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February 8, 2011 > Fremont Unified School District School Board meeting update

Fremont Unified School District School Board meeting update

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following is a summary of selected issues from the Fremont Unified School District Board meeting January 26, 2011.

Community Leadership:
Human Resources announced the following two appointments, approved by the Board of Education at the meeting:

Micaela Ochoa has been appointed FUSD's Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, effective March 28. Ochoa started her career as the Program Coordinator for the Early Academic Outreach Program for the University of California, Berkeley in 1989 and became Budget Analyst for the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget in Washington DC. During her career, Ochoa has been Fiscal and Policy Analyst for the California Joint Legislative Budget Committee in Sacramento; Manager of KPMG Consulting in Sacramento; Applications Manager for Stanford University; Director of Finance and Business Operations at the Center for Educational Outreach for the University of California, Berkeley; Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for Alum Rock School District in San Jose and a Lecturer in Finance for Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. Her current position is the Chief Business Official, Business Services for San Mateo-Foster City School District in San Mateo.

John Krull has been appointed the Director of Technology, for FUSD, effective February 28. Krull started his career as a Teacher and the Technology Coordinator at Shoreline Schools in Shoreline, Washington in 1988 as well as the Adjunct Instructor for Seattle Pacific University. From 1998-2000, he was the Systems Engineer Manager for Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington. John then spent four years at Virage/Autonomy, Inc. as the Senior Director, Information Technology, Application Services and Training in San Francisco, California. His current position is the President of Technology at Envision Schools in Oakland.

Superintendent's Report:
Superintendent of Schools, James Morris, thanked Administrative Assistant Sharon Coco for excellent "Nordstrom's quality of service," handling calls from the public and forms related to Parcel Tax waivers for senior citizens. He also expressed gratitude to parent groups who helped bring an important documentary, "Race to Nowhere," to the Fremont area.

Susan Debus, a Data Technician at the Fremont Adult and Continuing Education School was recognized by the statewide organization, California Council for Adult Education. In addition, she recently received the Excellence in Support Services award at regional level through the Costanoan chapter.

Student Board Member's Report:
Divya Gupta related that Mission San Jose High School raised over $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Efforts culminated as Science teacher, Nathania Chaney-Aiello's head was shaved during a school assembly.

Speakers on Consent Calendar Items:
Parkmont parent Dianne Jones commented that schools need to turn in required safety plans.
Irvington parent Sylvia D'Amico, called for the disbanding of the Equity Commission.

Regular Agenda Items:
Happy Fish Swim School was recognized for the Happy Fish Run 4 Education; more than $80,000 has been raised over the past six years for the Fremont Education Foundation's Guy Emanuele Sports Fund.

Receive GASB 45 Report on Actuarial Study:
The Board and staff heard a presentation on GASB 45 by FUSD Accounting Director, Jon Dimter. GASB 45 is a report of liabilities associated with post-employment benefits, excluding pensions.

Oral Communications:
Kim Cantacessi, on the Executive Board of California School Employees Association (CSEA), has been newly appointed as CSEA's State Region 41 Political Action Coordinator.

Desrie Campbell, Vice-President of the Fremont Education Foundation, reminded everyone of its upcoming fundraiser, the Excellence in Education Gala. This year's event on Friday, February 25, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Fremont Marriott will have a Mardi Gras theme.

Ann Crosbie, Chair of FUSD's Instructional Equity Commission, said there are openings for parents or community members and teachers from any grade level on the commission. For more information visit:

State Budget Update:
Superintendent Morris stated that in the proposed budget, "Governor Jerry Brown, spares K-12 education funding from further budget cuts, [thus] acknowledging past devastating ones." In order to close a $25.4 billion budget gap, for 2010-11 and 2011-12, $12.5 billion must be cut from other areas.

Voters will be asked to support the extension of the temporary sales tax and vehicle license fees, in a June 2011 special election.

Mark Martinelli, director of Budget, Audit & Attendance, presented an overview of the Budget. If state tax extensions do not pass, an additional $9 billion in budget cuts, $2.3 billion from education. FUSD might lose $11 million or $349 per ADA, ("Average Daily Attendance).

Criteria for Participation in Honors Classes:
Community parents have complained that many capable students are denied access to Honors classes if not GATE identified. At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, a task force was established to develop a framework for Honors eligibility.

District staff and the Board acknowledged that the Honors Program needs to be more inclusive. Board member, Larry Sweeney dissented saying it would attach a stigma to those students unable to qualify for Honors classes. Additionally, he questioned costs of increased Honors classes.

English Teacher Patty Allen of Mission San Jose High School vehemently stated her opposition. "We need to respect and uphold the Honors program. We have experienced problems with children being misplaced [in advanced classes] - damaging self -esteem. Can a dumbing down of the Honors program be next?" she added.

Board trustee Lily Mei had mixed feelings on the Honors criteria, and the issue of student stress, but agreed to open the program to more students.

A motion to accept the new Honors criteria passed with Board member Larry Sweeney voting against.

The new Honors criteria will be posted online, after course catalogs are approved at the February 9 Board meeting. In the interim, information can be found at the district website Select the Board of Ed heading and then scroll to the January 26 meeting Board Packet, (pages C & I 10, 1 - 5).

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