Plans to increase student achievement laid out
Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Board held the open session of its regular meeting October 7, 2008, at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Office. The Board heard an update from two school principals, discussed a Business Math Course, noted that volunteers are needed for the Bond Oversight Committee, and started a re-negotiation of the City-FUSD Joint Use Agreement.

At a previous Board meeting, the school principals reported on student achievement and school plans to increase student achievement. At this most recent meeting, Katy Hadley, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, announced that smaller groups of principals would continue to report at Board meetings to provide updates on student achievement, English learning, discipline and safety, and parental involvement.

San Cayetano Elementary School Principal Jan Marholin and Mountain Vista Elementary School Principal Chrissy Schieferle spoke about Response to Intervention (RTI), which is a data-based early intervention method, and teacher collaboration. San Cayetano and Mountain Vista both have "Program Improvement" (PI) status under the "No Child Left Behind" Act. San Cayetano is a PI 3 school, because it is in its third year of PI and Mountain Vista is a PI 1 school. PI schools must spend 10% of their Title I money on staff professional development. Marholin and Schieferle expect teachers to work out how to implement their professional development training during collaboration meetings. They require teachers to identify specific students that are having difficulty and expect instruction techniques to be adjusted for those children, so that the students will have progressed by the next meeting. Marholin meets with her teachers by grade-level every four weeks, and has arranged for three teachers each month to spend one day visiting other classrooms. Schieferle holds progress meetings every five weeks, and plans to visit a high-achieving school in Moorpark with her leadership teams, which include representatives from each grade. Teachers have collaboration time each week.

Discipline plays a role in promoting student achievement. Schieferle's students learn to recite a "Pledge for Success" each morning. Marholin has a monthly assembly and raffles to promote responsibility; attendance has improved and expulsions have been unnecessary for the past two years. Schieferle has reviewed State and Federal accountability procedures with her staff. Students will learn testing vocabulary and styles so that they will be certain to understand standardized test questions.

Board Member Tony Prado indicated a desire to have schools reach out in person specifically to parents of low-achieving students. San Cayetano, Mountain Vista and Sespe Elementary have already joined together to provide three seminars for all parents this school year. September's event drew over 80 parents and over 50 students. The next professional development event for parents will be November 5th at Mountain Vista.

Fillmore High School (FHS) Math Department Chair Alisa Byrne presented a Business Math Course, which is being taught by Jose Lomeli and has been submitted for the Board's approval. The Course is an elective designed for high school Seniors who are not taking Calculus or Pre-Calculus. The Course focuses on practical application and includes such topics as loans, buying a house, buying a car, insurance, stocks, investments, business costs, sales, profit/loss, and international business. The class has been operating in a computer lab without a textbook by using the internet and newspapers as resources, but a textbook is being submitted for approval. This was the first reading of the submission.

The District Curriculum Committee has recommended several math textbooks for approval. They will be on display for the public at the District Office for thirty days prior to being recommended for adoption by the Board of Education.

The Board accepted the Proposition 39 General Obligation Bonds Audit and the Bond Oversight Committee Annual Report. An independent auditor found that FUSD complied, in all material respects, with the Prop. 39 requirements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008. The auditor and the committee noted that the committee does not have as many members as it should. Assistant Superintendent Mike Bush explained that the committee is struggling to find members who will actively participate. FUSD staff will devise a plan to recruit members from the general public.

The Board discussed the City of Fillmore / FUSD Cooperative Facility Use Agreement. The Agreement was enacted in 1993, and no longer reflects current Board policy. The Board decided to cancel the Agreement with a 30-day written notice as provided for in the contract. City and FUSD staff will work together to develop a new agreement that will clarify usage priorities, address insurance issues with respect to volunteers, and clarify the scheduling process. A draft will be submitted for Board approval.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Bush provided a budget update. Although the State budget was approved at higher funding levels than anticipated, FUSD will be keeping its previously developed budget with its planned 6.5% reduction. Bush asserted that the State has severe cash flow issues, the approved State budget will probably be re-negotiated and cut, and if FUSD plans to spend the additional 6.5% then the money might not be available when needed. According to Bush, FUSD can absorb a 2% or $600,000 budget reduction without dipping into reserves.

Superintendent Jeff Sweeney reported that the District will host a meeting of all the executives of all the preschool programs in Fillmore to discuss the coordination of their programs. The Board approved an overnight field trip for Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter Officers to attend an FFA Leadership Conference and tour Hearst's Castle. The Board approved an overnight field trip for FHS Cheerleaders to perform at the Oakland Raiders' Game during Half Time on October 19, 2008.