According to California Education Code, "in any school year in which average daily attendance of the prior year was 25,000 or less, but more than 10,000, each member would receive a compensation of $400 in any month for his/her service." Hayward board members are currently paid $750 per month. This was an information item stating that going forward, compensation would be adjusted to abide by Education Code. Trustee Armas also suggested that the Board look at policy for board benefits, including the use of cell phones.

A creative potential cost-saving strategy that surfaced during the meeting came from public comment made by Jeff Bellaire, President of A.E.O.T.E. Classified Employees Union, who suggested the District look into having an in-house attorney instead of contracting with several specialized legal firms, adding that he realized there would still be a need on occasion to use specialized services.

Superintendent Duran said that she does know of districts that have considered, are considering, or have moved to an in-house attorney and will research information for the Board to discuss at a future time.

Action taken in Closed Session included the following appointments for the 2010-2011 school year:
Ariel Dolowich-Principal, Robert Ochoa Middle School
Irene Preciado-Assistant Principal, Mount Eden High School
Michelle Patterson-Assistant Principal, Hayward High School

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