Upon walking onto the Fallon Middle School campus during the 8th grade lunch period, it was an uncommon experience to hear music blaring from the MP. What could be heard was Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Upon signing in at the front office and returning to the MP, “Rock the Town” by the Stray Cats was playing. At least for one week, this was the norm at FMS. The purpose was to conduct the first annual Swing Dance Competition. The event began on Tuesday for all participants, moved to cut-downs on Wednesday and then culminated in a final presentation on Thursday.
While the introduction of swing dance was not a new phenomenon at Fallon, the construction of a formal competition was. This concept was introduced as a way to ease some of the students into the school year when the weather in late August/early September was still very warm. But what was fascinating to observe was the sheer enthusiasm of the 7th and 8th graders that elected to participate. It was obvious to us that the students embraced this as school-wide event vs. an actual competition. Further, they seemed to enjoy the activity and readily supported their fellow students.
On Tuesday, all participants were invited to perform in different shifts – to provide ample room to perform and to allow the judges an opportunity to view their performances. At the end of each lunch period, all dancers performed en masse followed by an enthusiastic cheer from other students and parents. Wednesday provided a bit more competitive spirit, as the general group needed to be whittled down. The entire competition culminated in final performances on Thursday by both the 7th and 8th grade students.
DUBLIN, CA — Dougherty Elementary School has become the first school in the history of the Dublin Unified School District to earn recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday.
Dougherty was one of 29 California public schools to receive the honor this year, 285 schools were honored nationally. The recognized schools are required to be performing in the top 15 percent of schools statewide as measured by state assessments. Three Alameda County schools were recognized.
“We are very proud and honored that Dougherty Elementary School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School,” Superintendent Stephen Hanke said. “Clearly, the district commitment to student learning and the dedication and hard work of our teachers, staff, leadership and parents is reflected in this important award. Congratulations to the Dougherty community on receiving this much deserved recognition.”
DUBLIN, CA — We recently received the following letter from a Dublin parent which was sent to the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees regarding the homework policy and longer school day. Is this your child’s experience?
To: Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees,
I have a child who currently attends Dublin High School and is a sophomore. I myself have a background in Education. I am writing to you because I have been increasingly concerned with the time-consuming amounts of homework that the children at Dublin High School (as well as the middle and elementary schools) receive, and the impact on the ability for students to have a full night’s sleep.
We were all hopeful that the extra “Gael Period” would alleviate the amount of homework, however we have found it has only made the situation worse. In addition to having to stay at school longer each day, teachers are piling on even more homework because classroom periods have been shortened and teachers seem to believe the misconception that the students will get all of this extra homework completed during the Gael Period. We have also found that teachers themselves are not following the District’s current homework policy which calls for less homework.
DUBLIN, CA — While we are barely one month into the 2015-16 school calendar, there has been a flurry of activity occurring within the Dublin Unified School District. On Tuesday, the Board of Trustees appointed Sameer Hakim to fulfill the vacant Trustee seat created by the departure of Sean Kenney. With that, the District is seeking to expand the existing District Optimization Committee (DOC) in anticipation of some critical decisions that need to be made for our community relative to enrollment and facilities. The challenges have been well documented. They include the large number of vested plots that have been committed to housing in Eastern Dublin and the continued negotiations that center on the joint Jordan Ranch construction project which may or may not include land granted to build another school site.
In addition, DUSD will host a community forum at the Dublin High School Student Union in which the focus will be the crafting of a District Facilities Master Plan on Tuesday, September 29th. While not to be the only one, this public discussion will help the District to receive feedback that will help to distill public desires relative to how growth will be managed, to solicit new ideas about construct new schools in the absence of support from Sacramento and to understand how the community may respond to a potential bond measure for the June 2016 ballot.
All school sites in Dublin have been impacted by enrollment growth over the past five to ten years. The actions undertaken by the District have resulted in boundary changes, the multiple reconfigurations of Fallon Middle School and the placement of portable classrooms at many sites. While this may not be ideal, many of these options have been necessary due to space and economic factors.
DUBLIN, CA — As a follow up to the OneDublin.org article that featured interviews with the two remaining candidates for the vacant Dublin Unified School District Trustee seat, an action item – J1 was placed on Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting agenda to secure a provisional appointment. After a rigorous interview process that included nine candidates, the remaining candidates were winnowed down to two finalists – Joseph Giannini and Sameer Hakim.
Each finalist was given the opportunity to present up to a five minute statement that highlighted their qualifications and to articulate why they felt that they would be the best person to fulfill the vacancy created by Trustee Sean Kenney recent resignation.
The individual statements were concise and both included comments about their passion for the success of all students within the District. Subsequent to their presentations, it became clear that the Board of Trustees would have a difficult decision to make as both Mr. Giannini and Mr. Hakim represented the best of what DUSD could hope for in terms of individuals that care deeply about the present and future of the District.
Dublin School Board Candidates Joe Giannini and Sameer Hakim Share Their Visions for Dublin Education
And then there were two. At the next Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, September 22 at 5:30PM an interim replacement for departing Trustee Sean Kenney will be selected. Trustee Sean Kenney unexpectedly resigned his existing position on the board citing the extraordinary time commitments of his new job. As many of us know, fulfilling a role as a Trustee requires many hours beyond the bi-monthly District meetings.
While the District could have chosen to hold a costly public election, the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees instead chose to fulfill this vacancy via an appointment process. At the September 22 Board of Trustees meeting, the Board will invite public comment on the two remaining candidates, record advocacy statements, openly discuss their commentary on the choices and publicly record their votes for the new Trustee designee.
Once filled on Tuesday, this candidate will receive a Provisional Appointment that will last until the fall election cycle in November 2016. The Provisional title will be removed after 30 days, unless there is a public movement to remove the candidate and a 1.5% written and collected survey from the largess of the entire registered voter roll in the City of Dublin. Afterwards, this Trustee – or any other member of the community – would then be eligible to run for a two-year term in the fall 2016 election cycle.
The candidacy process has been open and transparent. Nine Dublin citizens opted to apply and all were granted in-person interview with Trustees Greg Tomlinson and Megan Rouse. Subsequently, the candidates were winnowed down to two finalists. OneDublin.org was granted the opportunity to interview the remaining two candidates who are Joe Giannini and Sameer Hakim.
It has been said that statistics can be deceiving. In the next breath, they can also be quite revealing. With that said, let us examine the historical K-12 student enrollment data in the Dublin Unified School District (DUSD). In the ten year period between 1995 and 2005, student enrollment expanded from 3,647 to 4,904 – an increase of 34.4%. In a similar period between 2005 and 2015 (projected) the increase of students moved to 9,900 – representing a growth rate of 101.8%. Granted, these were two very different eras and the peak growth period represented a rapid home construction movement from Dublin Ranch eastward to Fallon Road and beyond.
But the growth has yielded a far more robust tax base for the City of Dublin and has also produced many more retail and entertainment avenues. From the theater district to the newly opening retail at Persimmon Place and to Fallon Gateway, the experience of living in Dublin has been greatly enhanced. However, this rapid growth has placed a strain on the town’s infrastructure – including an impact upon the districts’ schools. Anyone that has resided here in the last 10 years can articulate the changing traffic channels and/or how all of the schools seem to be so crowded.
So under this backdrop, there is an opportunity for added community involvement into how the school district will move forward while facing these challenges. The District Optimization Committee (DOC) has existed in various iterations over several years. The group was formed during the period of 2008-09 when California was facing a budgetary crisis and it was necessary to examine what academic/enrichment programs might be cut if the state entered into a worst case scenario. Subsequently, it was formalized last year to take a hard look at what enrollment growth vs. home construction could look like in Dublin for years to come.
OneDublin.org reached out to DUSD Senior Facilities Director Kim McNeely to gather her thoughts on this subject. Keep in mind that Ms. McNeely is subject to the limitations of how the State of CA funding formula has changed. But, we thought that her insights were fascinating.