Five FUSD School Board Members address questions and concerns from AHS students and parents
On the evening of November 3, 2016, five FUSD school board members held a meeting in American High’s multi-purpose room.
Board members Michelle Berke, Desrie Campbell, Dax Choski, Ann Crosbie, and Hiu Ng gathered with students, teachers, and parents to address concerns and issues regarding AHS such as the overcrowding of students, the need for more classrooms and bathrooms, the possibility of an open-campus lunch, and the lack of student access to technology.
One of the most prevalent issues of the discussion was the rapid increase of the student population at American, which of course, is the source of other underlying issues such as inadequate classroom space and long bathroom lines.
“We are looking at tremendous growth,” Board member Dax Choski said. “We are experiencing the highest amount of pressure at American High School. Looking into the next five years, American will be the most stressed high school.”
The board brought up a number of possible solutions to this problem. The first was to build a new high school near the residential area of American students. Board member Ann Crosbie was in favor of replacing the horse ranch near Decoto Road with a new high school. However, she was outvoted on this option as the district decided to build a new junior high school there instead. The Board also discussed a solution that has already been happening at AHS: building new classrooms with the space currently available on campus. This would require large amounts of funding but seems to be the most rational option. The last option was to have students in this residential area enroll in different FUSD schools that do not currently have population problems such as Mission San Jose or Washington; this may not be too convenient for parents, depending on their willingness to do so.
The meeting also addressed concerns regarding the limited amount of food options that are provided to students during lunch, as well as the possibility of allowing students to leave campus during lunch to eat elsewhere. The members responded to these suggestions in a welcoming manner.
“American is the only school in the district that has a closed-campus lunch,” member Desrie Campbell said. “So that is something that we can definitely present to the board to have a conversation about, and I’m sure that they would love to be able to take that up.”
The School Board conveyed its willingness to take surveys and have conversations with students, staff, and parents about how they can improve the food options that would be offered in the cafeteria. They are, however, limited by federal regulations in regards to the kinds of foods that they are able to offer, due to health concerns.
Although the Board is open to giving American’s campus open-campus lunch, there are some safety concerns that must be considered.
“We have to consider what it means when 3,000 students are trying to get out somewhere during a lunch period,” Board Member, Michelle Berke said. “Where do they want to go? What does that mean for traffic in the area? Is there enough local infrastructure to support their desire to get off campus?”
Nevertheless, the Board is willing to cooperate with AHS students, staff, and parents to fulfill their needs for a better lunch experience.
The meeting also drew attention toward the topic of incorporating technology into students’ learning experience. As many students may be aware, there is not an adequate amount of textbooks in each classroom to allow students to leave one textbook at home. In response to this issue, several of the Board members agreed that each student should be provided with a laptop in which they are able to access all of their needed textbooks both at home and at school. One member believes that American is extremely behind in terms of technological use.
“We cannot be in the year 2016 and not have computers for all of our students,” Choski said. “It’s unacceptable. If you go outside of Fremont, you’ll be shocked to see where we are compared to them in terms of technology.”
Students and parents agree with this suggestion and think that the use of technology would be much more convenient.
“I think it’s good that they discussed the need for technology at this school,” an AHS parent said. “It would make it much easier for students to access all of the information and tools that they need to learn.”
The members hope that they can work to fix all of the problems that American is currently experiencing in order to enhance students’ experience here and allow the school to prosper and become a better learning environment than it already is.
“I know first-hand that schools are much more than teaching and learning,” member Berke said. “Schools create communities in the classroom, on the sports fields, in the playgrounds, and in the drama and music theatres. They provide social interaction among students and families and provide a better understanding of people from a variety of backgrounds. American High School is certainly representative of that.”