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FUSD Board Meeting Summary

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District Board meeting held on September 22.

Superintendent’s Report: Distribution of School Supplies:
Over 4,000 tote bags, filled with school supplies were handed out to needy students on Saturday, September 18 at Centerville Junior High. Coordinated by Judith Cameron, Director of Elementary Curriculum and Staff Development with Bryan Wakefield, Director of Purchasing, these items were donated through a grant from the nonprofit organization “K to College,” under the guidance of Executive Director, Benito Delgado-Olson. FUSD district staff and employees, volunteers, Girl Scouts, and other interested community members showed up to help out with the distribution and to greet the students and their families. Superintendent Morris described how much enjoyment and satisfaction everyone felt from the experience.

Academic Performance Index Report:
FUSD’s recent Academic Performance Index (API) makes it one of the highest in the East Bay and statewide. “We continue to strive to do better,” said Morris. The API is one measure of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Those schools scoring above 800 are ranked as “high performing.” The District’s 2010 (API) growth score remains strong at 868, gaining 9 points from last year’s base API.

ACT Trends and Performance Update:
In discussing the recently released results of the ACT, a standardized test for college assessment, Director of Assessment and Elementary Instruction, Roxane Jablonski Liu noted, “Our students continue to increase their performance in college readiness.”

FUSD students out-performed both the State and National averages in the four skill areas that are measured: English, reading, mathematics, and science.

Public Comment on Non-Agenda Item:
President of Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA), Brannin Dorsey, spoke out against the raising of class sizes this year. “Use a part of the [anticipated] funds from the Federal Jobs Bill to lower this ratio in the 2011/2012 school year,” she said.

Agenda Item: “Walk for Education”
FUSD received a generous donation from two Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) students who organized a fundraiser to benefit the District’s athletic programs. Vishal Yadav and Prithvi Ramesh, both seniors at MSJHS, wanted to do something to help the schools during the budget crisis. They held a “Walk for Education” on August 22, raising $6,000 for FUSD athletics. The Board adopted a resolution in recognition of the students’ leadership and vision in organizing the fundraising event.

Agenda Item: Budget and Finance
Assistant Superintendent of Business, Bill Stephens updated the Board on the situation with the State budget. “It’s now day 83 without a budget from the State and we still don’t know when we will receive it.” Stephens explained that the State is seeing how to offset cuts by using the anticipated funds from the Federal Jobs Bill which President Obama recently signed into law. This legislation provides $10 billion to save approximately 160,000 teaching jobs throughout the country and is calculated by a district’s student ratio.

“We don’t know what our revenue limits will be and what programs will be funded,” added Stephens.

According to Stephens, FUSD’s portion of the Jobs Bill funds are estimated at approximately $6 million, but it is a one-time fix from the Federal government. He expressed concern, that the State might deduct that amount from what the District should be receiving from the State.

In the interim, the District needs to cover any anticipated working capital shortfalls, caused by the State budget delay. FUSD needs to look into short-term loans, not to exceed $20 million, to meet its obligations. Stephens and Senior Financial Analyst, Joanna Bowes, from KNN Public Finance explained the documentation process to the Board and Staff, which could be completed within six weeks.

Trustee Ivy Wu expressed her frustration with the State’s delay which is impacting the financial situation of FUSD. “We are being penalized and have to pay interest because the State messed up,” said Wu.

The Board voted unanimously to proceed with the loan, if needed, not to exceed $20 million and with a maturity date of June 30.

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