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July 12, 2011 > Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report

Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board meeting held June 22, 2011.

Closed Session:
Superintendent James Morris reported on the following appointments which were approved during the Closed Session:

Robert Lee as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
Sarah Smoot as Principal at Irvington High School
Bob Moran as Vice Principal at Irvington High School
Guillermo Gomez as Principal at Forest Park Elementary School

Community Leadership- Superintendent's Report:
Mission San Jose High School was mentioned in Newsweek Magazine's recent issue as one of the top high schools (#61) in the nation.

Senior Reflections:
Three 2011 recent graduates, Abel John, Erin Enguero and Alex Chen, each spoke briefly about their educational experiences in Fremont.

Abel John who graduated in June from Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) had moved to Fremont from India, in the 6th grade. "I finally felt fully challenged in academics," he said. John stated that Hopkins was increasingly more difficult and that MSJHS teachers and staff helped encourage students not only in academics, but extracurricular activities as well. He particularly singled out the Speech Coach Thomas Thomsen and thanked him for his direction, which enabled John to place second in the State for his event. "I've learned at Mission to be a leader and I'll keep pushing myself in whatever I do. One day, I hope to give back to the community as much as they did for me."

Erin Enguero, who attended Niles Elementary, Centerville Junior High and just graduated from Washington High School, recounted her experiences dealing with hearing loss and having to wear a hearing aide. The district's hearing services helped her to deal with the situation and it didn't inhibit her from being involved in school activities. She became active in Drama, Speech & Debate and even created Washington High School's first ever Student Survival Guide. "Hearing loss didn't stop me from doing what I wanted to do," said Enguero.

Alex Chen, a June graduate of Irvington High School, credits its Change Project program with helping him become what he is today. He became involved with the E-Waste project and felt empowered. Along with fellow schoolmate Jasper Lin, he asked teacher Clint Johns, who heads the Irvington Green Team and Technology Academy about the possibility of painting the school roof white to help the heating and cooling efficiency of the building. Next the students took on the "America's Greenest School" contest and won a $200,000 hybrid electric school bus for FUSD. "I've learned to trust myself, take chances and to pursue your dreams. I will cherish forever, my time at Irvington," said Chen.

Superintendent Morris added, "FUSD has prepared them for an incredible future."

Oral Communications:
Valerie Stewart, outgoing president of the Irvington High School PTA expressed her thanks to Superintendent Morris for his willingness to open the [selection] process for the new principal and vice principal to the students."We appreciate his leadership and the openness he brought to the leadership of the district," said Stewart.

Susan Nathan, President of the Fremont Council PTA, detailed how 92,953 volunteer hours had been donated by over 10,000 school volunteers throughout the year. Per Independent Sector, the calculated value of these hours, at $21.36 per hour, represents $1,985, 476.

Al Moore, a Campus Supervisor at Horner Junior High was concerned that the positions might be cut from the district's budget. "We're very important and there for the kids. I'd like us all to be retained," he said.

Superintendent Morris reiterated, "There is not a proposal to cut Campus Supervisor positions. Every dollar in our budget, adds to the value of the students. The board is clear; it takes a team and village to raise our students."

Board trustee Lily Mei added, "We appreciate the efforts of all our employee groups and CSEA for partnering with us early to find a solution."

Agenda Item - New FUSD logo chosen:
During the school year, the district ran a contest, seeking a new logo design for FUSD. Over 60 students submitted entries, which were eventually narrowed down, to a selection of three. The public made the final determination by voting online. The logo designed by Kayla Hahn, a fourteen-year old recent graduate of Hopkins Junior High, won the community's vote. Hahn also received a $500 prize for her design, courtesy of a donor.

In addition, the district will not incur any costs for the new logo as donations have previously been received to cover their replacement at the FUSD office and at Tak Fudenna Stadium. Primarily, the new logo will be phased in as needed, whenever the older ones wear off from school vehicles or the like. All current letterhead, envelopes and forms will be used up before switching. The logo can easily be changed electronically, especially for online correspondence. The Board voted unanimously to approve acceptance of the new district logo.

After the Board meeting Hahn added that she was very surprised and happy to have her logo selected. "I always had thought that the other logo was out-dated, and I wanted to make sure the new one was more modern and vibrant," she said. According to Hahn, the design portion took her around 10 hours, partially because her mom had to help her learn how to use Illustrator.

"I first used a sketchbook to put down my idea, and then Adobe Illustrator 8 to refine and color the logo. I wanted to use the concept of reaching for the stars," said Hahn.

She will save the $500 prize for her college fund. "It was a great honor for my logo to be chosen and I'd like to thank everyone who voted. I can't wait to see my logo being used when I get back to school."

Agenda Item - Robertson High School:
Previously, students in grades 7-12 who had been expelled were placed in the district's COURSE program developed in 1997. First housed at the Fremont Adult School, the program moved to the Robertson High campus in 1999. However, the packets-based learning system and shorter-school day has proved to be non-engaging for these students.

Principal Salvador Herrera, Jr. and staff members from Robertson High School gave a presentation to the Board to basically disband the COURSE program. In particular, starting next year, they would like to implement a new process for younger students (14 and 15-year olds) who are placed on a suspended expulsion order. It was felt that younger-aged students would be better served at a more traditional high school which could provide more support.

With input from other district high school principals and working with the Instructional Services Department, suggested changes would better support the academic needs of these students. In addition, an academic plan would be developed for each student and an ongoing monitoring system implemented to follow progress. (Students age 16 and above would remain on campus, but move to the Robertson High School Program.)

With a vote of 6 ayes, the Board approved the program for the upcoming 2011/12 school year.

Agenda Item - Adopted Budget:
As the budget crisis continues, the Board had asked the FUSD Staff to use as its assumption, the scenario with flat funding to prepare the budget. As required by law, the district must present a three-year balanced budget.

Assistant Superintendent of Business, Micaela Ochoa explained, "We are required to adopt a budget by July 1. We then have four days after the State Budget is adopted, for added recommendations. Our ARRA funds must be spent by the end of 2011 and the Jobs Bill funds by September 2012."

Although several parents voiced opinions to the contrary, for the upcoming school year K-3 grade level class sizes will remain at 28 to 1 (student- teacher ratio). Funding for counselors, librarians and library media technicians (LMTs) were also included in the budget, with the transfer of one-time federal stimulus money through the general fund.

"This budget is a huge statement of investing more in our students," said Board President, Bryan Gebhardt. "Measure K (parcel tax funds) helped make this a possibility. It's going to be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks."

The adopted budget plan was unanimously approved by the Board.

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