Updates on SURFBoardE, mental health services and more – The Irvington Voice

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On May 11, 2022, the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) School Board held a regular meeting to discuss the current year of SURFBoardE, show appreciation for the retiring staff, and approve various items of the agenda.

The meeting began with Item 3.1, a presentation given by SURF Vice President Zayaan Khan (12), State of the SURF. Khan explained the basics of SURF’s duties, which include working with the administrator and ASG to create change in the district. Each high school has three SURF representatives, with each representative serving on at least one district committee to represent student opinions. At Irvington, SURF was able to provide student perspectives on the wellness center and mental health initiatives. He has also worked with QUEST students to promote the State Seal of Civic Engagement, an award recognizing students who demonstrate outstanding civic engagement. In addition, SURF has helped develop leadership and advocacy skills in elementary and middle school students through the District Representative Conference. SURF’s social media presence, meanwhile, has helped bolster its advocacy and awareness-raising efforts through posts such as board meeting recaps. Three main novels from the district’s new Core Novel list – designed to represent more diverse and inclusive viewpoints – were also nominated by SURF.

Retiree Recognition Item 8.1 consisted of a presentation with the names of retirees for the 2021-22 school year from across the district, along with their respective high schools. Irvington retirees included Ms. Ammon and Ms. Rooney, who taught in the district for 32 and 10 years, respectively. After the presentation, the board members expressed their gratitude for the retired FUSD educators and the work they have done.

During the public comment sessions, items 4.1 and 15.1, various stakeholders came forward. Several FUDTA teachers have expressed frustration with the state of salary negotiations, pointing out that the rising cost of living makes current offers inadequate. Justin Valencia, a history teacher at Horner Middle School, pointed to large class sizes and teachers leaving the district or profession entirely as signs that change is needed. US high school math teacher David Biblin acknowledged that although FUSD has many bills to pay, inflation in the Bay Area is extremely high, urging the board to “do the right thing”. Similarly, FUDTA President Brannin Dorsey pointed out that 57% of educators live outside of Fremont and have to travel to cities like Davis and Stockton. “We are hemorrhaging teachers,” she said, noting that educators have been working for three hundred days without a contract.

One of the last proposals approved by the Board was a contract with the Hume Center – a community mental health center – to make more mental health clinicians available on campus. Currently, the Hume Center works with US and Washington high schools. The contract, effective for the 2022-23 school year, would provide highly trained mental health clinicians at all six FUSD high schools and provide support to students and staff. “Prevention-focused activities” would address mental health issues related to stress management, sexuality and gender, communication with parents, etc. The resolution passed unanimously, with a vote of 5-0.

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 15, 2022.

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