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Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report
By Miriam G. Mazliach
November 22, 2011
The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board meeting held on November 9, 2011.
Community Leadership/Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Dr. James Morris and Board members recognized two Fremont high school students whose leadership helped their teams raise over $35,000 for cancer research during “Relay for Life,” a 24-hour fundraising walkathon. The students are Mili Parikh, a junior at Mission San Jose High School and Kevin Cheng, a senior at American High School. Both received special certificates from the Board in honor of their accomplishment.
Oral Communications/Public Comment:
Helen Boyer, a retired Fremont teacher and current member of the CalRTA (California Retired Teachers Association), spoke about the many retired teachers who contribute countless volunteer hours to the Tri-Cities community. She explained that retired teachers help out at schools by working with students in reading and tutoring them in various subjects, or with after-school projects, as well as volunteering at other organizations to offer their assistance.
According to Boyer, only 18 percent of the retired teachers actually track the number of hours they volunteer each year. However, just by looking at that percentage, and based on a $21 per hour designation, their volunteer commitment is valued at $693,000 to the Tri-Cities area. Boyer added, “We continue these efforts because we still love these kids.”
Brannin Dorsey, President of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA) voiced her concern over the outdated technology systems in the district. “Most of our schools were built in the 60’s and have piecemealed their technology together. We need to have the proper infrastructure in place, or you’re setting us up for failure,” said Dorsey.
Regular Board Agenda Item – District Dashboard Update:
Superintendent Dr. James Morris presented his detailed and lengthy Data Dashboard, which is essentially a report card or accountability tool for the district, of goals, needs and a timeline for the next school year. In his overview, Supt. Morris explained where we are currently and presented a strategic vision to further develop goals and set targets for student achievement and professional staff development as well as to help ameliorate those areas where the district needs improvement.
In addition, Supt. Morris is developing three “Satisfaction Surveys,” to obtain additional input for the District Dashboard. One survey is geared to teachers, administrators, staff and employee groups; a second survey is for parents with the third, for students.
Regular Board Agenda Item – Facilities Needs Consulting Services:
At this Board meeting, approval was being asked for awarding a contract to WLC Architects and MGT, to conduct a Facilities Needs Assessment (FNA) for the district. Basically, what this means is that the consultancy firm would review and assess the condition of Fremont’s school facilities and evaluate what is needed in regard to renovation, modernization of technology infrastructure, site capacity, and the related costs, etc.
This process first began when the Board green-lighted the FNA in July 2011, which was then followed by the District hosting an introductory and mandatory meeting to discuss its RFE (Request for Proposals). Thirty firms attended and on October 20, twelve submitted sealed proposals to the District for consideration. After the search was narrowed down to five finalists, the District Office and school site principals conducted interviews with those firms before making their final recommendation. (In July, the Board had approved the project’s fee at $250,000.)
The motion to award the contract to WLC Architects and MGT was unanimously approved with five ayes by the Board.
Based on recommendations and information that will be received when the assessment is completed, the District will then have to determine its “needs versus wants” and prioritize those in line with the District’s budget capabilities.
Regular Board Agenda Item – Student Wellness Committee:
Director of Child Nutrition Services, Kristen Keith, and Director of Pupil Services, Rickey Jones, reported on the reactivated Student Wellness Committee. The members are comprised of community participants, parents and students, who are working within two subcommittees, to develop strategies that focus on the needs of the “whole child.” In order to better promote overall student health, the committee’s focus will encompass the social, intellectual, physical, occupational, emotional and nutritional aspects.