OUSD forces Fremont to redesign school—green theme proposed

OUSD forces Fremont to redesign school—green theme proposed

ONE SCHOOL AGAIN? The school district is pressuring the three schools of Fremont Federation to come up with a plan to make their schools better and increase enrollment or be forced into one school. The plan a school committee came up with includes the three high schools and a "green" theme.

In an effort to increase enrollment and improve the quality of Fremont Federation, the district has demanded a redesign of the campus and may consider making it a “green school.”
It is unclear if the federation would remain three small schools, return to one school with three academies or go back to Fremont High without one or more of the three academies.
“This plan can turn Fremont’s good schools into great schools,” said Daniel Hurst, the principal at College Preparatory & Architecture Academy.
For weeks, Hurst, along with teachers Sarah Mazzotta of Media Academy and Kevin McNulty of Mandela, have been meeting to come up with a plan they hope the school board will accept.    They surveyed faculty at each school and found all three teaching staffs want to keep the three schools.
The three representatives presented their draft plan to Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith and some school board members.
Smith will consider their plan before he offers a recommendation to the entire school district.
The school board has the final decision in what to do with Fremont.
The leading suggestion is to turn the school into a “green” school. This means to basically change the school’s focus towards green technology such as solar and wind power and “sustainability.”

This change would be represented in both the school’s design and classroom focus. Smith, the originator of the idea, believes the attention from the “green school project” would help Fremont’s dwindling enrollment.
It could involve a completely new building if voters would support a bond measure to pay for it.
However, some fear that the school board wants to return Fremont to one high school and even get rid of some academies.
Media Academy has existed for 25 years, even before Fremont broke off into small schools. In 2003-04, the enrollment was 418. It went up to 432 in 2004-05, according to state records. But now, it’s down to 281 students.
The other schools also have seen enrollment drop. In total, Fremont Federation has 940 students now, down from more than 2,000 when it was Fremont High School.
Many district officials believes this number is too low to run three different schools, but many staff and students are taking action to prevent a school consolidation.
Jenny Saechao, a sophomore at Media Academy and president of the school’s new public relations club, doesn’t like the idea of one big school.
“It’s better if we’re small because we interact more,” she said.
Saechao and other sophomores have been visiting middle schools to promote Fremont and Media.
Meanwhile, the school’s founder and director is determined to let the decision-makers know how important the three separate schools are.
“We’re totally not going to lie down and take this,” Michael Jackson told his AP U.S. History class during a discussion about the school redesign.
Meanwhile, Mazzotta said the committee is fighting to keep Fremont a federation of small schools.
“No one really wants things to go back to how things were before we split to small schools,” she said.
To some, the closure or consolidation of any of the schools would be an unwise move because test scores for each school have risen steadily. Fremont High School’s Academic Performance Index was 444 in its last year. The average for the three schools this year is 588.
The “Fremont Family” recently sent a letter with brochures to the parents of 8th graders to showcase all their schools have to offer and why their school is a great choice.
The schools also joined together to run a half-page ad in the Oaktown Teen Times, a nonprofit newspaper for, by and about teens that circulates to 10,000 high school and middle schools students in Oakland. The ad read, “Fremont Family of High Schools. All the benefits of a large school. Your choice of three excellent small schools.”