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FUESD restructuring plan - • Increases student population at schools • Merges school sites • Eliminates administrative position

Students within the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) may find themselves assigned to a different school after the FUESD governing board agreed to restructure the district for the 2010-2011 academic year.

At their board meeting on March 15, the governing board agreed to allow Live Oak Elementary, La Paloma and William H. Frazier schools to become K-6 schools, as well as merge Maie Ellis Elementary and Fallbrook Street School to become a new K-6 school. This reorganization will provide a savings of $517,000, minus the initial startup expense of $100,000, and allow for the revision of school district boundaries.

According to FUESD superintendent Brian Jacobs, “all in-town schools will be uniform in configuration.”

For some families, this configuration will allow students to attend schools closer to their home.

“Before, we had a north/south split in the district,” said Jacobs. “For instance, if a family lives in the southeastern part of town, their children would go to Fallbrook Street School from kindergarten to second grade, then to Live Oak Elementary for third to sixth grade. This configuration allows the children to go to the same school, gives more opportunity to be as close as possible to proximity of residence, a reduction in transportation, and the unification of Parent Teacher Associations.”

“Mary Fay Pendleton [which is currently a K-6 school] will receive a self-contained 7th grade program,” said Jacobs. “This will expand our educational options.”

This will allow Mary Fay to allow parents working on Base the opportunity to have their children closer to their workplace for a longer period of time through an interdistrict transfer, said Jacobs.

“The driving force behind this change is to allow the district to be highly efficient, highly organized, and make the most of the sites,” said Jacobs. “Students will still have the opportunity for interdistrict transfer, based on space available.”

Jacobs said FUESD has been losing 80 to 100 students annually for the last three years, leaving empty classrooms at various sites. The board of trustees began discussing the potential restructuring of the district in December, and felt that this particular plan would provide for the best use of available space, Jacobs said.

Fallbrook Street School will merge with Maie Ellis Elementary on its campus, leaving the Fallbrook Street School site available for Iowa Street School, the district’s independent study program, to move in.

“This will give more room to spread out,” said Jacobs.

By downsizing the district, Jacobs said it also impacts the administrative staff.

Four classified positions and 27 temporary teaching positions will be eliminated from the district, along with one administrative position.

While the Village News has received several reports that Dr. Tere Peterson, the principal of Potter Junior High is no longer working for the district, Jacobs would not officially confirm this information.

However, Jacobs was able to confirm that all of the schools within the district would have at least one principal with the support of an assistant principal or head teacher. The removal of

administration position will allow for other staff to be reassigned to various school sites within the district, Jacobs said.

“We have a $3.2 to 3.6 million dollar deficit this year, and we are close to eliminating $1.6 million this year,” said Jacobs. “We are also growing classrooms from 22 students to an average of 24 students, not exceeding 26 students in a classroom. However, we have not reduced the amount of school days, or asked teachers to take a pay cut.”

“Once you look past the immediate negative of this, it is exciting to see what will come,” said Jacobs. “While other school districts are talking about reductions to their academics, we are expanding.”

Jacobs said future plans include offering an optional dual language teaching environment, in which kindergarteners can be taught in both English and Spanish. Another language enrichment plan would allow for students to learn the basic elements of Mandarin from a University of San Diego program. All materials and resources would be provided by the university. Another aspect being considered is an international scholars program, in which students would be introduced to various languages and world cultures.

“As the leader of this district, I’m excited for our future,” said Jacobs. “Once we get through this initial negative, we can look to the quality of materials we will present.”

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