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Fremont Unified School District Board meeting report

By Miriam G. Mazliach

April 9, 2013

The following are highlights from the Fremont Unified School District Board meeting held on March 27, 2013.

Community Leadership/Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent James Morris introduced the top winners at Alameda County Spelling Bee. All four students are from Fremont elementary schools.

Supt. Morris noted hot spots within the district as far as enrollment. FUSD has seen the growth of 1,200 students into the district over the past three years. How the district is planning to deal with this will be discussed at the next board meeting.

Oral Communications/Public Comments:
President of the Fremont Unified Teachers Association, Brannin Dorsey, re-wrote the words to a children’s book, The Giving Tree, to reflect her point of view that the District office has been asking teachers to do more than their share in the classroom and in the matter of contract concessions. “Put the us back in FUSD,” stated Dorsey.

At Ohlone College’s High School Theatre Festival, held March 22 and 23, Irvington High School earned a 1st Place trophy in the Sound and Technical category. The high school’s Drama and Conservatory Theater (ICT) teacher, Scott DiLorenzo, proudly displayed the large trophy. Other Irvington students earned awards for the following: 2nd place for Theatrical Dance, and 3rd place awards for --Theatrical makeup, Monologue (female), and for the musical production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Agenda Item – Common Core Technology Readiness:
Approved on March 7, 2012, by the State Board of Education, and already adopted by most states in the U.S., Common Core is the new curriculum and testing direction for schools and education. The standards are designed to be more rigorous and reflect on what is needed by students to learn real world skills. FUSD has begun readying its plan for implementation. One aspect is that of technology which was discussed at the Board meeting.

“By looking over our technology needs for Common Core, we need to examine if we are technologically prepared for the change,” said Supt. Morris. “The costs need to be looked at through the budget process.”

Chief Technology Director, John Krull added, “We’re here to provide data to take the fear out of the unknown and to inform [the Board and public] about what is the current state of readiness, what is recommended by the state and where we are heading.

Krull stated, “We need to make a commitment for a baseline set of equipment [i.e. computers, iPads, computer carts, etc] for each school.” With Common Core, students will be utilizing computers for taking their tests and classroom use.

Of note, Fiber [optics] is now at all 42 school sites in the District.

Agenda Item – Fair Education Act:
Dr. Deborah Sims, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, presented an update to the Board regarding the Fair Education Act. Originally signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, the bill prohibits the adoption of discriminatory materials by the State Board of Education. The bill also amended the Education Code for inclusiveness, to include the contributions of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender) Americans and persons with disabilities in the hopes of fostering respect and a safer school environment for all students.

In line with this requirement, FUSD’s new History/Social Science material adoption will begin with the 2015/16 school year. However, parent Dianne Jones asked that the District begin to address these areas now and not wait two years for the adopted materials.

Mission Valley Elementary teacher Michael Rivera asked, “What lesson is more valuable than tolerance?”

Dr. Sims answered that currently there is not a lot available in the way of supplemental materials. However, she has begun the process of gathering information. Additionally, Director of Secondary Education, James Maxwell, will speak with teachers to brainstorm and see what materials are already on hand.

Agenda Item – Budget Update:
Assistant Superintendent of Business, Raul Parungao indicated that as a result of the School Board trustees’ approval of Class Size Reduction and Staffing increases at the March 13 Board meeting, it is estimated that the cost to the District would be $2.4 million for the 2013/14 school year and $3 million for the 2014/15 school year. Parungao explained, “In the multi-year budget projection, the District will use its reserve to fund for the approved class size and additional site support. Additionally, we are closely monitoring the changes in the Governor proposed Local Control Funding Formula and how much additional funds this will bring, if enacted.”

To review, the following are the changes approved for the 2013/14 school year:
Lowering of kindergarten class size to 28:1, with a plan to decrease K-3 to 24:1 in the future.
The addition of:
Ten Counselor positions,
Three Assistant Principals at District’s largest elementary schools, and
Ten secondary school teaching positions to reduce class sizes to 27.5 to 1.

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