More Kudos to our Schools!
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More Kudos to our Schools!

As a Foster City Councilmember and a long-time resident, I have always been proud that we have some of the top schools in the State right here in our backyards. Recently, Bowditch Middle School was named a California Distinguished School. Two schools in our District, Bayside S.T.E.M. Academy and Beresford Elementary, received prestigious San Mateo County Kent Awards for outstanding and innovative education. Our students are achieving on statewide exams, and test scores in reading and math continue to increase.

I have been engaged in a community process to ensure that our San Mateo-Foster City School District remains among the best. Our schools face challenges that, as neighbors, I believe we must address together to continue to provide a strong educational foundation for the children in our community. This is why I am supportive of the school district's plans to explore a community school bond, which would help address these challenges by relieving school overcrowding; upgrading classrooms, science labs and libraries; upgrading technology for higher, 21st-century academic standards; and improving energy efficiency to save our schools approximately $1 million per year.

It's no secret that our great schools attract new families to our neighborhoods, which is a benefit to our property values. Yet, the result also has been a dramatic increase in student enrollment in Foster City and our neighboring community of San Mateo. In fact, the typical elementary school in our area was built for 300 students. Now, many of our schools serve more than 500 students.

The school district has done its due diligence and created a student Enrollment Management Plan (EMP) through community collaboration, careful study and planning. To learn more about the Enrollment Management Plan, please visit the Superintendent's Page on the District's website, www.smfc.k12.ca.us.

I participated in the Superintendent's Committee on Overcrowding RElief (SCORE), which through a public process, determined the best solution to alleviate overcrowding in Foster City schools. The plan would reconfigure and rebuild Bowditch Middle School to accommodate more students. Also included in the EMP is a solution to address overcrowding in San Mateo: modernize and reopen Knolls Elementary School, which is currently not in use.

State and national standards for education are consistently evolving, becoming more rigorous and technology-based. We must ensure our students are prepared to compete in our global, high-tech economy. A school bond measure would help provide classroom technology and computer labs to make modern science, technology and math lessons a part of everyday classroom instruction to prepare students for future success.

Some local schools require basic repairs and upgrades to classrooms, labs and libraries for safer and more modern learning environments. Additionally, our schools have the opportunity to improve energy efficiency to save nearly $1 million per year. This savings could be used to support academic programs and classroom instruction.

I am impressed that the District is committed to including key accountability provisions to help ensure funds from this measure would be maximized and spent wisely. The measure would make our local schools eligible for future state matching funds, which would otherwise go to other communities. No funds from the measure could be spent on administrators' salaries. A Citizens' Oversight Committee and annual, third-party audits give me the confidence that funds will be used only on voter-approved purposes.

I continue to be supportive of the District's discussions to place a school improvement bond measure on the November 2013 ballot because it is the right thing for our community and our schools. To keep our community strong, we must provide a strong education and safe classrooms for local children. If you would like more information about this measure, please join me in attending the local school board meetings and get involved.

Please contact me at sokamoto@fostercity.org if you have any questions or comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Council Corner

May 22, 2013
More Kudos to our Schools!
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