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Fallbrook St. School to remain open; FUESD opens negotiations

The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) has agreed to allow Fallbrook Street School to remain at its current physical plant, and has begun the negotiation of the classified employees’ work contract.

The board of trustees was recently presented with the initial negotiation terms for the 2010-2011 school year by the California School Employees Association, Fallbrook chapter.

According to district superintendent Brian Jacobs, the classified employees of the district have presented their negotiation terms to be reviewed and discussed by the board. Items that are being considered are job description clarifications, services, and pay.

“Because of how our budget has been cut, we are trying to do more with less in terms of job descriptions and what each position requires,” said Jacobs. “A job description can put limitations on the expectations of what an employee is required to do, while providing clarity.”

Jacobs believes the employees association has been “very generous and supportive” in regards to the district’s limited budget for negotiations, and has worked to collaborate fairly with the district for the next year’s contract. It is believed that most of the contract negotiations should be finalized by the beginning of the school year, with other elements extending in to the beginning of the 2010-2011 year.

In addition to the negotiations, the board approved an amendment that will help finalize the district’s reorganization.

In March, parents of students within the elementary school district were informed that all of Fallbrook’s school sites would have their grade level configurations, with the Fallbrook Street School becoming the new home for Iowa Street School. The California Department of Education oversaw the plan, and had given a tentative approval to the district’s plans; however, an “unexpected and late change in position and interpretation of policy within the department caused the FUESD district to reevaluate its choice.

“The Department of Education stated that even with the reorganization and renaming of the school, Maie Ellis Elementary would still be considered to be an improvement school,” said Jacobs.

At the FUESD board of trustees’ meeting May 17, it was decided that Maie Ellis Elementary will no longer be used as a reconfigured K-6 school site, but now be amended in the new plan to be used as an educational center for district itinerant staff (professionals who provide their services to two or more districts) and a satellite facility for the Iowa Street Home Education Program, not an elementary school facility for regular attendance. Fallbrook Street School will thus stay open as a K-6 school.

“With Fallbrook Street School converting to a K-6 school, it can retain its name that the community has come to know as a very successful school site,” said Jacobs in an informational letter to parents. “The amended plan also acknowledges the historical attributes of Maie Ellis. She was an educational pioneer for Fallbrook, and by using the facility as a district educational center, it keeps a long historical element alive for the community of Fallbrook.”

According to Jacobs, the amendment will not impact or disrupt any aspect of reorganization other than changing the physical location. Additionally, Jacobs stated that the new organization will help reduce the district’s budget deficit by approximately $500,000 annually.

“One of the goals for the District reorganization was not only to improve the instructional programs and student achievement, but to also deal with a $3.2 to $3.6 million deficit placed upon the District by the State of California,” he explained. “I have attempted and will continue to work endlessly to make this overall transition as calm and effective as possible for everyone involved. There is no doubt that the teaching staff assembled at Fallbrook Street School is ready to meet and surpass the desired expectations for providing a quality educational learning experience.”

“Now more than ever, it is important to see the positive outcomes that will take place once the reorganization is complete,” said Jacobs.

Ice cream socials, an opportunity for parents to meet the teachers and administration at the various school sites will take place on June 2.

“This is a way to help parents see the quality teachers and programs our district has for their children,” said Jacobs.

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