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Questions & Answers
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CLICK on any question below to find out more information:

What is Measure B?
What percentage vote is required to pass a parcel tax?
What will Measure B fund?
How does Measure B differ from Measure G, the unsuccessful FUHSD parcel tax?
If the existing parcel tax expires in 2011, why a ballot measure now?
Do other school districts have parcel taxes?
Will Measure B fix the District budget problems brought on by the economic downturn and state budget crisis?
If enrollment is growing, won’t that mean more funding from the state?
Is FUHSD’s funding similar to that of surrounding districts?
How are salaries for teachers, administrators and support staff in FUHSD determined and how to do they compare to those in other districts?
Why is the District renovating its tracks and fields while asking the voters to pass a parcel tax?
Okay, so it’s clear that bond funds can’t be used for academic programs, but doesn’t the District have educational priorities that are more important than tracks and fields?
Where can people register to vote?
How do seniors apply for the parcel tax exemption?
What is the District's response to some of the assertions made about administrator compensation in the arguments against Measure B?
Is it true that the District turned down Federal Title I funds designed to serve low-income students who struggle academically?
Are the statements about student performance in the argument against Measure B accurate?

 


What is Measure B?

Measure B is a mail-in parcel tax measure that continues the parcel tax passed by District voters in 2004, which expires in June 2011. The annual tax rate of $98 per parcel remains unchanged. The term of Measure B is six years. Homeowners age 65 and older may file for an exemption.

Voters will receive ballots in early April and must mail them by April 28 to ensure receipt in time to be counted.

As distinct from a school bond, which funds construction or modernization projects and by law cannot fund operations, a parcel tax—a flat fee on each parcel of property— is the only local taxing option available to help a school district pay for school programs and operations.

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What percentage vote is required to pass a parcel tax?

Parcel taxes require a two-thirds vote of district voters for passage.

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What will Measure B fund?

Measure B will make it possible for the District to maintain the outstanding courses and academic program that are a longstanding source of state and national recognition and community pride. The District ranks third among all high school districts in California. All five of our comprehensive high schools –Cupertino, Fremont, Homestead, Lynbrook, and Monta Vista—are ranked in the top 6% of all U.S. high schools by Newsweek magazine, and all five recently received the highest accreditation status offered by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Four of our five high schools have an Academic Performance Index well over 800, and Fremont High has increased its API by 42 points in the last five years.

Homestead, Lynbrook, and Monta Vista are listed in U.S. News and World Report’s top 500 U.S. high schools and have been recognized both as California Distinguished Schools and as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Cupertino High joined Lynbrook and Monta Vista this year in being recognized by the California Business for Education Excellence Scholar Schools Honor Roll. Yet despite these achievements, each of our schools articulates an annual school improvement plan detailing how to better address the needs of both high achieving and struggling students. CLICK HERE to see the Annual School Plans for 2009-2010.

This level of excellence ensures that our well-qualified students can go to competitive colleges and prepare for rewarding careers. Our students’ success reflects our ability to attract and keep some of the best teachers in the state and to staff high quality interventions and specialized  programs for both struggling and advanced students. Measure B will provide funding that allows us to keep the people needed to make these programs possible. Without it, we will have no choice but to make staff and program cuts that risk eroding the excellence we have so purposefully built.

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How does Measure B differ from Measure G, the unsuccessful FUHSD parcel tax?

 

Measure G’s term was open ended, and it included an annual inflation factor. The District heard voter concerns and has simplified the new measure (Measure B) to a term of six years with no inflation factor.

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If the existing parcel tax expires in 2011, why a ballot measure now?

The Board of Trustees’ decision to go to the voters now reflects the urgency of the need and the harsh choices the District faces in terms of program cuts if parcel tax funding is not extended. State law requires that if program and staff cuts are made, affected staff must be notified at least five months before the start of a school year. Similarly, if current course offerings or services must be cut, we must begin soon to advise current and incoming students about their options. The continued uncertainty of revenues during the ongoing economic crisis make multi-year planning both urgent and difficult. It is imperative that the District gain as much clarity as early as possible on key revenue sources. Our students are not being well served by our dependence on decisions made in Sacramento. The parcel tax provides a reliable, long-term source of funding that cannot be touched by state decision makers.

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Do other school districts have parcel taxes?

Yes, 83 California school districts have parcel taxes, with 66 of those in the nine-county Bay Area. Here is a comparative sample of Bay Area parcel taxes:

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Will Measure B fix the District budget problems brought on by the economic downturn and state budget crisis?

 Measure B will not ensure that we have solved our fiscal problems. Education cuts made in Sacramento over the last two years have resulted in a loss of $4.2 million to-date.  The Governor’s most recent proposal and dwindling local revenues could mean an additional  $8.2 million loss to our District. Fortunately, the District began in early 2008 to anticipate the need to reduce costs. Steps we have taken include working with teachers and other employee groups to defer a 2% salary increase (while teachers in neighboring districts received increases of up to 6%); reduced administrative positions and reorganized responsibilities; and consolidated Adult Education, career-technical education, and alternative and summer school programs to reduce overhead and administrative costs.

Uncertainties persist about the exact level of state funding loss we will face. What’s clear, however, is that without the revenue from Measure B, the District will be forced to cut another $5 million. At this juncture, after cuts already made in a district consistently operating with fiscal efficiency, additional cuts can only be done by reducing staff and programs. That’s an especially difficult scenario, since our enrollment is expected to increase by about 1,000 students between now and 2017.

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If enrollment is growing, won’t that mean more funding from the state?

FUHSD is a “basic aid” district, which means the District receives its general fund revenues from local property taxes rather than receiving a per pupil amount from the state. Around 10 percent of California school districts qualify as basic aid, usually in locations with high property values. The state’s school funding system is complex, but simply put, the good news in a basic aid designation is that the state allows us to keep all of our property tax income in lieu of limiting us to a per pupil allocation. That works to our advantage in good economic times. But when property tax revenues shrink, or fail to grow enough to keep up with average annual cost increases, our budget shrinks. And when our enrollment grows, we get no additional funds from the state for the additional students.

In light of this, we feel it is part of our fiscal responsibility to be diligent about residency verification. It’s a testament to the District’s reputation that some non-residents go to great lengths to try to enroll their children here. But we have an obligation to our taxpayers to require proof of residence documents from our families. Our residency verification efforts cost us about $400,000 a year. In return, however, we see an annual savings of $1-2 million.

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Is FUHSD’s level of funding similar to that of surrounding districts?

As the charts below illustrate, the District does more with less. Our funding has consistently been less than that of surrounding districts, while our performance exceeds the vast majority of high schools in California and makes us a standout among our much wealthier neighbors. FUHSD values and takes great pride in its commitment to tight fiscal management guided by clear priorities to offer students a rigorous, comprehensive high school experience. Our creative investment of resources has allowed us to address both immediate needs and long-range plans.

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How are salaries for teachers, administrators and support staff in the Fremont Union High School District determined, and how to do they compare to those in other districts?

FUHSD prides itself on a collaborative culture of leadership through which teachers, support staff, the Board of Trustees and administrators work together in the interest of students. Collaboration among all these groups relies on transparency and trust.

Employee groups have agreed to a revenue sharing formula that eliminates the battles over salary that threaten relationships in other districts. Leaders of the teacher and classified employee groups are colleagues who routinely share in district-wide problem solving. Among the many examples of how such good relationships benefit the District, one of the most dramatic happened five years ago, when every employee in the District agreed to a 4.9% salary rollback in order to avoid lay-offs that would affect the educational program. More recently, when the California economy took a nosedive and the state further cut the education budget, all District employees agreed to postpone discussion of salary increases, while neighboring Districts to whom we are often compared gave salary increases as high as 6%!

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Salaries for every administrative position in the District are determined on a multi-year salary schedule adopted by the Board of Trustees for that position. Salary schedules are developed using salary data for similar positions throughout the area. Taking into account that administrator duties, allowances and the length of the work year vary from district to district, FUHSD administrator salaries – like those of teachers and support staff -- are neither the highest nor lowest in the area. FUHSD administrators do not receive health benefits as part of their compensation; they must pay for these on their own. A recent Santa Clara County Grand Jury report triggered some confusion on these issues by comparing the salaries of superintendents throughout the county without accounting for these kinds of differences in compensation other than salary

FUHSD is committed to attracting and retaining the best possible teachers, administrators and support staff to serve our students. While continuing to do so, we live within our means. In the past several years, we have lost some teachers to neighboring, higher-paying districts. At the same time, we have seen others return here because of the professional culture we work so hard to maintain.

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Why is the District renovating its tracks and fields while asking the voters to pass a parcel tax?

Renovations of tracks and fields are being funded by Construction Bonds approved by the voters in June 2008. The law prevents these funds from being used to fund academic programs and services. A Citizens Oversight Committee monitors appropriate use of the bonds to ensure that they are not used for salaries unless the positions are directly tied to completing construction projects.

FUHSD schools are among the few in the Bay Area that do not yet have renovated artificial turf fields. All the current fields were designed at least 40 years ago, before high school athletic programs expanded to include competitive sports for young women, which, in effect, doubled athletic field use.

When finished, the fields will:

     ·  Protect the academic day by allowing more space for late afternoon and early evening practices so that the 4,500 students
        who participate in athletics and other activities that use field space do not need to choose between participation in these
        and taking a 7th period class;

     ·  Make fields more accessible and versatile for a variety of sports;

     ·  Ensure that there is at least one space on each campus where the entire student body can convene; and

     ·  Reduce water and maintenance costs

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Okay, so it’s clear that bond funds cannot be used for academic programs, but doesn’t the District have educational priorities that are more important than tracks and fields?

The bond funds have been set aside for a variety of educational projects in addition to track and field renovations. The Program Implementation Plan for key elements of the Facilities Bond is currently being completed. It includes projects such as:

     ·  New learning and collaboration spaces, including building or renovating classrooms and/or science labs; libraries and
        student study spaces; improving safety and supervision of places where students gather for student activities;

     ·  Projects related to safety and energy efficiency, including upgrades of heating and cooling systems, cafeteria and
        food services equipment, and roofing and drainage (to prevent continued and costly damage to buildings); and

     ·  Technology enhancements, providing innovative technologies to support student collaborations, data generation and
        archiving as well as continual upgrading of technology used by teachers to communicate with parents and to download,
        archive and share instructional resources.

Among all planned Construction Bond projects, the track, field, and solar projects were started first because they could be completed with little disruption to the academic program and would quickly generate revenue or reduce costs.

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Where can people register to vote?

Voter registration materials are in all our school offices. CLICK HERE go to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website, download a voter registration form, and mail it in. Forms are also available at the Registrar of Voters office, in public libraries, U.S. Post Offices, city and county offices, and the Department of Motor Vehicles

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How do seniors apply for a Measure B exemption?

CLICK HERE for all the information you need, including an online application form. Seniors can apply in person at the District office or can print the form and mail it in. Those who already paid their 2009-10 taxes may also apply for a refund.

It used to be that seniors had to apply every year, but in response to senior concerns about this inconvenience, we have simplified. As of this year, seniors only need to apply once. The exemption will then continue until and unless we are notified otherwise.

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What is the District’s response to some of the assertions made about administrator compensation in the arguments against Measure B?

The argument against Measure B states that we, as a district, have the highest paid administrators in the county. This statement is untrue.

Total compensation is the only meaningful way to compare pay from job to job or district to district. Total compensation adds up all forms of pay – of which salary is only one component. If one only compares salaries or only compares health benefits or only compares car allowances the results are meaningless and misleading.

How school districts determine the compensation of teachers, staff and administrators varies greatly. For example, while our administrators have competitive salaries, they do not receive benefits. No other school district in the county pays its administrators in this way. The benefits in most other districts equate to well over $16,000 per year. Comparing “pay” without including the huge value of paid benefits gives a false result.

Utilizing publicly available data, we have analyzed the compensation of administrators at Cupertino Union School District and Fremont Union High School District. When the value of the paid benefits is included, the average compensation of administrators is almost exactly the same in both districts.

The argument against states that our district gives dollars to administrators at the expense of teachers. This statement is untrue

Since the mid-nineties our district has determined compensation using a formula. In our formula approach, each employee group receives a share of revenue and each group decides how these dollars are going to be used. This approach means that the three employee groups do not have the same components in their compensation packages. /p

As stated previously, administrators do not have fully District-paid benefits while our teachers have chosen a complete benefit package for their members where both individuals and families are largely covered. The total compensations for administrators and teachers can only be compared after the approximately $16,000 per year cost of these benefits is added to the teacher salaries.

The argument against asserts that Superintendent Bove has one of the highest superintendent’s salaries in California. This is untrue.

Superintendent Bove’s contract was developed using a salary schedule in the same transparent format as those of other District administrators. All aspects of compensation are spelled out in the contract; there are no additional forms of compensation such as a housing allowance, 401K contributions or bonuses available to many others in Superintendent positions around the State. In addition, the contract specifies that if any employee were ever forced to take a pay cut, the Superintendent would take the same cut.

A fair comparison of compensation across districts requires accounting for all forms of pay, not just salary. Comparing only salaries simply distorts the facts and produces a meaningless result.

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Is it true that the District turned-down Federal Title I funds designed to serve low-income students who struggle academically?

All FUHSD schools benefit from Federal funds under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to serve English Learners (Title III) and to ensure that all teachers are “highly qualified” as defined in that legislation (Title II). In addition, Fremont High has for many years received Title I funds designed to serve low-income students who struggle academically. Because fewer than 50% of Fremont students qualify for these resources, Federal dollars are tracked closely to make sure that only these students benefit from the program. For example, auditors check whether computers, copy machines and textbooks purchased with these resources are used only for targeted students; teachers whose salaries are paid with these resources cannot serve non-qualified students in a Title I funded class. While well intentioned, the administrative and compliance regulations of Title I are demanding. For several years we have been looking for ways to maintain powerful and effective programs for struggling students while minimizing the distractions to the school as a whole.

As a result, District leaders, working in collaboration with administrators and teachers from Fremont High, declined Federal Title I funds for the 2009-10 school year. The pros and cons of this decision were discussed at length with the staff during the spring and summer of the 2008-09 school year. The decision was strongly supported by teachers and both last year’s and this year’s Fremont High School administrative team. A report was made to the School Site Council in November 2009 and the Site Council approved an Annual School Plan that reflected the decision on January 13, 2010.

While the factors that went into the decision are complex, they boiled down to this: It is the belief of the Fremont High School faculty and administrators as well as District leaders and the Board of Trustees that participation in the Title I program for this school year was not in the best interest of the students of Fremont High School. Participation would have

     ·  Required that funds previously available for program development be used for other purposes, including additional
        facilities construction and administrative costs.

     ·  Added to the perception that Fremont is a low-performing school when in fact, it would be so designated only because
        they took the funding (The majority of high schools in the state–many performing much lower and with larger populations
        of struggling students than Fremont High School– do not get Title I funds. Unified school districts typically allocate
        Title 1 funds to elementary schools.)

     ·  Forced the new administrative team at Fremont to focus solely on only one program at a time when they needed to
        understand all of the school’s programs and issues to best continue improvement efforts.

Typically, Title I funds have comprised approximately 3.5% of all funds directly allocated to Fremont High School and the school is required to use them only for services to low-income and struggling students; but compliance with Title I regulations would demand the full attention of the Fremont High School staff and community. That said, in making the decision the District.

     ·  Made a commitment to address the intent of Title I and its regulations by targeting resources to serve the needs of
        socio-economically disadvantaged students who struggle academically. For the 2009-10 school year, FUHSD
        designated $483,000 to be used by Fremont High School for this purpose.

     ·  Invited school leaders to revisit the decision at any point in time that they, in consultation with Title I eligible families
        and students, felt participation would benefit the students the program was designed to serve.

For more detailed information about programs at Fremont High and the academic achievement of students at that school please see “Fremont by the Numbers….” posted on the Fremont High School website.

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Are the statements about student performance in the argument against Measure B accurate?

The statements made about student performance in the argument against Measure B are not accurate:

     ·  The Academic Performance Index for Latino students in FUHSD has increased by 38 points in the last three years.

     ·  The Academic Performance index (API) for Latino students at Fremont High has increased by 44 points in the
         last three years.

     ·  SAT scores at Fremont High in Critical Reading increased by 8 points; in Math by 14 points and in Writing by
        6 points since last year.

     ·  All five FUHSD schools were recognized by Newsweek Magazine as being in the top 6% of schools in the nation
        for number of Advanced Placement Exams taken by our students.

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