Fillmore Schools may participate in “Race to the Top” program
A School Board meeting was held Tuesday, January 5th, 2010.
A School Board meeting was held Tuesday, January 5th, 2010.

The Fillmore Unified School District is applying to take part in the State's “Race to the Top” grant program.
District Superintendent Jeff Sweeney sent a letter of intent to the State last month and said the district will submit the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by this Friday, January 8, which is the deadline. No one has seen the state plan and the MOU spells out some commitments that will be required. Those requirements are: 1. Implementing common core standards and quality assessments. 2. Using data systems to support instruction. 3. Ensuring great teachers and leaders by designing and using annual personnel evaluations, providing professional development, addressing compensation, retention and removal of personnel, etc. 4. Turning around the lowest achieving schools.

The state application to the federal government will be submitted on January 19. In April the federal government is expected to announce the grant awards to the states which they select to participate. When that happens, participating districts would be given 90 days to develop their implementation plans. The MOU says districts can decide to “opt out” of the program, but only if the State agrees.

“The district could get as much as $750,000 under the program, but funds will only be allowed to be used for very specific things,” said Sweeney. Board member Tony Prado said,”If the money is significant than we should pursue it.”

The grant is based on school and student performance. First and second year teachers are evaluated twice a year at this time. Presently, tenured teachers who have taught less than 10 years in the district are evaluated once a year. Teachers with 10 years or more experience and with good evaluations are evaluated once every three years under the current contract between the district and the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association. In the “Race to the Top” program teachers will be evaluated annually on student data. Principals will then be evaluated on teacher performance. Administrators will be evaluated on principal's data. School board members will be evaluated by the public.

The contract between the teachers and the district will be in conflict under this program. Theresa Marvel, President of the Teachers Association said: “How much will this cost the district to have principals use their time to evaluate with all the other duties that are required of them? There are too many unknowns here. Let's continue making improvements and looking at student data while aligning it to our standards. I want to keep my eye on the goal and not be moving in other directions. We want our students to keep improving.”

In another matter the board voted to meet with the City Council in joint meetings March 30, August 24 and November 30. Student representative Garrett Reilley told the board about the success of the movie night fundraiser. He presented a rewards card to be offered to students who do well in student testing. The card will be used to motivate students to acquire a proficient rating on the state test. He said Saturday, January 9 will be “Serve Day.” Students who signed up to work for three hours will receive a free Disneyland ticket. There will be six separate teams to clean and plant. The Rotarians will be helping.

The district mission statement was approved. Superintendent Sweeney wants the board to come up with a motto to go along with the mission statement.

The district curriculum committee recommended new textbooks for Spanish 1 and 2. They'll be on display for 30 days before being recommended for adoption by the board.

The next meeting of the school board will be January 12 at the Ventura County Office of Education at 6:30 p.m., concerning the Piru Elementary School charter application. The next regular meeting will be January 19. Closed session starts at 5:30 p.m. with the regular session at 6:00 p.m. Another meeting will be held January 25 at the Ventura County Office of Education. That's when the county will announce whether or not Piru Elementary School will be approved as a Charter school.