I wanted to thank each of you for the obvious effort and thought you put into your decision last night. I especially wanted to thank you for working so hard to keep the current cuts as far from the classroom as possible. I can fully appreciate how difficult your positions have been over the last few weeks. Thanks for a job well done.
I am writing to encourage you to rethink the idea of having 2 schools
principal. I know at last night's meeting, it was suggested that
Woodstock share because of low enrollment at each school.
I ask that you and all the board members shadow a principal to see what
on each day. I only know what happens at Miller. Niel is needed each
and is already pulled out for meetings and negotiations too often. We
school full of special needs children due to the children from Alameda
and the Military children.
Thank you for your consideration.
I just wanted to compliment you on the job you're doing and the job you've done on your postings, very informative, concise and professional!
Although I profoundly care about the outcome of tonight’s board meeting and your vote, I will be unable to attend due to an illness in my family. I want to remind you of the words I spoke at last week’s meeting (inserted below), and again urge you to make decisions based on the best interest of all children, especially the most vulnerable children in our community.
As a new teacher to Alameda Unified School District, I’ve been advised to stand in “quiet” solidarity with my colleagues, students, and families in opposing the District’s former recommendation to close Woodstock Elementary School. But, I just can’t keep quiet about how I feel about this school and its community.
I have been blessed with opportunities to work in many special communities, teaching high-school English in rural eastern Africa, teaching third-grade migrant students in the Salinas Valley, and now teaching third grade in West Alameda. So, when I tell you that I have experienced both the tremendous joy and the terrible heartache of working with children of poverty, please don’t patronize me or our community by saying “kids are kids.”
I could list here countless statistics about the harsh realities faced every day by children of poverty and of color, but I don’t think you really need my convincing. Our own local newspapers do I fine job of exposing the racism that shames Alameda in the area of housing, and we’ve all witnessed the classism inherent in this Fall’s mass evictions. The essential fact about these kids is that they need our support—and I mean the advocacy of their teachers, administrators, and elected representatives—perhaps just as much as they need the support of their own families. If they are to have a fighting chance in a world that they already—at eight and nine years old—have experienced to be full of hunger and pain, homelessness and abuse, discrimination and neglect, then it is our duty and obligation—as a community of educators and children’s advocates—to provide a safe, nourishing, hopeful, and stable place for them to work and learn.
In other words, what the so-called “West-end” children need is a place called Woodstock School. Woodstock and its community should be celebrated by this board for addressing the very real inequalities and injustices endured by our children. You have already heard and will hear again and again that we are closing the proverbial gap in achievement for African-American students. In my former school district, Gonzales Unified, the local press put a picture of teachers and staff in the newspaper and our board of education threw us a party for closing that achievement gap for Latino students and English-Language learners. What, then, are we doing in Alameda to honor Woodstock School?
When I chose to work in Alameda and to teach at Woodstock, in particular, it was because I believed in the commitment and the vision that the Chief Presonnel Officer and the Assistant Superintendent advocated in their welcoming addresses to new teachers. They instructed us that the number of free and reduced lunches served at a school should not be a predictor of student achievement. We do not only believe this at Woodstock School, we—led by the Woodstock Principal—live by this. Please do not sacrifice what so many have worked so hard to build on the “West-end.” It is insensitive and unjust to even suggest that our students—who are, indeed, served the highest number of free and reduced lunches in the district—should bear the brunt of balancing the entire district’s budget.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak at
last week's budget workshop. As I stated then, I
support class size reduction and feel tremendous
concern for our children if those funds are cut. I am
appalled by the stand that CSEA has taken on class
size reduction and caution you to consider their
motives for doing so. They are in the business of
protecting jobs, not educating children.
Indeed there has not been a study that quantifies the
advantages of lower class size in Alameda, but I
believe the benefits being affirmed in studies around
the nation are applicable to our children as well.
Please take the time to visit
www.reduceclasssizenow.org before you make any final
decisions about increasing class size.
I also commend you for seeking alternatives to budget
reductions and will work with you in passing another
property tax measure, raising attendance in the
district and pressuring the Governor and legislature
to honor Proposition 98.
I'm told that AUSD recommends cutting special education funding by
- # of admin
Even putting aside Dr. Nishino's bonus -- which surprisingly wasn't
part of the recommended delayed compensation suggested for other staff
(teachers, custodians) -- cutting funding in the midst of increasing
need is, with all due respect, foolish.
Today's San Francisco Chronicle reports a huge increase in autism
cases, with no end in sight. I don't know how many of these children
are in Alameda, but I know that the district is responsible for their
complete education under federal and state law. You have only to
examine the percentage of new clients in the 0-3 Early Start program to
see that Alameda cannot afford to decrease its services. Failure to do
so will result in more legal proceedings against the district. Do you
really want to pay Lozano Smith and associates, which represents AUSD
in special education hearings, money that could be better spent on
training and staffing?
So, how can the district save money? One way is to fulfill the spirit
of federal law (IDEA), and direct the next special education director
to work with parents instead of fighting legal battles.
- % of spend on various line items
Finally, I continue to hear "Alameda receives less than other school districts on a per pupil basis."
How far below others is it and what would it mean in $ if we were at the average ?
What is the strategy to get to equity on that issue ?
What can the parents do to help ?
Editor's Note:Alameda County Base Revenue Comparison to see how Alameda compares to other districts
PTA Attendance Program and
Sample Letter you can to State officials
I think we are taking a
dangerous risk if we assume that this reserve change will pass. Even if it
does, it will only be temporary. It makes me nervous. So much rides
on the parcel tax. Is the board considering reinstating some of the
cuts (not school closure or class size reduction) that were on the
original list? I just hope that this will all work out. The worst thing we
could face would be the takeover...
I have one son at xxxxx and another who will start next Fall. I'm very concerned in particular about a potential elimination of classroom reduction in grade three. The children benefit immensely in the lower grades from smaller classes and more attention. I can't believe a teacher would be able to adequately do his/her job with a classroom of 30 young children--because they still need so much assistance at this age with reading and math. There is just so much that teachers are expected to do at these early grades--I don't think this is the right place to cut.
It also seems (looking from the budget numbers) that there are other areas where there is a much greater cost cutting opporunity. What about a 1/2 day teacher furlough (vs.the originally proposed 2 day furlough)? Why not increase the attendance goal by 2% vs. 1%? Are there ways to increase "contract" teaching opportunities when children go out of town? I believe they have to be out of school for a week to qualify for a contract? Why not reduce this time so that children whose parents take them out for long weekends are able to do their work--and have their attendance counted?
I'm sure you've received many emails such as this one. All cuts are going to be painful. That said, I think cuts should be made that don't impact the quality of education --which eliminating classroom reduction at grade three would no doubt do.
Thank you for representing the needs of our children.
Thank you for your fabulous website. It is both thorough and understandable! I can't get over the speed of your updates! I couldn't make it to the budget workshop tonight, but there was the news right away!
As for the budget, I applaud the great care you and the rest of the board have taken to make necessary cuts with careful consideration. I appreciate your efforts to avoid cutting on-going programs by seeking one-time savings measures to 'buy time' for the District. I also appreciate the board's consideration of the needs of West End students. A bad economic environment only hits those who are already at a disadvantage harder; to close their schools and discontinue their counseling would be more devastating to the future of these students than it would be to their counterparts whose families are better economically situated.
I realize there's still lots of work ahead of us. Thank you for your hard work.
I urge you not to cut or freeze teacher salaries by
any amount. Teachers in Alameda are asked
continuously to do more with less. Teachers in
Alameda Unified are already stretched far more than
similar, nearby districts. Just as important, we need
to keep our new teachers. With so many teachers in
Alameda and nearby districts preparing to retire why
create an incentive for any teacher to leave? For the
the most part veterans will stay, but new teachers
need an incentive to stay. If children are our
future, then our future needs to keep our current
qualified new teachers.
My name is xxxxx xxxxx and I am a teacher at Woodstock Elementary, who feels honored to be a part of Woodstock’s extraordinary community. I am grateful and indebted to Ms. Davenport and the Woodstock staff for their leadership and guidance in helping me to become the best teacher I can be and I am deeply concerned to learn of Dr. Nishino’s recommendation to close Woodstock school.
I find it troubling that during a time when AUSD has adopted a proclamation to promote the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi that Dr. Nishino would recommend closing a school that has been living and working hard to make their dreams of a just and fair world a reality.
In addition, when you look at the research on effective schools, two points are consistent. This first is that schools are effective when you have strong leadership. Factors involved are: a principal’s visibility and accessibility to students, parents and teachers; having a clear and consistent mission for success; and acting as a mentor to teachers. Rosalind Davenport exceeds these qualifications.
The second point is staff collaboration. Woodstock School has built a caring and cooperative community built on honesty, research and ability to view ourselves as both teachers and learners. We are and continue to be committed to providing every student with the same opportunities to succeed in the world, despite difficulties that many face in their home lives and the institutionalized racism in our country. As a community of teachers, our ability to collaborate between and across grade levels has not only received recognition from AUSD, but beyond. This again, is attributed to Ms. Davenport’s leadership.
In order to make a fair and just decision and balance the budget, it is critical that you answer the following questions:
Why in the face of budget constraints would you choose to close a school that has shown success in closing the achievement gap between African American students and other students?
Have you done a thorough cost/benefit analysis of every school in Alameda, not just those in the West End? If so, what does the data show?
Why close the school in the West End with the best facilities to effectively accommodate the largest number of students? If you do, is there the possibility of having to refuse interdistrict transfers that could provide additional funding to AUSD?
Have you considered the psychological cost to students by asking them to transition twice in as many years?
Are you willing to guarantee (in writing) that all Woodstock students will have the opportunity to go to the new school? If not, why?
Are you willing to guarantee (in writing) that every Woodstock teacher will have a job at the new school? If not, why?
Has the administration considered forgoing raises and bonuses in order to help balance the budget, rather than close a school?
Do you have signed contracts from the Boys and Girls Club of America that they will come to Woodstock? Even if they do, why is it necessary to relocate the Woodstock students when the Girl’s and Boy’s Club will be housed outside of the student facilities?
Doesn’t it make sense to keep the students at a location that also provides the Even Start Program and the after-school program to our families, rather than asking them to commute in order to take advantage of these services?
Do you have enough data to answer these questions? If not, you do not have enough data to close a school. We need to remember that we are here to serve the children. Do what is just. Do what is fair. Live the dream, as we at Woodstock do each day!
I am hoping to come to the meeting tonight to voice my objection to eliminating 20:1 class size in third grade. I don't think I can make it because my husband works long hours to pay for our house which we bought in Alameda because of the quality of the elementary schools and I need to stay home and take care of my child who will be entering third grade next year. Need I say more?
Unfortunately the Board is charged with the difficult task of further cutting our schools’ budgets. I have a Kindergartner at xxxxx. I want you to know that I am opposed to closing Woodstock. Despite the general family income levels and the number of English language learners, under the leadership of Woodstock’s staff, kids at Woodstock have enjoyed a closure of the achievement gap. They have done that in concert with collaborative West End programs. That is an example of success. Closing that school is an unimaginable response to their success.
If I were a Bayport parent I just might think closing Woodstock was a good thing. I’d think, great I can send my kid elsewhere. What’s best may in fact be for that Woodstock staff to remain together as a coherent collaborative until moved to the projected Bayport school. It takes a great staff and program to close achievement gaps. Keep them together and reward them—please don’t disperse them.
And how could I possibly not speak in favor of third-grade class-size reduction? I’d be remiss not to. Enough said.
Thank you for your attention.
First, I want to applaud your work to find and recommend many cuts that
don't directly impact kids. I know this is a demanding challenge given
ugly fiscal realities at state and local levels and our already lean
education budget in Alameda.
However, one recommended cut would directly and adversely impact our
increasing third grade class size from 20 to 32. Please work hard to
alternatives to this. While I do not know why having one principal
two elementaries was removed from the list, I do think this would be
better than a cut that directly impacts the classroom and our kids.
Time after time, studies show that the early learning years are
Conversations with teachers around the district reinforce this.
upper grades find they have an uphill struggle if a child has failed to
master critical skills in the first years of school. The 20 to 1 ratio
critical to provide our kids this foundation. Even in 4th and 5th
many kids are lost in the large 32 student classrooms. Ideally,
these classes down in size would be a future goal if finances ever
It is the wrong direction and precedent to backslide on class size now.
fear it is a step we'll never recover from.
One alternative may be to see if elementary School Site Councils would
willing to contribute $5000 or $7500 each to supporting class size
reduction. In this way, part of the expenditure could be funded.
cannot speak for the other members of our Site Council as to whether
support this, I do know that all the members would at least want a
With incredibly demanding state standards--often at the upper limits of
kids can do -- the early foundation for all our learners is critical.
Across the district, we are making strides. Enlarging third grade
sets us back rather than moving us ahead. Let's keep our eye on the
prize -- student achievement and success. Please don't increase third
Thanks for your consideration,
I am the parent of a second grader at xxxxx School. I am strongly against the recommendation to eliminate class size reduction for third grade. The challenges the current curriculum puts on students would make it impossible for the students to be adequately taught with 60% higher class enrollment. The maturity needed to deal with these challenges in 8 and 9 and year olds is just not there. The classroom environment, the quality of education, and the effectiveness of the teachers will all suffer.
My daughter is a bright child, academically strong, and quick to learn. I still have to supplement her education with weekly tutoring, which is a significant expense in our household. I anticipate these costs increasing if the 3rd grade classrooms did not have the required attention for each student to learn. This leads me to strongly considering taking my child out of the Alameda schools and finding an appropriate private school if this recommendation continues.
Please share this letter with the other board members.
Thank you for your work on behalf of all of our kids.
I am a concerned parent of two students of xxxxx Elementary School in Alameda. I am concerned because the Superintendent has recommended eliminating class size reduction (CSR). I have been a volunteer parent on several occasions, so I know first hand how much attention children need and how hard it is for the teachers to give children one on one help, when needed, in a class of twenty children. Increasing the class size will make matters even worse. The children who need a little extra attention will get none and will thereby slip through the education system when they could have otherwise excelled. Please do not allow CSR to be eliminated!
To provide the kind of individualized attention
students really need to succeed, the class size at
Grade 3 should remain at 20 students. Increased class
sizes may lead to more students being referred to
With cuts to class size reduction and special
education programs our district cannot improve student
Class size reduction is vital to our students' future.
Students in smaller classes perform better and are
more engaged in learning, and teachers teach more
instead of spending time keeping students in order.
Please do not increase class size or reduce spending
on special education programs. The other spending
reduction options will be more cost effective.
xxxxx xxxxx is my daugher, xxxxx's teacher at xxxxx Elementary. He is truely the BEST teacher I have encountered in
the lifetime of my children, and you should know that my children
previously attented private school. The education my daughter is receiving in
Mr xxxxx's class is phenominal and I do attribute alot of that to
the class size. Previously xxxxx was in classroom sized of 30-33
children, it was a true disadvantage. She is excelling in xxxxx grade. She
adores her teacher and loves the smaller class size. On the first day
of school, she came home to me saying, "Mom, there are only 20 kids in
my class. It's SO great! There's less kids to bother me or my teacher
and we get to learn alot more."
PLEASE find another way to remedy your budget problems. PLEASE do not
jeopardize the education of third graders. Third grade is such a
pivotal year. Just ask my son, who did not attend a smaller class size and
is struggling to catch up and do well. I regret everyday that we did
not switch to public school earlier, so he could have benefitted from
the smaller third grade classes (and the wonderful teachers at xxxxx).
As parents of three children attending Bay Farm School next year, we are deeply concerned that the proposed budget cut includes increasing the third grade class size from 20:1. The current class size 20:1 for our third grader is pivotal to his success especially in the new reading and writing curriculum to meet state standards. The increase in class sizes will HURT the children more than you possibly think it can. We fully support and we echo Mr. Anderson's (Bay Farm Tacher) position and we join his plead in urging you to seriously consider the devastating damage your decision to increase third grade class size will cause and do the responsible thing - make the cut somewhere else, NOT IN THE CLASSROOMS, We support making the cut in the sharing of principals between schools.
As an Alameda parent of a 3rd grader for next year & a very involved
volunteer at xxxxxSchool, I feel that it is extremely important to
keep the 3rd grade classes, as well as the K - 2nd grade classes, to a
maximum of 20 students. These are the primary years of learning for
these children of which the basics is so important for these early years of
school. From my observation of these classes, it is already difficult
enough to teach these students in a class of 20 the basic standards
that the State has already imposed on these grade levels today. Please do
not take the money out of these classrooms by increasing class sizes,
but by looking at other alternatives.
We learned recently that one of the options for cutting $ 2,400,000.00
from the AUSD budget involves increasing 3rd grade class size from 20
to 32 children. As parents we are quite dismayed to hear that this
option is on the table. K-3rd Grade class size reduction is one of the few
interventions that has actually helped students. We oppose this idea
from both a personal and an "outsider" standpoint.
Our personal experience with small class sizes has been very positive.
We have 2nd grade twins - a girl and an boy. We are absolutely
convinced that small class sizes have allowed our boy to stay out of the
resource program. He does have a learning disability, but with smaller
class sizes and good teachers, he has done well in the classroom.
Even as non-educators, we have readily found research that shows that
smaller class sizes help children. As stated by Arizona State
University Education Policy Studies Laboratory, "Reducing class size in Grades
K-3 has been found to have academic benefits in all subject areas,
especially for children living in poverty. Studies published since the
mid-1980s show that classroom behavior and test scores improve while
students are in small classes. Further, the improvement persists through the
middle school and high school years, even though students return to
full-size classes. To reap the full range of benefits, it is important that
pupils enter small classes in the early years (Grades K or 1) and
continue in small classes for three or more years. Students who attend small
classes are also more likely to take college-entrance examinations;
this is especially true for minority students." (bolding is ours)
Please also consider how many students AUSD might lose to private
schools should class sizes be increased.
Thank you for your kind consideration of our views.
My wife and I write as concerned parents on the proposed increase in
size as one of the items being considered to reduce costs in the
Our children are not in K-3 but no one needs convincing as to the
of small class sizes. Please do all you can to keep the present 20
per class at least in K -3. Actually a few years back we thought it
possible to get 20 per class through 4th grade.
If the statistics that came to light on remuneration, manpower levels
the district administration during the teacher strike have not changed,
is in areas like this (i.e. district admin costs) you need to look into
Thank you and have a successful deliberation tonight.
I was extremely disappointed that Dr. Nishino and Ardella visited Woodstock School to announce that it was the school that would be closing – before the last board meeting, before tonight’s budget workshop and before any decision had been made by the Board.
How are we to trust our administration when their actions do not follow their public statements? (e.g. wanting community input, etc.)
I also don’t believe that this is the correct school to close at this time. It should be closed when the new Woodstock School opens, and the staff and students transferred to the new school. This is what the administration has been telling us and they need to follow this plan.
My recommendation for budget cuts is to eliminate the
'Paraprofessionals'. They are babysitters that don't do any teaching. They simply take up space in the class room.
I read the superintendent's recommendations to the board on how to balance the upcoming budget and came away without a clear understanding of the justification for several critical decisions:
I would ask that the board seek clarity on these issues, make the full justifications public, and consider these points when deliberating the budget. If possible I'd also appreciate a reply from you on this important matter.
- I believe there's general agreement on the need to improve educational standards in California. While there's no single action that will achieve this goal, part of the solution surely lies in increasing the amount of time each pupil has with a teacher. This can come through both increased attendance and reduced class sizes. To this end I firmly believe that the universally applauded CSR program needs to be extended, not reduced. Please do not accept the recommendation to eliminate CSR for 3rd Grade.
- Presumably, once the renovation of Harbor Isle Apartments is complete student enrollment will increase, or is it predicted that the rental community there will change to include fewer children? When the numbers do return will we be restoring services to meet the sudden increase in student population (and funding)? Wouldn't yo-yoing services in this way be inefficient and costly?
- If reducing services to match the reduced student enrollment is deemed the right way forward, why is teacher staffing not being reduced in the second semester when enrollment declines? The proposed budget justifies not reducing teacher staffing but instead recommends increasing student attendance. While I can see how you'd make this trade when looking at a financial spreadsheet I don't see how it works in the classroom. Aren't classroom seats filled based on enrollment, not attendance? If attendance falls in a class are places made available for more students to enroll in the partially empty class? I doubt it. I therefore don't understand how keeping teachers in the face of reducing enrollment can be justified based on increased attendance.
- Why has the plan to have one principal run two small elementary schools been cancelled? This saving would seem to be reasonable and achievable without negative impacts on the classroom.
- How does closing one elementary school due to the 300 student loss eliminate only one teacher position and save only $300K? I'm surprised the savings here aren't more substantial in terms of both headcount and budget savings.
- The Fiscal Recovery Plan identified $6.2M, while the Staff Recommendations reduced this to $2.4M. The lions share of this reduction has come from completely eliminating 4 items identified in the FRP: reduce prep time $500K, two day furlough $532K, revise COLA $1.3M, freeze salary increase $526K. The total for these 4 items is $2.8M of the $3.8M reduction from the FRP savings. Why have these 4 big ticket items been completely eliminated from the planned savings? Even if part of these items is adopted it'd make a significant difference to the budget.
I am the father of a 2nd grader and 5th grader at xxxxx school. I drop the kids off most days and take the opportunity to speak with other parents then, as well as at sporting events and other social functions.
I understand from the last Board meeting that you had heard from very few parents, inferring some sort of apathy regarding budget cuts. I would like to dispel those ideas and tell you that the parents I know are passionate about their kids education and extremely concerned about some of the actions that are proposed in an effort to balance the budget.
In particular, we are concerned about dropping the class size reduction for 3rd grade. I saw the big change my older child went through going to the larger classes in 4th grade. This would be painful to push that down a grade.
I appreciate the difficulty you are going through, and there is very little "fat" to trim at this point. However, I would urge you to take a hard look at "management" first, and make sure you are truly doing all you can to squeeze efficiency from the top as well as the bottom.
I also understand that Alameda is still unfairly penalized in per student funding by the state as a remnant of the closure of the naval air station. What is being done to address this ? How about some lobbying to our legislature under the doctrine of basic fairness ? How about publicizing to parents this issue and who to contact at the state level ?
Thank you for your efforts on our behalf, and I appreciate your consideration of my comments.
Thanks for the response to my first suggestion re: cuts to the "nutrition" coordinator. Although the money allotted for this isn't part of the AUSD budget, weren't funds used anyway to cover a shortfall in this area? Onto suggestions for cuts, another pet peeve I have deals employee non-productiveness. On this note, I suggest that custodian cuts are high on the list. In elementary through high school experiences I haven't noticed much basic cleanliness or supply stocking, let alone pride in one's work. I know many of the students are not willing to use the bathroom. In the high school, one can find used tampons tossed on the floor, stench, no soap or toilet paper. Many students at the elementary school level will "hold it" until they can get home also. Is it that tough for a janitor to make sure toilets are flushed after each recess or/and lunch? My greatest hope is that the board will also insist on some accountability from our superintendent. I hope his recent 4% raise is questioned, as well as figuring out why after years have gone by he is still a resident in Southern California.
I admit I have not been to a meeting in the last few years and my perspective could be skewed, but to allow ineptitude and feed more to the wealthiest while making more demands and cut-backs from those most interested in our children is wrong. Also, I think that taking away class size reduction in third grade is a multi-mistake. We will never get it back. It makes a farce of Measure A and slaps the face of the voters of Alameda who believed in giving the children a chance.
As a parent of 3 kids in AUSD, I am adamantly opposed to budget modifications that would directly affect the kids and teachers, such as increasing the 3rd grade class size – I admit that I don’t follow the politics of AUSD very closely, but how the board can get away with giving the superintendent a raise when everything else is getting cut is beyond me.
Please do not eliminate class size reduction for Grade 3. As a very
involved parent volunteer of a 5th grader and a 1st grader, I know what a
classroom of 32 students is like (as well as a what a classroom of 20
students is like). On average, I volunteer in the classroom for 3
hours each week.
A classroom of 32 students boils down to less time per student and more
time spent on group activities. If your child is a good student and on
the quiet side, it is very easy to not be challenged, just do what is
expected and slide on through. More time is spent on the louder, often
This is not where I want my children to be forced to learn.
Third grade is a pivotal year for encouraging independence, increasing
homework demands and solidifying good study habits. Real writing,
in-depth research reports and oral presentations are emphasized. It is
unrealistic to expect our children to excel in these areas in a classroom
of 32 students.
It is too easy for students in a classroom of 32 students to slip
through the cracks. Fortunately, my children are great students, but I am
concerned that if third grade class size increases to 32, the children
at both the high and the low ends of the scale will suffer.
I realize that you must make cuts somewhere, but please do not make
them to this degree in the classroom.
Thank you for your consideration.
It has come to the attention of many students that the school board wishes to cut the position of counselors at Alameda High School. With all due respect, we understand that this is a cut made out of necessity and budget interests, but all of the counselors at Alameda High are valuable. From a student’s point of view: rather than simply calling us to the office when we sign our names up and dictating robotically the same sort of speech they tell to everyone, they take time to actually think about who needs what and what can be done best with the situation. Occasionally, they call students, just wanting to wonder about your health and your workload, and more importantly, how you feel about what you’re doing. Would you not want the best for your children as well?
On a more personal note… no one can avoid the first day of freshman year. Nor can anyone avoid the discomfort and insecurity that comes along with it. On my first day as a freshman, I was extremely indecisive and worrisome, but Mr. xxxxx took time to try and listen to my interests rather than categorizing me as one of the crowd who just wants to get into college. Every time I go through a full year I am amazed at the perfect schedule magic that almost reflects my personality and my own academic goals. I am sure that you had once--or even still do—have children in this same situation . And, seeing as that you are on the Board of Education, you must have some sort of special interest in the future of your child, in their ambitions and dreams. If you value success and familiarity, do not cut this position. Hopefully the sentiments of many students such as I will convince you otherwise.
I have been receiving emails from other concerned parents urging us,
the parents of Alameda students, to add our names to a letter regarding
Class Size Reduction that they will be presenting to you, the Board, at
tomorrow's budget meeting.
I feel compelled to write my own letter to plead the importance of the
smaller class sizes and how it has helped my daughter.
My daughter is now in the Mrs. xxxxx's 1st grade class in xxxxx Elementary School. Prior to starting Kindergarten at xxxxx, my
daughter attended 15 months of preschool during which she never spoke a
single word to any of her classmates or teachers. We thought she was
extremely shy since she spoke without a problem at home.
In September of 2003, she started Kindergarten at xxxxx and we
mentioned to Ms. xxxxx, her teacher, regarding her "shyness". Ms. xxxxx
initially told us not to worry about it because kids her age tend to be
shy. Two weeks later, she requested to meet with me and my husband
because xxxxx still wasn't speaking to her. She told us that in her 30
years of teaching, xxxxx is the first student who went beyond 2 weeks
of school and was still not talking to her. After some discussion and
a few updates, we decided to have xxxxx evaluated by the school
psychologist and the speech therapist. xxxxx initially did not talk with
either of them, but by the third visit of one-on-one counseling with the
speech therapist, xxxxx broke her silence and spoke freely to her.
The strange thing was, she still refused to utter a word to Ms. xxxxx or
the other students (she was actually whispering to one other student
who came from the same preschool as she did). One of the hardest and
most frustrating parts to see as a parent was her periodic assessment
scores. Since Samantha did not speak to Ms. xxxxx, Ms. xxxxx couldn't
assess her and she scored low in many areas even though my husband and I
know she could do everything listed on the assessment form.
At the same time she was referred to the school psychologist, I called
her pediatrician and xxxxx was referred to the the Psychology Department
to see one of their Licensed Clinical Social Workers. She was given
the diagnosis of Selective Mutism. More information is available here:
2-3 visits of one-on-one counseling, Samantha also began speaking
freely to the social worker.
By the end of the Kindergarten school year, xxxxx had begun speaking
with 4-5 classmates sitting nearby her desk. My husband and I met with
Ms. xxxxx and the school psychologist to plan for her next year in
hopes to continue her progress. Ideas included more small group
activities, keeping her in the same class with the one student she was talking to
(her preschool classmate), and meeting with her first grade teacher
before school started.
In August of 2004, before the first day of school, we arranged to meet
Mrs. xxxxx, xxxxx's current teacher. Not surprisingly, xxxxx
stared at her without saying anything. Since then, Mrs. xxxxx continues
to work closely with xxxxx as well as arranges small reading groups
to encourage xxxxx to speak. Since xxxxx initially wouldn't
speak to her, Mrs. xxxxx had her read to the other students in their
small group. Mrs. xxxxx was even able to come up with an innovative
idea to use a "whisper phone" which xxxxx uses to whisper into one end
while Mrs. xxxxx listens on the other. Mrs. xxxxx has been able
to perform her assessment of Samantha and she was given average to
above average scores. My husband and I are so happy that she is able to
show her teacher what she knows! Not only is she "whisper-reading" in
her small groups, she is able to speak to all of the 19 children in her
class! I am so grateful to Mrs. xxxxx on making the extra effort to
work with my daughter.
Of all the different techniques we have tried since Kindergarten until
now, the only ones which came with success have been the use of the
whisper phone and the small groups. I have no doubt that the smaller
class sizes enabled Mrs. xxxxx and previously Ms. xxxxx to work more
closely with xxxxx to slowly get her to speak. Our biggest fear was
that xxxxx would go through school and life, not talking to anyone
other than her family. It is a frustrating journey that my husband and I
continue to face outside of school, but the progress she is making in
school has been a tremendous relief.
Please do not eliminate the Class Size Reduction in the early years.
It is because of the smaller classes that my daughter was identified and
steps are being taken with great success for her to overcome her
I am the parent of two children, one at Lincoln and one at Bay Farm. My children both benefited from the lower class size, especially in third grade where the curriculum becomes more difficult in writing and in math. Cuts in the budget should not effect class size. Please vote against this proposed cut.
Instead of cutting the class sizes, why not eliminate the consultants and fluff administrative jobs.
Thank you to each of you making education a priority in Alameda. We all know that the task ahead will not be an easy one. As a parent of 2 elementary school children and an infant, I have seen the value of the 20-1 teacher to student ratio in the K-3 grades. Cutting this program would be a step in the wrong direction. Please do what you can to keep these ratios as they are today. Programs such as these are invaluable to the education of our youth.
As the parent of a first-grader at xxxxx and a pre-schooler who will be
entering xxxxx in two years, I feel compelled to add my comments to the
debate about the budget cuts. I am extremely committed to public
education and am an active volunteer, but I confess I'm quite disturbed
by some of the current suggestions on the table.
I know you've been deluged with other comments, so I will keep my own
Cutting arts, music, and physical education will make our schools less
attractive to Alameda families and less effective in the long run.
Dozens of studies have shown that art, music, and PE actually increase
academic performance. And certainly these types of classes enrich our
students' emotional, social, and even spiritual experience of their
Increasing the class size for the younger grades, again, will diminish
the quality of the schools. Young children need more personal attention
than older ones do. If the mandate is "No Child Left Behind", we need
acknowledge that more children will be left behind if we increase class
sizes by a third.
A drop in enrollment is best offset not by cutting programs, but by
maintaining or even boosting the quality of existing programs and
a concerted marketing effort to woo the families of Alamedan children
who might be tempted to go to private schools on or off the island.
Those families would contribute not only much-needed students, but also
parental time and talent. On the other hand, if the quality of Alameda
schools decreases, I fear that the district will lose some of the
families that contribute the most at this point.
I agree that cutting counseling and coaching at the middle and high
schools would be tragic. Pre-adolescent and adolescent children need to
have adults outside of their families who understand them and can
I havent seen any figures on computer purchase and training in the
AUSD. But I would like to point out that few, independent studies
independent of software companies) have shown that heavy use of
computers in schools actually helps children learn. (See Todd
Oppenheimers The Flickering Mind for a full analysis of the pros and
cons of our current emphasis on computers in schools). But small class
sizes, and full explorations of art, music, science, and critical
thinking very much do create lifelong learners and responsible
Could computer budgets be cut, even in the short-term, to save what we
know benefits our children? Computer skills can be learned in a week (I
myself learned how to use WordStar, back in the early 80s, in 48 hours
and learned to use a Mac in three days in 1985). Critical thinking,
work, and artistic expression take years and dedicated teaching to
impart. Which is really more valuable?
I confess I'm totally baffled by the plans to open and close schools
the island. Am I right in thinking we will close Woodstock, but then
open another school? Isn't that sort of a waste of money and resources?
Thank you for your consideration of my points.
Please, please do not increase the class size in 3rd grade. At this age, the smaller class size is extremely beneficial. After 3rd grade the children are better equipped to handle a larger class size in 4th grade. My now 11 year old daughter said that when she started the 4th grade she increase in class size for only a few days, and then the class size felt normal. I know a lot of parents feel this way I hope they write!
Please consider cuts as far from the classroom as possible. Class size reduction is a very short sighted solution.
I realize we must reduce the school budget because of ongoing cuts to state education funding and a significant drop in student enrollment. However, I find it quite disturbing that the superintendent is recommendating class size reduction be eliminated in third grade as one way to remedy the situation.
Because I have a child in third grade this year, I am familiar with the teacher's already difficult task of preparing students to meet the expectations of the fourth grade in reading, writing, and math. Third grade is pivotal to the success of schools meeting state academic standards. Increasing class size would make the teacher's job impossible and severely short change our children. Why damage the quality of education teachers, parents, and students have worked so hard to achieve in our Alameda schools?
Won't you please consider other ways to reduce the budget while preserving education in our Alameda schools?
One possibility that has surfaced is the sharing of a principal between two schools. While this might present some administrative difficulties, it would have a minimal effect on teachers and the hundreds of third grade students they will be teaching in the next few years.
I urge you to make a decision in favor of quality education for Alameda students by voting against increasing class size.
Although I may not be at the meeting I do have some points.
A final note: All I've heard over and over again is cut the school
cut the school program there. I'd like to know when those students who
suffered will be getting back that which was taken from them? If a
little more time was spent on planning then you would have a better
system. It is the system that is flawed not the people in it. That
includes you, maybe it's time to take a fresh look at things,
and work with your people. Look for ways to attract customers not chase
them away. As of right now my daughter looks forward to going to school
everyday. If you make drastic changes she could very well be hardened
toward the idea of school.
- Adjust Teacher Staffing as a result of Lower Enrollment
Although the Superintendent and staff Agree, I would like to know
where the volunteers/Staffing are going to come from to fill these
vacant positions when they are needed. As I understand it, there are
already two volunteer physical education people and one music person.
All of which receive little or nothing at all. There's three positions
right there that are needed and this is for one school.
- Implement the mega-item transfer provision
Ok, so there's 55,000 lost. Is that or is it not the salary of two
or three part time instructors (see above for suggestions). If you
that money and split it up between all the schools you will loose its
impact on the community. How about evaluating the or those schools that
have the high enough attendance to justify the money for the people.
- Eliminate a Carpenter Position
I have no Idea what the carpenter was doing full time, so I'll only
ask that it be re-evaluated later on.
- Transfer Expenses to Restricted Programs
Ok, So what is this exactly?
- Implement a Spending Freeze in the district Office Only
It's good to see that everyone is trying to help
- Implement a hiring Freeze District wide
Ok, if the attendance is that low. But please watch this very
closely (I'll get to why later)
- Reduce use of substitute custodians
Ok, so who is going to clean up the schools?
- Reduce Energy use by 5%
Come on, What are they going to do that will accomplish this?
are not left on all night and all day. I drive by several schools and
see even the lights for the play grounds are off. Teachers instill in
our children, who repeat back to us the importance of saving energy.
- Reduce Overtime
I really don't know of any teachers turning in over time but people
are then it should be questioned.
- Increase Revenue by Increasing Attendance by 1%
Thank you, I realize this is a problem for a lot of schools. But
when this affects the schools with medium to high attendance. That is
what needs to be re-evaluated. Please re-read Item 2.
- Utilize Measure C funds for Equipment Purchases
This is a good thing. But why is some of the money going away?
- Utilize Measure C funds for certain Administrative Expenses
Please see the note on Item 11
- Reduce Maintenance/Operations/Facilities (MOF) Staffing
Ok, but please use common pence when major repairs come up. It is
worth it to hire someone who is licensed and insured. But will cost
to do the job. Then it is to hire the lowest bidder, who can cost you
times the original amount and walk away.
- Eliminate the summer Differential Pay for custodians
Look they really do not receive that much to begin with, so a
extra to keep someone on the staff year round is worth it. They really
can find work other places, then who will be cleaning up after a summer
- Reduce Clerical Staffing at Encinal High School
The Staff recommendation is a good one. Base it on enrollment but
please don't forget to watch it.
- Reduce Health Clerks district wide
There is no way I would want someone who is not trained to be
touching my kid if something serious happened.
- Reduce District Office Clerical Support
Ok, so you're reducing the clerical support staff by three people.
Is the any kind of education to teach those who stay to better utilize
the tools at hand? They have computers on the desks. Do they use them
for anything other than a very big paper weight?
- Reduce English Language Development (ELD) Expenditures
Ok, so do you want to increase or decrease enrollment? It seems to
me if you reduce your services you reduce your customer base as well.
- Reduce Independent Study Teachers by.50 fte
This is acceptable but should be evaluated by enrollment into the
program, that services and customer base thing.
- Reduce Teacher Staffing at second Semester
This should only happen if the number of students dictates it, on a
per school basis.
- Reduce Counselors by 4.0 fte
I'd like to know, when was the last time you saw a counselor siting
around doing nothing. To arbitrarily do this is wrong.
This as with many other should be done on a per enrollment per school
- Assign 1 Principal to 2 schools
What, are you kidding? One day at this school and the next over
there. Talk about reducing service and making the customers mad
- Close One Elementary School
While the closure of Wood stock would save 299,000. It would only
cut the services offered to the people who will be moving into the
housing that will replace the apartments once there. In the long run
this will cost everyone. Why not reduce the staff according to
enrollment and place the staff in places where they are needed. You
those school that have high enrollment but no teachers or staff to
- Close Paden 6-8 Program
This does seem to make sense.
- Reduce Budget for Athletics in the High And Middle Schools
Talk about cutting services, we have these physical education and
after school activities that help as much if not more than class room
instruction. This is a dumb idea.
- Reduce/Eliminate K-5 Preparation Time
I'm sorry but what do you mean by this?
- Items 27,28,29,30) Eliminate class size reduction @ Grade K thru 3
Ok, so you want to increase class sizes. Doesn't that tell you more
staff is needed not less. I can see if you're running two very small
classes and you go over the limit by one or two when combing them. But
there is no way I would support something as arbitrary as changing all
class sizes up to a certain amount. Remember the discussion on
enrollment and staffing?
- Reduce the Encroachment by the WCDC Program
I would like to know what this is.
- Reduce the Encroachment by the Special Education Program
So, where exactly do you want them to go?
- Implement a 2 day Furlough
Ok, so offer it to the employees on a volunteer basis. If you make
it mandatory you will lose people and have votes looking for new
- Implement Reversion of COLA of 2.0%
See 2 Day furlough explanation.
- Freeze Step and Column Salary Increase
Please read 2 Day furlough explanation.
Thanks you for your time.
I am parent of a second grader in xxxxx school. I
got a Email yesterday from our PTA president saying
that there might be an increase of student ratio from
20 to 32 in the 3rd grade next school year.I totally
oppose this proposition. Our kids are still too young
to be able to cope up with such a big change. They
still need equal attention if not too much from the
teacher to be able to do well in the class. The teacher
too will be less stressed out. I strongly suggest that
the budget cuts should be kept away from the
Please, please reconsider increasing the class size for Grade 3. I feel that our priority should be on the kids and teachers, and cost reductions can come from other areas that won’t so directly affect education.
As you know there are serious budgetary proposals that will immediately
affect teachers and thus directly affect the quality of Alameda
schools, its students, and the entire community. Teachers are often talked
about but rarely heard from directly. Therefore, I would like to extend a
friendly invitation for you to visit my school site, see our students
and discuss how some of the proposed cuts will hamper teaching
practices and hurt students. It seems that the majority of the proposed cuts are aimed at teachers and all teacher cuts hurt students.
Teachers, including myself, offer a unique perspective that is often lost in heated debates. This would be a excellent opportunity to see us in our "natural habitat" and hear how "the cuts" alarm us as proud educators and community members.
Most distressing issues:
Losing 20-1 student teacher ratio in 3rd Grade Losing Prep teachers
(Music/PE/Computers/Library) and much more.
Please consider accepting a lunch visit to my fine school.
I want to thank you for your hard work and willingness to be in a
position to tackle such difficult issues as the current budget cuts. I
imagine you ran for school board for much the same reason I am writing
this letter; to promote quality education in Alameda. I am a parent and a school district employee. I came to work
for the Alameda Unified School District as a classroom teacher 18 years
ago. I am married to another classroom teacher. We chose to buy our home here and raise our
daughter xxxxx in the Alameda
public schools. I have worked at both ends of the island and currently work at xxxxx School. Many of my points echo
voices I have heard at the recent board meetings and budget workshop
(all of which I have attended) as well as by parents in the school
yards and AUSD staff members in the faculty rooms.
As we are faced with these painful decisions I think we need to
consider the long term effects as well as the short term gains of each
cut. I believe making cuts in the following areas are a big mistake;
middle and high school counselors, coaches stipends and class size
reduction. I also think preserving Paden’s Academy is a worthwhile
investment. I am perplexed by the decision to close Woodstock School
over Miller and/or Longfellow. And, I recommend support of Woodstock
Child Development Center as much as possible. No one in my immediate
family directly benefits from any of these expenditures at this time.
However, as an educator, I think the preschool and early elementary
years are a critical time for building academic skills and a foundation
for future educational success. On the other end of the spectrum, I
also believe we need to provide for our high school students as they
get ready to transition to the increased responsibilities and
independence of adulthood. Our students are living in stressful times
and their counselors and coaches are critical to providing a balanced,
complete and quality education.
I admit I have never understood opening a new school in these lean
times. While that decision appears final, the decision to close the
current Woodstock School and make those families relocate two times
makes no sense and does not seem fair. I am sure there are reasons
that I do not know of for this recommendation and I am looking forward
to hearing them at the next budget workshop. As an aside, I think it
is terrific that the next workshop has been relocated to Chipman.
While it certainly makes fiscal sense to close a school, I am saddened
that the west end will take the brunt of such a closure. Since a second
school will need to close upon the opening of the new Woodstock school,
we should wait and close the current Woodstock second. I know Miller
has a huge turn over in it’s population each year and it seems to me,
those students might benefit from being integrated into a somewhat more
stable population at another school site. However, I do not know if
getting to another site for the Miller families would be a further
hardship and perhaps further impact district ADA negatively in which
case we should consider closing Longfellow School first.
On a more personal level - what I want for myself, my family, my
community is to maintain the high quality in the public schools.
Although getting rid of class size reduction at third grade makes the
most sense out of all the listed grades, I believe it is still a huge
issue of quality (along with PE, music, sports, counselors etc.) which
keeps AUSD competitive with the plethora of private schools in the bay
area. I believe there are very serious implications such as; losing
families to private schools, in cutting such attractive, high quality
items. My husband and I considered private school for our daughter
before kindergarten and despite our support and dedication to the
public schools we, along with many other parents, will consider it
again. In losing parents such as ourselves the district loses far more
than just ADA but also countless hours of volunteering, fundraising,
increasing test scores and improving the lives of all students. On
any given day I embrace my job at xxxxx
School which involves far more than teaching reading but also making
sure my students basic health needs (food, sleep, dental care,
counseling etc.) are being met. Next I head to xxxxx School as a noon
supervisor and perhaps art docent. Before leaving xxxxx School I
collect the necessary paperwork from the school office for another
volunteer position - Alameda Education Foundation after school
enrichment coordinator. Before the night is over I most likely head
back to some school site for a meeting.
I would like to second what sounded like Tracy Jensen’s sentiments that
even though class size reduction costs the district, it would be a
shame to give up the state money we get to implement the program. I am
aware of districts (e.g. Livermore) that did away with class size
reduction only to bring it back the following year. Such actions have
hidden costs to the district - in relocating furniture, staff and
students. Finally, I believe the state has guidelines about reversing
class size reductions which I hope have been considered to in making
I am appalled that there is only one proposed cut to district office
(not including MOF). As we close an elementary school, decreasing
student enrollment needs to be reflected not only in school site
staffing but also district office staffing. Certainly a cut in central
office is further from the students than class size reduction,
counselors, coaches, Paden Academy or Woodstock Child Development
Center. I remember when the district was in dire financial straits
many years ago, our then assistant superintendent, John Sugiyama,
volunteered to take a pay cut and earned my ongoing respect. I think
Superintendent Nishino would earn similar respect and gain far more
cooperation if he made a similar gesture.
In closing, I would like to bring a couple of other items to your
attention. I am hoping that you are aware of AB825, a bill that was
recently passed and which will go into effect next school year. My
understanding is that this bill will allow transfer of up to 15% from
different budgets (e.g. Special Ed or SIP) into the general fund. I
hope that we do not make budget decisions now that could have been
avoided and that we will later regret. Finally, I have recently been
informed of another potential cost saver that should be of interest to
all. Boys and Girls Inc. claims to pay one flat fee to rent space at
district schools and the district pays their energy bills. Neighbors
can hear the heater at the Girls Inc. portables at Edison School
running throughout the night and all through Winter break. Girl’s Inc
employees need to be educated about our energy and financial
conservation measures. And, perhaps the school district needs to
consider increasing revenue in ways such as increasing the rent of
portables. Most importantly, we all need to work together to achieve
goals such as reducing energy costs by 5%.
Thank you for you time and attention to these issues. I have been most
impressed by your thoroughness and commitment to this arduous
I was informed that the position of head counselor was being considered to be one of the budget cuts. The head counselor has been the reason Alameda High School has remained a competitive high school with other high schools in affluent areas. Since my daughter xxxxx has set foot in the school, he has been instrumental in guiding, encouraging and counseling her as she competes for a top spot in her Junior class. The head counselor is one of the reasons why Sarah CAN consider schools like Princeton, UPenn, Stanford and UCLA. As other friends had doubts with the Alameda school system, particularly Lincoln Middle and Alameda High, I assured them that they were both good schools – only because of positive experiences with the head counselor. If you want to lose high school kids to private or catholic schools like Bishop O’Dowd, College Prep or St. Joseph’s, keep continuing on the path you are thinking with budget cuts, and you won’t even have competitive kids coming out of the public school systems. You will have kids setting their goals for Laney, College of Alameda or Diablo Valley instead of thinking of the top 10 colleges.
The head counselor has been compassionate and caring as a counselor, not only advising through academics, but thinking of Sarah’s emotional and physical health. We have loved having the head counselor as our counselor, and have encouraged many parents with children on the same academic path to go straight to him. I remember distinctly an experience with an Alameda High School counselor with xxxxx as a freshman asking about possibly taking a summer school course. Her response was “Why should she?” as she couldn’t understand that xxxxx wanted to be more prepared to concentrate on her AP classes as she wanted to get a busy elective out of the way. That was my first and last encounter with that counselor. If only you had more counselors that understood high achieving students and their passion to succeed yet still maintaining a balance between school, family and responsibilities like the head counselor. Do any of you school board members have jr. high or high school children? Do any of you school board members have children that have set their eyes on schools like Stanford, UPenn, Princeton or UCLA without going to a private school you have to pay thousands for? Have any of you school board members ever set foot in the Alameda High School counseling office and seen the counselors in action? Our family does not have the money to spend on the private schools grooming our children for those prestigious academic schools…we are saving for college not for jr. high or high school. With the head counselor at Alameda High, you are helping your own school district compete with other high schools academically known to be the best ( Piedmont, Lafayette, Orinda, Danville) without the attitude.
We have 3 more children coming up in the Alameda Public School system, one entering Alameda High next year. He has also set his academic goals high and is looking forward to working with the head counselor . Actually, we are looking forward to working with the head counselor as our counselor for a long time, he is the one of the only reasons why we don’t bolt out of Alameda to look for another public school that has a better academic reputation. I think the consideration to cut the head counselor position would be a mistake and would have negative effects on both the parents and the students. Alameda schools would suffer a great loss to lose a head counselor.
Please retain the Class Size Reduction Program through 3rd Grade!
This is an extremely valuable and worth while program. It has paid
huge dividends for our daughter. (We understand the
Superintendent/Staff recommended elimination of this program in the
Spending Reduction Plan for Fiscal Year 2005-06 and it is now up to the
We are the proud parents of xxxxx xxxxx, a second grader at xxxxx Elementary. We are delighted to inform you that xxxxx has
benefited from the 20 student limit in her kindergarten, first, and now
second grades. At this young age the kids are at vastly different
skill levels. Without the increased individual attention afforded by a
20 to 1 ratio and the many parent volunteers, Adriana would likely have
been left behind.
xxxxx, several months younger than the class average was a slow
starter. For example, she would come home with unfinished worksheets
in her backpack. We learned that she had not understood the
instructions and did not know what to do other than simply collect the
worksheets. We of course worked with her, but we also spoke with her
teachers and agreed that Adriana should be encouraged to ask for help
when she didn't understand. This worked brilliantly and her confidence
came back. In a larger class, xxxxx may have been too intimidated
or the teacher too busy!
Some of the kids, xxxxx included, will begin 3rd grade before their
8th birthday. They are still very young and may not yet have
developed orderly study habits - they will require more personal
attention. There will remain vast disparity in their skill levels. It
would be a waste to lose these kids in a massive class population of up
to 32, fully 60% greater than they had in second grade.
Please consider the interests of our kids, please keep the cuts out of
the class room, and please keep the Class Size Reduction Program
through 3rd grade.
I am a parent with three children who will be attending xxxxx
Elementary next year. For almost four years, I have wholeheartedly supported
the school both financially and with my time. I am a stay-at-home-mom
who spends about 5 hours per week volunteering at xxxxx. I see how
nearly impossible it is for a teacher to devote the individual
attention that many students need to master the curriculum of each grade level
(let alone motivate advanced students).
It is extremely frustrating to see the student/teacher ratios of other
states at 15:1 while California, and specifically Alameda, is at 20:1
until 3rd grade and 32:1 from then on. Our state regularly scores at
the bottom of the national education standard and increasing class size
will only make this worse. We should be moving forward in improving
education not backward.
I know that you and the superintendent have the extremely difficult
task of closing the budget gap for the next school year. I am writing
this letter to ask that you exhaust all other possibilities before
implementing cuts that will impact classroom education directly and adversely.
I know people who have the choice of sending their children to private
schools but have chosen Bay Farm (and other Alameda public schools)
instead. An increase in class size will make the Alameda public schools
much less appealing. So is the $90K saved this year worth the
deterioration in 3rd grade education and the potential loss of future students?
I hope you will be able to keep the third grade class size at where it
As a xxxxx Elementry School, xxxxx middle School and xxxxx High School parent, I am forwarding my comments on the 2005-06 spending reduction plan for your consideration:
I understand the need for the reduced spending plan and concur Superintendent/Staff recommendations with the following exceptions:
- Implement reduction of 1 proncipal (savings of $106,000). Recommend shared by proximity (i.e. Bayfarm) to minimize travel time
- Don't eliminate 3rd grade size reduction (increase $90,000)
- Implement 2-day furlough (savings $532,000) in lieu of reducing COLA. Same affect in that it reduce's someone's net income, but may be more palatable as receipant gets benefit of 2 days off.
- Implement salary freeze (savings of $526,000) for 1 year. Not good but better than eliminating teachers.
- Eliminate summer differential pay for custodians (savings of $26,775). Alternative - can work be outsourced district wide for more savings?
- Provide minimum English Development Expenditures (savings of $60,000??)
My daughter is in the 3rd grade in Alameda. She has struggled with reading and writing since 1st grade. She is a smart girl and not eligible for extra help at school. We have spent our own money to get her the extra assistance she needs. We are finally rounding the corner and she is approaching grade level skills in all areas. Without the extra attention she receives from her 3rd grade teacher this year, I would have a very frustrated daughter. Please do not even think of putting 32 students in a 3rd grade classroom. If this situation was being discussed last year, I would be searching for a private school. Children develop differently and we are already pushing them too fast. 32 kids will leave many more children struggling to get their skills to grade level.
Don't let our kids struggle.
I am writing to express my concerns about proposed cuts to the budget. As the parent of two children at xxxxx Elementary School and a taxpayer who voted for Measure A, I am dismayed at what is happening in our schools.
First and foremost, I would like the board to know that I and many other parents oppose the idea of increasing class sizes in K-3. As a volunteer in the classroom I have seen how teachers have to use their skills to the utmost in order to work effectively with 20 wiggly children. That this happens daily is a miracle that we are all thankful for. Because of the smaller numbers, teachers can arrange their classes in learning stations and cooperative learning groups. Once the numbers go up, it's much harder to do this with space limitations in the average classroom and much harder to manage. And much harder for the children who need individualized help to get it.
Second, I realize that the board has to make some hard choices once the "easier" cuts such as not hiring additional staff due to smaller enrollment are made. However, I must say that when I face a trade-off such as custodians versus school nurses I would pick the school nurse. Why? Not because I like a dirty environment but because lack of a nurse during all the hours that school is in session means potential harm to my kids. Earhart has been very lucky to have had a full-time nurse until this year. Now we have a health worker who is only on campus a few hours a day. The secretary is great at dispensing comfort and bandaids when the nurse is not there but she cannot give medication. What of the children who have more serious injuries or life-threatening conditions? One of my children has peanut allergy and will go into anaphylactic shock if she accidentally ingests it. This is a situation in which minutes count. At age 6, I cannot trust that she will remember that she has an epi-pen and inject herself. Nor do I want to take the chance that she'll have an emergency during one of those hours in which the health worker is available.
Thank you for your attention to my concerns.
I find myself quite surprised at the superintendent’s recommendation that class size reduction be eliminated in third grade. I don’t understand the educational value in increasing the class size in a grade level that is pivotal to the success of schools meeting the always increasing state academic standards.
As a third grade teacher, I work very hard to prepare my students to meet the expectations of the fourth grade in reading, writing, and math. Whereas primary grade expectations are mainly focused on learning to read, third grade is where our students begin to read to learn and express their thoughts and conclusions in the written word. From there, students move into the fourth grade where they are, for the first time, tested against state standards in writing and compared with students statewide. Math, too, becomes a standard of emphasis in fourth grade as it is a considered criterion in the retention of students, also for the first time.
Where is the wisdom, then, in decreasing the instructional time students will get in third grade? How can teachers be expected to offer the same quality education to each of their students when their workload is increased by half? Considering these questions, would it not be reasonable to expect that third grade students will be less well prepared for fourth grade and the resultant test scores will drop?
Is this proposed cut an honest attempt to preserve quality education in Alameda schools, or is it an ill thought out solution to a budgetary problem that will create much more serious problems down the road? Sometimes, I can’t help but think that administrators consider only money problems as worth being addressed, and it saddens me to think that I might be right. What about the kids and the quality of their education? Where do they stand?
I pray that you will look for other ways to save that $90,000, rather than doing it in a way that will damage the quality of education in our Alameda schools. One possibility that was considered by Dr. Nishino but not recommended to the board is the sharing of a principal between two schools that would save $107,000. That might present some administrative difficulties, but it would have minimal effect on the several hundreds of third grade students we will teach in the next few years. Please find another way of meeting the budget that won’t undo the great progress we’ve made in the past nine years. It would be almost criminal to throw all that good work away.
I am the parent of a current second grader at xxxxx School, with a 4 year old ready to join her sister there in 2006. Coming from a background of over 25 years of corporate and non-profit accounting and financial work experience, I sympathize with you and know the task of balancing a budget, especially your current and future Education budgets, will be a challenge that will truly require and test "the wisdom of Solomon". As you take on this effort, please know that I expect you all to stand by the platforms that got you elected and keep the very best interest of our children and their future as the top priority. A very simple rule to keep in mind: You must not compromise the quality and current standard of classroom education when deciding the make your budget decisions. Reduce administrative/non-value added areas first, and, hard to do but nevertheless, keep politics out of this exercise! You do not want to be known as "the School Board that sank the Alameda Unified School District", believe me, the parents and voters of Alameda WILL NOT FORGET! It does not all have to be negative, there are opportunities here to do good things; remember your individual pledges made that got you elected and the legacy you can leave, that should be your direction. Do "the right thing" and you will continue to have the support of this household. Good Luck!
As a parent of a district student, I urge you to vote against the
proposal to increase the class sizes for Grade 3.
While I fully understand the need to cut costs, increasing the student
count is counter-productive towards the most important goal of
elementary education – to ensure a quality-learning environment
(particularly during the K-3 grades) for our students.
I realize that the budget issues before the board require tough
decisions and I trust that the board will continue to place the quality
education of our children atop of all issues.
Please keep the cuts away from the classroom. Our youngest learners need the individual attention that the smaller classroom provides. I encourage you to look elsewhere for staffing reductions.
I am the parent of a kindergarten student at xxxxx Elementary School. I am quite alarmed at the prospect of increasing class sizes for elementary children. This cut will mean a significant decrease in the quality of education of all students. We have many friends in other Bay Area School districts who often comment on how fortunate we are to live in AUSD and have such good schools. We hope to continue to "brag" about living in Alameda in the future.
I sincerely hope you can find other ways to reduce the budget. I am sure this is a difficult task.
Thank you so much for your efforts.
As a parent of a current 2nd grader, I am very concerned about the recommendation to eliminate class size reduction at Grade 3. I really believe that they still need the extra attention at this age. While I realize that it will be an extreme challenge to reduce the already dismal school budget next year by $2.4M, I strongly oppose cuts made in the classroom. Please keep class size at 20 for Grade 3.
I am very disappointed that the proposal to budget cutting is to increase class sizes in 3rd grade. I would certainly hope that every means possible has been exhausted for reduction of budget before this needs to occur.
I would rather see music programs eliminated from schools before class sizes are increased at lower levels.
It is absolutely crucial at the 3rd grade level to have the smaller class sizes with what the educational requirements are at the present.
I write to you as a parent and PTA member at xxxxx School. I have read the proposed list of cuts drawn up by the Superintendent and Staff. I feel compelled to write to you to ask that you keep budget cuts away from the classroom. I am particularly concerned that class size reduction is being recommended for elimination at Grade 3. This will not help us in our role of serving children and ensuring that no child be left behind.
I know that Bill and David have children at Alameda schools and I urge you most strongly not to accept this recommendation as a way of saving money. You have difficult decisions to make to balance the books, but please look carefully elsewhere. Thank you for your consideration.
I'd like to express my concern over any budget changes to classroom size. I am a parent of three with two children at xxxxx and can not imagine a third grade class of 32. I'm dismayed that my daughter is entering fourth grade next year and will have to change to 32. I think it would be very unlikely that I would send my six month old to Earhart in five years were there 32 children per class. The 20:1 ratio was a big factor in deciding to send my children to xxxx and not Head Royce. Several parents I know do not opt for Catholic school mainly because of the Catholic schools' large class sizes in lower grades. I understand how difficult it is to decide what programs to cut, however, I think it would be irresponsible to inlcude class size reduction to cut programs as it affects all children under 8 in Alameda (once it's gone, it's not coming back) and could negatively impact the budget with parents opting for private school.
I plan to be at the meeting next Tuesday to voice my concerns. The parent community at xxxxx and xxxxx are planning a large showing to express concern over class size. Perhaps the Board or Dr. Nishino should open the meeting stating that class size will not be touched and the $90k elimination will be proposed from 1) Summer differential pay to custodians ($27k), 2) Health Clerks ($34k), 3) Increase in cut to substitute custodians to $25k ($15k), and more aggressive approach to attendance ($14k). This would help eliminate the yelling and scowlling guaranteed to occur and do wonders for the Board's and Dr. Nishino's image in the eyes of the parents and teachers.
Please keep our lower grade class sizes at 20 students.
Last night I heard a rumor that the school board had voted to approve
raises to three top school district administrators. I told the
individual that they must be mistaken. I was having a hard time believing that with all the budget cuts the school board was proposing, (school closures,
eliminating 20 to 1, laying off classified as well as credential
teachers, wage freezes) that they would allow raises for three top officials.
I think this kind of action would just destroy any credibility the
school board might t be holding on to. I know first hand this will not sit
well with the employees of the school district. The school board. Having
worked in the private industry for over 30 years and having controlled
budgets up to $400 million, when things got tough, executives do not ask the
employees to make sacrifices along. Most recently, DHL asked all employees to take a 10% wage cut for one year, have their salaries returned the second year
and frozen the third year. This was done across the board everyone
If the rumor I heard last night is true, the school board as well as
the school district, will be standing on shaky ground. I am sure the
teachers, classified workers, parents and citizens will not put up with this
roll-over attitude of the school board. Please help me keep the faith
that the school board is doing the right thing and dispel these rumors.
Note:The contracts approved at January 25th meeting were two year contract extensions with no increases of compensation.
I am writing to express my concern over the situation
in the AUSD currently with the budget cuts. I have
been very dismayed by the complete lack of value for
our children's creative nourishment within the
curriculum and fear any attempts by myself and
like-minded parents of the Arts-4-AUSD will be in
Please take into account our children need situations
and nourishment not only for their reading skills but
for their own unique personalities to thrive.
I plead with you to consider a space, some space,
within the school curriculum for the arts to be placed
and given the value they deserve in our children's
One of the issues that has been of concern with the way the district operates is the lack of transparency. The decision to close Woodstock, made as it was without community input and without discussing the issue with the families involved is an egregious example of this style. If the school to be closed was Edison or Bay Farm, you can be sure that there would have been a different process. In communities throughout the area when boards have had to close schools there was public discussion. Is it because the Woodstock community is judged to be the least likely to raise objections to closure that the decision was made? This is the same old Alameda.
Note: The decision to close a specific school has NOT been made. While has staff made its initial recommendation, the Board has not acted on that recommendation.
I attended the public meeting last Tuesday, January 18th. in our cafeteria at AHS and have some concerns about some of the cutbacks, as so many of us do.
One of the items I really take exception to and ask you to consider is NOT reducing the number of counselors at the high school and middle schools. Along with this I also take exception to removing the title of “Head Counselor” at the high schools. One of you also mentioned that the Head Counselor also carries an “administrator” title, which is true, and that they do not have a caseload, which is not true.
The Head Counselor at Alameda High School, DOES currently have an assigned case load of 255 students, as well as the students who do not get along with their current counselor. He has all of the ELD students, who are labor intensive. He also does all of the AP testing and CAHSEE testing. I know that both Head Counselors, at EHS and AHS, do the Master Schedule and scheduling for their respective schools, which in the past was the job of the Instructional Vice Principals and their secretary. They both also carry out any and all administrative duties as set forth by their principals. Our other counselors here at Alameda High School, currently have caseloads ranging from a low of 363 to a high of 461. These numbers will change next year as our large freshman class gets divided amongst the other counselors and a new large class of incoming freshmen arrive.
I also agree with one of the speakers, that counselors are very important at the middle school level, where there are so many life changes with so many of our students and their families.
The items that jump out at me as hurting the district most are the following:
The prep time elimination seems to be a big cost savings measure, but it sure cheats our kids out of a well rounded education. (Art could also be something offered during this time). I think we all must work together on saving this. Thank you again for giving information and being accessible.
- Eliminating Class Size Reduction
- Reducing ELD Expenditures
- Reducing/Eliminating K-5 Prep Time (music, pe, media center)
- One principal for two schools
As you face the daunting prospect of cutting $2.4 million from next years budget, I know you are faced with some very bad choices, since this district has long ago cut the “fat” out of the budget. I also know that you will be getting impassioned pleas from every sector that is being trimmed to cut somewhere else. I want to give you my input on the proposed cut in counseling and site administration at the high schools.
The proposal you will receive from district management 1/25 includes a cut of 2.5 FTE in counseling for 2005-06. My understanding is that the cut breaks down to 1FTE Head Counselor, and 1.5 counselors (.5 cut at AHS, EHS, and Island).
The proposal is that there would be 1 Head Counselor for the three high schools, who would float 2 days at AHS, 2 days at EHS, and 1 day at Island each week. .
This would not only be a horrific cut In counseling (the surviving counselors would have a caseload of over 600 students each), but it would also be a devastating cut in site administration. The Head Counselor is the fourth administrator at each comprehensive high school, and this proposal would be cutting administration at each high school by 25%. This would place an additional crushing burden on the principal and Vice principals for night administrative duties. Each high school must have an administrator present at all basketball games (home, away, girls, boys) as well as all home and away football games, and all home soccer matches. It would also give the surviving administrators increased responsibility for the master schedule, CAHSEE testing, STAR testing, AP exams, and SAT testing.
One possibility I would like you to consider is reinstating the effort for all staff to do a 2 day furlough. This would save $532,000 and that has been dropped in the recommendation by senior staff. I believe that last year all the unions except the teachers would have approved this, and I believe that this year even the teachers would be more likely to consider that option, considering the stark choices.
Best wishes in your difficult task.
I would like to let you know of some concerns about
the budget cuts, which I share with many parents I
have spoken to.
Everyone recognizes this is a difficult time. In my
opinion, that makes it more important than ever to be
implementing that which maintains and builds the most
vital aspects of our education system.
Cutting enriching programs is a downward spiral,
educationally and financially. Enlarging class sizes,
removing music, media center, and PE from the
elementary schools, and cutting sports programs would
drastically reduce the quality of school life and
education for the children. In addition, I have been
part of many conversations lately among parents who
are considering transferring their children to private
schools if these cuts are made - an obvious negative
financial impact on the District. New families will
also less likely be attracted to Alameda schools if
these cuts are made.
I also strongly support keeping open Paden's middle
school - though small, it is one of the highest
quality programs in our District. Sharing principals
among two schools also would be very detrimental - the
principals' presence in the schools and close
connection with parents, teachers, and children, is
I, and several parents I have spoken to, would prefer
to see efficiency achieved with keeping administrative
costs down wherever possible (except sharing
principals between schools), and perhaps closing one
of the smaller schools if that is necessary to meet
the budget - rather than cutting enriching programs
throughout the schools.
In the bigger picture, I and many other parents want
to see new programs integrated into the schools that
would vitalize the whole educational experience for
the children - especially arts education, which has
the potential to greatly broaden children's thinking,
help them more fully engage in school, raise academic
achievement, and make Alameda schools very attractive
for families considering moving to Alameda. Both
educationally and financially, the benefits could far
exceed the costs. Alameda could become known for
having high-quality, enriching arts programs in the
There is strong support at the County level to
integrate a broad arts education into all of the
schools, and many other Districts in our county and
other counties are doing so. I say, let's take
advantage of the momentum and look toward long-term,
positive, vitalizing, re-building of our schools -
arts education being one key way of doing this - as
the best way of meeting difficult times.
I have received and reviewed the list of proposed cuts by the Superintendent and his staff. It appears that a compromise is proposed between all the groups of interest involved.
While it is very difficult to judge the fairness of the proposed cuts without having seen the total budget, it is obvious that the children are clearly not the beneficiaries.
I as a parent of two and soon three children in xxxxx School am particularly concerned about the remaining elimination of the CSR in third grade. Did the board consider seriously the impact of this step? Not only for the education of the children but also with respect to the potential financial impact? $90000 is not a lot of money to be saved while the loss might be much bigger, particularly considering that every lost child costs $4800! Was this step discussed with teachers? In the long term, AUSD can only be interested in providing the best environment for teachers to keep and attract the best.
It is not difficult to observe that the loss of 300 students in the district and therefore the loss of about $1.4M generates the biggest burden on the budget. However, what I don’t see are the savings for the district due to the fact that there are 300 students less. I see $300k due to a closed school and $287k for teacher and staff adjustments. Where are the remaining ~$900k? Again, it’s difficult to draw conclusions without the total budget.
Finally, so far I have mainly seen proposals to cut expenses (except the increase of attendance which the district should strive for continuously). How can we the parents or the community help to raise money to ease the burden on the district? At least, we should be able to discuss some options.
I realize that the decision you have to make will be difficult but I put my trust in you to put the children first and to reconsider the elimination of the CSR for the third grade.
Community Member 1/24/05
At Children's Learning Center, we are faced with the same budgeting
constraints as the district, except that we do not have unions to
with (a BIG exception). For a small school, we have amazing tenure
-- about half of our employees have been with us for 12 years or more
(five are at the 20+ year mark), so several people are pretty high on
the step and column schedule (we've always paid comparable to AUSD
teachers and admin). We offer fully paid health and dental for all
staff and dependents (Kaiser and Delta Dental), and the premiums are
killing us; this year we changed from the $15/visit copay to the
$20/visit copay to keep a lid on the increase at Kaiser. Small group
meetings in advance with staff got almost total buy-in with this,
a minimum of grumbling from staff.
Our only source of income is the tuition paid by districts for their
special ed students who are placed here, so we absolutely have to
do with our income; there is no deficit spending in our budget.
Two years ago, when we did not get the COLA, our top admin
team forewent their own salary increases to enable the teaching and
paraprofessional staff to get their raises.
We have cut expenses to the bone. The only outside consultants we
are auditing, legal and occasionally a legislative negotiator. We
brought almost all maintenance in-house (we own the elementary school
site at 2152 Central and lease the Middle/High school site at 1910
Central), and only use outside contractors for work outside our
expertise (roofing, boilers, touchy plumbing and
3x-week janitorial). We do our own painting and flooring,
cabinetry etc. We discontinued bottled water at both sites -- this
alone saved $2400 per site per year.
It is a policy here that for anything that will be discarded (trash
bags, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.) we comparison shop
versus big box such as Costco and buy the absolute lowest cost item.
We ask the janitors to only replace can liners when they are dirty or
wet -- office trash can liners get replaced 1x/wk max. We use
lightweight plastic disposable ware in food areas, and buy paper
in bulk at the lowest possible price. We scrutize prices in
and always take advantage of quantity purchases at sale prices (such
as for copy paper).
We deferred buying a new copier for the main office for another year
and are nursing along the one we have since annual maintenance is
for. When we do buy another one, we will buy it as opposed to lease
or time purchase, and save the finance charges.
We only have two school vehicles, so we maintain them for efficiency,
and buy all our gas at ARCO using prepaid gas debit cards rather than
Chevron, which saves at least $.10 per gallon.
Staff are now accustomed to turning off the lights as they leave the
workroom and bathrooms.
These small and large changes have saved us about 15% across the
over the last 3 years; things like increased Workers' Comp premium
costs are totally out of our control and we just have to budget for
them. We talk about employee safety and health at staff meetings and
have not had a single workers comp claim in the past 15 months, which
will help us keep future premium increases to a minimum, since
experience rating is a big factor in rate hikes. This has enabled us
to put the money that was available directly into program: staff and
curriculum. I spend a lot of time reading, researching, being
prepared in advance of need, so our Admin Team can budget with the
best information available.
These savings directly benefit the classrooms and program:
$125/student annual curriculum budget; $450 per classroom annually
consumable classroom supplies; $450 per classroom for consumable
curriculum (such as workbooks); intramural athletics programs with
basketball, softball and flag football -- etc.
AUSD can do many of the things I mention above, plus here are a few
Janitorial/Maintenance overtime: Design a rotating on-call schedule
with only one person to handle alam response, night calls, triage of
site emergencies which occur after hours. That person's schedule
would be during night hours. No one else should work overtime for
these purposes unless a major emergency occurs like flooding or
fire. This position could rotate annually, quarterly, monthly,
and this staff person should be assigned a cellphone. Only call-out
time outside of the night shift hours would be OT.
Public Information Officer: I tend to agree this is a position that
is nonessential and far from the classroom. Either eliminate the
position or make it half time.
Consultants: Do without. Postpone surveys, studies, etc. Defer
upgrading to CAT 6 wiring for at least a year. Sure, CAT 5 isn't
state of the art, but it works and it can work for another year.
Trainings/Continuing Education: Eliminate as many as possible. No
staff retreats, workshops, non-essential trainings.
Phones: set controls on all phones so that long distance is
eliminated or limited, except for key admin staff with justifiable
need. Eliminate as many cellphones as possible. Instead, reimburse
staff quarterly for school-related use of personal cellphones. Most
people have their own these days anyway; why pay for double
Categorial Programs: Okay, this might sound like heresy, but often
they consume more in administrative resources than the benefit
derived. Whereever possible, decline to participate in categorical
programs, especially if they consume resources without enriching
Vehicles: eliminate as many as possible. Do preventive maintenance
and buy the cheapest gas possible. Ask highly paid district staff
forego their vehicle allowances for the next FY.
SALARIES: This is a tough one because of the unions. Here are a few
DO pass on the COLA. It means a higher gross salary on paper,
which can make the difference in qualifying for a home or auto loan,
for example. However, do ask -- and all senior administrative staff
and possibly even the Board should lead by example -- that staff
allocate a voluntary payroll deduction via EFT to the Alameda
Education Foundation for an amount equal to the difference between
COLA less cost of health care increase and the former gross salary.
AEF is a perfect conduit for these funds; because it is a 501c3, all
contributions are tax deductible, which is a benefit to staff at tax
time, and AEF will then channel the funds back into classroom
supplies, subsidies for coaching stipends, equipment purchases,
This could be a big win-win.
ASK all staff earning over $100K gross to accept a salary freeze.
ASK Dr. Nishino to give back his most recent salary increase, or to
make equivalent contributions to AEF.
OR -- Morale-wise, I think it is very important for the rank and
file to at least be kept whole with respect to salary - so if the
is 3% and it only takes 1.25% to make up the difference between
salary plus increased health premiums, then ask staff to buy in to
taking a COLA of only 1.25% with the difference being retained in the
Attendance: This is a positive thing that every person in the
district can work on: eliminating absences. Every teacher,
principal, AEF, PTA, Board Member, Director should have personal
contact with families and students to explain what absences mean --
real human terms -- no dollars for lunch lady, no janitor to clean
dirty bathrooms; more kids in a classroom, fewer coaches. We faced
this same problem, and in an assembly at our May Open House we talked
to parents about how important it is to work with our schedule to
vacations, to refuse to allow kids to be truant, to know that it
fewer staff and services -- and within two months we were seeing a 2%
increase in attendance. But it can't be a one-time message; it needs
constant reinforcement and of course student buy in. The
awards/rewards program outlined in the handout from Tuesday was a
Retaining Middle School students: Marketing to retain students
than lose them to private, charter or secular schools is a great
but that means keeping valuable programs like Paden Academy.
Revenue from Rental of Facilities: Yes, if the state parks and
national parks can raise entry fees, and the public libraries can
increase their community room rental fees, then so can the district.
Maybe not to market rate rents, but this is something that should
definitely be looked at.
Use of Closed School Site: I will share with you that our lease with
First Congregational Church for our Middle/High School Site is $8300
per month, including utilities. This is pretty much a market rate
NNN lease. So assuming that a similar rent is achievable for a
to-be-closed school site, the district could realize increased cash
flow of close to $100,000/year. If the site were sold, the
would wipe out the deficit and provide a reserve fund.
You know CLC has expressed interest in any available school site.
are not a charter school, and we do not compete with the district for
the same student census.
There are many options on the handout from Tuesday that I agree with
-- allocating expenses re Measure C, eliminating excess positions,
conserving energy, etc. -- but also some that I would hope could be
avoided: eliminating Paden Academy, increasing class size. I commend
the District and the Board for considering all options, and hope that
some of my suggestions make sense in your big picture. Believe me --
I share the pain, daily. Education is not a business for sissies
I wanted to let you know that getting rid of the small class sizes in the K-3 grades would be a grave mistake. I see first hand how the teachers are working with the kids in these classes. It has helped a lot to have more managable classes. It also is a big plus when parents are considering sending their kids to private vs. public schools. If we increase the class sizes, I think more wealthy parents will pull their kids out of the public schools and thus create more of a problem for your budget. I have a child in the 5th grade and see how much harder it is to have that many kids in a class room.
Please try to safe guard this item, it will pay off in the long run.
I would like to address the suggestion that counseling positions be cut and that the Head Counselor position be reduced to half on each high school campus. First, the counseling positions: I realize how it may seem to people unfamiliar with the secondary level that the counseling positions are dispensable. The services that counselors provide such as making schedule changes, proctoring tests, counseling students, and meeting with parents and teachers may seem nice, but not necessary. However, to understand the impact of these services, it’s necessary to remember that each middle school and high school student has different teachers for each subject and for each grade level. There is no one to provide consistency in following through with that student, except the counselor. Who knows that student and watches out for them making sure that they take the classes that they need to be college eligible? Who notices that a student’s grades have dropped and inquires about their situation? Who is the main contact for any parent concerned about their middle school or high school student? That’s right, the counselor. Please be very cautious in your consideration of this particular budget cut.
Secondly, the Head counselor positions are administrative positions. While I can not speak for Alameda High, the head counselor at Encinal has numerous duties. At Encinal the head counselot has approximately 300 students on their caseload and handles 9th through 12th grade students. In addition, the EHS head counselor supervises football, basketball, and other games as well as chaperone dances. The EHS head counselor puts the master schedule together and oversees the CAHSEE testing. Finally, the EHS head counselor is the 504 coordinator and the person who makes the alternative school placements. I think the school district is getting their money’s worth from that position.
Thanks for handling a very difficult task with the utmost concern for our students first.
I am sitting here in total disbelief. I just looked over the recommendations for the budget cuts. Here is what we found the most disturbing.
- The public relations officer is not on the list. How long can we justify this fluff position? This is for districts with money.
- The Summer Differential Pay for custodians is off the list. CSEA was forced to give up the differential for their Office Manager in Adult School. Is that fair?????
- Encinal is losing two clerical at district office and not an administrator. Payroll has unlimited overtime but they are still eliminating a clerical downstairs.
- Eliminating two clerical positions at Encinal in the same cut is too difficult to handle. How about one this year and if cuts have to be made next year then bring the other position back to the list?
- Eliminate car allowances across the board. Let them put in mileage like everyone else.
- Eliminating counselors at the High School would be devastating to the students of AUSD. Why can’t we fund a counselor with funds from grants or categorical money (like ELD)?
- We need good coaches for our students, another cut for High Schools. Some schools can raise the money others can’t. This cut is not fair and equitable.
Keep the 6-8 at Paden, the little money that is saved is not worth losing this program.
- The so called Maintenance/Custodial Manager was on the hit list twice before. Why not now? This is another example of no cuts in administration at the district or any level. This is totally unfair to the other bargaining units and most importantly the student that we serve.
- Freeze the COLA for the next two years (more if needed). Let people and programs remain in tact.
Please consider this list in before making your decision.
I have reviewed the proposed list of cuts recommended by the Superintendent and his staff. While it appears that an attempt was made to be equitable to all parties, I would like to pose this question: Who is it that you, as Trustees, are supposed to serve? As a parent in this district, I think that answer is an easy one. Alameda’s children.
When I saw that eliminating CSR at third grade still on the list, I continue to doubt that the superintendent and his staff’s focus is on our children. I have now been through this process twice and neither time have I felt any confidence that our district-office leadership has our children as a priority. I am turning to you all to ask you to keep the children first and foremost!
Based on a very rough estimate, the proposal to eliminate third grade CSR will affect approximately 2,500 children. DIRECTLY! The recommendation states that the $90,000 savings is the differential between state income and district costs. Is attrition built into the amount? If so, at what level? Are you accounting for the fact that if I remove my third grader from AUSD due to CSR elimination, my first grader will probably follow? I believe that ADA is approximately $4,000 per student annually. Only 23 students need to leave district wide to exceed $90,000. That is an attrition rate of less than 1% of current second graders. Don’t discount what a good education is worth to Alameda parents. Parents WILL move their children.
What about the implications CSR has on Measure A? Aren’t you proposing a new parcel tax in June? What affect do you think eliminating CSR will have on its passage? If, as a homeowner, my children no longer attend Alameda schools, I will have a hard time voting for an additional tax.
Has anyone approached the teachers for input as to eliminating CSR? Are they open to it (it is in their contract)? AUSD isn’t well known for paying well, teachers teach here because the working conditions are generally satisfactory. How will this affect that? Will we lose good teachers to districts that are better paying and have lower student to teacher ratios?
What about the impact on the general perception this will have for Alameda? Are we destined to become just another urban school district? People love Alameda for a large number of reasons, but a significant one is the quality of its schools. It seems there are a large number of questions that eliminating CSR poses and a considerable number of not insignificant issues. Do not rush into a solution that will hurt more than help.
It was clear to those of us present at the Budget meeting on the 18th that the Board members continue to have questions regarding the cuts implication’s and enactment. As trustees, you have a fiduciary responsibility which will not be met if you approve this list of recommendations with these questions unanswered.
You were elected by the people of Alameda; please make sure these are the same people you choose to serve.
I am a parent of two children at xxxx School, and a former public school teacher. I appreciate the current fiscal reality and budget constraints. However, when setting priorities for decision-making regarding budget cuts I think it is critical that funds continue to be allocated for programs that directly affect the quality of education of our students. I am particularly referring to maintaining the 20:1 class size K-3, PE, music and library programs. I believe that other means of accessing revenue need to be explored more fully. For example I recommend additional administrative cuts, more increases in student attendance, utilization of measure C funds when appropriate, and other creative measures to address the budget crisis.
For the education of our children now and into the future, it is imperative that we keep the programs that most directly affect the quality of their education and have been shown to improve academic performance as well as enhance social and emotional learning.
I am writing as a taxpayer, a parent and as an employee. I am hoping
that the Board looks at the “Fiscal Recovery Plan” with the best
interest of our students and their success as students. It might be
to take an easy way out and just go with nonnegotiable items. Some of
those items honestly deserve to be cut, some are lofty goals but not
100% guaranteed (attendance is really tied to parents) and there are a
few that directly effect our students.
I personally believe that in the interest of saving staff and programs
which benefits the students, we should “bite the bullet” and look at
the 2 day furlough, one year reversion of COLA and one year freeze of
of salary. These one year cuts are across the board and effect
everyone equally. But, they are negotiable items and there does not seem to be alot of “trust” .
Therefore, as a parent and taxpayer in Alameda, I have strong feeling
about certain items. The first is the Counselors at Middle and High
School. From what we have experienced as parents, our current
have more than a full load of students. The feeling my kids had at
School was that it was either the high end or low end students who got
the attention, it was a long wait to get into the Counselors and then
you were rushed. If I had not been on top of my younger average son’s
courses and credits, he would have fallen short by 1 class to
graduate...which I had to point out to the Counselor after they had
already approved his senior year classes. Actually,we had a lot of
trouble with him his senior year, but because he was not seen as a high
risk student nor a trouble maker, the follow-up fell to us. And, as an
involved parent, I accepted that responsibility. Counselors are at
Middle and High School to help all kids succeed. They can’t do that if
they are handling more students then they can review,monitor, assign
classes, and aid in getting into college. Plus, if you reduce
Counselors, you lose part of your solution to increasing Revenue by
increasing attendance, as they are part of that plan.
Secondly, even though my kids did not participate in the sports
program,athletics help keep some students interested and involved in
school. It keeps some from dropping out. I have seen it turn some
students around. I believe the benefits outweigh the cuts. How much
more can you ask the parents and community to give and this is a
competitive area that a lot of private school do not cut. How can you
market against private schools if you do not have the program?
And, lastly I hate to see reduction to clerical/support staff
especially if you plan to assign 1 principal to 2 schools. A well run
school has a well run office. You do you really think “runs” or keeps
the school going when the principal is not on site (and in our district
they attend a lot of meetings). It's the office manager, health clerk
and other clerical support. You cut or reduce their hours and it makes
coverage and backup support very thin. An office is the front line for
kids, teachers and parents.
Every cut has its repercussions. That why I think our Board need to
be bold! Let's not piecemeal our reductions with some here and some there.
For every cut, the work load doesn't disappear but is spread out to
all staff and teachers. There is only so much that can be done in the given
time and what we all do directly effects the education of our children.
Let's not lose sight of what we are all suppose to be working
for...what is best for our children.
I shake my head in wonder and awe at what first glance seems like a lot of short sighted fiscal foolishness.
Many of the proposed changes show me what seems to be a reflection of poor management:
Reductions of custodians, clerical workers at Encinal(2 FTEs), clerical
workers at District Office (2 FTEs). MOF staffing etc... Were we paying
for unneeded positions?
Obviously the elimination of lower paying, needed positions will
require the work to be done by higher paid people - Is that a way to
Elimination of night differential pay for summer work which is done
during the day - Why would the District agree to pay for what is not
done? How long has this gone on?
Management says they need to mandate a district wide hiring freeze, and
to not fill the vacant carpenter position - This seems very alarming to
me. In many ways, employees should always and only be hired to save
money - to prevent the hiring more costly outside contractors for work
the MOF knows is necessary and should be able to handle with district
Management SHOULD be able to discern when hiring is advantageous, and
be capable of hiring and managing its employees. Isn't that the job of
There were a number of items included that simply transfer expenses. I
fail to understand how this reduces debt, costs or spending.
The item for increasing attendance by 1% - I would like to
understand how the district can plan to do this.
I was appalled to see that David Forbes has been a part of the Measure
Oversight Committee. This was the second year which over $102,000.00
came out of Measure 'A' money to pay for the MOF Supervisor. While I
respect Bob DeLuca and the job he does, I fail to see a direct
connection to the purposes the voters approved for the additional
property tax of Measure A, and I think these expenditures need to be
revisited. I would like to see better explanations of the use of these
funds than the 'one-liner' expenditure list. Perhaps the taxpayers are
owed at least a paragraph explaining each item they are funding since
there is only about a dozen items getting the over $2 million/year, and
this could easily be listed in the public press with a thank you to the
Also in the spending reduction plan is the idea to use Measure C funds
for some items. Aside from the fact that this does not reduce spending,
I caution the use of these funds for any but the intended use, and to
remind planers that we already know we do not have enough Measure C
funds to meet the planned Measure C expenditures.
Many of the other suggested reductions will likely meet strong
opposition if they violate the collective bargaining agreements. If the
district picks these battles they could lose more money in court than
they hope to save.
I would also appreciated AUSD providing video tapes of their
meeting to the library as do so many of the committees and councils of
city government. Presently only AUSD meetings held in City Council
Chambers are taped and the tapes are held in AUSD offices The public is
only allowed to view them in AUSD offices. This is very inconvenient
and easily remedied. The library has room for them, and will lend them.
In many ways I think the district budget needs to be reviewed.
I just wonder who is doing the reviewing and what the motivations are
While it is good that there is cooperation among the many facets
the public school education in Alameda, I fear we are losing the
benefits of the theory of checks and balances when every view expressed
is on one side. This is what I see happening when the board hires the
Superintendent, the CFO, appoints all oversight committee members and
the chairperson for those committees, hires the lawyers, consultants,
and decides what gets published, or even when and where meetings will
be held and what gets covered when meetings are not taped. For me the
shinning light of AUSD are the web pages of Mike McMahon, thank you Mr.
The district is in a tough situation and there are no glaring
obvious solutions. I feel fortunate that AUSD has some time however
quickly it will pass, to work with the sites, principals bargaining
unit reps, and especially the public who provide not only the needed money,
more importantly our children for whom we want the best, and for that
reason we want to be informed and to be helpful in coming to terms with
needed changes. We don't yet know where the solution lies, but it will
We are in a budget crisis, are trying to figure out how we're going to keep the excellent programs we have as a District, and continue our efforts to bring up our test scores. I just read our District's proposed cuts which include cutting an elementary school, cutting Paden's middle school program, cutting high school counselors and athletics, eliminating the class-size reduction in 3rd grade, etc. Those are very significant proposals with huge impact on our students. I greatly appreciate your efforts to resolve this crisis with as little impact on our students as possible.
Just out of curiosity, how does this affect multi-age classes when there is a 2-3 combo?
I just read the new recommended spending reductions by the school district and I have two comments. #1: I can't believe the district continues to recommend losing 2.5 counselors at the high school level. This is absolutely appalling. We will continue to lose high school students to private schools because the counselors will not be able to meet the needs of the students. I am especially concerned about students who are first generation college bound kids, who may not have parents who can fill in the missing pieces of the counselors. #2: I think it is ridiculous to not assign 1 principal to two small schools. There are definitely some schools which are lower maintenance than others simply by virute of the student populations. This one must be re-looked at. #3: My final issue is with the budget reductions for athletics. This really becomes an equity issue, where Encinal will get the short end of the stick, as they do not have a parent group large enough to make up the difference in funds. Alameda High will again be a school or "haves" and Encinal will be the school of "have nots."
Now, I am never one for just "bitching" and then not attempting to provide a solution. So here are mine: By simply instituting the two day furlough, we have more than covered the cost of saving the counselors and the athletic budgets. In fact, a one day furlough covers the cost of both, less $10,000. My thinking is this is a tough period and everyone should have to sacrifice a little. The furlough requires everyone to give a little. These budget cuts hit the high schools very hard. In fact,every high school "item" was recommended by district staff. This is a crime.
Those are my thoughts. Feel free to pass them on. But at a time when people are really starting to look at whether their $$ really gets them more at a private school (I believe differently) to cut the high schools even more will only cause more families to leave AUSD. This, I guarantee.
I just finished reading the parent/staff/teacher comments re: the budget and proposed cuts. I must say I have to agree with those expressing concerns about how the cuts will directly affect our students. The name of the person who attended the school board meeting and presented the proposed cuts escapes me; however, his recurring theme does not. On more than one occasion, he used the phrase "this is a soft number" and "this needs to be negotiated." He also said something along the lines of "maybe they will continue for the love of the game" when referring to cutting the coaching stipends by 50%.
My two cents: maybe Dr. Nishino and members of his staff would accept a 5% pay cut and stay at their jobs for the love of education (their chosen profession). How much would that save us? Isn't this also something which could be negotiated?
Once again, thank you for all your hard work!
The budget reduction proposal aims cuts toward every
facet of AUSD except administration. What is most
disturbing is that third grade class size reduction is
being considered as one of the programs to cut while
assigning one principal to two smaller schools is not
under consideration. How can this be justified?
Because of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (aka
"No Child Left Behind"), students and teachers face
high expectations and tough standards. Failure to
meet these standards result in harsh sanctions that
are far reaching for the education community. Our
focus has been and should continue to be the children
of our community. By eliminating third grade class
size reduction we will see lower test scores, more at
risk students, and a wider achievement gap. I implore
the AUSD Board of Education to seriously consider the
adverse effects of this potential cut. Furthermore, I
ask the board members to consider assigning one
principal to two smaller schools. This is a sensible
cost cutting measure that has a negligible impact on
students. This is currently implemented at the
Alameda County Office of Education with great
success. One administrator oversees two or more
smaller sites while an instructor in charge is
available for various issues that arise when that site
administrator is absent. Cutting budgets is not easy.
But making a committment to our children, our future,
Can you shed some light on this one:
The district will close an elementary school as a result of losing over 300 students from the apartment closure. Savings from principal, secretary, clerks, custodian and teacher (1.0 fte) for a savings of $299,000.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this one and just can't come up with the number. Most of the time schools are closed, existing staff and children are moved to other schools. If this was the case, the $299,000 savings make sense. However, when 320+ children no longer attend the district, the savings should be much higher. If we assume 320 is equivalent to closing an average elementary school, then it would seem to me the following savings should look something like:
Principal @ 106K
Office staff (Earhart has about 4 so I would assume there must be 2)
Grade Level Teachers (assuming 25 per class) = 13 positions @ 55K
Media Center Teacher
Food Service Aide
ELD Instructor, resource, etc (Misc staff)
Day & Evening Custodian
Water and Electricity Savings of operating the school
If this school was Woodstock, then with a prospective replacement school in the future, couldn't we sell/lease the land this school currently resides on. If we sell/lease the land, we could generate income from
1) the sale of the land or lease of the land
2) property taxes
3) cost of maintaining the property.
What am I missing?
As a parent of a middle school and high school student, I would like to provide the following feedback on proposed budget cuts.
No reduction in counselors - As it is at xxxxx High School, it is very difficult for students to make appointments to receive guidance on class choices and preparation for college. Reducing counselor availability would not only further create problems in this area, but counselors at middle and high school are responsible for creating class schedules for every child. I would hate to see the mess inadequate counselor staffing would create in this complex task.
Second, I completely agree with a previous comment regarding Dr. Nishino. What a disaster his contract represents for Alameda parents, students, teachers and tax payers. I firmly believe re-negotiating the terms of his contract should be a number one priority - and there should be no buy out if he leaves. The hiring choices - for principals - he has made at the middle and elementary school level have been very poor to say the least, and my family has personally suffered from these inappropriate appointments.
I am writing you on behalf of the elementary children in the Alameda schools.
I teach first grade at xxxxx Elementary School. I take my responsibilities seriously. For the past nine years we have been fortunate to have the cap of students at 20. This ratio has allowed me to meet with my students and better address their needs. A rise in student number would limit the time I had for each student. With the No Child Left Behind bill, we are under more pressure to make sure each child succeeds.
My typical class consists of 6 to 8 English Language Learners. A third of my class does not speak English at home. I also have had full inclusion students who have different needs. Increasing the class size would add more children, who each come with their own needs.
To make sure my children succeed, I am constantly assessing how each child is progressing. This involves individual time with each student. Progress monitoring is essential, so I know how to plan each day. Adding more students would take away valuable teaching time.
Please keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.
1) I wanted to let you know my feelings regarding the health office assistants. Lum School only has a health clerk for 3 ½ hours per day, which is already not enough. We see about 40 – 50 students/day, many of them before the health clerk gets here and after she has gone. In addition, if she is absent and the office assistant is out to lunch, I spend the entire hour in the health clerk’s office taking care of children and not doing my work. The same is true for the office assistant when I am at lunch. Some children only take a few minutes, others take quite a bit longer, depending on their problem.
Please do not reduce or eliminate the health clerks – they provide an extremely valuable service to the schools.
2) I am in favor of closing one elementary school – which one is up to you. However, I do believe that it is long past time for Island High to be moved to a better facility. Any school in Alameda would be better than the portables that they are in. If the school closed is large enough, even the administration could be moved there; that would free up old AHS for new students (after retrofit).
I am a parent of 2 xxxxx students. I am very concerned about the budget cuts being discussed.
I am firmly against cutting any of the following programs:
eliminating 20:1 class size in K-3, eliminating elementary school music, PE and library!
Please do all you can to serve the children of our district! Support and keep the programs I have mentioned!
For my two cents, I feel the position of the person in charge of the school lunches is a wonderful place to begin cutting. I've had four children in Alameda schools for 11 years. Not only has the menu not varied much (although it is interesting that recently there has been added a "Banana Split", banana, vanilla yogurt and a chocolate chip cookie---really awful I hear) but often there is not enough of the desired choice. The food is also lacking on the nutritious level.
Note: Funding of cafeteria services is provided in a separate fund from the General Fund.
I am writing to you to voice a concern regarding the proposed budget cuts to the Health Clerk hours. I realize you are probably being inundated with e-mails, but I need to stress what I feel is equitable towards all sites. As you know, all elementary schools do not have the same number of students. The range of students at the elementary school level is from 225 at Woodstock to 596 at Earhart. Health Clerks are responsible for making sure shots and medical records are up-to-date, and then input into student records on District software, besides caring for the constant flow of ill & injured students. It takes hours to check medical records, make sure shots, health exams, etc. are current, write letters to parents and do follow up. All other positions are based on enrollment, so how can this be justified? Please take this into consideration before making your decision.
I am the office assistant at xxxxx School. I have worked for AUSD since September of 1981. I live in Alameda and my children went through our public school system and graduated from Alameda High.
I am concerned that Health Clerks working hours for elementary schools will be cut across the board to 3 hours per day. This is not equitable. Some schools like Earhart have an enrollment of close to 600 students while other schools have enrollment under 250.
Students come into the office with allergies, fevers, colds, vomiting and various other maladies that require the health clerks immediate attention.
The health clerk keeps an up to date list of students needing daily medications and dispenses these meds.
Health clerks record all new incoming students health records, immunizations, etc. into the computer. They call and write parents regarding health concerns, vision and hearing problems, immunization needs…
If two schools were in need of hiring a health clerk, one school with an enrollment of 300 or less and one with an enrollment of 600, would it be fair to describe the job’s requirements and work load the same?? The work load is tremendously different. Please consider other options.
I intend this in a completely respectful way but I must say, I have wanted to express this to someone who 1) would listen 2) would care 3) would answer - for YEARS! I may be mis-informed, but, for a long time (since I moved here from my hometown of San Francisco), I have been hearing nothing but complaints about Alameda Unified School District Superintendent, Nishino (I believe is the name). I hear he is way overpaid, just got a raise!, doesn't even live in the district; we pay to fly him to and from Los Angeles or wherever it is he lives and, frankly, it seems shocking to me that all these cuts would have to happen and this guy continues to live the life of a prince on our Alameda tax dollars. Why don't you suggest THAT as a topic of discussion at the AUSD meeting?
Why is it always the children who have to experience the cuts by having their classes cut or their resources eliminated? Why can't the adults who have ALREADY been educated step aside, learn to live with a little less, each take a SMALL cut which would add up to BIG savings? Our children are our future. If you think education is expensive, just wait and see the long-term costs of ignorance.
I have heard many people voice the same concerns. These are parents who care about NOTHING as much as they care about their children's education. If AUSD implements too many cuts and does not consider cutting a bit from their own feathered nests, these same parents might abandon our public schools and opt for their children to have a private school education. Then we'll really have a financial crisis.
As per your email, I have a big concern that I have
shared with my principal already. The concern is
Measure A. As you know that the majority of the
proposed cuts are directly from Measure A. What i'm
worried about is when Measure A comes back onto the
ballot to be supported by the people and they feel
like the items that they were voting for are not being
safeguarded. I know that on the ballot it did not
spell out what was Measure A going to cover, but the
intent is what's important here. Just like a contract,
if the wording is being debated then the people seek
out the intentions.
I hope you and the rest of the board can figure a way
to resolve this possible loss of support with
community if these cuts happen. We do need every
dollar we can get and you know we are not going to get
it from the state.
I am a district employee (12 years) and an Alameda resident (home owner) of 40 years. I understand the District, once again, has to tighten up its budget. What’s disappointing to me is the number of times the District & BOE has gone to the Alameda public asking for assistance in the passing of Measure A and then when that wasn’t enough Measure C. We are very fortunate that our community backs us when we get ourselves into a pinch. To me, this is embarrassing that we continue to ask. Why are our financial people not seeing the whole picture – as gloomy as it may be? We give our Superintendent a 4% raise (on his total package) when we are having heavy financial problems. If we’re having money troubles we need to tighten the belt EVERYWHERE!!!
I believe the cuts that need to be made – need to be the farthest from the students. I know you’ve heard this many times – but please keep it in mind when you make your difficult cuts.
At Alameda High you have two VP’s – they each handle roughly 900 students each. That’s a BIG load!! At Encinal we have two VP’s – they handle about 550 students each. Maybe we could get by with one VP. Put a teacher on “special assignment” and have them just handle discipline, Inter Districts and other lighter duties that a VP would normally handle, but at a lower salary.
Today, I looked over some District data I had at my desk. I continue to hear and read in the local newspapers how AUSD has lost 300 students due to the closure of the Harbor Island apts. As an employee at Encinal, we’ve noticed many students relocating, but not exiting our school. I oversee the Inter Districts, and my data shows that we currently have 206 students on Inter District permits – recently this is up by about 30 students. I don’t see where AUSD has lost 300 students!!! Are we saying that to get sympathy from the public? I have data from 9/22/04 to 1/11/05 and it shows the following: Longfellow -16 students, Miller -12 students, Woodstock -11 students, Chipman +23 students and Encinal -15 students. That equates to -54 students, but plus +26 students, a difference of -28 students. Why do so many people keep saying we loss 300 Harbor Island students? The difference across the board for total AUSD students from September 04 to January 05 is -86 students. Yes we’re down in students – but not by 300!! Please explain.
Note:The writer is not accounting the starting enrollment in September was approximately 240 students lower than June enrollment. Hence, 240 plus 86 gives you over 300 student enrollment decline. See the September 14 BOE meeting Item 7.
After careful review of the “proposed budget” cuts I was astounded to find that most of the cuts will directly affect students and their teachers. In fact, one of the fiscal recovery items plans on allocating $76,000 of Measure C funds for “certain administrative oversight expenses”!
I am fully aware that the budget crisis that faces Alameda is a state-wide catastrophe but it appears that the cuts should be shared equitably with all members of the AUSD community. Instead, the majority of the cuts are proposed for the people who directly impact student learning everyday!
I invite all board members to spend at least an hour in an AUSD classroom directly participating with the teacher. (I have teachers willing to accommodate you.) I would hope this opportunity would allow you to personally see the impact these proposed cuts would have on our most important clients…our students!
Additionally, I ask that you spend an equal amount of time shadowing a district administrative employee find out what their role is and its’ impact on student learning. I hope that this experience will put a more human face on the lasting impact these cuts will have on our entire educational system.
I know all of you are in a difficult position and I appreciate the time and effort you give to our community. Just know that your visits to schools and PTA meetings are truly making a positive impact on how the teachers view the board!
Has anyone given any thought to eliminating a VP from Encinal? Looking at the numbers we are 700 students less than Alameda High with the same administrative and office staff. If a VP is eliminated then the secretary would follow.
It would benefit the students more to do with one less VP than one less Counselor.
How do you begin to compare the apples and oranges presented to you as
a list of possible cuts from a staff committee rather than a budget
committee that reflects a balance of all stakeholders and programs?
Which items on the list are farthest away from classroom instruction
How do you determine which programs to cut or reduce from items already
over their own budget and encroaching on the general fund thereby
jeopardizing programs that stay within their budget? Why not eliminate
the encroachments first rather than merely reducing them?
How do you consider cuts without complete disclosure? Many items on the
list lack complete descriptions and are incomplete or lacking important
detail. Some items are part of essential curriculum while others are
extracurricular. Where are these items in priority ranking?
How many of these items will result in bumping personnel and
reassignments. What are the impacts of that in comparison to the
How many of these items could possibly be offset by private funding
rather than elimination? How many are supplemental to instruction
rather than direct?
How many additional items are not even listed for consideration? How
was it determined as to which items would be placed on the list versus
those that were not but could also be considered?
Do you believe you will hear enough community input with only one 2
I am a parent of two children in Alameda and was looking through the
list of potential program reductions list.
One item that I had a question about was the potential closure of one
school saving $299,000. The savings is listed as Savings from
Principal, Secretary, Clerks, Custodian and Teacher (1.0 FTE).
My question is: If AUSD actually did decide to take a long term
approach, they may decide to permanently consolidate a school or two
due to low enrollment. If they did a permanent closure, wouldn't the
savings be considerably more?
It seems like we could sell/lease the property. This would generate a
considerable amount of income from the sale/lease of the property,
maintenance staff that maintain the property, utility bills, property
taxes etc... If we were afraid of losing the land, couldn't we at lease
the land out 15+ years.
If we are not planning on selling the property that the closed school
resides on, then what are we planning on doing with the property?
Just wondering if I am missing something.
I appreciate the opportunity to let you know my thoughts about the deficit. Most importantly, I think that California needs to find a better way to support the cost of educating our children. Because we have an immediate budget crisis, let me list the areas that I would prioritize for reductions:
- Reduce the cost of administration
- Dramatically reduce the budget for athletics (perhaps programs can become self-supporting?)
- Consolidate elementary schools with low enrollment
- Eliminate the 20:1 class size for all K-3 classrooms; maintain the ratio only in classrooms with children who are struggling academically
You failed to mention any cuts in administration. The
top-heavy admin. staff is the real drain on district
funds. A class suffers from one day with a sub,
admin. is rarely missed. If you're going to cut from
anyone, you should cut from everyone. Quit protecting
the heavy-weight parasites at the top.
It is very hard to be objective and look at the potential cuts. My two cents, since I am always willing to offer it is the following.
I don't think this community has ever seen the schools really take hits the way other communities have and although as a parent, I don't want to see my child suffer the cuts, I do think there has to be a wake up call at some point. As a parent of a child who gets and will continue to get what he needs and as an educator, I hope that the cuts are kept the farthest away from the neediest. To that end, if middle school has to take a hit, I hope that the kids needing both math and reading intervention at the three middle schools will be required to take the academic coursework necessary to graduate/pass high school exit exams, read at grade level, etc. Three periods of reading intervention (the only way to use the program so the gains are made in the amount of time they have left), math and math intervention leave no room for anything else and I think PE is mandatory.
Kids who are in these classes are of course the kids whose parents can't and or won't even notice the cuts. I would hope that the cuts would be well thought out ( equity during times of crisis can still be the goal) and not unilateral... we can be creative.
My question - Does the Board run it's own committees or do you rely on
District Staff? My thought is that each Board Member would chair a
representatives from impacted groups. For example, is there a Budget
The Budget Committee, headed by a Board Member to remove possible
of interest from Staff or Consultants, would consist of a
each school union, including a Teacher. And would have a parent
student, and a member of the Alameda City Council.
Sometimes these Committees can work more effectively with some "team
training" and bring real reform to the effort. Then the recommendations
Board-driven committee would be aired at a public meeting. I see the
planning hearings on the budget problems. But, the politics make it
really have an impact without all the committee work first.
The "bottom line" is both a rhetorical device and a descriptor of
financial reality. I think you have both here at AUSD.
At AUSD the vast majority of the $$, what 80% or more? is used for
The bottom line is that Alameda's ADA level states with clarity that
the district cannot (so it must not) compete for its personal based on
salary. It can only do it based on working conditions. (small
nice town, good community support).
That is the answer and needs to be stated as district policy in the
form of a Board Resolution just in case someone doesn't get it.
The board needs to lead its employees to this reality.
Say it out loud!! "We want to pay you like they do a (name the
district) but we cannot so thus we will not. We not going the route of
Oakland and Richmond so stop leading us in that direction."
My two cents.
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Last modified: , 2005
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