Council assesses funding allocations, hides terms — The Irvington Voice

California Department of Public Health

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in-school masking chart was displayed by Superintendent CJ Cammack during his presentation of COVID-19 updates at the February 23 board meeting .

During board meetings on February 9 and 23, the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) School Board discussed recent developments regarding COVID-19 and school funding. The February 9 meeting focused on getting vaccinated parent volunteers back on campus and allocating Measure E funds for school improvement; the February 23 meeting included information about the masking mandate.

Agenda item 15.1 was COVID-19 updates for schools, focusing on volunteers. Previously, volunteers were not allowed on campus due to pandemic restrictions. Most of the discussion has focused on parent volunteers on elementary campuses, but the topic also includes middle and high school volunteers. The board voted unanimously to allow the volunteers to return.

Additionally, student representative Tushar Dalmia (12) of Mission San Jose High School asked if COVID-19 contact tracing emails could be sent to students as well as parents. Superintendent CJ Cammack said further discussions with the COVID-19 team and principals would be needed.

“That may be good advice for some high school students, but maybe not for some of our middle school students,” Cammack explained. “We will have to look at the level of development of our student body and see where that might be appropriate.”

Effective February 16, the indoor masking mandate was removed for Alameda County; however, this does not yet apply to schools. Superintendent Cammack expanded on this topic at the February 23 meeting.

“[Our case numbers] are higher than they were before Omicron, but they’re coming back down,” Cammack said. “For example…we had days with hundreds of cases; today we were down to 17.

While this is still relatively high compared to pre-winter vacation cases, the decrease opens up the possibility of potentially removing the school mask mandate. Future guidelines will be announced after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) presents its recommendation for schools on February 28. As of now, the school masking mandate remains in place.

At the February 9 meeting, the distribution of Measure E funds was also mentioned. In 2014, Measure E was passed by Fremont voters to fund the construction and improvement of classrooms in K-12 school districts. Proposition 51, a school funding plan adopted by California voters, provides reimbursements for such improvements.

The current proposal is to use $20,853,749 of the refunded money for maintenance of TAK Stadium, a Hirsch parking lot, retrofit projects, and deferred maintenance construction projects in the neighborhood.

At the board meeting, stakeholders discussed the conflicts over the proposed distribution of funds, highlighting other aspects that they believe should be prioritized. Some included updating basic infrastructure, adding a cricket pitch and repairing roofs.

The lack of a cricket ground was a major concern for many students and parents. They explained how cricket was their or their child’s passion, but without a pitch it is very difficult for students to practice. Because other sports have official training areas, cricket also deserves one. This created a debate on the allocation of the funds: other speakers felt that the money should be used for essential repairs rather than for other projects.

Items on the list that would affect Irvington include adding a baseball field safety net and covered areas for students to sit in while eating. However, there are currently no plans to approve funding for further improvements.

Student representative Zayaan Khan (12) spoke about allocating more funds for improvements to the Irvington campus to improve the student experience. Examples include improving lighting, repairing bathrooms and creating a grass field for Irvington athletes to train properly.

The Board ultimately did not make a decision on whether or not to authorize the funds for their current proposed uses. It is expected that more research and discussion will take place before a final decision at an unspecified later date.

The next board meeting will be on March 9 and school updates for COVID-19 will be discussed then.

James V. Hayes