The Fremont City Council and Fremont Unified School Board held a joint meeting earlier this week. Sorry for the lengthy post but there was a lot discussed.
First, there were comments noting that the amount of money coming from the State has decreased over the past few years which has hurt local school funding. Also, Senate Bill 50 prevents the City Council from rejecting residential developmentbased on school issues alone. I raised the point that while this is true for property that is designated as residential under the General Plan, it does not mean that a General Plan amendment must be made to allow for more residential units to be built. For example, a General Plan amendment was required for the 500 unit Patterson Ranch development.
Superintendent Morris noted that the District now has 10 open classrooms. These 10 will be filled next school year in order to reduce class sizes. The expected growth next year will result in another 20 classrooms being required. These classrooms simply don’t exist. And this does not consider the students from the Patterson Ranch development nor the proposed Walnut / Guardino development. It’s unclear at this time how the School District will deal with this additional demand.
Speaking of the Walnut / Guardino development, the School Board recently made the decision to assign this development to an ‘unassigned’ school as was done with Patterson Ranch. This was deemed necessary as the local elementary school in this area (Parkmont) is already very overcrowded. The Artist Walk development (by Dale Hardware) was assigned to Olivera elementary but the District may reconsider this assignment.
Another concern was that the number of students estimated for this school year was low primarily for students in the K-3 grades. This means that this unexpected ‘bubble’ of additional students will likely go through all of the grades over the next 10 years or so.
Finally, the subject of having more kids take buses to school was mentioned in a public comment. This will be on the agenda for our next joint meeting in February.