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FUSD Board meeting report

By Miriam G. Mazliach

August 9, 2011

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board meeting held on July 27, 2011.

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

Janna Holmes as Assistant Principal of Irvington High School
James Maxwell as Director of Secondary Education
Jan March as Director of Assessment
Robert Pascual as Director of Accounting

Superintendent’s Report:
Excerpts from a 1926 “Washington Township” School District board meeting were read aloud by Superintendent Morris. At that time in local history, Fred Dusterberry (a prominent area family) was the President of the Board and only one item was on the agenda…bids for school lockers.

The minutes, recorded in a thick ledger, had been discovered by Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Mrs. Sharon Coco, inside an old locked filing cabinet in the District office’s storage area. “It chronicles a rich history of Fremont’s culture,” stated Morris, who has indicated it will be turned over to the Historical Society in the near future.

Additionally, a large locked safe was also found and currently plans are being formulated as to how to proceed. According to Morris, “I am still getting bids to open the safe, but we’re looking for an inexpensive...or maybe volunteer...safecracker?” If interested, or skilled, please email the Superintendent at

Public Comments:
Teacher Sherea Westra spoke about the positive experiences of the students and staff during the summer school program held at Blacow Elementary. Westra told the Board of the collaborative efforts of the teachers to implement their best practices and provide enrichment and learning for the students.

Sue Troia, who teaches at Mattos Elementary, wondered why the district has revised a policy requiring one adult per 10 kids during field trips and stated this should not apply to Science Camps. Troia felt that the enclosed environment of the outdoor Science camp, with its own on-site staff, boundaries, and rules should be enough. “We can’t lose this opportunity. This experience makes a big impression on the students,” said Troia.

Superintendent Morris said that her comments merited further discussion and the policy would be brought up at the August 24 Board meeting. He also added that some exceptions or waivers could be granted in specific cases.

Among many items included in the Consent Calendar, the Board approved the naming of the Swimming Pool at Mission San Jose High School, as “The Coach Joe Martinez Swimming Pool,” in honor of the beloved coach who died suddenly this past year.

Regular Agenda Item - Collective Bargaining:
The Board unanimously ratified the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA) and Fremont Unified School District (FUSD).

The Board also unanimously ratified the MOU between the California School Employees Association (CSEA) and FUSD.

“I want to thank the bargaining team and the Board for working collaboratively for the best possible opportunities for the students in Fremont,” said FUDTA President, Brannin Dorsey.

Regular Agenda Item - Long Range Facilities Plan:
Superintendent Morris asked the Board and Staff to think about what is needed at each school facility to make them all equitable, both structurally and instructionally. “We have a lot of needs; it’s just that simple,” said Morris. “What’s our vision? What standards do we want? We need to have fair, common standards and have to spend money to get to the next step,” he added.

It has been approximately 10 years since FUSD’s last comprehensive needs assessment of school facilities. At that time, the report served as the basis for the 2002 Health and Safety Bond. Due to the district’s aging buildings and surging school population, the need exists to re-examine this issue again at this time.

Therese Gain, Director of Facilities, Maintenance/Operations/Transportation, explained that the process would begin with a review of standards for classrooms, libraries, etc., by working with various technology and construction personnel as well as principals. She presented a proposed general timeline for the process. An amount of $250,000 has been budgeted to help pay for the consultant to assess and develop a plan for the district’s facilities’ needs.

Trustee Larry Sweeney felt that the technology component would be a continuous money drain due to the rapidity of technological changes. “Technology funding is monumental. We would need the public’s help,” said Sweeney. Board President, Bryan Gebhardt added, “This is daunting but it is an opportunity to make a visionary statement on what our instructional budget can look like.”

The Board passed the motion (5 ayes), to proceed with the preparation of a Facilities Needs Assessment.

Regular Budget Item – Budget Update:

Superintendent Morris stated, “We now have a State Budget; we have good policies in place and a Board who acted in a fiscally sound manner.”

Mark Martinelli, Director of Budget, Audit & Attendance and Micaela Ochoa, Assistant Superintendent of Business, presented an overview of the current state of the district’s budget.

“There aren’t significant changes since the May revise. But, there are significant changes in what the school district shall do according to the State,” said Ochoa.

Martinelli summarized that after the State Governor signed the 2011-12 State Budget, there is still “flat funding,” but: $2.1 billion was taken from k-12 education and reallocated to other areas of the budget. Additionally, if revenues fall short of projections, K-12 education is at risk of losing $1.9 billion.

Trustee Sweeney stated, “The State is lying to us. We have to make every dollar count. We’re in a real fiscal failure.”

Board President Gebhardt added, “Three billion that would have gone to schools through Prop 98, is now shifted from schools.”

Trustee Ivy Wu exclaimed, “The State is trying to take over local control and bypass the County.”

With this in mind, school districts have 45 days from the date the Governor signed the State budget (June 30), to make changes to their adopted budgets.

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