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Fremont Teacher of the Year and Board Summary

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District Board (FUSD) meeting held on May 25, 2011.

Ceremonial--Fremont Teacher of the Year:
In his introductory remarks, School Superintendent James Morris stated, “I believe we have the finest teachers anywhere. We have incredible talent in our district. They represent the best in teaching and their colleagues.”

Fifty teachers from Fremont Unified School District were nominated for Teacher of the Year. At the Board meeting, Lewis Kilcrease, the Science teacher from Walters Junior High School, was announced as this year’s selection for the Teacher of the Year honor.

Valerie Williams, Director of Certificated Personnel, detailed some of Lewis Kilcrease’s background and accomplishments. After Kilcrease retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years, he went to San Jose State University where he obtained a teaching credential in order to combine his love of science with teaching.

Kilcrease has been at Walters Junior High for 11 years and initiated the school’s science fair, science club, the DaVinci program and MESA (Math, Engineering and Science Academy). His students appreciate him for being an involved teacher who utilizes innovative ideas to present concepts and lessons. Kilcrease also encourages parents to participate in science nights held each quarter of the school year, and demonstrates effective ways for them to do science with their kids.

Various staff members at Walters Junior High describe Kilcrease in the following way, “a professional who has the verve for teaching and a passion for student success. He is enthusiastic, self-sufficient, a role model for other teachers, a mentor and a coach.”

In response to his recognition Kilcrease spoke to those present of his parents who had grounded him and especially of his love for his wife and daughter who had energized, encouraged and supported him through his re-entry into college, to pursue his dream of teaching. He also expressed gratitude to teachers “who help students learn more and more complex ideas, who initiate learning, and make this a better place.”

Kilcrease will next represent the district at the Alameda County Teacher of the Year event to be held October 6 at the San Leandro Arts Education Center.

Here are the other 49 nominated teachers and their school:
Anjum Mujeeb, Glankler; Audrey Blaker, Leitch; Catherine Baca, Leitch; Celeste Mina, MSJE; Cindy Gentry, District Office; Dianne Holmes, MSJE; Elaine Shively, Brier; Jaime Richards, MSJHS; Janet Freeman, Brookvale; Jennifer Cunningham, MSJE; Karie Sheffield, MSJE; Kay Sexton, Warwick; Keiko Uriu, Ardenwood; Linda Croft, Leitch; Linda Lorenz, Leitch; Linda Salvador, Mission Valley; Marilyn Hulvey, MSJE; Martha Sivertsen, Leitch; Mary Jo Taylor, Warm Springs; Mary Lou Kroes, Leitch; Michael Tutty, MSJE; Nancy Finney, Ardenwood; Norie Turro, MSJE; Oralia Campos, AHS; Peter Geschke, MSJHS; Renee Smith, Glenmoor; Richard Wong, AHS; Ryan Willer, Irvington; Sarah DeMarchi, MSJE; Sarah Hylas, AHS; Sarah King, AHS; Shirley Gunawan, Leitch; Sue Rodriguez, Hopkins; Susan Thomas, AHS; Tammy Hembruch, Leitch; Tina Warnert, MSJE; Yvonne Alexander, Hopkins; Amy Lin, MSJE; Bobbie Neal, Hirsch; Brenda Calvert, Kennedy; Dave Williams, Kennedy; Jan Jacobson, Horner; Julie Raymond, MSJHS; Kathleen McCabe Martin, MSJE; Kiranjeet Brah, MSJE; Kristin Dil, Green; Magdala La Lumandiere, AHS; Mara Baezan, MSJE; and Maren McCourt, Ardenwood.

Community Leadership--Eagle Scouts:
Fifty-nine deserving Boy Scouts from the Tri-cities area achieved the highest honor—that of attaining the Eagle Scout rank this year. At the Board meeting, eighteen scouts who attended were presented with their certificates by Boy Scouts of America Mission Peak District representatives: Steve Cho, Steve Armstrong and Merl Nygren.

California Business for Education Excellence Honor Roll:
FUSD had 10 elementary schools recognized by the business community on their “Honor Roll” for outstanding success in closing the achievement gap and thereby raising student academic achievement. These schools are: Hirsch, Leitch, Niles, Parkmont, Warm Springs, Gomes, Chadbourne, Millard, Ardenwood and Weibel. For more information visit the California Business for Education Excellence website at

Report from Closed Session:
The Board approved Mr. Chuck Graves as the new Principal of Mission San Jose Elementary School.

Oral Communications:
Several parents and teachers spoke up on the problem of increased class size and the difficulties with student learning and teaching in that environment.

Regarding money in district reserves, Teacher Peter Geschke stated, “Spend the money in the budget on student programs, rather than squirreled away in the FUSD account.”

Superintendent Morris re-iterated what he had heard from the many speaker comments:
Budget cuts hurt kids
Prep specialists/enrichment is important to students
Class size causes difficulties
We have a strong history of working together in the district to solve issues
Spend the reserve to impact the kids

However Morris reminded those in attendance, “The Board has a legal requirement to provide a balanced budget for the current year as well as three subsequent years. So, we cannot spend all of our reserve. We don’t have a budget from the State but we have to have a plan. We need to work together to get the legislature to pass a budget (flat funding) for Education.”

Student Learning & Achievement—Equity Committee:
Ann Crosbie, current Chairperson of the Advisory Commission on Instructional Equity, presented the committee’s report to the Board and Staff. The commission’s purpose is to monitor and recommend policies to ensure that instructional programs are equitable at all Fremont schools.

Bylaws were being amended as there had been some problems with an inadequate quorum for voting purposes at times. Additionally, they will add five non-voting student member seats.

Sylvia Amico, a member of the Equity Committee, questioned the reasoning of continuing this committee. She stated that FUSD Staff could more efficiently solve issues, regarding educational equity.

Early Primary Kindergarten Program:
Approval was given to a Longer Day Kindergarten at Brier Elementary School. The coming year will be on a trial basis and there will not be any additional costs incurred. This will allow for more time for additional learning and enrichment activities for students. Teachers will have prep first in the morning before starting class and then remain until the end of the day. The population of Brier is more transient than other schools. It is hoped that the extended kindergarten class will help those students who need more instruction and perhaps draw more students back into the district. Principal Jan March shared that she and the teachers are very excited about the program. At the present time, there are 100 students registered to begin Kindergarten at Brier next year.

Finance--Budget Update:
Not that much has changed with the budget situation since the previous Board meeting. However, the May Revise released on May 16 showed some proposed general fund revenue increases by Governor Brown, amounting to $6.6 billion. Assistant Superintendent for Business, Micaela Ochoa and Director of Budget & Audit, Mark Martinelli presented an update on the FUSD budget. The district will proceed with a Plan B scenario ($495 reduction per ADA or Average Daily Attendance), which would be the most logical at this point. It’s not the worst, nor the best scenario, but as required by law, FUSD must turn in a balanced budget.

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