Comments Received Regarding 2007/08 Preliminary List of Spending Reductions
For background, you can visit 2007/08 Budget Background.
Tally of Comments
|As of Date
Posted in reverse order of date received
I wasn’t sure if I should write a letter because I’m one of the new kids on the block if you will; however our office is always busy with very little down time, we have students who come in through out the day with injuries, illness, nosebleeds etc., it’s hard to imagine maintaining and running the front office efficiently without appropriate staff. I can give you an example that can drive this home to our District Board.
We had a child on 3-2-07 who came into the health office with a stomach ache, I asked him if have to use the bathroom he said “no” I was also assisting three other kids who were not feeling well, and when I looked at the kid I’m referring to in this letter, he had a strange, sick to stomach look on his face so I grabbed his hand and ran with him to the bathroom and he started throwing up and heaving severely, needless to say, I could not leave him unattended. In between assisting with problematic situations, telephones ringing off the hook; we often have to deal with discipline issues and parents demands.
In addition to all of the hands-on treatments and attention throughout the day, I also have data entry of health records for all of last year’s new students, the current new students and soon to be September enrollees, of which I have approximately 30 minutes per day for data entry. I am also the front desk and main office relief person so that the front office secretary can take her lunch and breaks, or when there is a huge back up of students, telephones, paper work and parents’ I can step in and assist. Sometimes this all happens in waves, and sometimes it is consistent throughout the day. Many times I am called out of the health office to go to a classroom and assist with a sick or injured student. This is a blanket breakdown of a day in the office, I’m sure if I were to give an itemization of what we do, this letter would be much longer. Please consider reading the health office assistant and office assistant job postings and the “other duties as assigned” clause to give you a small example of the main office-health office and front office duties.
Cutting the health office assistant’s hours would be, in my own perception and opinion, a negligent act towards the health and welfare of the children at Ruby Bridges Elementary School.
I wanted to commend you all on the budget meeting on Tuesday evening. I particularly appreciated Luz's presentation. This was my fifth meeting on the subject and I think the explanations and the comparisons to other districts was extremely helpful. Of course, it's always difficult to make cuts, but I felt much better after seeing that the adjustments would accomplish (most of) the job and still keep our schools in a relatively good position in terms of counselors, etc., compared to similar school districts.
I know it's especially difficult to make staff cuts. Having made my living in the corporate sector for over 25 years, most people don't get the opportunity to have the public write letters and speak about how much -- or how well -- they do their jobs before a downsizing. The decision is usually made by management without their input, and they often have to leave the same day. I'm sure the affected staff are unhappy about the decision, but I think it was handled in as open and considerate manner as possible.
I would have made these comments to you in person at the meeting, however, I did not want to add to the list of 26+ speakers!
Going forward, in the spirit of full transparency so that parents and the community at large are not surprised in the future, I would like to suggest that each school be responsible for publishing at least a quarterly report of what their budgets are by line item, how they are doing against that budget and explanations of variances. This is standard practice in the business world -- for a reason. Every school already produces newsletters for parents and it seems reasonable that this information can be included in those newsletters four times a year. Along with this information, they could also publicize their fund raising efforts and foundation funds progress. I think this practice would allow parents, staff and the general public to take proactive -- versus reactive -- action. This would also serve to highlight those schools that are doing a good job with their budgets and those that may need coaching/intervention. Lastly, it would help spread the weight across thousands of shoulders instead of just yours.
Thank you again for your service to the community and our children.
I am writing to express my concerns about the proposed reduction in budget for the counseling services at the high schools. I have an 11th grader (at AHS) and an 8th grader (at Lincoln. Our HS counselors are already spread thin, and any reduction in hours will make them even less available to support students. Our College and Career Center is staffed by one person (for close to 2000 students), so students are not able to receive the amount of help they would benefit from. This is of special concern for families that may not be as familiar with the college application process. My husband and I both have advanced degrees, and have been through the process of taking entrance exams and applying to college and grad school, and we have found the current college testing and application process to be extremely challenging to decipher and stay on top of. I can only imagine what it's like for students that come from families where they will be the first ones attending college. And, I think we'd all agree that a college education is the best first step a student can make towards professional and financial success. Do we want to put this in jeopardy?
Further, our head counselor administers the AP program. Since Alameda High prides itself on the AP exam pass rate, our school is rated fairly high nationally based on its AP stats, and students are attracted to and choose to attend the school because of this, I would hope that any cuts to the counseling services are done in a way that will not impact the AP program at either high school.
I was pleased that I did not see class size reductions for 9th grade math and english classes in the list of cuts. I feel particularly strongly that a 20-1 ratio should be preserved for math, espcially since the district has chosen to accelerate students in math at the middle school level. I'm not a strong supporter of this program and remain unconvinced that it's in our students' best interests or advisable for them to be taking Calculus as juniors. That being said, I for one do not want my daughter in an Advanced Algebra II class with 34 other students when she's also making the adjustment to HS in general. The class will be challenging enough when there are only 20 students' questions for the teacher to deal with!
Thank you for your attention, and I hope the meeting tonight goes well. Unfortunately, I cannot attend, but I do appreciate the careful thought you are all putting into the budget.
I work for both the Instructional and Curricular Vice Principals. Two years ago, Encinal was reduced by one full time Office Manager I and I took over a large percentage of that position as well as my own.
If my position were to be cut to 11 months, it would have an immense impact on the students and the operation of the school in general.
During the last few weeks of school I am responsible for assisting & organizing STAR testing, as well as the AP Exam which are both administer in May. Much of the prep work for the exams is done during Spring Recess.
During June I am responsible for entering data and coordinating with the counselors to ensure that all seniors have met their senior graduation requirements (Senior Project and Portfolio and Community Service). In addition I am impacted with the graduation program, graduation, grades and closing the school year at our site. Once grades have been posted, I update senior transcripts and send out literally hundreds of official transcript to the colleges and universities on behalf of our graduated seniors.
During the next few weeks (summer recess) I oversee several large projects, essential to a successful school opening. They include preparation for the opening “School Registration Packets” and student volunteers involved in the project, as well as a 9th grade mailing and the 9th Grade Orientation Camp. I am the liaison for pre-registration, inter-district and intra-district applications and renewals, the public and service groups such as the PTSA & Boosters. During the Office Mang II’s vacation I oversee the general operation of the school and ensure that it remains open.
If my position were cut to 11 months much of the work above would have to wait for my return. The opening of school would be impacted, as well as other duties typically done during the first few weeks, while I attempt to “catch up” with the work left undone during the few weeks you are suggesting cutting from my position.
I have worked for AUSD for over 23 years and am very committed to my job and the success of our students. By cutting this position to 11 months you jeopardize my ability to support the students and staff to my fullest. I implore you to seek other alternative to this cut.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I am an active parent with three children in AUSD.
I am extremely frustrated with the situation the AUSD finds itself in. I have attended meetings with the AEF, and the groups promoting changes in the base funding, and I left not understanding how we have found ourselves in this situation, and even more confused by the proposed solutions. It seems rather sudden that the district is looking at cutting everything about the schools that it can promote as making it different than, say, Oakland USD. Under the current plan, as I see it, we'll have no class-size reduction, no arts/music, no extracurricular activities, no college-track assistance. Wonderful.
Right now, I want to go on record as opposing the cuts to High school counseling and college preparation instruction, especially in the proposed firing of Mr. Maiers. Mr. Maiers has been helpful to my daughter, who had a minor scheduling issue that could have become a major impediment to her proper completion of coursework at Alameda High School. He was one of the FEW people
I have dealt with in the AUSD who was helpful, understanding, professional and able to act. The elimination of his position and the impact on this important element of educational service is short-sighted penny-wisdom at its worst.
When looking for cuts in a budget, it seems counterintuitive that you would look at the smallest budget lines (of which high-school counseling must be one) to gain needed savings. I am resigned to the fact that you will eliminate all of the services (educational excellence, art, music, sports, extracurricular activities) that made Alameda USD attractive to me as a parent moving from Oakland 10 years ago. But now, faced with the necessity to cut budgets, you're looking at a uniquely valuable service that promotes students' success in the real world.
Has anyone tried to reach an agreement with the teachers to freeze salaries temporarily or look at alternatives for raising revenues? I'm sorry if my ignorance has allowed me to miss these efforts. I admit I am speaking from frustration, not full knowledge.
I guess I'm going to need to look at private schools - While I realize that will make the problem worse, and I have been a strong supporter of public schools, the lack of forsight and creativity in admin, and the continuing decline of services in AUSD schools is going to force all of us to make unpleasant choices.
Hmmmm. Meanwhile, if there is something that parents in the district can do, please make that known. Thank you for your time.
Community Member 2/26/2007
I appreciate your keeping all of us up to date. This is the worst crisis we have been in since I have lived here & it is a heart breaker. I just don't see where cuts can come from. We are trying to attract students to our schools & as long as the legislature continues its current funding measures, we & other districts like us are going to be in a hole yearly. I don't have any ideas but I appreciate your efforts to try to make sense out of it all.
Please reconsider High School recommendation cuts. 9th grade is a
very important year for students. Getting a good start to your 4
years of High School is extremely important for students. The 20-1
ratio in math and English are vital to a successful career. My son
is currently a 9th grader at Alameda High in Algebra 2. The quick
pace and difficult material would make this class very difficult in a
30-1 ratio. These students are beginning to take total responsiblity
for themselves and would be lost in 30-1 classes.
Counseling cuts are always on the chopping block because it seems
less disruptive. Counseling and College and Career support are what
many parents look for to help their child get into a good college.
Cuts here in this area will ultimately kill the reputation of good
high schools in Alameda. More parents will send their kids to Bishop
O'Dowd, thus losing more revenue for the district. High schools must
offer counceling and College/Career support.
I am a parent of a 9th grader and 10th grader at AHS . I would like to urge the school board not to make any cuts in terms of the counseling services. Each counselor has over 500 students to look after. Any cuts from this department would hurt any student with plans to go on to college. My daughter receives 504 services and Mr. Maiers helped her to obtain extra time on her SAT testing since he is the coordinator for the testing board at AHS. She is also a member of the CSF club and will be traveling to UC Davis with Mr.Maiers as the advisor for this group. My other daughter is on the AP track which Mr. Maiers is in charge of. With school shootings going on all around us, it behooves the school board and superintendent to pay attention to the amount of attention students are receiving. If a counselor is not on hand to pay attention to student behavior at AHS, dire consequences could result.
I would be happy to pay 100% of my daughter's swimming team expenses. I would NOT be able to replace a counselor at Alameda high who serves ALL the students.
As concerned parents of high school and middle school students, PLEASE DO NOT RESTRUCTURE THE HIGH SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE COUNSELING SERVICES. The counselors are the only contact that we as parents have between public school and the world beyond. Our Alameda High School student frequently seeks the advice of both Mr. Maiers and Ms. Pula regarding the connection between class selection at AHS and future College (not to mention the endless encouragement they offer to raise GPA and try AP classes - which benefits my student as well as AUSD!). I cannot imagine how lost we will be when our incoming middle school student enters AHS without a counselor to navigate us through class requirements, schedules and basic sound advice necessary to succeed to higher education. PLEASE do not eliminate or reduce this service as I believe it will greatly hurt our students and AUSD as a whole. We as parents have put so much into our students education thus far, don't cut us loose on the final stretch!
I am writing in reference to Item 6d of the proposed budget cuts. I’d like to share some information which I think might assist you in evaluating the actual impact of the proposed cut.
Let me project and give you an idea of the actual impact it would have on Alameda High School . During the summer, I have responsibility for several major projects that are essential to the closing of the previous school year and the opening of the new school year, as well as the overall operations of the school as a whole throughout the year. Attached is a partial list of the types of projects that I do during the summer.
When the principal’s office manager is on vacation during the summer, I handle all deliveries of textbooks, instructional materials and supplies. I remain the liaison to the community and within the district for incoming questions, concerns and critical inquiries. I also coordinate, as well as repair, damaged textbooks.
I am in close contact with all the support and service groups that function during the summer in order to coordinate their projects and needs with AHS. This includes PTSA, boosters, and community groups needing information or access to the campus.
It would be far more costly to the district to reimburse at an hourly rate for the work that is completed during the summer. As a salaried employee, I complete the assignments as part of my regular work duties. To maintain our current level of preparation for the opening of school at an hourly rate would cost the district significantly more than to maintain my position as a salaried employee. The effect would be no cost savings to the budget, but probably significantly more costs at the hourly rate.
During the school year, other major breaks (for example, spring break) is used for preparation for STAR testing, which is a significant job for a school this size, as well as site coverage when the Principal’s office manager takes vacation.
On the personal side, I have worked at Alameda High School for 6 years. Prior to working at AHS, I worked in Student Services at the District for 3+ years. I am a single parent.
My job in Student Services was a 12 month position and I transferred to AHS to a 12 month position. By cutting my job to 11 months, the decrease in salary will affect my retirement, monthly salary, benefits, vacation, etc.
I understand the district’s fiscal dilemma, but it would seem reasonable to look at this particular line item over a period of years and to make the necessary adjustments as the individuals in these positions retire or leave the district. I am appealing to you NOT to change my job to an 11 month position. Thank you for your consideration and deliberations.
Is it too late to speak to and ask for some other possible cuts? I am sorry that I did not try to carry this torch from the start of the process, but I got to thinking very seriously about it the other day...
Remember, I was a high school athlete, recruited by several small schools. I ran track for Stanford; I have coached on two occassions at AHS; my own son was an outstanding runner here....
So, I recommend...
Eliminate all district funding for interscholastic athletics.
Rationale: Although at first seeming like a dire hit to our kids, the proposal has the potential to affect few students since Alameda has such a wide range of club sports. Further, any present interscholastic sport that wished to do so could organize as a club and then compete with the school's sponsorship but not its funding. For example, my son's sports, soccer and running. Well, there is more than enough club soccer in Alameda to make any player on any level happy. The cross country runners could organize, charge their runners on a level that club soccer players pay, pay their coach a decent salary, and then ask for affiliation with the school, the league, North coast...Swimming is like soccer, many club opportunities, tennis is like cross country, a small enough sport to organize and pay its way...the only sport that could not pull this off would be football, and many colleges have dropped football because of its cost. If a kid wanted a fall sport and had been playing football, he could play soccer or run cross-ciountry, or maybe football would charge its players and save its program.
So my question is this...Is there any use in coming to the Tuesday meeting and proposing this, or are the recommendations finished? I mean, a proposal like this would need major coommunity discussion. And, is the proposal so wild and crazy that no one would even consider it?
Let's be frank here, eliminating athletics is the one place where our sports-mad community might actually voluntarily pay what they should for our services and facilities...Remember that the sports would be paying for the use of facilities for games and practice...
Even as I write this, I can see that it should be proposed as a long-term solution, with plenty of time for community input, and, if done at all, implemented a year hence...also the ramifications on our affiliation with CHAA and NCS is not something that I actualy know anything about.
Thank you for receiving and posting our open letter. We at Wood hope that we can count on your support tomorrow night.
In considering budget cuts, I submit to you that increasing technology expenditures and cutting counselors demonstrates a lack of interest in promoting college education for Alameda high school students city wide. I do not want my children to become data input clerks but I do want them to go to college. I have moved my children from private school to Alameda High on the basis that the District can offer my children, and indeed all of Alameda's students, a serious college preparatory course of study and a counseling department that is strong and available to assist them in achieving their University goals. If the District is not committed to a strong college preparatory system, I will have to reconsider private school.
I got a call last SATURDAY afternoon from a counseling office employee setting up an appointment for my sophmore son for his graduation/college admissions counseling session to be held this week. This is conference with a parent, a student and the counselor to review the students classes taken so far, their University plans and their graduation requirements. BRAVO to the counselors for having a system in place that sends a message to the students that the High School places great emphasis on their college plans. It is one thing for parents to say it. It is quite another for the school to continually send the message that it is available to help and expects the kids to go to college.
This country needs more college graduates. It is a well documented fact that students with access to counselors in High School have a far great likelihood of continuing to college that students in schools without counselors. Do we want Alameda's high schools to gain the reputation of being second rate? Of course not!
Keep the counselors. The technology expenditures can wait. The school has an adequate technology budget to give the kids the basics. What they REALLY need is a solid course of basics including writing (which can actually be done without a computer - I've done it) literature, math science, social studies and foreign languages. There is a reason computer technology is not a University entrance requirement.
Let's keep our collective eye on the ultimate prize - well educated high school students, each of whom believe that college is a possibility. It is almost impossible to make a real living in the Bay Area on just a high school diploma.(See this link regarding the difference in salary expectations for high school vs. college graduates:
Our District should be encouraging ALL STUDENTS to go to college. Keep the counselors. It's important!
Where is the proposal to add capacity to the ACLC ?
- you have a school that is oversubscribed and appears to deliver good value
(gets it done with available ADA funding allotment)
- when kids do not get in they leave the district
- if there was more capacity could some folks going to private schools come
back (and bring the ADA with them)
I'd propose the district look at letting them expand capacity to generate
top line revenue.
Consider giving them the site they asked for.
I have learned since sending my letter re: Class Size Reduction, that AUSD will lose approximately $300,000, the amount received from the state of California for Class Size Reduction Grade 9, in order to save $88,000. This sounds very much like the old adage "Penny wise and pound foolish".
Community Member 2/24/2007
It is a tough job you have but these cuts are unacceptable. This is why we voted for you to make the tough stands. Thanks!
As a teacher here in the district I am writing to tell you that I totally disagree with the contemplated cuts of our schools office staffs. The office is the hub of all the schools in Alameda if they are anything like our office at Lum. Our office staff is the best in town and they always go above and beyond for all members of our school community. Our school would not function as well as it does with their hours reduced.
Why can't the cuts be as far away from the children as possible? The reduction of office staff hours directly impacts the services our children and their families recieve. Why are the plans only to shift personnel at district? Why do we continue to have so many consultants? Why do retired principals get paid so much when they come back and sub?
Without our teachers and office staff our schools wouldn't function.
Thank you for your wonderful information. You responded to my e-mail rapidly. Thank you for keeping class size reduction. The counselors are needed too. We really need more of them not fewer at Alameda High School. Who will do the scheduling for next school year? This is a major job. The vice-principals are already too busy. John Maiers has done a fine job as Head Counselor. He responds rapidly to any problems I may have. He is very valuable to the teachers. He takes the difficult case loads. It would cause problems to eliminate his current position.
I know that you have been receiving some very factual and heartfelt e-mails from Health Office Assistants regarding the pending reduction in their hours.
We just received the hours based on the new formula yesterday. I hope that you receive a copy of their hours plus the proposed hours of the Office Assistants before you vote on this proposal.
I am not going to repeat what the other e-mails have said but I want to make the following points:
A question that I have is that the original item proposal was for $150,000+ and 4.1 and 1.2 FTE. When the item was reduced to $101,000+ how come the FTE’s weren’t also reduced? Which was the miscalculation?
- Health Office Assistants work directly with students averaging 40,000 office visits per year district wide. Office assistants are very often their backups. By reducing hours at both positions, you will be removing the frontline and the backup for student care, leaving the Office Managers to do a portion of both jobs. When looking at the hours per school, for both positions, there are 6 elementary schools that will have only the Office Manager in the school office for a part of every day. Multi-tasking is an art that Office Managers are very good at, but this is too much to ask of anyone. This would seem to be more work than the phrase “other duties as assigned” should entail.
- At step 28, Health Office Assistants are either the lowest or the second lowest on the pay scale. The District is getting a lot of service for a very low cost. Plus, they are the only Office Tech position that mandates CPR/1st Aid training.
- There is going to be a large gap in care at elementary schools that only staff can fill, as volunteers cannot be used because of medical confidentiality issues.
- Students will continue to come to the office because of illness and injuries regardless of whether or not we have appropriate staff to care for them, but someone will have to care from them – Office Managers?, Principals?, Teachers?,Who?
- Is the very great risk involving student care, worth the small reward that reducing Health Office Assistants’ hours would entail?
- Health Office Assistants were the primary group that earned the $50,000 Medi-Cal MAA money referenced in item 9D. That will go down with fewer health hours per site. This becomes a lose – lose situation.
I appreciate the difficult decisions that you have to make.
Thank you for considering this matter. It is important to all of us.
Wood Middle School Community 2/23/2007
We are gratified that Superintendent Dailey has heeded the Alameda community’s deep commitment to neighborhood schools by removing the closing of Wood Middle School from her recommended list of budget reductions.
Wood is a special place, because:
Current research supports Superintendent Dailey’s wise recommendation to reconsider consolidating middle schools. In Kathleen Cotton’s article, “School Size, School Climate, and Student Performance”, a survey of dozens of studies, she concludes that larger schools hinder student performance and jeopardize safety. “…researchers have found that large schools (defined as any secondary with more than 800 students) have a more negative impact on minority and low-SES students than on students in general.” In fact, “the effects of small schools on the achievement of ethnic minority students and students of low socioeconomic status are the most positive of all.”
- Wood is the only secondary Alameda school to meet all its API and AYP goals this past year. Since 1999, our API has grown 108 points. Our 2005-2006 growth showed a 24-point gain.
- Based on this high performance, Wood was invited this year to apply for California Distinguished School recognition. Our staff collectively put in many hours completing the application because we believe so strongly that Wood School deserves this honor.
- Wood is part of a larger community, evidenced by our commitment to working with our neighbors. Wood students regularly mentor students from our neighboring school, Lum Elementary. The annual Wood Museum will be Alameda Free Library’s first exhibit since opening in its new location on Oak Street. Science classes participate in an ornithological study with Cornell University to note the migrating patterns of songbirds. Sixth grade core teachers have an on-going and deepening collaboration with the U.C. Berkeley Graduate Department of Anthropology. The University assists in Wood’s “Big Dig”, our annual archaeological endeavor, and also provides virtual field trips to excavation sites around the world. Wood School is partnered with a sister-school in San Juanillo, Nicaragua. Students exchange packets and letters. These are but a few of the myriad examples that demonstrate Wood’s school-community connection.
- Wood serves one of the most diverse communities in Alameda. We are a rich mix of various cultures and economic backgrounds. We are home to speakers of at least 20 different languages. Ten percent of our population is served by special education programs. We host the District’s only middle school counseling-enriched Special Day program. We also house the only Severely Handicapped program for middle schools in Alameda. This all provides for constant interaction among our special education and general education populations. Our award-winning Learning Center serves as a demonstration model for schools throughout the state.
- Wood has assembled an outstanding group of dedicated professionals, including several who have been recognized by the district and state. Two teachers received the Alameda School District’s Teacher of the Year award: Anselmo Reis, 2006, and Jim Peters, 1994; Nancy Ely was nominated for Teacher of the Year by the California League of Middle Schools, 2006-2007.
- Wood receives constant support from our parents. Parents donated more than 6,000 hours of volunteer time during the last school year. The PTA is an ever-present partner on our campus, providing grants for teachers, supporting Student Leadership, advocating for our school, hosting parent education events, and boosting morale for the entire Wood community.
Furthermore, “research shows that small schools have lower incidences of negative social behavior, however measured, than do large schools.”
There are many other reasons for maintaining Wood School’s place in the community. It is simply the right decision for all of Alameda.
I write this after receiving information about the proposed budgets cuts to the hours of the AUSD Health Office Assistants.
Coming straight to the point, to cut the few hours left to the health assistants, as shown in Article 6a of the proposed budget, would be chaotic, at best.
We are trained personnel that deal with specific first aid related situations, including potentially life threatening medical conditions that just can’t be handled by anyone. These situations occur throughout the seven hour school day. In the short three hours that I work over the lunch period, I see an average of twelve children daily. I’ve noticed in the health log, that the office assistant, in her short three hours in the morning, often sees many more than that, and ‘health assistant’ is not her primary function.
I believe that the funds generated *only* through the voluntary hours logged by the health assistants through the MediCal Administrative program, as shown in Item 9d (last quarter adding more than $50,000 to the district funds), show the commitment to the district and to the schools that we, health office assistants, have. Please take all of this into consideration when making your decision.
It is another difficult year of cuts, and while there needs to be a more permanent, long term solution, I applaud your efforts in the difficult task at hand and trust you will make the best choices for our children.
After having been reading the information on our district budget crisis, it has come to my knowledge that the health program in our district may face modifications translated in our health office assistants’ reduction of working hours.
In this regard, I would like to ask you to take into consideration the adverse effect this might have on students and staff in case this change were to happen. Illnesses, injuries, and emergencies do not know of budget cuts or similar issues, therefore they will continue to occur at our schools. By not having the appropriately trained person, i.e., the health office assistant, to take charge of them, someone else will have to deal with these problems. This might result in an inappropriate manner of handling the cases with unfortunate consequences to the students’ safety and the school district’s liability. Moreover, this reduction of hours would put an extra work load on other staff members, such as classified employees and teachers, who would have to cope with these while possibly neglecting their own job duties. In addition to this, I would like to mention that health office assistants are very well aware of particular students’ medical conditions due to the constant interaction and are able to see to their needs properly.
I would also like to point out that the health department has been generating revenues through a Medi-Cal Administrative program, which is done voluntarily by health office assistants as an extra effort to generate some inflow of money into the district’s funds.
Lastly, I would like to thank you all for your magnificent efforts at trying to manage the district budget crisis in a reasonable and fair manner. We all know that it is a complex issue and that the decision on cuts and reductions will be a very difficult one.
What can I add to the other many letters/emails you've already received to encourage you to change your minds about this latest suggested round of cuts….I just don't know.
Aren't we here to serve the students of Alameda and their parents to the best of our ability? How can we do that if it's decided year in and year out to cut our hours. Don't you feel in your hearts that what money we have should go to the schools FIRST and then District Office? It just doesn't seem to work that way.
Has the thought ever crossed your minds that possibly each employee at District could "donate" an hour or possibly half an hour each day of the week like you've already asked of me two previous occasions (not to mention how many others at school sites). I started at the District working 6 hours/day (much to the delight of the Office Manager and Health Clerk). I was first cut to 5, then 4, and now you propose 3.5 hrs. Do you have any idea how much pressure this puts mainly on the Office Manager, who is already overworked (as we all are and underpaid). We're a great team but it's hard for the team to work effectively when 2/3's of the team isn't here! The hours are cut but the workload increases and increases. Why is it that the lowest paid seem to pay the price. I love working at the school helping the kids. It's fun and so rewarding….but so frustrating when you can't get your work done.
Please, please try to help the staff at all the school sites…cuts shouldn't and mustn't be made here again. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
I have been closely following the Board Meetings and reading the notes of our Alameda website regarding the district reduction plan.
It concerns me that the health program in our district may endure a reduction of hours. Our program has already been reduced by the closure of three small school sites.
My apprehension is: If we remove hours, then we eliminate direct interaction with students. If we continue to reduce hours then this allows that only our mandates be met. Our students would have less direct contact with the Health Assistant. This is truly a disservice to our students and staff. Health Assistants are familiar with their students. They have knowledge of their health problems because of their day to day relationships with them. Health Assistants can recognize a possible dangerous health condition with a student because they are aware of their particular situation.
Since the district has already closed three schools, cut employees and displaced students, there is a level of concern. The health program has dedicated employees. We are continually on the reduction list. I feel the health program has already been reduced and feel it is time we not be targeted for any more reduction. This would have a negative effect on our students and put greater liability on our district.
There is one more point I would like to make. Our district receives money which the Health Assistant group generates through Medi-Cal Administrative Activities Program. I feel that is an asset to our district and needs to be taken into consideration.
In these difficult times, I want to close in saying thank you for supporting the health and well-being of all our students and employees in this district.
I am at a loss for words on how to convey my shock at learning of the possibility of this segment of employees hours being cut………... again.
I do not want to remain silent.
I firmly believe that every employee at AUSD works very hard at his or her particular position but has it ever been considered to cut some of the district employees hours by 1/2 an hour? That has never been done. Why is it considered OK to do it to the school offices? These employees salaries are much lower by comparison than most district personel, therefore when you cut their hours the savings effect is very small. Furthermore, we deal directly with the children every day and the quality of our service to them is directly felt.
We at the school site offices are hard pressed to meet our daily work load. Service to the students, parents and teachers will suffer if hours keep being cut for the office staff.
I urge you to reconsider such a cut in the name of the students we are trying to serve.
It deeply saddens me that the Alameda Board of Education will yet again cut clerical hours. I find it hard to believe that people who purport putting children first are really putting them at risk.
The Alameda Board of Education is considering cuts that will put students in danger by cutting school office staff back to dangerous levels. The Health Clerk, Site Office Assistant and Office Manager deal with the students on a daily basis. Students with fatal allergies, diabetes, asthma, emotional problems, injuries, illness and custody issues are dealt with on a daily basis.
Teachers are not the only people who deal directly with the students. The office staff also deals with students, teachers, parents, grandparents, District employees, community members, prospective employees, prospective families, vendors, other school districts, Social Service agencies, and day care providers to name a few. We make sure that the people who show up to take a child out of school are authorized to do so; that the person registering the child for school is really the legal guardian; that the children have the state required immunizations.
Elementary school offices are understaffed as it is; to cut even more is unconscionable.
We are a dedicated group, working more, and more hours. We work overtime that we are not paid for because there is no money in the budget for clerical overtime. Comp hours are never taken because there is never a “good” time. We come to work no matter how sick we are because there are no clerical subs. I implore you to think the cuts through. Who will be there for your child if these cuts take place?
AUSD wants to bolster the number of students attending the Alameda public schools. But, when a community member walks into the neighborhood school office to register a child for school and sees mail piled on a desk, the phones ringing, supplies piled and children sitting around in wet, dirty clothes and no adult in sight, what will he think? Will he realize that the one person left to staff the office is out on the playground comforting a child with a leg that might be broken? Or will he think this is not a safe environment for his child—the private school with the fully staffed office is the place to be.
I’m a health office assistant at Earhart School as well as a parent with two kids in the Alameda Public School System. I am not writing to you fighting for my job because the way I see it, the “powers at be” have already made up their mind and there isn’t a lot I can do to change their minds. So, why am I writing to you? A good question. I’m writing to you because I want you to truly understand what happens at the schools on a daily basis.
My general role here at the school is taking care of the kids and keeping records of all immunizations as well as special health needs. It sounds so simple, but my role goes deeper than that. In addition to the sick child, injured child or just the child that needs to talk just to avoid an overload of life, I have two type one diabetics and one child on a feeding tube that I have to deal with on a daily basis. That’s not even mentioning the number of kids with allergies that require immediate care or the number of children on medication that needs my assistance. This also includes holding the hysterical child on my lap for 45 minutes waiting for the parents to pick them up.
Dealing with just the diabetics and the feeding tube child takes up at least an hour of my time everyday. The parents of these children depend on me to keep them informed of their blood sugar levels and of their nutrition needs. This means me calling each parent daily so that they are informed about their child.
If for some reason I am not available to help these children or any of the other children, then the office staff will help me. If our positions are cut, how are these children going to be taken care of? We work as a team and we are there to support and help each other in every way possible. We have had medical emergencies at this school and it took all three of us to deal with the child making sure that nothing happened to her until help could get to her. Imagine, had we had a reduction in staff, what could have happened to that child who happen to be having an allergic reaction to nuts.
Before making any cuts to staffing, please take a careful look at what you are cutting and ask yourself, are there other ways to make the same cuts.
If you make these cuts, what are you going to tell the parents of the kids that were not treated properly. If you know what you are going to say, can look the parents in the eye and, can sleep at night knowing that the kids at the schools are no longer being looked after, then you must not have a conscience and that saddens me.
As I have said, everyone in the office works as a team. We all support each other and help out in any situation especially in emergencies. I always thought that the district as a whole worked together, as a team all the way down to the individual schools. Is this no longer true?
Believe me; I have worked in a State agency for many, many years. Every year, it’s the same old thing with the budget… cuts must be made. Don’t you think people understand that? I understand that cuts must be made, but in the expense of our kids? That I don’t understand. They say, the kids are our future… what kind of future are we truly giving them?
Again, all I’m asking is you to think about what is being done and ask yourselves, is that the best way to go about it?
I am writing to you to ask that you look seriously at the proposed cuts to school site office assistants. I was given the new staffing figures yesterday, and was in disbelief as to what the district is proposing. Has anyone making these decisions ever spent a day, or even part of a day, in a school office? I implore all of you to do so before accepting this outrageous proposal.
We take care of students, teachers, substitutes, parents, custodians, vendors, payroll, purchasing, newsletters, attendance, keeping SASI updated, enrollment, ordering buses, contracted studies, tracking staff use of copy machines (and unjamming them), tracking all textbooks, answering phones – shall I go on? We have diabetic children, one in need of constant monitoring and a child who needs to be fed through a feeding tube. There are children with severe allergies who have epi-pens stored on site. What shall we tell parents if we are so distracted that we’re unaware that a child is in danger? I can tell you first hand that I have spent days in the office without an office assistant or health clerk, and I cannot get my job done. Will the office assistant cuts have an impact on students? You bet it will. Shall I start giving out numbers as to who I should take care of first? Maybe I should keep the phone on voice mail all day, because there certainly won’t be time to answer it. That will make parents happy. If you’re concerned about enrollment, you had better start here. We are continually given more tasks to do, but no one seems to care to look at this picture. Why are you not looking at expensive consultants or new programs that have ridiculously hidden costs such as hundreds of dollars in special markers and post its? Or Successmaker - is this program really helping? I have heard otherwise.
I have worked for the Federal government and for private industry and have always been paid for the time I spent on the job. You don’t see the extra hours we now spend getting our job done. How much more can you ask of us?
I have never been as happy and fulfilled as working at a school site, but yesterday you slapped me in the face and my morale is the lowest I have ever felt. I have always taken pride in my job, but I will be unable to complete anything in a timely manner. When will the District stop taking, and expecting the impossible from its employees? I understand that cuts are necessary, but where is the human issue? It’s time that the District start taking care of its employees. Please look long and hard before accepting this proposal.
I appreciate your doing so and also the website information. I will keep it on file for future postings. You cannot know how important it is to us that you remain accessible and responsive to each of us. Everyone has their own slant and I know you cannot please all. I am also an AUSD parent so naturally I am interested in getting more money to the schools in any way I can… in fact, though, I think the best thing we can do is to get the State to get us on an even par with comparable school districts now that we do not have the Naval Base here or the funding it provided. That money (about $2.7 M) would be about the amount we need to stay afloat without cutting our existing budget. Surely Don Perata should be able to help us out and we have Mr. Garamendi’s grandchildren at this AUSD school. I have heard talk about sueing the State of California . Except that it would probably be a long. Expensive process, I think I like the idea. At least for the present, we feel that the Health Offices can continue to work hard to generate more Medi-Cal money for the District’s General Fund. We have asked Ardella to get more involved in this work as the amount of money we earn for the school district is computed as a percentage of our salaries. Since we are at one of the lowest pay grades, we are anxious that someone like Ardella who is at the top salary level would work with us on this because a percentage of a big salary means even more money could be generated for the general fund. So far she is lukewarm to the idea although she has minimally involved Donna Fletcher. As far as I know, the Health Offices are the only entity that BRINGS IN MONEY to the District.
I wanted to make sure that everyone understands what the College and Career Position means to the high schools. It is the biggest bonus we could possibly have. I’ve worked as a high school counselor at other high schools and in other states. The position that carries out those duties was always held by a credentialed counselor and paid on the counselor pay roll. So, what a bargain AUSD is getting by having someone who is paid as a clerk, perform the same services. If this position is cut, the counselors then will have to do all of the work of getting students college applications in, their financial aid forms completed, and all of the scholarships attended to. Do you think someone who already has a full work load will have time to do this adequately? I don’t. Although we all try to keep up with the current eligibility qualifications, that in itself can be a full time job. To have someone who is knowledgeable about all of the college options to work with our students should be something that AUSD absolutely cherishes. The number of individual students and families whose lives are changed because their child got that scholarship, got into that particular college should be valued, not tossed out. I feel it would be a great disservice to have this position cut in any way. Please consider this position as the valuable one it is.
This is my 12th year as an active parent in Alameda schools. I have 3 boys in our schools, including two at EHS. I have an MBA and previous positions have included working to restructure both corporate and public organizations. At Berkeley and Chapel Hill I was involved in many student activities including counseling and course scheduling. Currently I am taking classes through UCLA to complete the Certificate Program In College and Career Counseling.
I believe counseling services at EHS could be greatly improved while still cutting costs. However, the current proposals to consolidate and modify positions are not the answer. For the last 6 months I have volunteered considerable time in the Encinal College and Career Center with Tracy Allegrotti. The letter she sent earlier this week is an accurate picture of the comprehensive and critical services provided by the EHS College and Career Center . It is shocking that this position is set up at a clerk level.
What are the responsibilities of EHS counselors? Most students I know see counselors only for course scheduling and a tally of requirements remaining for graduation (which by the way many students discover is not enough to get them into a CSU). Students I know do not rely on counselors for advice on college requirements or letters of recommendation.
Many things have changed tremendously since our counseling office was established. Why do we keep doing things the same way without considering a better use of the scarce funds we do have? With high counselor to student ratios, most students do not get personal counseling from their counselor. Applying to college has gotten increasingly complicated in terms of requirements, applications and financial aid. Students who will go to college need advice from someone who keeps up and understands these issues. Students who will not go to college need help identifying careers and training programs and understanding the impact of their performance in high school.
Instead of the proposed cuts, I suggest a budget be set up for high school counseling staff. A working group could identify the services which need and should be provided and then suggest the best way to staff these services (undoubtedly there are state and federal requirements I am unaware which would be incorporated). Perhaps, some duties such as tabulating course requirements for graduation could be computerized. Maybe a skilled counselor would work with at risk kids or students who need true ‘counseling” (not just paper processing). The counseling structure we have now could be greatly improved. Instead of just cutting, let’s analyze how to both cut and improve what we get for our limited funds.
Of course, I am happy to talk to anyone about this in more detail. Or better yet, you might talk to the kids!
As a working teacher and fellow professional I must strongly protest any proposal any contemplated cuts of our Lum School office staff. We need these people and our school will not function without them. It is absurd to think that that an elementary school of five hundred and fifteen students can be safely managed by a staff of one. There also seems to be a raging double standard regarding staff cuts between schools such as Ruby Bridges and schools such as Lum.
Alameda Unified had little trouble over the years funding expensive inservices, overrated speakers and other educational hubris to say nothing of constantly backtracking and reinventing programs that are frequently unnecessary. Now the economic chickens have come home to roost and our office staff personnel are being asked to sacrifice to atone for years of misappropriating our resources. As a school board member it is your responsibility to balance the budget but this needs to be done in a safe, sane and sensible manner.
I was alerted to the possibility that Lum School might lose the second secretary and the school nurse.
I wanted to let you know that their work and support are much needed at the school. As a second grade teacher, I am indebted to their help and the students benefit and learn much from them being part of the school staff.
I would like to ask for your reconsideration.
I wanted to write all of you regarding the proposed cuts in office hours (site office assistant and health office assistant). PLEASE do not cut our staff – we all directly interact with the students and when one is absent, no work is done except taking care of the students. Reduced hours means there will only be one person in the office for a good part of each day. Answering phones, attending to sick/injured students and taking care of over-the-counter parent/teacher problems is all that can be accomplished. There is no time for attendance, purchasing, enrolling, inputting data into SASI, and all the other hundreds of jobs that we do in the office. There must be other cuts that could be made farther away from the children.
I appreciate the difficult decisions that you must soon make and I know each cause probably seems as worthy of consideration as the next. But I am writing, however, to encourage you all to re-examine cutting Health Office Assistant (AKA Health Clerks) hours at elementary and middle schools irrespective of the enrollment numbers. This is expecially important since the number of hours Health personnel work has always been predicated by Fiscal… exclusively by school enrollment. We still have the same enrollments relative to the fiscal formulations in place already. I also feel that due to the vague wording of Article 6a, the District INTENDS to adjust the existing staffing formulas downwards. I only work 3 hours a day. To work less than this is just not feasible.
I would also like to emphasize that reducing hours does not reduce the services required (mandated by the State) by the students, staff and parents at each school. The amount of Health Office visits by students and staff run about 4 times the school population. We have about 10,000 students so we see 40,000 students annually. Other office staff, in some cases just the Office Manager, must assume these responsibilities… most of which they have neither training or inclination to do because they are already OVERBURDENED. The number of students who get injured, require 911 services, or get sick at school is not going to be reduced because Health Office hours are arbitrarily reduced. These services still need to be rendered as well as the continual record-keeping, follow-up, and reports mandated by the state. In addition, if a child is seriously injured or dies on campus and there is no qualified Health professional in attendance, our district is open to lawsuits which are far costlier than the health hour cuts proposed. PARENT VOLUNTEERS cannot assume our duties because of confidentiality issues and HIPA laws.
Lastly, I am extremely dismayed that Item 9d does not credit the Health Office staff for generating the $50,000.00+ in Medi-Cal funds that recently went into the District coffers. This is not in our job descriptions. We do it voluntarily and gladly as a way to add much needed revenue. We anticipate far exceeding this number next quarter when more Health staff are trained and able to participate.
I realize that you have some very tough decisions to make in the upcoming weeks. I for one would not like to be in your shoes. However, I believe that some of the suggested cuts the district is asking you to make have not been made with the most thoughtful effort. Please let me explain.
I am currently the career tech at Encinal High School. Prior to my job this year I taught elementary and middle school in this district for 15 years. To take this job I took a cut in pay of 50%.
My eldest daughter graduated from Encinal High School in 2004. In November of 2003, she called me while I was visiting my husband in the hospital, crying hysterically because she could not submit her UC application. “Something was wrong with the computer!” I had to “come home now.!” As I drove home from the hospital I started thinking about all the kids sitting at home working on their UC applications. I started thinking about the kids who did not have internet access; the kids who did not have parents who could be there in a moment’s notice to help out their child. You see, like many of you, when my daughters were going through the college application process, I became their counselor. I learned the difference between Single Choice Early Action, Early Action, Regular Decision, Early Decision, etc. I read everything I could get my hands on, so I could help my children make sound choices regarding their college choices. Not because there was not people at the high school who could do this, but because they were busy doing other things.
About a year ago, I began the College and Career Advising Certificate Program at UCLA. I decided I wanted to help kids realize their post-high school dreams—it didn’t matter what their dreams were, I wanted to help them make their dreams come true. I did not feel I was doing this teaching at a middle school. There are seven classes in this certificate program: The College Admissions Process, Counseling the College Bound Student, Financial Aid Fundamentals, Testing/Career Assessment, Special Issues in College Advising, Using the Internet for College/Career Counseling, and Practicum in College Counseling. I will have finished the certificate program in this June.
It just so happened, this past spring the career tech that held the job before me was moving. I applied for the job and got it. I rationalized taking this job (and pay cut) because I would not be certified by the time it started; I wanted to make sure I could do the job, and that I could make a difference. I have since found out that I am great at this job. I am helping kids achieve their dreams, and I am making a difference in kids’ lives. (I also happen to love this job)!
My job is like a moving target. I need to be ready for anything. I meet with parents regarding the college application process; I meet with them regarding what their kid can do after high school (“I really don’t believe you should be graduating my son; he’s not mature enough.’) I meet with parents about the classes their kids need to take to get into the best college (even if they are only a freshman). I advise parents that a B in Algebra 2 as a freshman will not hurt their kid’s chances of getting into Berkeley, or Stanford, or any other highly selective school. I meet with the military representatives who show up almost on a weekly basis. I meet with kids. I advise kids. I hold financial aid nights. I hold college nights. I write letters of recommendation, even during Christmas vacation, when they show up on my porch at 11 pm the day before they need to be post-marked. I answer calls from EHS coaches at 8:am on Saturdays because they have a student-athlete who is meeting with a college coach that night…and then I run to school and print out a transcript for them.
I help my undocumented students navigate a very scary and difficult road to college. I talk to admission officers about kids. I set up visits of representatives from colleges, universities, the military, art programs, specific careers, historically black colleges, technical institutes, apprenticeship programs. I talk to College Board when they screw up a kid’s test score, and even when they don’t. I write to colleges to advise them that a student who has applied to their school has just been named a National Merit Finalist. I help parents and students with Financial Aid. I promote my students!!
I manage the UC Berkeley Incentive Awards Program for our school. I manage the AVID-Region 4 grant. I manage the Bank of America Awards Program. I advise kids on what tests to take, the differences between the ACT, SAT Reasoning and SAT Subject Tests. I find out that Harvard requires 3 subject tests, while any other school that requires them, only need two, but you should NEVER take the Math 1 test (it won’t count as one of the two). I know that all colleges will accept SAT’s for seniors up to the December test, except for San Diego State—they won’t take them after November. I issue fee waivers for SAT’s, ACT’s and college applications—it’s s very expensive business.
I stay up to date on the UC and CSU and NCAA changes. I advise our counselors on college admission requirements, because their focus is the graduation requirements. I advise the ACLC counselor, because she has “no college admissions background.” I help plan and implement the College of Alameda College Fair, which many of you attend. I do classroom presentations. I do grade-level wide presentations.
I meet with parents considering AUSD and Encinal High to let them know that yes, this is a great school, yes, their child will receive a wonderful education here, and yes our graduation rate is higher than 40%--(a question I was just recently asked). I send out an on-line newsletter at least twice a month to over 200 subscribing families and students announcing jobs, scholarships, application hints, summer programs, college open houses, and all the other stuff that is sent to me in the mail. I do not want to miss giving one kid that thing that may open new doors for them.
I look at SAT/PSAT/AP data and advise the various school departments of any obvious patterns. I enter all SAT/ACT/PSAT and AP scores to the students’ transcripts. I help kids select the schools to apply to. I keep my center open every Monday and Wednesday from noon until 8:pm during the month of November so kids without internet access can work on their college applications. I celebrate with them when they receive acceptance letters and give them a hug when they receive a rejection.
I keep of track of all awards won, all scholarships available and won, college acceptances and the decisions the kids have made about what they are doing after high school. I create data sets of kids at EHS and the schools they get into so I can do a better job advising future classes. I help parents and students analyze their financial aid packages and help them choose the one that makes the most sense for their family. I help kids through the EOP application process for the CSU’s. I attend workshops on the weekend (without pay), so I can have as much information as necessary to better advise my students. I will pay for these conferences and workshops out of my own pocket because there is no budget. I sit on the Student Assistance Team and am the CSEA rep on School Site Council. I sponsor “The Real World-College According to Those Who Go,” inviting back alum during their winter break to talk to parents and students about their college experience and their advice to future graduates. This past December we had recent EHS graduates from Stanford, Berkeley, Brown, Cornell, the University of Washington, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State attend and share their experiences. I stay in touch with alumni for this very purpose.
I serve the high-end kids, the low-end kids, the educationally disadvantaged, the socio-economically disadvantaged. I serve any kid who walks in and wants help figuring out what they should do after high school. And then, when it’s all over, I start it all over again with the juniors.
You see, this is not a seasonal job, as I believe a district employee stated at a recent meeting. If I am to truly “Serve Children” this is a full-time, on-call job. And I don’t mind it at all, because I am helping them to achieve their dreams.
You may be wondering why I have not spent the time and energy to become a regular counselor. Well, I’ve been encouraged to do this, and have investigated this as well. There is very little that a PPS program teaches you that actual high school counselors do today. If you look at St. Mary’s or Cal State East Bay’s programs, you will find no classes on master schedules, no classes on graduation requirements, no classes on the CAHSEE and its’ ramifications, no classes on college admissions, no classes on career advisement, no classes on changing schedules. There are plenty of classes on human sexuality, alcohol and substance abuse, psychological testing and family violence. I believe Luz stated at the meeting the other night that the state ratio of counselors to students is 1 to 960. Even if counselors were able to provide this type of counseling, they’d never be able to do it at that large of a ratio.
The reason why this ratio has increased is because districts (such as Berkeley Unified and LA Unified) have cut counseling staffs and have hired credentialed teachers with career and college advising certificates. They are counted in the teaching staff ratios and not in the counseling staff ratios.
The purpose of this letter is not to toot my own horn. Even if this job was not cut and not combined with text book technician (which I wouldn’t get due to seniority) I don’t know if I could do the job for the pay for another year. I have two kids in college and another one three years away. I don’t know if I could afford to do it another year.
We are at a crossroads in the district. If we continue to cut programs, we will continue to lose families and students. I find it disheartening that the district does not have at its’ fingertips exit data or exit interviews from parents who are choosing to leave our district. I believe if we had this information available, you, as the board of education, could make better decisions, more-informed decisions.
I apologize for this letter being so long, but I found it necessary to provide you with information, the district has not yet asked for.
Your job is very tough. I wish you only the best in making these very tough decisions.
I have been following the AUSD budget crisis and trying to get
involved. I'm still trying to understand the many parts of the problem.
Can you explain, or lead me to documents that explain, the rationale
behind the recent update in the teacher's contract that increased
their salaries? I've heard different things, including that the
money came from the parcel tax, but would like the real facts. My
husband blames the current deficit on that contract. Was that a
significant factor? And, if this is the case, who voted this decision?
I realize, again, that there are many reasons for the current
situation probably mostly having to do with state funding issues, but
was curious about this particular topic because it hits a little
closer to home.
I, like teachers, are part of a union and can appreciate their work
to get better compensation for our teachers (as they are some of the
best in the area!). But I just wonder ultimately what the cost is to
Thank you, in advance for your time in responding.
I am an 8th grade student at xxxxx Middle School and a memeber of the journalism class. Currently, I'm working on an article about the proposed budget cuts, specifically the decreased funding for sports, creation of larger classes, and the reduced number of counselors, and their effects on the students and community. I was hoping you might be able to answer a few questions for me.
What are the expected effects for the $100,000 cut from athletics?
Would only 9th grade English and Math classes have an increased student to teacher ration?
The information on the AUSD website was unclear. What exactly is the proposal for decreasing counseling positions for the Middle and High schools?
I noticed a plan for eliminating all career and college counselors. If this is done, where will the students turn for these services?
I am an office assistant at xxxx School and an employee of AUSD since 1981. It seems that my job is at risk of being cut due to another budget crisis.
I have felt the affect of lower enrollment/budget cuts first hand. My job as office assistant at Washington School was eliminated due to lower enrollment.
I exercised my option to bump someone with less seniority than myself so that I could remain employed, keep my benefits and work toward my retirement.
That was one of the most difficult decisions to make and terribly upsetting for the person I displaced (as well as myself).
Here we go again. AUSD doesn’t have enough $$ to pay the bills. This time I want to fight for my job.
What does it takes to run Earhart’s office? It is the office manager and the assistant’s job to tend to the needs of our 545 students, their parents and families. We have about 31 teachers. Their job is teaching, period. Bravo to them for the excellent job they do.
But they don’t answer the phones, order the supplies, take care of sick children, help and direct substitute teachers, prepare payroll, do enrollment of all new students and transfers between schools, daily attendance, news letters, all the notices from district to parents….and more. Not to mention being great listeners and problem solvers, too!
That and much more is the job of the office manager and office assistant. It is not a one person job.
Do we need to spend hundreds of dollars for yellow markers for a “new” way to teach language arts?
Do we need to spend hundreds of dollars for purple sticky notes for the same?
Do we need to spend thousands of dollars for licenses for a supplemental program like Successmaker?
How much is Renzulli costing the District?
How many conferences do experienced teachers need to attend to “learn” how to teach better?
Dig deeper into past spending. Please examine departmental spending and how often expensive new curriculum programs are bought. And how about overtime pay?
I can’t tell you how much overtime office staff already puts in to complete projects. There is no monetary compensation.
Don’t hit the property owners of Alameda with another tax increase. Look at the bigger picture and close Wood School and possibly a small elementary.
I appreciate the task you have ahead.
Now that the final Board meeting has come and gone, perhaps your
emails have thinned out some. I did appreciate being to see all the
various emails on your site. You are the one trustee who seems to
want to communicate with those of us in the trenches, whether as
teachers or students.
I think that now, the Board might turn some very serious attention to
revenue enhancement, not that the same idea has not occurred to you.
I hope that it is not imposing on you to make suggestions and ask
questions. Today, as I was walking past the Historic High School
building, tow thoughts crossed my mind.
First. I know that plans are afoot to renovate the wing of the old
building that has been housing the public library into more
classrooms, but might that be put on hold and the space leased or
even sold? The City seemed very anxious to get its hands on the
Carnegie building for a permit center...might they be interested?
Second and most of all I wondered about the Adult School? is the
Adult School part of AUSD? Do we have a legal responsibility to run
an adult school. Why shouldn't adults take advantage of College of
Alameda if they need academic instruction? Are we charging the
absolute maximum fees permissible for people using adult school
services? Were cuts to the adult school on the table during the
recent crisis talks? Even if the adult school is funded by another
source (and I suspect that it is), could AUSD terminate its
relationship with the adult school and sell or lease the space that
it now occupies? I know that all of this sounds harsh, but when the
Board is making choices that affect students in the classroom, it
seems to me that the district's responsibility might be thought to
end with 12th grade.
I am sure that Board business is a 100 hour a week job for you, and,
believe me, I, for one, appreciate all of the work that all of the
trustees do. Please do not feel any responsibility for actually
writing and answering these questions. Just consider them grist for
As a teacher in AUSD for over 30 years, I am very concerned about the direction the district has continued to go in the last several years in dealing with budget "shortfalls". This year has not been any different. The district needs to be more proactive in securing revenue instead of cutting programs, services and staff that directly impacts students.
I strongly urge the board to keep Wood Middle School open! Closing it contradicts research and good teaching practice. Research indicates that students do not perform as well academically in larger schools. It may also prove to be financially unsound. (For example, if parents choose to enroll their children in private schools because of consolidation, we would lose ADA.)
I encourage the district to communicate more effectively, the failure of the State and Federal Governments to fund our district in an equitable manner. With this knowledge, perhaps more parents would lobby their government with letters, petitions, etc., to get our "fair share". I encourage the district to be more diligent in seeking partnerships, grants, endowments and sponsorships from the many corporations, businesses, AUSD alumni and parents in our community.
The district needs to reduce spending at the district level. This could start with an immediate and indefinite freeeze for hiring consultants and special assignment support staff at the district administrative level. The plan to eliminate the Public Information Officer should be implemented, but there should not be the establishment of a "communications/community outreach specialist". This responsibility could be shared by the secretaries at the Assistant and Superintendent's offices.
The directors of curriculum and instruction should be eliminated (not restructured) and could become the responsibility of the Assistant Superintendent. In addition to the above district level cuts, the distsrict should not spend money to restructure and increase technology services. This is not the right time to spend money we do not have. I also question the district's plan to restructure and increase Special Ed Services unless the State and Federal Governments provide the required funding to do so.
Lastly, I encourage the district to be more proactive in pursuing ways to increase student enrollment and student attendance. Has the district researched what other districts do to improve ADA? Perhaps, with this information the district can implement those plans which increase ADA. (Ex: marketing for increase enrollment, fines issued to parents of truant students) I believe the Board of Education can support AUSD 's core values and can help AUSD to reach the desired 2007-09 goals. I am asking you to respectfully consider implementing the suggestions that were made above. It would be a step in the right direction to enable AUSD to better serve its students. Let's work together to give the students (now and in the future) the quality education they deserve.
We want to commend Ardella Dailey for choosing not to close Wood School and consolidate middle schools. This was in the best interest of students and their families, which includes elementary schools in the surrounding area. It was an educationally sound decision! We are concerned however about the district's failure to make cuts farthest away from students. We strongly urge you to consider making cuts at the district level. (Example: freezing spending money on consultants and district-level "special projects" support staff.)
Thank you for your consideration in this difficult matter.
I am a parent of two school-aged children in Alameda and I attended the public meetings at Chipman, Wood and Lum. I also attended the Board meeting last week.
I'm writing to you during your evaluation period of the two proposals presented to you by Superintendent Daily to urge you to consider giving priority to existing programs over funding new expenses.
I don't understand how we can even consider new optional expenditures considering our current situation. When I raised the question at the community meeting about why the original budget would include $340,000 in new expenses when we had school children pleading to keep their existing programs in place, the response was that the $140,000 for computer tech support would possibly help the schools/the district become more efficient.
I suspect that's the kind of thinking that may be partially why we are in this situation. Thinking about my own personal finances, if I know I'm going to have to reduce my spending in order to pay my taxes, I don't go out to Best Buy to purchase a computer so that I can process my taxes by TurboTax because it's more efficient. I wait until I can actually afford it before I buy a new computer -- or I choose to get myself into debt. The school district needs to have that same sort of very basic common sense discipline.
There are other options available for computer support that should be part of the creative "thinking outside the box" that the community should be helping to provide.
I don't know the background behind the Special Ed expense but if that is an optional enhancement, that should be questioned, as well.
Thank you for your consideration.
Your proposed alternatives are wise.
But I must object to the fact that Encinal seems to be targeted. Our JROTC program never should have been on the block, as it fulfills the PE requirement for many students, and has sent so many students to the service academies, and all branches of the armed service.
Second, Tracy Allegrotti, in the College and Career Center is a true treasure who loves our kids, and MUST be retained at all costs. Only 17% of our students have parents who have attended college, THEREFORE, a college and career specialist is especially necessary here.
Third, it seems clear from our perspective that EHS is being attacked from all angles. When ACLC separated from our school 5 years ago, it reduced our student population (and test scores), then couple that with the District's failure to enforce attendance boundaries (at least 150 students at AHS should be attending EHS) and you've got inappropriate staff reductions.
Thank you for working on behalf of our school. Please try to educate our Superintendent (who we have only seen once this year! ) and our new still wet behind the ears CFO, what the West End of Alameda is about. No more outrageous proposals like this recent round of proposed cuts should reach the Board.
I’m so encouraged by the community support for education and your vision regarding drawing the line now and maintaining what keeps us attractive as an educational choice in Alameda .
Additionally, I’m energized to help better market our schools and the “Good News” about education in Alameda through our website and through PSA’s on our newly activated channel. We need to educate our community about the quality programs in Alameda and then we will have the support to maintain our programs with limited allocations by developing alternative funding sources.)
I know at Bay Farm we got back over 10 students who left us to go to Chinese Christian and then came back to us. I believe our elementary programs can’t be beat and we can get even more to come to us if we market ourselves properly and provide space for them to come. More later….but count me in on the planning and implementation!
I agree with you 100% (re: 2/13 BOE Meeting coments)
I am an 11th grade student at Encinal High School. I am writing to on behalf of the proposed budget cuts that would take place next year. I am aware of the fact that the AUSD needs to cut a total of $2 million from next years budget, but I am also aware that many of these cuts will happen at Encinal High. There are many proposed cuts that will affect Encinal and the students that attend it, such as the cut of the College & Career Center, which will effectively prevent many students from receiving the information and stupport they need to attend college. Also, the proposed cut of a few counselors, which will also prevent many Encinal students from receiving the attention that they need and deserve. These cuts will destroy the efforts of so many and cause a general reduction in the amount of students that pass on to college, reducing the amount of students enrolled at Encinal High, and furthur lowering the revenue that the AUSD will recieve. If I may make a reccomendation, I would suggest that cuts be taken from Alameda High School, which as of right now will only receive a fraction of the cuts that Encinal will. I propose that some of Alameda High's extracurricular programs, such as the Judo club, be cut. These programs are relatively non-beneficial to students, and definitely are not as necessary as our counselars or our Colllege and Career Center. Please consider my reccomendation and respond to this e-mail to give me your feedback. Thank you.
I just wanted to inform you all of a condition here at Island that directly applies to one of the items on the proposed budget.
Item 10 c – Utilities / Electric.
Here at Island we have a situation that involves the use of a lot of electricity.
I do not wish to knock the fact that we have at long last heat in every room and even functioning air conditioning, however, the blower units run 24 hours a day.
We do not have the option of turning them off – ever.
The classroom switches have been disabled.
There used to be a single timer that would turn off all electricity to the units, but with the frequent outages, it goes out of whack each time a squirrel gets fried on the high tension wires in the area.
The only way to turn off the blowers is to physically disconnect them from their power sources, not an option I am open to.
Were the switches to be reconnected, the responsibility, would lie with the staff, and help out the district.
If the district were to investigate to see if this condition exists at other sites and, if possible, to rectify this electrical over usage, the district might be able to save this little bit of money.
To: Earl Rivard
Thank you for making a great speech last night at the school board meeting. Your points were logical and stated clearly enough that everyone could understand exactly what has happened in the negotiation process. You and the association have my complete support. Thanks for being a great leader.
It came as quite a surprise to read that the Spending Reductions and Resources Allocation Plan for AUSD considers the elimination of Grade 9 Class Size Reduction (Item 2a) as having only a “moderate impact on maintaining core values”, whereas the elimination of the Public Information Officer (Item 13a) is viewed as having a “high impact on maintaining core values”. I truly hope I have not been mistaken, as a language arts teacher for the past thirty years, in dedicating myself to imparting what I believed to be “core educational values” having a “high impact” on the future success of my students.
As you know, the current budget provides for a cap of twenty students in ninth grade English and math classes. This practice is widely recommended and practiced across the state and nation because ninth grade is such a critical year emotionally, socially, and academically. I assume that everyone believes the acquisition of writing, speaking, reading and thinking skills is at the core of our educational agenda. It certainly is true that the teaching and practice of these skills forms the basis of every English class, and that success across the curriculum depends in large part on the acquisition of these skills early on in school.
Among the many skills addressed in ninth grade English, several involve the writing of an analytical essay (also tested on the California High School Exit Exam). For developmental reasons, this is the first time most students will be expected to use higher-level, critical thinking skills, to synthesize their ideas and then to present them in an original, organized, coherent and well-written essay. This is not a simple task. The teaching of this kind of writing and thinking is a labor-intensive effort on the part of both student and teacher. It requires numerous drafts and revisions. There are no answer keys for this. There are no scantrons for this. To be sure, there are detailed, complicated rubrics to be adhered to, but mostly there are thoughtful, insightful and sometimes copious comments to be written out on each draft of each essay.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts in learning to write. Students must write and write and write some more, and someone must provide feedback if students are to improve their skills. It is difficult enough to provide the kind of feedback they need in a class of twenty, young, ninth graders, but impossible to do so in classes of 35 ninth graders, most of whom are still struggling with sentence structure, let alone paragraphs. Typically, high school teachers have five classes per day, with a potential total of 175 students! My colleagues in tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade English are forever faced with piles of papers to read and grade. Imagine, if you will, reading all those essays, week after week, month after month, after teaching all day during evenings and weekends. It is not even the slightest bit of an exaggeration, to say that it is a wonder anyone is willing or up to the task.
As impressed as I am with the dedication of my colleagues in English, if class size reduction in the ninth grade is eliminated, the loss will be directly to the students, upon entering high school and beyond. They will not receive the attention and feedback they need and deserve during their first and most critical year of high school. Many will feel lost in large classes, intimidated by a huge, comprehensive, high school, surrounded by much older students without the attention and support they need. In turn, their confidence, skills, and motivation will likely be diminished. If their first high school experience leaves them feeling neglected and ignored, they may never recover the enthusiasm necessary to reach their true potential.
I urge you to seriously re-consider the ramifications of your recommendation to eliminate the Class Size Reduction in Grade 9. The incalculable loss to approximately 700 of our young students, and the toll it will exact from already-overworked teachers, is not worth the relatively small savings. Do the right thing and make the cuts as far away as possible from the students. Start with item 13a.
An example of my confusion is looking at the Art/Band stipends, I'm stilll not sure what this means. Is there already a 5-year Visual and Performing Arts Plan? or is it suggesting creating one? and either way are their additional funds for this, or how does this cut affect this program.
Another example is the JROTC, I've heard that reducing the program requires hiring more PE teachers, but the language here doesn't reflect it if it does.
Anyway, I'm sure you are inundated by questions on this stuff. I'm going to try and come tonight, but may not be able to.
one of my concerns is the amount we are leaving in the budget for after school sports programs (which I think are great and important) at the expense of more core programs like Art and Band. I understand the "if you cut the program, some kids will be lost" argument, but am concerned that we may not be looking at the loss in education across a wider-base of pupils. We're cutting the bone at this point it seems, none of the cuts seem particularly easy. Counselor positions is another place of concern (in my very limited understanding, I realize I don't have the answers).
I speak from a recent Alameda High School graduate's perspective as I say that Mr. Maiers was and is an indispensable resource for students that want to achieve more than just what is set forth by the standardized tests. I entered Alameda High in 2002, and even as a tiny frightened freshman, I came to realize that Mr. Maiers was the one who was truly encouraging students to be more than just the average student. "If you think you can do it," he said, "then go for it! ... Just making sure though, how much sleep are you getting?" He really epitomized a high school counselor for students- not restricting in their academic growth, but always keeping in mind the risks of putting too much on one plate.
Without Mr. Maiers, I don't think that I would have been able to do many of the things I did academically, because with his encouragement, I felt as if I was somehow taking more responsibility for my education in pursuing a track that was not common; in pursuit of getting the most out of every aspect of the education offered at Alameda High. What is all of the disctrict's money going towards, anyways, if not for the elevation of education? Despite a busy schedule, I was able to experience top-notch introductions to a variety of fields, which has manifested itself in my current state of education. I am a first year at UC Berkeley with intentions of possibly double majoring in Physics and English (thank you too the wonderful AP Physics and AP English classes!) something that I would not have been able to consider had I just sat around and submit to just "getting by" in school. Now, as I look at my peers, my juniors, and even my little brothers and their perspectives on learning and education, I recognize more and more now that instilling an appreciation for the pursuit of knowledge is the most important part of developing from a student to a successful individual; it is far more important than just scraping by and eventually getting the grades so that you can graduate. Because, when you're in college, nobody is going to be around to tell you how to "get by," or what the "general education requirements" are when you want to become a doctor, lawyer, or a psychologist - you had better want to be one, and learn to pursue that on your own.
And contrast such encouragement to one where being told that just being able to get by is all you need in school, that you shouldn't push yourself too hard, that trying too hard is a mistake seems to be a direction that we're heading. Think, as parents, which would you rather have your child experience? Freedom to explore potential, or just educational apathy? And granted, Mr. Maiers isn't necessarily the only one who champions this cause, but I do think he is one who truly understands the minds of students aspiring to more than the average. Please consider this in your assessment of the school budget and the upcoming cuts. Thank you.
We need John Maiers as a full time head counselor based at our site Alameda High School . We need the everyday support he provides to make things run more smoothly and cohesively. We have a very large school of 1900 students.
We believe that the value of having a head counselor here on site has been vastly underestimated. John does more than merely carry out the duties of head counselor. John brings extraordinary quality and the dedication to the job.
John does all these things and he coordinates the SAT testing, the AP testing, the admission and counseling of the English Language Learners, and more.
- John provides essential leadership within the counseling department, so that there is consistency in the programming and counseling of students.
- John supports our instructional and curricular needs in terms of counseling and programming.
- John brings our voice with the knowledge of the concerns of our school and department to the district and the school wide level meetings.
- John has had long term experience and success in putting a master schedule together because he listens to the teachers and the departments to make a master schedule that balances the desires and the needs of the school, the teachers, and the students.
- John has helped us to spread the load of difficult-to-teach classes within the department while making it so that collaboration and support with the department is easier to provide.
- John has provided the support to implement adherence to prerequisites, while allowing students to move from one level to another as circumstances dictate. As a consequence, students are more accountable for taking the appropriate level, not just the easier course.
- John ensures difficult counseling decisions are made with increased level of consistency.
- John does a thorough job of attending to details. The end result is that we have the vast majority of our students in the right classes from the very beginning of school, with a master schedule that works well.
- John Maiers provides us crucial support in dealing with major changes in math curriculum. He has attended lunch meetings and spent additional hours listening and giving input as to how we can work together. We have implemented changes on a short time line and he has been able to be a significant help because he is here everyday. The support and follow through is critical for real change to actually happen.
We feel very strongly that John Maiers is a very important part of our work to make our school better for all students. His expertise and experience with the teachers, parents and students is invaluable. John’s ability to listen and act has made it possible for us to be proactive versus reactive with regard to the issues in the mathematics department. He needs to be here full time as head counselor.
The 20:1 math classes for the ninth graders at Alameda High School serve several important functions.
Please keep the 20:1 classes for ninth graders.
- First, the ratio allows for teachers to provide more individualized instruction and more individual attention. The importance of smaller classes has increased as the standards of mathematics that students must attain have increased. We have the responsibility to guide all students to meet these standards while making the mathematics more accessible without substantially diluting the rigor. These standards range from the minimum of Algebra 1 for graduation to the even faster acceleration of students through mathematics where ninth graders are taking Advanced Algebra 2.
- The smaller classes ease the transition from a relatively small middle school to a high school of almost two thousand students. Students at the high school must bridge to being able to function more independently in an unfamiliar environment. Right now because the freshmen are grouped together in English and mathematics, these smaller classes act as anchors where they get more attention and guidance about how high schools work and what are successful strategies that work.
- The smaller classes make it easier to identify students who are having difficulty. The greater speed in spotting the students makes it more likely that we can catch the problems when they are smaller and easier to fix. Often times the students need more structure and more immediate classroom consequences – remedies that are much easier to apply in a smaller classroom environment.
- We feel very strongly that the 20:1 classes are an essential part of building a foundation for increased achievement for all our students. The evidence is apparent in the data for Alameda High School .
Quick question/idea, it would be great if the school district could show the "remaining" budget for each item they are suggesting cutting. Without that info, it's hard to know the impact of the proposed cuts.
Would that be something either you have, or could get from the district?
Again, we are faced with the elimination of the head counselor position at Alameda High School as one of the budget reduction proposals for the 2007-2008 school year. With a daughter successfully entering college this past fall, more than ever, we know the value and necessity of Mr. Maiers as head counselor at AHS. His valuable guidance through applications, recommendation letters, acceptances and scholarships are what prepares these high school seniors to graduate and enter their freshman year with confidence and dreams. Mr. Maiers oversaw all of the AP exams – whether it be one student taking it (my daughter happened to be the only one taking an AP exam subject AHS didn’t even offer) or a classroom full. His dedication, experience, time and effort cannot be replaced and your public high schools will suffer with this deep loss. It is because of Mr. Maiers as head counselor at AHS that the city of Alameda can compete with school districts well known for their academics as well as their affluence. I am convinced now that Mr. Maiers keeps AHS competitive – a Berkeley (no. 1 public university) to a Harvard – without the attitude!
With a sophomore at AHS and an incoming freshman this fall, our confidence with the Alameda public high schools lies with Mr. Maiers. We are depending on him to guide our 3 boys through AHS with hopes, vision and academic challenges as he did our daughter. He is absolutely the best high school counselor there is. It would be a devastating loss if his position was cut. Please reconsider the proposed cut of head counselor at AHS, Mr. Maiers is too valuable to lose.
Parent/Staff 2/12/2007provide proper care of sick and injured children
deal with any medical emergency including, first aid, CPR, determine if 911 needed
contact parent or other emergency contact to pick-up children, a sometimes very time consuming task
help children who have had bathroom accidents by providing correct size clothing
clean up children from vomit, diarrhea, urine, blood, nosebleeds, spilled food, paint, ink, bird doo, mud, etc.
administer daily tb medication-normal course of treatment 6-9 months- if requested to do so by the county
health department and document for county
document each office visit
document each medication dose given
check records on incoming students
send referrals to parents of students who fail vision, hearing or scoliosis testing and do follow ups by letter,
phone or personal contact and track for compliance
make sure all students are compliant with California immunization, physical and dental exam requirements and do
follow ups and/or exclusions by letter, phone or personal contact and track for compliance
make sure permit to give medication signed by doctor and parent is on file-must be updated yearly
make sure medication is in health office
follow up on students carrying prescription or over the counter at school illegally
maintain first aid supplies
stock and maintain first aid kits for each class
participate in disaster preparedness planning & drills
complete immunization and physical reports for the state
keep a tally of total illness, injury and medication for each month
enter all immunizations, health concerns, medications, physical dates, tb test results, vision, hearing and
scoliosis testing results on SASI
follow-up on positive tb cases
have ongoing dialog with parents of children taking medications and those with other health needs
Benefits to School and District
Generated $50,000 + in federal revenue see item 9d on spending reduction list 2-9-07
help the district avoid negligence law suits by providing correct care, filing accident reports, calming and
reassuring angry and upset parents with their knowledge of what happens everyday at school
federal disabilities act mandates care for children with chronic needs at school sites, schools can be sued
for not properly taking care of those needs
trained in protocols for caring for children with everything from viruses to lice to broken bones to diabetic coma
trained in first aid, CPR and use of Epi-pens in case anaphylactic shock
familiar with each individual child with health concerns such as potentially fatal allergies, heart conditions,
asthma, diabetes, etc. and are therefore able to act quickly in potentially life threatening situations
familiar with families of children and interact with them frequently regarding special needs, illness, etc.
providing peace of mind and confidence that their child will be properly cared for
keep track of children who need daily medications and "as needed" medications making sure the child
receives medication when needed
monitor and provide assistance with health conditions and procedures such as daily diabetes testing,
scoliosis brace assistance, eczema, needs of disabled and special education students
provide excellent PR for district with positive parent interaction
teachers refer students to health clerk for everything from illness, hygiene, lice, and emotional issues for the
health clerk to discuss with parents
promote health, hygiene, nutrition and wellness to students and parents thereby increasing ADA
perform lice checks, sometimes on an entire school, that can take hours, but affect ADA by preventing further
monitor follow-up on diseases, injuries, lice and other contagious conditions
help office staff by answering phones, assisting teachers, parents, and children when needed
inform classroom teachers, pe teachers and others of children's special needs, illnesses and injuries that effect
their participation daily
provide, discuss, and update as needed, a health concerns list of all students with medical conditions, allergies,
asthma, medications to all staff members
notify parents of contagious illness in classrooms by sending home appropriate forms to entire classroom
immediately and answering follow-up questions by parents
notify other teachers and staff of contagious illness outbreaks in the school and inform them of symptoms
Reasons for Maintaining Current Ratios
low school population does not mean fewer medical problems, chronic conditions and emergencies
health office workload is affected by not only school population but by other factors such as amount of children
in special ed and esl, children with specialized health care needs and homeless children
a health clerk is needed enough hours to cover recess and lunch periods in elementary
Effects of Reducing Hours
serious illness and injury could be overlooked and/or mistreated to due inexperience and overwork of other
office staff members
poor decision making by untrained, inexperienced personnel
would have a direct detrimental effect on students
sick and injured children would be seen by untrained personnel
lose qualified dedicated employees
Health Office Assistants
I have done the calculations on the staffing ramifications of eliminating the 20/1 classes in 9th grade English and Math. The projected 9th grade enrollment at AHS for fall 2007 is 460 students, excluding special education. By raising the average class in 9th grade to 29/1, eight class sections each in English and Math would be cut. This equates to 3.2 FTE at AHS. The equivalent cut at Encinal should be about 1.8 FTE. Therefore, AUSD could eliminate 5.0 FTE in English and Math for next fall. The projected savings for this cut is only $88,000; since the state picks up much of the cost of this program.
If only 15 students opted to attend private school for 9th grade instead of AHS or EHS, the entire savings would be wiped out. I think this is a highly likely scenario, since I have already talked to a parent whose daughter is in private school for 8th grade and who has told me this will be the deciding factor in sending her child to AHS. I know this information is not particularly welcome, since AUSD is already well short of the needed budget cuts, but I think it is important that you have the best possible data to make these difficult decisions.
Let me say thanks for the revised list of budget cuts- they represent wisdom, and sensitivity to the messages sent by so many of us at the community meetings held in the past few weeks. If I may, let me offer a small but significant suggestion. The class size reduction at 9th grade is going to hurt Encinal in two ways- as something that attracts new students to EHS, and as a program that contributes greatly to the transition and success of our freshmen. And while I am appreciative of the proposal to maintain small classes for those in the literacy program, I’d like to offer a compromise idea: might it be possible to have a modified class size reduction, for our CP classes, of 25 students, while allowing our new EXP classes to be filled to 35? We would have three levels then- 20 for literacy, 25 for CP and 35 for EXP. I know there is no money from the state for this kind of structure, but I wonder if we might still work towards it with the resources that we have. Thanks for your time and good luck in the next few weeks.
I am writing this letter in response to the proposed cutting of Island High’s counseling position. I debated whether or not to write this letter because as the present counselor at Island I did not want it to be construed as a pitch for my job personally. I finally decided that I would take the risk of any misunderstandings because I believe strongly that a full-time counselor at Island is imperative to the success of the students.
I understand that on paper the smaller enrollment does not always seem to warrant a full-time position but I hope you take under consideration that all the students are at risk students with special needs. The population at Island is constantly changing and every student is behind in credits of varying amounts. This requires an individual plan for each student to be able to move forward as well as to make-up lost credit. There is a sizable amount of bookkeeping as well as data entry that the counselor is required to keep up on personally because Island does not have a counseling secretary. In addition to their academic needs are the more important personal issues that need to be addressed on a daily basis. Even though on some days there are support counselors present on campus many of the students want to confide in someone with whom they already trust and feel a connection. It took many years for Island High to gain a much needed full-time counselor.
I can honestly say that a part-time counselor will not be able to keep up with the demands of the job or more importantly the needs of the students. I trust that you will give some serious thought to the issues I have presented in this letter.
As a teacher ot two sections of ninth grade honors English (a class that Ihave taught for the past 15plus years), I feel that I have a unique insight into the motivations of this group of students and parents who would be affected by cuts in class-size reductions at the high school level. Long story short, if you cut class-size reduction, you will lose enough of these students that the per-student loss will cost you more than you will save. I would guess (and it can be nothing but a guess) is that you will lose at least 10 talented students to private schools. I know that Mr. Maiers always makes our small ninth grade classes a selling point to all families of incoming high school students...Sort of, We make sure that your student gets off on the best possible foot in ninth grade." So you seem to be considering sort of a "cut off the nose to spite the face" option here.
I am the parent of an Alameda High School Sophmore who was switched into Alameda public schools from private schools as a Freshman. We plan to have our 8th grade daughter attend Alameda High after graduating from St. Paul's Episcopal School in Oakland as well. I have put my faith in Alameda High to prepare my children to get into top flight Universities. After comparing Alameda High to the available local private High Schools, including Head Royce and College Prep, I believe AHS has the ability to provide just as good if not a better education than a private school. We want to support our local public High School and promote its image as an excellent choice for secondary education. However, AHS will only be able to sustain its reputation and provide that level of excellence in education if it maintains the availability of adequate counseling assistance.
I have had a number of interactions with the counselors - both the assigned counselors and the Head Counselor at AHS and they have address critical questions and provided key information and assistance to my son as well as providing necessary information as I plan for my daughter's transition to high school. If AUSD wants to get private school families back to public school, we have to know that basic services such as adequate scholastic counseling are going to be provided.
How about producing revenue by courting some of the families who have exited the public school system in favor of private schools? I had to really dig for information when I wanted to investigate AHS as an alternative for my private school students. There was precious little advertising about how non-public school 8th graders should go about getting information about the local High Schools. This information needs to be saturating the city in September and October when private school kids are being courted by the private High Schools with tours and brochures. Instead of cuts, wouldn't a better alternative be to bring students back to the school system and create a model High School?
Please don't cut the counselors. They provide a vital service. We want our local High Schools to be able to brag about the Universities where the graduates go to continue their studies. Eliminating the counselors will directly affect the university entrance success of Alameda's high school graduates.
The current budget shortfall has required more cost cutting but I am surprised that there is again a proposal to cut John Maiers’ job at AHS. When the matter came up last year, there was a groudswell of support with a petition that evidenced John’s importance to the students at AH, and thankfully his job was spared.
The school district’s goal of “cutting far from the students” is a sound one and cutting John Maiers’ job will be contrary to that goal. Below is a list of what John actually does at AH, that is, as opposed to his official job description:
John’s workload and responsibilities are expansive and he does his job efficiently and expertly. He has the confidence of the students, and their parents; this confidence is an intangible that must not be underestimated. There is a qualitative difference in the mindset of a student/parent who leaves a counselor feeling that they have just gone through the motions, and leaving John’s office after a good and thorough discussion.
- Officially counsels 236 students. His real workload is probably much higher, which he estimates to be closer to 400. I know the latter is a truer figure because one sees a stream of students, even parents and teachers in his office constantly. Everyone at AH knows that John counsels students who officially should be consulting with other counselors but do not because the students appreciate John’s efficiency and expertise.
- AP coordinator and administers more than 700 tests.
- Administers the SAT tests.
- Administers the CAHEE tests.
- In charge of the Master Schedule for every single student and teacher.
- In charge of all ELD students – about 200.
- In charge of the California Scholarship Federation and as part of his duties take students on day trips to colleges in the area, e.g. Davis, Sacramento, Stanford, Santa Cruz, etc.
- Disburses college application information and fields innumerable questions and writes hundreds of letters of recommendations.
- AH’s representative administrator at football, soccer, and basketball games, which require his attendance about twice a week.
The students have again signed a petition in support of John. Although I have not personally gathered signatures myself, I say without hesitation that many families share my point of view: John Maiers, without any doubt, is an asset to AHS. He should definitely be allowed to stay on till he retires.
A few questions on Alternative #2.
- For athletics (8a) since is would be cut in 1/2 instead of the full 94,000 what would that mean in terms of sports being cut. Would we keep the High School sports that we have with less money and or coaches? Would JV teams be cut? I think we may want to consider a pay to play for those who can afford it.
- Utilities- Electricity (10c) - How did the 37,500 go to 75,000 for alternative 2?
- Shift Teacher Stipends -Band and Art (15a) - What exactly would this 62,255 be
cutting? I hear rumors of drama productions being cut from Encinal and I hope that
is not where it would be.
- Adjust staffing formula for ES & MA clerical. The 101,640 for alternative 2. What actually would this be cutting? Would it still cut down the hours for health clerk/office assistant at xxxx?
We need our school counselors. As a High School teacher at xxxx School and a parent of graduates of Alameda Unified District, these counselors are invaluable and there are not enough of them. We need more not less.
I notice that the recommended changes save 1.4 million. So we need to come up with at least 1 million in donations; do we additionally need to bring our reserve up to the state required level? What kind of money are we trying to raise RIGHT NOW?
I also wonder why we're keeping both a public information officer who apparently isn't really doing much public information at all - who is this mystery person and what is their job? - and adding on a Communications and Community Outreach Specialist at $45K/year, which... I presume... also informs the public? I'd like to know - what are the parameters of this job and - if I can apply for it!
Does the District have a grant writer on staff? Even if it means
hiring a grant writer, it may pay off for the financial return, although
that requires shifting to multi-year budgeting rather than what appears
to be annual.
US Dept of Education has a list of grants, and some of the technology
companies do, too. Even some of the assistive-technology service
providers, such as the maker of AlphaSmart, offer grants.
Here is a proposal that I have to offset you budget deficit. We have a dysfunctional hospital that the voters were swayed by scare tactics that assessed my property $200.00 a year. Trade the school parcel tax of $90.00 to the hospital and redirect the $200.00 to the schools. Little League is also on your property. Put a $20.00 use fee on each player.
First, I wanted to commend you for conducting a very open discussion of
the current budget crisis, and for the district's prompt responses to
concerns and questons by the community. Nothing builds trust better
than the willingness to be open about problems and to engage others in
the solution. I also want to thank you for taking the middle school
consolidation option off the table. Going ahead with the consolidation
would have been extremely disruptive to the district in my opinion, and
would have prompted our family in particular to consider other
communities for educating our children.
With the consolidation option removed, I would like to suggest the
following ways to resolve the present crisis, fully understanding that
a change in state funding will be needed ASAP to avoid one next year.
All of the suggestions have already been expressed by others and more
than once, so I'm hoping to simply lend my weight to these ideas.
(A quick question: I understand that the budget is short 2.1 million,
while the proposed cuts equal $2.5 million. I am not sure what the
reason for the difference is but I would think we shouldn't cut more
than is necessary to close the budget gap. If you have time to explain
the difference, I would appreciate it.)
Short term suggestions:
- Eliminate the Alameda Science and Technology Institute. I understand
it is very expensive to run the program currently, and the proposed
increase for it of $180,000, for the benefit of what I understand are
only 80 students, seems puzzling. If the program is of value to the
district, then I would recommend suspending it until grants are
obtained to run it, which was the way it was originally funded. It
doesn't make sense for the district to maintain an expensive college
based program serving less than one percent of the student population,
while depriving hundreds of other high school seniors of college
counseling. Eliminating or suspending ASTI seems a very apparent
opportunity to trim "fat" from the budget, without hurting a large
number of students.
- Charge fees for athletic activities, as well as uniforms and
equipment. Many students and their families are already used to paying
for sports, in some cases thousands of dollars a year. A nominal fee
for high school athletic activities would not be foreign to the
participants, and it would eliminate the need to cut stipends.
- Across the board voluntary pay reduction. Instead of taking programs
and services away from students which could cause the downward spiral
mentioned earlier, I would rather see a overall district belt
tightening, with everybody—from custodians to teachers to principals to
the superintendent—taking a small temporary graduated reduction in pay
until we come up with a way to run the district more efficiently or
equalize funding. At least one teacher has expressed this idea already,
mentioning that a 2% cut in his salary would be a small price to pay
for having to deal with increased class sizes or increased
administrative duties. Parents have passed a school parcel tax twice,
and they have also offered to help close the budget gap through
aggressive fundraising, showing their own commitment to the district. I
understand the reasons why money raised through bake sales or donations
cannot be used to close the budget, yet it shows the continued
willingness of families to sacrifice for Alameda education. It would be
encouraging to see a similar willingness on part of district employees.
- Reduce the budget reserve. I understand that the budget reserve can
still be reduced, even though it is below its normal level already.
Considering the down spiral effect any reductions of programs could
have on our schools (through loss of students to private schools),
reducing the budget reserve while leaving programs intact should be
considered, to prevent the effect from happening.
Obviously, I think that all other proposed cuts are unacceptable or
will reflect badly on the district in the long run, but particularly
class size increases, counseling reduction, and reduction of stipends
for electives such as band and art. I really fear that making cuts
close to the students will cause Alameda schools to lose their appeal
and siphon students away, compounding the problem. I also think the
JROTC program should be spared if at all possible. Though I'm not a
proponent of the military at any level, I do believe that eliminating
the Encinal JROTC program would yield a very small gain, considering
the special benefits it offers students needing its specific kind of
motivation and discipline, and the fact that half of it is funded by
the Army anyway.
For the long term:
A better outreach to families who leave the district for private
schools. I have personal friends who have left the district because of
lack of responsiveness to a specific problem. They claim they never
received a call back after they announced they are leaving the
district. Trying to better resolve the issue or following up with the
family with a phone call could have caused some of these families to
reconsider their decision. Usually, if one child leaves, siblings leave
too, so the benefit of personal contact and attempt at resolution has
Ongoing shifting of funds and pursuing of grants. Both ideas were
presented at one of the meetings. Ongoing optimization of the budget by
shifting from categorical funds whenever and whereever possible sounds
like a good fiscal practice, though I am not sure if there are any
restrictions to that. The same speaker recommended the hiring of a
grant writer by the district. Grant writers can bring millions of
dollars each year for specific programs such as the arts, technology or
sports, and could free up funds currently used for stipends in these
A sales tax increase, an idea I heard at one of the budget meetings, is
a more equitable way for the community to show its commitment to
education than another parcel tax. I understand that this proposal
would need to go to the ballot and I urge the district, with the help
of parents, to lobby the City Council for such initiative in order to
maintain the excellent school reputation Alameda now enjoys. Good
schools make good communities with strong property values —the benefit
of support generated through a city-wide sales tax is obvious.
An increase in developer fees. With Alameda Point about to be
developed, the school district must work with the City Council to make
sure developer fees match the cost to the school district to expand
services to new residents.
Again, I appreciate your commitment to the education of my children
here in Alameda, and I sincerely hope to be able to contribute in some
way personally to saving Alameda's excellent schools.
I saw the Alameda Journal story this morning that reported AUSD Superintendent Dailey isn't likely to recommend the closure of Wood School to the board next week. That's good news; however, i realize the budget cuts will not be easy regardless. I know parents of a 7th grader at Wood school who will be relieved by the news that the school won't likely close. But I also know a vice principal at Encinal High School, whose job is reportedly on the chopping block. One person's relief is another person's pain.
Is there anything new with the negotiations with ACLO? (I still can't believe you have to negotiate with them to get the money they contractually owe AUSD). I noticed in their electronic newsletter that they'll be adding a "facilties fee" to the price of each ticket for the 2007 season. I guess that's some acknowledgment of their debt and that they can just use Kofman auditorium for free anymore. But who is going to pay $35-$40/ticket to go see their productions when you can go to Berkeley or San Francisco and see professionals for nearly the same price? Have you checked to see what their ticket sales trends have been over the past 3 years? I'll bet it's been dropping as their prices have been rising.
On top of that, why would ACLO's mgmt. believe Alameda would be interested in a show such as "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?" Who will go to see it? In my opinion, this show choice will result in small audiences and thus further reduce ACLO's ability to pay back the money they owe AUSD.
In the 1/25/07 edition of the Alameda Sun, I saw a notice for the Alameda High School Music Dept.'s annual fund-raiser on Jan. 27. "The money is being raised for new instruments, uniforms, and other department improvements," it read. I couldn't help but think that they wouldn't have to hold an annual fund-raiser if ACLO had paid their rental bill for Kofman so AUSD could in turn support the arts programs in the schools.
Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your email. I can't attend the meeting, but i offer the following thoughts:
Another year, another budget cut. As the parent of a 12 yr. old student a Lincoln Middle School, I am opposed to the closure of Wood School. It's a bad idea for all concerned. My understanding is Lincoln was built for 500 orignally and now has 900 students, so how could it reasonably and effectively handle hundreds of more students?
How can you even think about cutting the already overburdened school counselors, either?
I know the choices are all tough, as Ardella Dailey explained to me last year when i interviewed her for my profile of her in Alameda Magazine, but those two options seem wrong to me.
Cutting the PR person for AUSD is one move I'd approve of as a cost-cutting measure. As a former PR person, I can say without hesitation PR people are expendable and are always the first to go in the corporate world when the budget needs to be cut.
Keep one thing in mind: the kids need to come first. They are the future.
Alameda Schools: Where’s the Money?
Alameda’s public school budget crisis appears to be yet another year to
justify cutting the quality of classroom education. Every year for the
past five years, Alameda schools have been in a budget crisis.
This current budget crisis is an opportunity to remake Alameda public
education. By putting the current detailed budget on-line will create a
transparency. But, Alamedans must see the real costs of all current and
proposed programs. Real costs include the $500 per hour consultants and
the $1000 per day retired Administrators.
In order to bring accountability and control to Alameda schools and in
order to grow the District and to increase revenues, the following is
With crisis can come opportunity. Let’s hope that Alameda has the
fortitude to take bold new steps to build quality education.
- Decentralize Alameda School District by hiring and training Principals
to manage the entire school site budget and to grow their business.
Student, parent, and teacher satisfaction become paramount if a school is
- Sue State of California for equal and fair per student funding. With the
closing of the Alameda Naval Air Station 10 years ago, Federal funds for
military families disappeared. 10 years of begging our State legislators
is long enough. It’s time to go to court. Additional funding could bring
in over $5 million.
- Make No Budget Cuts that affect students. That would include no
reduction in counselors, JROTC, college and career technicians, and
- Eliminate all Consultants and retired Administrators estimated to cost
the District $1million.
- Establish a Cost-effective Minimum School and Program Size. There are
programs and schools as small as 80 students that the cost-per-student is
significantly higher than the average per student cost.
- Analyze and attract the Private School student market. It is estimated
that an additional 20% of Alameda students are in private schools. The
value of these 2000 students is approximately $10million.
I have had one more possible budget saving idea that I have not seen on
any of the AUSD lists but I know that other school districts have cut the
media center teacher and staffed the media center with a parent or para
professional instead and/or let teachers schedule time to use the media
center on their own.
AUSD Website 2/7/2007
The Wood Middle School multipurpose room was filled to capacity on Monday, February 5, with parents, AUSD employees, and community members who came to give feedback on a list of proposed spending reductions for the 2007-2008 school year. Superintendent Dailey and AUSD staff have held a series of four community budget meetings planned to hear community input on how best to reduce next year's budget by approximately $2 million.
Superintendent Dailey opened the meeting by announcing that she had taken one of the budget reduction proposals off the table: that of consolidating Alameda's three middle schools into two, Chipman and Lincoln. The consolidation proposal grew out of the desire to balance disproportionate enrollment between the three middle shools, Chipman, Lincoln, and Wood, and increase equity of program offerings, and was estimated to save almost $600K. However, the superintendent said she had received a strong message from parents and community about how much they value their neighborhood schools and that they believed the proposal would cause significant disruption to the educational process for middle school students.
As you struggle with this financial crisis, keep in mind that each of the cuts that you are mulling over will affect not only students, but those who serve them.
I very much liked the analogy made by a speaker the other night, along the lines of For the want of a nail... the kingdom was lost. In your efforts to fix the shortfall, you must think, to take away any one thing, is to affect all the things that follow.
There is too much at risk to merely be putting band-aids on this situation, through these sudden cuts. How long has the district been aware of the budget shortfall? Why wasn't this information made public sooner? What other options has the district failed to follow up on. Do we have any grant writers or lobbyists? If we do not, why not?
If a high school booster club can raise $6,000.00 just selling hotdogs, why can't the district assist in doing something constructive to actively raise money? When the ROP program closed at Island , a source of revenue was eliminated. Each time the program was asked to cater an event, somebody got paid. True, most of the money was returned to the ROP fund to cover expenses, but the surplus.....! The ROP Cooking Program had set some very high goals for itself. To create a catering business so as to become self sustaining. To prepare more students for the labor force. All for naught. Somebody miscalculated to cost of replacing the kitchen. When was this error was discovered and why wasn't anybody who would be affected informed at that time?
We are in what seems to be a downward spiral and cuts seem to be the only remedy. I beg to differ. What this district lacks is not only community involvement, put true parental involvement and even the greater involvement of the state government. With so many high tech many businesses that populate Alameda , why have we not approached them to assist us in providing the level education that will fill their workplaces? Will we put at risk the futures of our students and children because we thought it would be best to consolidate?
What is preventing the school district from becoming proactive and creating a community outreach program?
You have made is abundantly clear that one time donations cannot be used to calculate the formula for sustaing the districts needs. That is why we must create something that will do so.
I do not envy you your task, but I hope that your short term recommendations and solutions will not further disrupt this already seriously at-risk district.
You can make a difference in education, but, not like this.
Here’s what I do not understand—the 66% salary formula plus the “me toos” applied to the new parcel tax revenue amounts to about $900K per year. Hence the set-aside. How did the arbitrators ruling get us an additional $2.1M per year in operating expenses or is that the combination of the formula and the lack of equalization funds?
Perhaps expanding 3rd grade classes to 30 students would be of help.
Grades K-2 seem to really benefit from smaller classes, as does Grade 9.
Grade 3's are a bit more independent, yet their parents are still
more available to volunteer in-class than are those from older classes.
Would that be workable?
I am an xxxx Elementary School parent of two, and a “soon-to-be” Lincoln Middle School parent. I want to thank you for your website and all your emails which keep me updated on important school-related topics. I was unable to attend the budget meetings but have followed the discussions via email and in the newspaper. I am very dedicated to a quality, public school education for all Alameda children.
In addition to the need to improve funding for Alameda public schools, I think it is also critical to do everything possible to keep the schools attractive to those parents who are considering flight to private schools. We need to retain those families in the district so as not to lose more money. A few ideas are:
- In schools like Edison and Franklin, where so many kindergarten children are being diverted, look for ways to accommodate those families in their neighborhood schools (If you lose a kindergarten child to private school you have probably lost that child, as well as siblings, for 12 years of revenue!)
- Use existing space, portable buildings, reassignment of the number of teachers at a site, etc. to accommodate families at their neighborhood schools.
- Look for alternatives to combining the three middle schools into two.
- Consider using incentives/strengths consolidated at the different three middle schools. (One middle school could have an increased focus on science and math, another more of an arts focus, etc.) Look for ways to attract and keep middle school families. Closing Wood and increasing the size of the remaining middle schools will most likely result in families with economic means and/or scholarships leaving the district for private schools. This would definitely have a negative impact on school revenue.
- If the problem is declining number of students, consider offering a certain number of spaces in the Alameda school district for “out-of-district” students
- Deal with the issue of inequity in the Alameda school district (physical plant disparities, parent volunteers, PTA funding contributions, allow for more inter-district transfers, etc.)
- Use this current level of parent involvement (as a result of the budget cutting crisis) to lobby for more school funding with the legislature, foundations, etc.
I hope we can all work together to make a difference for the children of our community. They deserve a quality education, at every school and in every neighborhood.
Thanks again. I attended last nights meeting. Aside from a lot of hyperbole spoken by union reps, ROTC and Athletes and students who are passionate about their programs and jobs (as they should be), there were several nuggets of valuable commentary. I am listing them here, and I hope sincerely that the education leadership in Alameda consider them quickly.
- Revenue increases are possible if the district focused on 1) communicating to parents what absences (vacations, truancy, sick days, etc) cost the district and how to avoid making plans that will harm the district 2) identifying ways in which home-schooled and private schooled kids can reenter the district. The message could be put thus: Every day you take your child on vacation on a school day costs the district $x, and may cost your child music, art, sports, etc.
200 new kids in Alameda Schools would increase revenue by $y / year. (could be as much as $100k?)
- Core programs are Math, Science, English, History, Language and anything else required to get into a college and achieve a passing grade on an exit exam. This does not include Band, ROTC, Team Sports, etc. I am not advocating a cut in those electives, but I think it is important to state what the Core curriculum includes.
- Why was the Alameda Science and Tech school not conisidered a cut worthy program? Why is Island high exempt? Cant these programs be reintegrated so they become "schools within schools" and therefor dont need separate administration. Your notes suggest that that program be increased....but it is not clear why.
- The budget itself is not transparent, we can not see the chart of accounts and how the money is being spent, considering the stakes, that disclosure is required. ASAP.
- More than $600k is being spent on consultants annually, this is a very large chunk of money that is not being spent to deliver the core curriculum. We understand that some of these consultants are past-employees who may be collecting their pension and earning consulting fees that exceeded their origional pay rate. Why is that expenditure not being considered worthy of cutting?
- There are some things that people will contribute to, and other things they will not. I worked hard on Measure A, which barely passed, and as you know delivers just $180 or so per parcel. Cut sports teams, and not language and music and art, and the sports teams will be able to raise money, but math, language, and arts will not!!! Sports begets a sense of pride and local business will adopt a team, and provide banners and such in the stadium. Same for a marching band. Same with ROTC to be seen as partiotic.
- ACLC presents itself as a alternative educational program which runs at a lower price to the district than say Lincoln. Expanding that program, or duplicating it in a vacant school might imporve our finances.
Thanks Mike for your continued hard work and processing these suggestions.
I have followed the financial struggles of our district closely for the past five years. It is so disheartening that year after year we continue with this struggle. Being familiar with the situation and funding formulas I know it is not likely to change anytime soon. I want to commend the Superintendent and her cabinet on their efforts during this current round of cuts, and last year’s as well. While these are never pleasant, it is so refreshing to have process open, well thought-out and creative. Thank you for working so hard at the preliminary phase of this project.
When I look at the cuts I see them spread pretty evenly over the “playing field”. Unfortunately, many will directly affect our children but after five years of cuts I doubt there is any solution that won’t affect them. I have two thoughts on the list of cuts specifically.
Chipman, Lincoln and Wood are good schools, with good or improving test scores. In a perfect world, I would like to see all three remain open but if they were consolidated into two schools I don’t see it as the end of the world. Many people have spoken out about turning Lincoln and Chipman into huge schools. I don’t think that having a big school is necessarily a bad thing, if it is done right. Tackling the overcrowding problem will have to be a big priority. One of my personal concerns about this consolidation is that it could potentially “polarize” the Island and exacerbate the East End-West End issues that already exist. I would recommend taking lots of public comment on boundaries and equality in education. Chipman’s reputation is good, yet I think a lot of people on the West End don’t realize this because of its location. I would strongly suggest a public-relations campaign highlighting this. My other concern is that any savings benefit could be wiped out if even just a small number of kids are moved to private school. This should be weighed critically in the decision.
The other cut that concerns me is the one concerning the counselors. Even though my children are still in elementary school, I know that these people are critical to the continuing success of AUSD students. I worked at Alameda High for a short period this fall near the counseling office. The counselors are inundated all day long. I assume it has to be the same at Encinal. I believe that the cost to ours students in this situation outweighs the benefit of the cost savings. We cannot be a district whose mandate is to just get our students through the system. We must do everything to set our students up for success on the other side as well.
I would also strongly suggest continuing to search for other options and funding sources. I read an interesting editorial in the Sun or Journal several months ago regarding tackling our declining enrollment by busing in students from other less successful districts. On the news last night was a feature about the Kalamazoo school district’s Promise program. Why not make an AUSD Promise program to students from other district guaranteeing them access to the AUSD providing certain grades or other stipulations are met? I cannot imagine there aren’t hundreds of Oakland students who wouldn’t jump at the chance for an education in Alameda . While I understand there are State mandated limitations there has to be a creative way to make something like this work.
Thank you again to all of you. I know how unpleasant this is for everyone. I appreciate all each of you do to maintain and improve our school system.
I have two sons in the AUSD. We have lived in Alameda since
1990, and my wife is active in the PTA and other enrichment activities.
Hopefully, you can fill us in on several essential questions we have
regarding the recent history of the AUSD.
What is the detailed sequence of events following the closing of the NAS re.
What was the per capita funding before and after?
Who was responsible for ensuring that AUSD funding be adjusted to maintain
What is the experience of other districts in CA that had military facilities
Why are our politicians (Peralta?, etc.) so conspicuously absent from the
many recent community meetings regarding district cuts?
Why do most of the proposed cuts appear to fall to west end schools?
I would appreciate a clarification of the sequence of events in this regard,
and any other responses to our questions you can provide.
Unless I am missing something, this seems to be a monumental failure of
leadership that we are still paying for. This situation has really lit a
fire in Alameda, and our political leadership ignores this issue at their
I have attended two of the budget cut meetings. I think Ardella Dailey is the issue. Watching Dailey at these meetings, I am shocked at her lack of vision and planning on this issue. Why are we being told about this shortfall with literally no time to do anything about it? After hearing the report from the financial officer, the school board saw this coming for months, perhaps years. Why was nothing done? I blame the person who is supposed to be leading our schools: Ardella Dailey.
I work in a high profile Oakland preschool. Many of the students go on to local public elementary schools, but NONE of them go on to the local public middle or high schools. These schools have a reputation for slashed budgets, weak or non-existent programming and little or no electives. Staffs are stretched too thin and there are too many students for administration or teachers to manage. Parents send their students to private schools, of which there are many in the Oakland area, all doing very good business.
This is exactly the direction you are taking our Alameda middle and high schools with these cuts. Chipman is a middle school with an anemic academic reputation and extreme behavior issues. Packing in 1,100 students with one is NOT going to make this school more in line with our CORE values.
In regards to Ardella Dailey, she disregards any suggestion from parents that there might be a way out of these cuts. Dozens of legitimate ideas have come forth, but none are taken seriously. Most disturbingly, when a vibrant young speaker from Encinal High School spoke tonight (2/5) of the extreme economic impact of these cuts to the good reputation of our schools, Dailey followed the comments with this remark: "Please do not make comments that have already been made here tonight." She then admonished the crowd for their clapping and cheering response to the student.
Please remove Ardella Dailey from her position. My understanding is that she was never first choice, but merely filling in when the position was vacant. Eliminating this position will save the district $70,000 to $100,000 annually. There is no reason to keep Dailey in place. After years of budget cuts, no foresight was used to avoid the situation we are in today. Dailey is not the kind of leader Alameda schools need.
First off thanks for your website which a great resource for what is going on! And thanks for your tireless efforts on behalf of our schools. I attended the Chipman meeting last week. And while I am most vehemently opposed to the closing of Wood and ensuing overcrowding at the other school. I have two other major concerns.
Why was the announcement about this made after the majority of private schools had pas their deadlines for applications. I can’t help but feel that this was intentional in order for AUSD to be able to say we didn’t lose that many when we consolidated… If the announcement on consolidation had come last November, it would have given families time to evaluate their options, have students take the private school admission tests, etc… Instead I feel like we will be stuck having to do this next year due to timing of the announcement.
Secondly and of over-riding urgency. Every single year we have to cut!! While it is too late for 07/08 to remedy this situation, the energy should be focused on 08/09 and making sure we don’t have to cut again.. Retaining our students in AUSD is critical for that, but even more important… we need to get media attention (I am thinking one of those in depth looks from the Chronicle) on the inequity of school funding. We need broad media exposure and or legal action to remedy the root cause of our continual cuts and crises. This is where I would like to see the focus of the school board in March and beyond. Deal with the immediate crisis, be done with it by end of Feb and then focus all energy on the root cause. I am not in the position to call the Chronicle, since I do not have the details, but someone should be doing this. (By the way the current finance person did the best job I have heard in 6 years of explaining the funding process.-kudos to her.) We should also be looking for legal assistance (there have got to be some lawyer parents who can help) on how to force the state to treat our kids equally.
Please, please consider strongly refocusing the efforts of the board and the district to address the root causes and stop the never ending losses.
First let me say that I respect the
work you have done and will do in this matter. I do
not see this as an advesarial process, but one where
you are entrusted to make these most difficult
decisions. And while you may be fully familiar with
what I about to say, say it I must.
I live here, work here, and my sons have been
educated here, so I am invested in Alameda. From those
many connections it is so very clear that, while we
strive for equity, equity does not exist. Living in
the east end of town and working in the west end of
town has afforded me keen insight into the disparity.
And so, as you ponder the cuts, this inequity must be
kept in mind as you strive for equity. And true
equity- the kind most politically difficult to
explain- means that Encinal needs to keep all that it
has. All. All of our counselors, teachers, coaches,
etc. And the reason is simple- our students and their
families are not able to afford to suplement the
services lost to the extent that the folks who go to
Alameda High can given the same cuts. With no college
and career center teacher those with money can and
will hire private counselors; without district
stipends to support the drama program those with money
will still pay (and all of it is minimal compared to
the real work being done) their directors as opposed
to those at Encinal who will not receive just
compensation. With respect to having one less
administrator, while formulas may dictate reduction,
the reality is that it would be a disaster here at
Encinal where we need everyone we have, we need
everyone we used to have, to meet the many and varied
needs of our students.
I will save us all from any further enumeration.
In your heart of hearts I believe you know this. The
question is do you have the political will to stand up
and say that in order to have true equity, there must
be inequity used to fight inequity? I urge you to be
bold, be fair, and keep the infrastructure of Encinal
Once again, it seems the budget cuts are originating at the place where they most affect the students. Why don’t the cuts start as far away from the classroom as possible. For example, how much money is being spent on outside consultants, and why has there not been an effort to make those cuts? Also, why do we have so many teachers on special assignment? Third, the administrators have a “me too clause” which means they get raises when AEA negotiates for the teachers; why don’t they eliminate their “me too clause”?
Here is another idea...it is already on the table but not in such an extreme form as I propose. Require all users of AUSD facilities to pay double or triple their present fees. Remember 1. These users have few if any options , and they need a place to hold their tournaments and games. 2. The users will spread the "pain" out over their many members, thus not harming any one individual. The savings/earnings from this increase would be easy to compute.
- Is there a law that states how many custodians must serve a
school? Could cuts be made at the smaller schools? For example one
custodian who works from 11 until 7, instead of a day and an evening
custodian? Also, my time in the district has shown me there are times
when a number of custodians are needed (end of year clean-up for
example) and other times when it is very slow (during holdiay times).
Are there ways to hire for peak periods, and not for slower times?
Finally, as a teacher who has been in the district for a number of
years at a number of schools, I think schools are over-staffed in this
area. If the custodians (I have worked with) worked half as hard as
most of the staff (administrative and otherwise) does, we woud easily
be able to cut down in this area.
- If a student is from another district and is in an inter-district
permit, do we get the ADA for that kid from their home district, or
are they suddenly worth what the Alameda kids are worth? (Hate to use
the term worth, but that's what feels like). Can we charge families
an out of district fee to make up for the fact that we are educating
them and only receiving ADA for them to generate some revenue?
- How much do small programs such as ASTI and ACLC infringe on the
How many students are served in each program? (Exactly, as of today?)
I recently had a mother tell me there are only 7 freshman students
left in ASTI...this is not good PR.
I have other questions as to how ACLC is allowed exist, but I will
save those for another day.
- Could a small sales tax be added in Alameda to help subsidize the
schools like is done in San Francisco? Has this been explored? Can
it be explored?
- Can staff (all) take a one day, two day or three day furlough?
What would that save the district? Would unions have to agree?
- Could teachers donate sick leave to the district for cash from the state?
- In one of the answers to the community questions on the website,
it is stated "not all athletic programs would be cut." Is the
district referring to PE as an athletic program? And if it is, that
is misleading as PE is required and cannot be cut. How does the
district propose athletic programs will continue without coaches who
are paid to coach? Does the district recognize that if individual
schools are required to raise the funds for our coaches, another
inequity has just been created between the two high schools? One
school's economic demographics are far superior to another's, but more
importantly, according to the NCS website, one school's enrollment far
exceeds the other's (by 797), The larger school's ability to raise
these funds discriminates against the smaller school's ability.
- The district just conducted interviews for counselors. If cuts
are being made, and counselors are a big part of the hit list, why are
we interviewing? I know some AB-something just gave districts $$ for
counseling. Has it been decided we will not be participating in that
- Speaking of the counseling program, it needs to be re-vamped. Why
do counselors need a PPS credential in the first place? Very little
of what that credential provides are what counselors are able to do
today. Counselors change schedules, meet with kids about graduation
requirements, build master schedules, meet with students about CAHSEE
requirements, manage and sit on the student study teams, administer
the CAHSEE testing. Very little mental health, or family health
counseling is done or is able to be done.
- I recognize that the cuts the district has had to make have taken
a tremendous toll at all the levels in the district. I look at the
amount of work principals (at least in the West End) have and it could
easily be divided by two more people and it still would be too much
work if you wanted to run a first class school, be in classrooms, meet
with parents, etc. I see Ardella in her office at all hours of the
day and night, and I am sure it is this way for many in the district.
Is there any way to convene a "think tank" (if you will) of bright,
motivated, creative thinking parents and community members to help the
district find a way out of this mess? I know many who would be
willing and able to do this. If I understood Luz correctly, cuts will
be necessary again next year, and the year after; just as it has
happened every few years prior to this one. We need to NOT do
business as usual, and instead come up with creative ways to take the
state on. I think creating a "Think Tank" could provide us with some
answers. We can't expect district employees to keep coming up with
solutions to these problems because there just doesn't seem to be
capactity for that now.
- What would happen if the district just said, we will not cut
anything from our budget? We are tired of cutting programs that are
meaningful and purposeful to our kids, families, staff. We are tired
of being screwed by a system that does not allow us to educate our
students to the same level as other districts through no fault of our
own. We want the State to take notice. What is the worst thing that
could happen? The State take over the district? Perhaps that's
exactly what we need. Maybe then they will notice we are one of the
lowest funded districts in the state living in one of the most
expensive places in the State to do business. I look across the
estuary and see Oakland--they still have athletics, they still have
counselors, they have not cut a high school. They have opened smaller
schools. They have not consolidated everything. They have been able
to clean up their teaching ranks, their district staff and custodial
staff, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Why not say, "NO MORE?"
What more can we afford to lose?
In light of the current proposal to close Wood Middle School, I am hopeful
that the district might consider one additional change to improve the
learning environment for all middle schooler's. I propose the district
consider single sex education for Alameda middle schooler's -- 1 girls
middle school, one boys. There has been a tremendous amount of reasearch
on the benefits of a single sex education, especially in the middle school
years. It is during that time that there appears to be a marked
difference in how boys and girls learn. It is also during the middle
school years when girls tend to "loose their voice" in the areas of math
and science. Providing a learning environment geared specifically to the
learning needs and differences of boys and girls in the middle school
years could have a profound affect on the success of our children once
they reach high school.
I am a huge proponet of public education -- but last year a friend invited
me to an open house at the Julia Morgan School for Girls. I was blown
away by when I met current and former students. They were among the most
articulate, interesting, engaged learners I have ever met. I am now
considering sending my 5th grade daughter to Julia Morgan, a move I NEVER
thought I would ever consider.
I am hoping that in cutting AUSD to meet budet constraints, the Board
might also consider this novel approach to learning for the benefit of all
Alameda students. There is significant research to support this approach.
Additionally I believe it gives all our middle school students a better
chance of success since what we are proposing is to take them from their
cozy 360-420 size schools and move them into schools with as many as 1200
students. That is a huge leap and I believe some other accomodation needs
to be made to benefit the students if we are going to put them into such a
large population. We need to ensure that all the students still have a
voice and are provided with the skills to help them direct their own
educational experience. I believe the single sex middle school is that
I hope you will consider this suggestion as you and the board move forward
with the very challenging decisions before you.
How about a fund raising letter to all present and past families of Alameda students. In the letter explain why the funding formula puts us in this situation. Just make it very clear that since the state will not pay for the education of our kids, then the people of the city need to chip in and help to pay. Certainly such an appeal would cost some money, but there are companies who do this sort of work, and I have no doubt that it would at least break even. The other, similar idea, is an actual sit-down with district representatives and heads of companies doing business in Alameda, banks, restaurants, even churches to ask for contributions, but every such plea should emphasize that the the fault is not ours but that of the state funding formula.
First of all I want to thank you for the time and thought that you have
already put into the unfortunate and unpleasant task of once again cutting
money from the school budget.
Even though I am both a teacher and parent in our school district, I know
that I only have a small understanding of how our monies are received and
spent. After spending some time looking at the Preliminary Spending
Reductions and Resource Allocation Plan as well as speaking with educators
in other districts, I have a some questions. I am not sure who is the
best person to answer these questions so I am asking all of you! I am
hoping someone(s) could respond to these questions and perhaps even
better, I am hoping at least one question will result in some new ideas
for saving money and/or cutting the budget.
- Is class size reduction for grade 9 funded by Title II money - or,
could it be?
- How is Economic Impact Aid and Title III money currently being used?
- For Career Techs, how are the CTE funds, including the recent grant,
- Are there any cuts occurring in the Maintenance department? Could we
restructure night custodians in any way?
- How will sports programs continue if we cut athletic stipends?
- Are we doing everything possible to save as much money and energy on
- What is the Assistant Superintendent "shift" going to be?
- Could we reduce District Office discrepancy budgets more than $60,000?
- What is the "shift" for band and art teacher stipends? How are we
using the ongoing art and music money?
The problem with AUSD's current plan to cut $94,000 from athletic stipends is that it only divides the Alameda community, it does not unite it. (How did the AUSD team arrive at this number anyway? It makes no sense. Without an explanation it looks like you just picked it out of thin air.) It will pit east against west, high schools against middle schools, one sport against another. There is a better way. Cut the entire sports stipends of $308,000 and save an additional $210,000 better used for educational purposes. There is no evidence that school sports help to close the achievement gap, raise API scores, or fulfill the requirements of NCLB. AUSD needs to get out of the youth sports business. Currently your per student subsidy for stipends of youth sports is approx $30.80 per student. ($308,000 / 10,000 students) Much higher if you only count the students playing sports.
Sports do, however, build community, teach kids teamwork, and are valuable to students and parents. I love school sports. My son plays school sports and I pay a great deal to make it happen.
You need to cut all school sports stipends to save sports. You can still provide facilities, supervision, and custodial services at no cost if the community can raise the money to get a fair plan together. Announce an effort to work with the city and anyone else to start an Alameda Youth Sports Foundation. There are three professional sports teams within five miles of Alameda. (Raiders, A's and Warriors. The Raider's headquarters is in Alameda.) They have many fans in Alameda and make a lot of money off this community. Probably many in their organizations live in Alameda. They need to help support the Youth Sports program of their fans. I would ask them to pitch in $150,000 every year. I would go to Jason Kidd, Dontrelle Willis, and Jimmy Rollins, etc. (All of whom have benefited from playing Alameda Youth Sports and have gone on and made millions each year to contribute.) Parents of Alameda students can raise the rest.
It will be a lot easier to raise money from the community for sports than it will be for counselors. We have a sports culture.
When they do raise the money, you must insist that it be spent equitably. If you are going to subsidize football with free fields, supervision, and custodial services, then there must be an equally funded football team at each high school. If there are going to be basketballs teams, then there must be equal funding for boys and girls teams, high school and middle school teams, etc.
This proposal will make everyone mad, but it will then unite them and make them focus on providing youth sports for all Alameda kids, and AUSD can get on with the business of education.
The idea of cutting counsellors at the high schools is so completely
unworkable and unconscionable as to be close to insane.
Eliminate counsellors, and you do much more than just deeply harm
students. The schools would be unworkable without the counsellors
doing their jobs. Every member of the board should visit Alameda
High now, during the first two weeks of the semester, and watch the
counsellors change the schedules for hundreds of students. Without
the counsellors, who will organize and administer the dozens of
standardized tests that our students take, from the State competency
exam to SATs to APs? Without the counsellors, who will do sophomore
counseling for and with the family of every tenth grader? Without
the counsellors, who will write the hundreds of college
recommendations and send out the hundred of transcripts to colleges
that must be sent every year? And these tasks are, quite literally,
only the tip of the iceberg. Really, do you have any idea how much
work these people do? Do you seriously think that the high school
could even open its doors in the fall without them?
And have any of you considered the legal implications of eliminating
counsellors? Doesn't the Williams Case and its clean-up legislation
have something to say about that?
If the incredibly destructive fantasy of eliminating counselors was
enacted, have any of you thought about the student flight to private
schools (which would be entirely justified) that this move would
engender? have you thought about how much this would cost in lost
And, perhaps most importantly, have any of you thought about how
damaging it is to morale for counsellors to come in one morning and
have their existence threatened? Some of these people have given
their professional lives to Alameda schools and students. I believe
that Claire Porter is now the credentialed employee in the district
who has the longest serving tenure. I believe that she began her
career in Alameda in the 1960", and it would not surprise me to find
that some of you had not yet been born when Claire began serving our
community. And yet, you create a situation where she comes to work,
and finds that her job, her career, her life is expendable, and she
has has to read about it online. of course, I just selecting Ms.
Porter because of her incredible longevity, and perhaps one or all of
you recognized her status and called her with personal apologies and
explanations. If so, I am sure that you did the same for all of the
counsellors. But if you did not, you should be ashamed of your
actions, and that shame should take the form of apologies, apologies
which, if I were a counsellor myself, I would be loath to accept.
Teacher (sent via US Mail) 2/2/2007
I am a teacher at Wood Middle School, and so I have a direct interest in the upcoming decision on closing Wood Middle School and consolidating programs with Chipman. I understand that any decision will be made with educational as well as fiscal criteria. You have probably considered what follows yourselves, but I would like to be assured that the Board will seriousily address a specific questions.
I know that closing a school is always problematic issue for any school district. I have to ask if the Board feels that this cost saving measure will truly result in an enhanced educational experience for our children. Out motto, is after all is, "Whatever it takes."
- How solid are the projected savings from the proposal?
- How much loss of ADA is projected?
- Is the physical plant at Woodstock in a condition adequate to the needs of a middle school program?
- Are there funds alloted for renovation and upgrade, and are these outlays calculated into the savings projections?
- Would the new, larget scholl have an adequate administrative staff (VPs and counselors)?
- Would the proposed 8th grade academy have its own administration?
- Does the reconstitution of a program improvement school require state approval?
- Is the timeframe proposed (by Fall 2007) adequate to plan the creation of a whole new middle school program?
- Would a transition made over the course of a few months result in a cohesive school community and an educationally effective program?
- If one argument for the is that savings would accrue in the long term, would the Board consider extending the time for transition?
Why isn't the idea of pay-to-play in athletics on the table? You should definitely do this before you cut the already-pathetic coaches' stipends or allow facilities to completely fall apart without custodial care. I estimate that there are around 1,000 participants in athletics at Alameda High alone, and if each of them paid $50 or $40 or even $25, we could pay coaches and even do a little much-needed maintenance on facilities such as the soccer/football field and track (Have you seen these sites; they are actually dangerous!). After all, kids pay to participate in age group sports before they arrive at high school, so the idea is not foreign to them...a program like Bay Oaks soccer can cost hundreds of dollars. Would you please share this idea with the other trustees? Thank you.
Community Member 2/2/2007
Sincerely, this has got to be the worst idea that anyone has EVER come up with in the history of the AUSD. I was educated at Alameda's public schools and I know now for certain that there is no hope for my child to receive a quality education here, especially in light of this newest proposal to consolidate the middle schools. This proposal punishes the children for mistakes and/or shortcomings of allegedly responsible adults.
I do understand that you are trying to come up with something to eliminate to budget crisis, but, seriously now, this is BAD.
I have three comments to share:
1) Thank you and your collegues for wrestling with this nightmare. The situation stinks, but I am glad you are involved and judging from the notes you shared on your site, and the outreach by mail you have been sharing, I know you are applying all logic to this difficult task.
2) We understand that this latest budget cut, one of several that we have endured in recent years, is in part due to the unique relationship Alameda had with the Navy. Candidly, I dont understand the details, but my impression is that Alameda schools are not enjoying the same allocation of funding other nearby schools have as a result of the Navy once occuping so much of our city. Kindly clarify: does this result stem from the reduced population in Alameda after the Navy's departure? Or, does this result from funds that the Navy once paid that the state should pay, but is not presently paying?
3) Understanding that your budget challenges are short term, there are some larger long-term implication for our town, kids and property values. In this context, I have three suggestions: a) lets make some noise, we can organize parent protest against the state to get on TV and get the situation in to the minds and wallets of our state goverment. only the squeekiest wheels get oiled. b) if we are being short changed by the state, can we task the city attorney to file suit, with the aim of getting press, and action? c) several large corporations are opening shop here in Alameda, in South Shore, near my house in Fernside, and certainly near Alameda Point (in the ftuture). These companies are investing a lot to start business and want the Alameda residents to shop there. lets pursade them to "adopt" a school or school program. it is good press, they have funds for community investment, and it will engender the loyalty they seek from us as consumers.
My family stands ready to help in any or all of these endevours. I seek your feedback for grassroots efforts, and to make some noise and make a stink about this stinky situation.
I attended the community budget meeting at Chipman last night and got an earful. What I came away with was that AUSD needs to save $2 mil and is proposing cuts that will damage the education of our children. This amount includes $585,000 from the closure of Wood Middle School, that will quickly be erased if 100 of these students leave our district in search of less crowded schools. Questions were asked in reference to whether or not the district has looked at studies comparing the quality of education of smaller versus larger middle schools, in light of the fact that the district's representatives indicated bigger schools may be better and can offer more. They had no studies to back that up. Closure of Wood will not only displace hundreds of children, but force extreme crowding of Chipman and Lincoln. Lincoln is already over-crowded. The children finally got their schoolyard back after months and months of having portables and nowhere to run around. Adding 200-300 more students would bring back the portables and take away that space once again.
AUSD talks about its core values, but I see nothing in closing Wood that would support those values. In fact, AUSD's educational philosophy includes the following statements: "Decision-making must be responsive to student needs." "Development of the whole person--intellectual, emotional, creative, and physical--is an important part of a well-rounded individual." "Every student has the right to reach his/her full potential." This proposed action does nothing at all to support the district's philosophy. In fact, quite the contrary.
One of the other proposals is to offer a college prep-type academy to our 6th or 8th graders over at ASTI at the College of Alameda. I can only assume that this is to get rid of (lower the population of) one or the other grade-level from the two proposed over-crowded middle schools, since the district already has the space at ASTI. As one Encinal student eloquently pointed out last night at the meeting, why would you cut college and career counseling at their high school for kids about to graduate, yet offer a college prep program to 11 or 13-year olds? Totally absurd! And to ask Bay Farm and east end students to ride the bus a half hour each way to get to and from school when they have a good school in their own neighborhood? How does this support the students' needs?
I realize that cuts need to be made because the district has not come up with any alternative ways of finding funding for our schools, something that should have been a priority for many years and seems to have not been. But to do it on the backs of our kids will be educational suicide for the future of the city of Alameda. Who will want to live here when it's known for over-crowded schools that offer few programs? I moved here for the schools and I don't want to leave because of them. Please don't displace our kids and please don't crowd them out of their neighborhood schools. Leave Wood open and find another way!
I’m a student currently attending xxxx High School . I attended Encinal High School since I was a freshman and as a junior now I can tell that Encinal High School is different and unique in many possible ways. First, our love for the Jet is undeniable which shows our spirit in school activities such as sports games, JROTC events, band reviews etc. Encinal is very unique in such that we have the JROTC program which “motivates young people to become better citizens”, a college and career center which allows the students to obtain access to colleges to open the path for them to go to college and our amazing sports program which involves every student at Encinal High School. They say that high school is supposed to prepare you for college and life. But by making these budget cuts, Encinal will not be home of the Jets anymore, it will barely feel like a school. What makes Encinal High School unique is their amazing JROTC program.
JROTC stands for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in which our mission statement is to “motivate young people to become better citizens”. JROTC is different than any other high school course because it helps build leadership and it finds the leader within student and brings it out. When I was a freshman I was shy and couldn’t speak up. Through JROTC I was able to open up and become the leader I am as of today. Through JROTC I have learned the leadership ability to led many club activities, competitions and I even lead my wilderness group through Maine with ease. JROTC showed me what true leadership potential is. JROTC stands for leadership excellence that helps shape young people like me, and the other 200 kids in JROTC to become the leaders of tomorrow. Children are tomorrow’s leaders. Young adults like many high school students are tomorrow’s leaders. We can build our leadership skills to improve the world through JROTC. In JROTC, I learned what leadership is. It is the ability to influence others to accomplish a mission through direction, purpose and motivation. I learned that a real leader delegates and participates as well. A leader listens and takes in what their peers has to say. Leaders learn to renew the world with their learned mistakes. Colleges and universities are always looking for better leaders that will serve the world tomorrow. Why should we cut down on a great program that helps build that? Many have told me that I was a natural born leader. I tell them that there is no such thing as a natural born leader. No one is born with natural leadership skills. It is leaders who learn and develop these skills and apply it to their life and activities. It was only in JROTC that I found my commanding voice. JROTC gave me the push to find the leader within myself. Last year, the JROTC program at Encinal High School passed our AFI Inspection from the Army with flying colors. We were able to receive the Honor Unit with Distinction. Members of the Jet Battalion worked hard to pass the inspection through numerous hours of working after school and before school. You do not see true motivation and dedication until you’ve seen the cadets. Each year, the Jet Battalion holds a drill meet that invites schools to compete with us. Our cadets then practice in the morning starting at 6:00 AM and after school until 5:30. The numerous hours of practicing and perfecting the drill was difficult and tiring. But when the judges called Encinal’s name because we had won 1st place, our hard work paid off. Every day the teams of JROTC practice, whether it is marching, drilling with rifles or physical fitness. Cadets wake up and go to school earlier than anyone else, 5:00 . The Raiders team, which is the physical fitness team of JROTC, wake up at 5:00 A.M every Monday and Friday and run. You do not see that very often. You may have heard of motivated students, but you only know the true definition of motivation when you see the cadets hard at work. You do not see true dedication until you see how many cadets fight to be participating in the drill meet. You do not see true dedication until you see the numerous cadets practicing how to spin rifles in order to perfect it. You do not see true dedication until you come to Encinal High on Thursdays and see how many cadets wear their uniform proudly. JROTC means a lot to me in the fact that I will be the Battalion Commander next year. Next year I will have the Jet battalion on my shoulders and I plan on doing whatever it takes to keep the program going on for many years. JROTC has definitely changed the character inside of me. Because I am a leader, I lead by example which means that I am now more motivated to go to school. I now set an example for my littler sister to follow. I now am the role model she looks up to. My student life has revolved around JROTC which teaches me to always improve myself. I have learned my weaknesses and conquered them. I have become a better person, inside and out. I learned to strengthen my body and mind through JROTC. I also have become a better person as a leader. In the beginning of every year, the freshmen are excited to become cadets. They want to learn more and more. They try out for the various teams that the Jet battalion has. They become jealous of each other when one of their friends receives an award. However, this motivates the cadets to work harder than before. The JROTC program is a well respected program that has resided at Encinal for 52 years. It would be a total shame if JROTC would be cut. Where would students learn how to become leaders? Through math? How would students find their commanding voice? Through history? Where would you be put in a situation where you have to lead a platoon or squad to triumph? In English? Where would you find the confidence in yourself to lead? In JROTC. Yes. It is only JROTC that offers these aspects. It is only through JROTC that I was able to find myself in the world. As the JROTC cadet creed says, “I will seek the mantle of leadership and stand prepared to uphold the American way of life.”
Another important aspect of Encinal is the College and Career Center . The college and career center is very helpful in the fact that it helps students get ready for college. At Encinal, colleges from around California come and talk to students about how to get into the college and what is needed to be able to get into a certain college. UC Berkeley and UC San Diego came to the college and career center and I was informed on the score the UC’s were looking for in your SATs, and the grades one should have in order to apply to the UCs. The English classes at Encinal make a trip to the college and career center every once in a while to learn about scholarships, ACTs and SATs and other useful facts that will help us get into college. Without the college and career center, students would not have been informed on the countless scholarships offered to students. In the college and career center, Mrs. Allegrotti has a binder full of scholarships that can apply to any student. Without Mrs. Allegrotti, never ending numbers of students would not be able to go to their college of their choice because of counselor student reports that are needed for private universities. Also, numbers of students would have missed deadlines for the SATS, ACTs, college application due dates if it wasn’t for the meetings and newsletters that Mrs. Allegrotti puts up. Encinal High School celebrates when seniors get acceptance letters to colleges, and it is because of the college and career center. The college and career center lends a helping hand to students who are in need of college help. They have questions on how to apply, what to write about for their personal statements and what scholarships are offered to help pay for college.
Every year, around Christmas time, Alamedians are given an early gift from Santa called the Island Bowl. School spirit explodes from both high schools of Alameda in excitement of the Island Bowl. Everyone in Alameda goes to the Big Game to show their pride. Alumnis from across the states come back to Alameda to enjoy an amazing high school game. Football players get excited for the touchdowns, the passes and the runs. The crowd cheers endlessly as their school team receives the ball and runs for a breath-taking touchdown. The Big Game is a huge event in both of the high schools. On the day of the Big Game, Jets hope to smash the Hornets, and the Hornets dream of crashing into the Jets to win the game. The entire Alameda is filled with excitement, joy and laughter. Not only football, but other sports such as baseball, basketball, cross country, swimming etc. are important to a high school. Without sports, the high school will just be about academics. Isn’t life supposed to be well rounded? Aren’t we supposed to compare ourselves to the Renaissance men? Shouldn’t our school have high academics and a good sports program? I’m an athlete, I run for cross country and cross country has changed my life. I was never good at sports, but trying out for cross country really changed my perspective. I was willing to work hard and put the effort into practicing. It showed that I could be committed into what I wanted to do, as long as I put my mind into it. This season I was able to qualify for the North Coast Section for cross country. I had proved to everyone that I could do whatever I wanted if I put my mind and heart into it. Without sports, athletes are stripped of their soul, their heart and their effort.
Before, I was going to Encinal High where I was a cadet, an athlete. Now I will be going to school just as a student. I’m stripped of the athlete that I am, the cadet that I was. These were the things that made me, me. Now I don’t know who I am. Without these activities that make Encinal different I feel lost. It infuriates me that the Board of Education is depriving the entire Encinal. All we have left are academics. Encinal is not the Home of the Jets anymore. The District seems to be attacking the West side of Alameda only. Yes, Alameda High loses their college and career center also. Their sports are still there, there is no JROTC program in Alameda High to take away from. Why is it that this issue has become prejudice against those who do not have money? Why is it that the poor are the victims again? Why is it that the west side of Alameda never gets a voice in the community? Why is it that the poor side of Alameda is being shut out? Why is prejudice against the poor thematic in Alameda ?
Community Member 2/2/2007
I am very disappointed in the district’s attempt to close Wood. As a life long resident of Alameda I am saddened by the complete lack of connection with the residents of this city that the district is showing. I personally know of twelve families (23 kids) that have told me they are going to send their kids to private school if this happens. Two of those say they will make that move now no matter what decisions are made. Yes we are under funded but this proposal is perhaps the worst I have seen in the last 30+ years in this city. We now have the distinction of being mentioned in the same conversation with the Oakland and Richmond school districts. Say it isn’t so please. Let’s make decisions that are good for the kids.
Your web site points out that the board has had to go through these
budget reduction exercises for many past years as follows:
2006 Board Approved Reductions of $800,000
2005 Board Approved Reductions of $1,600,000
2003 Board Approved Reductions of $1,700,000
2001 Board Approved Reductions of $1,600,000
I think the board has gotten little for your work but grief.
Unfortunately, AUSD finds itself shrinking in order to stay afloat. A
sad commentary. This shrinking will continue for sure, on demographic
grounds and because closing schools over budget issues sends a very ugly
message with respect to confidence in the district and the best parents
often leave and will in this case as well. I have no doubt many will
leave AUSD if Wood is closed under this current cloud of budget cuts and
crisis and the budget savings will walk with them in fewer ADA dollars
If not this year then next, and your web site can be updated with the
"2007 Board Approved Reductions of $x,x00,000" and the "2009 Board
Approved Reductions of $x,x00,000"......etc....etc...
AUSD won't solve its problems by complaining over the formula issue
either. The only answer is to admit that the district is signing
contracts it cannot afford. Plain and simple.
The complicated story of Measure A, arbitration loss, state formulas and
the legitimate need to consolidate schools in times of reduced
enrollment masks this simple truth.
I remain convinced that the current list is a false choice as 97 percent
of the budget (contract costs) is not on the table and I urge you to
place it on the table now. The board ought to get something for the
crap you are taking on this 5th go- around of cuts, and placing the
district on sound footing in future to handle future enrollment
reductions that you all know will take place is worth the effort.
Taking a stand that the district has to make tough calls and your not
going to sacrifice 6th graders or HS sports teams and counselors is the
perfect ground to be on. AUSD needs a budget vision that recalls the
almost annual budget crisis you have been in, with a vision that states
your done with this and its time for a vision that makes sense.
Take it I say. You really have nothing to lose.. but a 'do over' in
2008 or 2009.
Groundhog day anyone?
I am unable to attend the Community Meeting tonight at Chipman Middle
School, but I strongly disagree with consolidating the Middle Schools.
Neighborhood schools serve our city well, and moving away from
neighborhood schools would do damage to our quality of life. I wonder
what the costs are of transporting East End and Bay Farm eighth graders
to Woodstock, as well as of transporting Wood students to Lincoln
Having our children walk to their neighborhood school is a unique
quality of Alameda. We should be working to preserve this essence of
I am a junior at xxxx High School. I am writing in regards to the proposed budget cuts.
I only recently found out about these cuts. From what I have heard, our band program, our art program, our JROTC program, and our sports program will all be cut. And we will also no longer have our college and career center. I think that these budget cuts are unfair, will only produce negative effects in the long run and in many ways contrary to what Encinal, and AUSD constantly tell and advocate to their students.
First of all I would say that Encinal and AUSD constantly focus on students, doing well in high school and later going to college to achieve success. Yet, if we have our college and career center taken away how are we supposed to gain access to scholarships and college information? A lot of our students really don’t have many opportunities or knowledge about college. But for years, the college and career center have made all of that available to all the students at Encinal and the coordinator has always been able to guide us throughout high school and later help us with college. If this is cut, it may help the budget in the short-term, but it will definitely hurt all of the students in the long-term.
Also, for many students, sports, art, music, those are the things that keep them connected and involved in this school. Of course math, English, science and history are important to this school, but so are the extracurricular programs. In fact, they are equally important. These programs are what keep students interested in school. I know from firsthand experience, that these extracurricular programs definitely are important. I was in cross-country this year and it was my first year of being in a sport. But just being in the team, even before I ever ran a real race, gave me a new sense of school spirit, like I was apart of Encinal and I was contributing. It gave me a sense of confidence and belonging. These programs are apart of us, they are the things we love, the things we are passionate about, they are the things we take pride in and they provide us with so many opportunities, from confidence and fulfillment to scholarships. Taking away these programs, to us, is the same thing as turning your backs on us, it’s the same thing as telling us that we really don’t matter.
By limiting our programs, you are limiting our futures. I understand that we don’t have money in the budget, and we are in a crisis, but the students, I’m sure, are all willing to compromise if you are willing to as well. I know money is a big issue, but you can’t put a price on our futures. Thank you for listening.
I am currently in the 11th grade in xxxx High School. I am most disappointed not to be able to make the meeting tonight regarding the budget cuts which greatly affect my school. Me, along with others whom have heard the announcement that almost all of our extracurriculars are to be cut, are outraged. I understand that Alameda High School is also receiving cuts, but I doubt that they are as devastated as our school is.
Allow let me list off the things I have heard that the AUSD wishes to cut from my school: the College and Career Center, JROTC, our sports teams, our band program, and our arts programs. I know that there might be more, but what concerns me are the extracurriculars, the elective courses, and the counselor issue. Allow me to explain to you my complaint in sections.
First off: the College and Career Center. I have heard that it is one of the first things AUSD wants to get rid of. I am enraged by this and am utterly against it. Why you might ask? Because the College and Career Center, believe it or not, actually does help us high school students. We juniors and seniors enter and exit it constantly, signing up for one-on-one college discussions, finding out some jobs we can get, the latest scholarships, information about schools we might be interested in, etc. The College and Career Center offers high school students access to knowledge about the world after high school and colleges and it has certainly helped me personally this year and last year. The college and career center offers a place for students to enter and listen to college speakers come and talk about their colleges. It also allows study sessions and college workshops and as well as SAT prep classes. While the counselors are busy with kids day in and day out and with very little time to be seeing many college-bound students who want more help on colleges and someone to help them look for colleges specifically, the college and career center offers all the information we high school students need to be able to find out just how we can get into the colleges we want and how to apply for scholarships and jobs. It is, by far, one of the most important additions to our school and to take it away would be depriving us, the future generation, from gaining access to information we would otherwise be without. To deprive us of this center would mean that a lot less kids would be getting the jobs they want or know of the things they must do in order to get into the college of their choices. It would just mean a lot less of us going to college, really.
Secondly, JROTC. Although I personally am not in JROTC, I do take pride in knowing that our JROTC program allows students to know that the military is another option and be prepared for it. Moreover, with JROTC being a class where we can get PE credits for, it allows a lot more kids to enter it and become disciplined and learn things about the army that they never knew before. In addition, our JROTC program also is nationally recognized and one of the finest in the Bay Area. To cut it would be to deprive students of an alternative to PE and a opportunity to realize that maybe the military is for them.
Third, our sports teams. Now, I personally have not been in any sport as of yet due to schedule complications. However, I do intend to join my school's Badminton team next year if nothing comes up. When I was young, I was passionate about the sports and I want to be able to know that the school offers sports for us outside of PE. To cut our sports program would also mean that our school looks less appealing and the rate of students who want to enroll in our school would drop drastically. Why cut the sports when perhaps they are the reason students are trying hard in school and want to come to school at all? To cut sports would leave a lot of teens on the streets and the delinquency rate might just rise. In addition, I am quite sure that all colleges have sports teams and high schools ought to offer sports for everyone so people can stay healthy and discover that they can excel in school outside of the academics and discover their talents. Sports are a very important part of high school and it just makes school a lot more fun.
Fourth, our band program. I have heard variations on this. However, from what I can decipher, the district wants to eliminate band completely even though our school is known for our music program. Band, like sports, is a large part of our high school and many who are musically gifted would not want to come to our school if they found out our music program had been whittled into almost nothing or no longer exists. Just like sports, it would drop the enrollment rate.
Fifth, our arts program. Although I am not sure just yet what that means if you want to cut our arts programs would mean a lot less high school students graduating from high school and not qualifying for colleges. In addition, if this includes drama, you would be depriving Alameda of an excellent drama program which has been known for excellence. That would also be depriving students another opportunity to discover their talent or what they might want to do after high school. To take away the arts would also mean making school much more mundane and we would lose a lot of students that way as well, dropping the enrollment rate once more and reducing the size of Encinal significantly.
To deprive Encinal of its extracurriculars, their arts, and its College and Career Center is unfair. To do so, the ASUD would be depriving many students enrolled of the joys of going to school and the above average education they receive. It is a bad deal. To cut all these programs is basically telling all the students to run to Alameda High for their education and it would lead to a dramatic drop of student enrollment to Encinal High School and inevitably ruin our already poor school for it is not only the students who value these programs, but the parents. The parents do judge a school for what it has to offer outside the core classes of English, Math, History, etc--they look at the extracurriculars and the extracurriculars and the programs which we offer is what causes the pride of us Jets to swell. To take away the things I have discussed would shatter school morale and heighten the drop-out and delinquency rate and as well as generally depriving students of what they should be getting: a high quality education and readily available extracurriculars they can dabble in to discover their true talents. Is school not here to allow students to discover their talents and build upon their knowledge? To cut these things would mean also to contradict the AUSD motto or: student success, no matter what it takes! From what I can see, these cuts just to get rid of a debt would be depriving students of their opportunities to be successful in the world and therefore contradicting the motto and the AUSD educational philosophy.
Therefore, I beg you of the Alameda School Board to reconsider these cuts and come up with other ways and perhaps compromise better with the schools you are hurting the most, like mine. Please don't take away our College and Career Center. Please don't take away our extracurriculars. Please don't take away our electives. To take these away would just mean to undermine academics and our school. It will ruin our school and I am sure others have been telling you the same thing. Please do respond for I will start a petition for AUSD to not cut all these things which many students come to school for, other than academics. These cuts will not help with the financial problem and cause even less money to come into Encinal. I am not writing this plead just for myself, but for others and the future students who will enroll into Encinal High School. I care about these cuts and I also care about the students of my high school. I am sure others care as well and if it were up to me: I would not focus on stripping a school of the many things that make the school notable and great outside of academics, but rather how to compromise and still preserve these things which schools value.
Thank you for your time and I will be contacting you of the Alameda School Board once more as soon as I get more information about the budget cuts. I hope to hear from you soon.
My son arrived home today- informing me of the proposed elimination of JROTC from Encinal High School as part of the budget cuts to be discussed tonight. I have to speak out about this. The only reason my son chose to go to Encinal- (not anywhere near our home)- was to attend JROTC. He plans to fund his college career with ROTC in college. He spent many years in the district’s waste-of-time-an-money Special ED classes – and has finally turned around with the help of JROTC. He is finally learning discipline and consequences for poor performance in school. This is something that the Alameda public schools completely miss today. My son has learned over his eight years in Alameda’s schools that you can be promoted to the next grade without any work being completed or even attempted.
I have spoken to the Master Sergeant at Encinal that is running the JROTC program about how the program is funded. I know for a fact that the Army pays for all of the equipment and supplies that the classes use. I also know that the salaries of the instructors are funded in part by their own pensions. Why on earth would the district eliminate a program that costs so little and does so much to improve the outcome of its students? This one of the few programs that students will learn citizenship, leadership, respect, disciple, and patriotism, among so many other valuable lessons!
I am soundly against the elimination of such a valuable educational source that leads our young people to so many successful careers- in government and otherwise. Aren’t we required to give the future some decent leaders? Where are they supposed to learn this when the teachers don’t even require the students to take their headphones off during class? Where are they supposed to learn respect for authority and their elders? Where are they supposed to learn self discipline and the value of self-sacrifice? The public schools are increasingly leaving our children ill-equipped to handle adulthood because the schools require so little of them. They no longer rise to the expectations of others- they skate by.
I witnessed this first-hand when attending school with my son. I was horrified by the behavior of the students and the lack of discipline in the classes. Such was not the case in JROTC. I must say- that is the way young people SHOULD behave in class.
Elimination of JROTC would be the biggest mistake that Alameda Unified School District could make- taking something truly beneficial from those children who need it most.
I have been recently informed about the school board's proposal to consolidate the three middle schools. It seems absolutely ludicrous from a general perspective. I wish I had more information about the specifics because I know there must have been some common sense behind this proposal. I hope that the following issues have been thought through:
*What is the cost of establishing and maintaining an 8th grade somewhere else (I am assuming that the 8th grade would move to make room)? The cost should also take into account the amount of students who will leave the district because of such a fragmented middle school education.
*Our middle and high school children already feel like a number in an environment with so many children in so little space. Why make them now 1 in a class of 500 (this is my estimate of the 6th grade class size at Lincoln)? This is a big negative in deciding where to send my children.
*Why mess with a good thing at Lincoln? Right now, 4 excellent schools feed into Lincoln and help it achieve it's "10." If it's number drops, parents will be even more highly motivated to find alternatives to the Alameda public school system.
*My husband and I have 3 children at xxxx on their way to xxxx and we would seriously consider taking them out of Alameda public schools if the 3 middle schools were to be consolidated. I know many parents who feel the same.
I would greatly appreciate a response to the points that I have brought up and an answer to the question "Is saving $585,000 this year worth all of the negative future impact that this proposal will have on the district?"
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
Has anyone looked at the lost revenue from students leaving Alameda USD schools and going to private schools ?
We have two kids, one at xxxx and one at xxx. They are very bright straight A, GATE kids.
But we are now looking hard at sending them to Head Royce because there is not a single program or $ spent focused on the special needs kids at the top end of the academic spectrum at Lincoln .
My wife is on the SSC and they appears powerless to address the concern.
How many kids does the district and if they had that ADA would all these “reductions” be needed ?
- do we even measure this failure of the school system to attract and retain the local students ?
Just like in business, someone should be focused on top line
… what can be done to raise revenue and delivery programs to meet all students needs ?
I hope this point will be addressed at the community meeting.
As a teacher of fifteen years in the district, I strongly encourage you to keep any needed budgetary cuts as far away from the classrooms as possible.
Thank you for your efforts.
As senior management and the school board face the horrendous task of cutting another $2.5 million out of the district annual budget, I think it is important to have as much accurate information as possible on the ramifications and unintended consequences of two of the cuts, and I wish to share this information with you.
This year the state of California decided to deal with the fact that the state has ranked 51st and last in counselor/pupil ratio nationally. The state has provided funds for school districts to hire additional counselors for 6-12. The funds enabled AUSD to post for 3.5 FTE counselors, and I was part of the interview committee two weeks ago. We were delighted to find that we had four qualified candidates, all with Masters degrees in counseling who had applied. Even more wonderful, two of them are African-American, who would be a great asset in dealing with our students of color who often have the biggest challenges in our school system.
This grant from the state is on-going and has two stipulations. One is that the counselors be used with the most at-risk students. The other is that the funds be used only to supplement existing staff. The state will not allow districts to lay off counselors, and then hire the same counselors for the at-risk program. The current budget reduction plans says we will cut 4 high school counselors and 1 middle school counselor. If we do that, we not only lose the services of five dedicated and experienced professionals who work directly with students, we also forfeit the state grant for the additional counseling services. I have no doubt that we would be the only school district in the state that reduces counselors and forfeits matching funds to help our neediest students.
Another cut that I do not feel is cost effective is the proposed elimination of the 9th grade class reduction in math and English. As you know, for a number of years we have been able to keep our 9th grade English and math classes at 20 or less, due to a state grant that pays for half the cost. If we eliminate that program, we would save an estimated $88,000. At Alameda High School alone, it would mean cutting 2 math teachers and 2 English teachers. At Encinal it would mean laying off another two teachers. I am often interviewed by prospective 9th grade parents who are comparing AHS to private schools, and the best argument I have for enrolling their child here has been that our English and math classes are much smaller that the private schools. If we do not have that program, I am sure we will lose more students to private schools, thus negating any cost savings.
I wish you the best in your arduous task of making cuts in programs that have already been slashed to the bone. This is a very unpleasant time for everyone.
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Last modified: February 2, 2007
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