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Mike McMahon AUSD
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Comments Received Regarding 2008/09 Budget

For background, you can visit 2008/09 Budget Process.

Tally of Comments

As of Date Parents Community Members Students Teachers Staff
3/11/2008 304 5 2 15 0

Community Member 3/16

I am writing to strongly encourage you all to reconsider your education budget cuts. It is deplorable that you have even considered this. I understand the districts budget issues, but cutting children's educational programs is not acceptable.

Community Member 3/11

A real estate broker submits this eight page letter.

Parent 3/11

For the most part, I am in agreement with the way you have prioritized the cuts/funding. However, I do think cuts to grade 9 class size should be in Tier 1. Anything to do with the educational/academic standards should be Tier 1. These small classes in grade 9 are really essential to learning and to the transition to hs.

Parent 3/11

Music is a subject that we as parents want our children to be exposed to in school. It is a tragedy that the school board is even contemplating eliminating this very important topic. I know my children enjoy listening as well as participating in Ms. Bonnie's music class. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that music is not important in our childrens' lives. We urge you to vote to keep music in their lives.

Parent 3/11

Can you clarify the tier structure - ie cuts listed on the tier- will they all be reversed if the parcel tax is passed? Or only partial amounts? I want to know which schools will be closing after next year. I do not appreciate the "on a need to know" criteria currently used by the board.

Parent 3/11

I have two children who attend Alameda public schools and are involved in competitive swimming at the high school pools. My middle schooler asked me recently how she would get into a good college if she couldn't take AP classes or be on the high school swim team. I did not know how to respond except to say that we would have to either move to a better funded district or send her to private high school. Either solution would be economically difficult. Also, we love Alameda and want to stay here. We are not the only family in Alameda who would leave the public schools if we lose too many student programs. Please keep our high school sports and AP classes.

Parent 3/11

When making your decisions about how the parcel tax shall fund the areas that have been cut, please consider moving the Grade 9 class size reductions to tier one. English and Math are two cornerstones of high schoolers' education and having that 20 -1 class size for Freshmen is very valuable for getting them off to a good start--especially those who haven't been terribly successful in Middle School. My son benefitted tremendously from the small classes as a Freshman two years ago and I hope my daughter will have the same opportunity next year.

Parent 3/11

I fully support reinstating the $265,000 funding to the High School Athletic Program/Swim Centers in “Tier 1”. Please vote with confidence that the new Parcel Tax Revenue should give prioritization to High School Athletics.

Parent 3/11

I'd like CSR for K-3 AND 9th grade at the top of what will be funded with this parcel tax (small classes was in Measure A). 9th grade CSR and K-3 CSR are equally important. So my first concern would be that CSR for 9th graders be at the top with CSR for K-3.

Music for all students is important (which was in Measure A). High school athletics are important, as are middle school athletics. High school counseling, college & career technicians should be equal to or above middle school counselors, and before before cleaning and minimize school closures.

So my short list of how to spend the revenue generated if the parcel tax passes would be:

  • CSR - K-3 and 9th grades
  • 1-3 Music
  • High school athletics/pool and middle school after school sports
  • high school counselors and college & career techs
  • middle school counselors

Probably after middle school counselors, I'd have restoring clerical and health clerk staff positions and pay increases for teachers and staff. I'm not sure about this - I don't know enough about the middle school counselors but I think the high school counselors and college & career techs are important.

At the bottom of my list I'd put "minimize school closures."

I would submit that AUSD's primary purpose is to provide quality education for all students and with that comes the responsibility to operate as efficiently as possible because AUSD does not excess funds. I think AUSD needs to immediately implement a plan to operate efficiently so that it allocates the most funds possible to providing quality education for all.

Parent 3/11

I support reinstating the $265,000 funding to the High School Athletic Program/Swim Centers in “Tier 1”.

Parent 3/11

I appreciate how difficult your jobs must be at this time, I really do. As a parent of two daughters in Elementary School, I have to do all I can to save what has been such a valuable part of their school experience......that is the Music Program. Music improves the atmosphere for learning; it helps kids achieve in academics like math & science. With music in schools, students connect to each other better; it is the universal language. There are many ESL kids in the primary grades, music bridges the gap - it levels the playing field. Music is more than entertainment! PLEASE save our Music Program for grades 1-3.

Parent 3/11

Cutting the music programs for 1-3rd graders will be devastating in many ways to our children. If you have attended any of the musical programs at the elementary schools, it would give you a picture of how important music is to these children. I would like to know also, why would they need to be dismissed early just because they do not have music? Couldn't they use this hour each week for curriculum time for the teacher. It seems cutting programs such as these is the easy way out. I believe parents at my school (Bay Farm) will not allow this to happen, even if it means we provide this resource ourselves. However, this requires parents who are already stretched for school time and money, to over extend themselves. It seems this may put a larger gap between those who may be able to come up with the resources, and those who cannot or are not willing to take the time to do so. Please reconsider this action.

Parent 3/11

We need you to bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Teacher 3/11

I have the pleasure of being a substitute teacher in your district. I am also a professional musician and am on the path towards earning a teaching credential in Music—with which I had hoped to someday teach Elementary music in your wonderful district. However, the decision reached by your board late Tuesday night has made that now improbable if not impossible.

The bulk of my substitute teaching in your district has been for the PE and Music departments. I have gained much knowledge of how these two departments work seamlessly in concert with each other, and I would like to share my concerns about the problems that will arise should Music be eliminated from the schedule, and also speak of my experience teaching music in your district and what I know of your Music department staff and curriculum.

Firstly, for grades 1 – 3, each hour, Music and PE teach a class and a half, roughly 30 students each, switching at the ½ hour. I presume that it is important to preserve that efficient system, teaching 60 students per hour. If music is eliminated from that equation there will be 60 students on one yard having PE simultaneously! The resulting fracas certainly create a safety issue, especially at schools like Earhart, Haight, and Washington where the staggered recess schedule already creates a situation where PE shares the yard with kids on recess. And beyond that obvious issue, what of the fact that there are barely enough wall ball courts, basketball hoops and kickball fields for ONE class to occupy? These areas are used in important parts of your PE curriculum, but they are in close proximity to each other at every school I have taught at—in short, these yards were not designed to have 2 PE classes conducted simultaneously on them. It would be ridiculously inconvenient and unsafe. The alternative becomes PE running at a 20:1 ratio, and as a result, there will have to be at least 2 more PE teachers hired--in this time of financial crisis? Thinking beyond that, please consider whether it is reasonable to expect 1st and 2nd graders can physically or mentally tolerate a whole hour of PE? I have seen even the most even keeled and coordinated youngsters’ tempers begin to fray as we ask them to exert their still developing coordination skills and physique for ½ that amount of time. An hour of PE could cause students considerable stress mentally and physically, resulting in injuries, fights, and general emotional distress.

I would like to now address an alarming claim that was made at your last school board meeting: classroom teachers are much more comfortable and capable of teaching Music to their students than PE. Now, I don’t mean to belittle the PE department at all, for I think they are well trained individuals that do an incredible job of teaching their students, but as a substitute that has taught both music and PE, I find it is far easier to teach PE. Music is far more academic, a specialized subject—it is something that I am profoundly knowledgeable in and yet it is still an immensely challenging subject to teach. Every single classroom teacher I have spoken with on this matter agrees: they would MUCH rather teach their students PE (for many of them already do!) than even attempt teaching Music. One teacher expressed to me that she couldn’t even tell a harmonica from a hormone, and couldn’t even imagine where to begin teaching her students music. Teaching music is not just about turning on a boom-box or a Barney video and urging the kids to sing.

I have been delighted when I have been the substitute for your music teachers Lynn Tousey and Darren Smith to find their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders had incrementally increasing knowledge of rhythm, melody, harmony, music from many countries and cultures, danced, played xylophone and percussion instruments, sang exceptionally well, and were able to read music and create musical notation (that means they could read AND write music)—and no kidding, they could do all of this incredibly well! To think of them being deprived of this experience when it is your option to avail it to them seems cruel—as if you are squelching an area of development they get from nothing else in their curriculum. I have also had the wonderful experience of auditing Kim Orzell’s music classes. Watching the students throughout the grades 1-5 participate in her class during the day showed her very clear teaching methodology that built upon itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the 4th and 5th graders would not be able to do what they were doing if had not bloomed under that tutelage throughout their Elementary careers. My experience substituting for Ms. Tousey and Mr. Smith showed students that were in similarly trained with clear, progressive methodologies that endowed them with both musical skills and the ineffable joy in music! To think of what happens when kids who have no formal knowledge of music enter a music classroom for the first time as 4th graders makes me very sad. Surely it will be wonderful for them to have music, but the deeper understanding of music that takes root in those incredibly formative 1st through 3rd grade years would be lost. Blank 9 year old slates would walk into those music rooms and experience what teachers would be able to give them at that point—a glance at the ocean they currently sail upon.

It is my understanding that splitting the cut between music or eliminating music 1-3 amounts to the exact same amount of saving for your district. In closing, your district is home to some of the most incredible music teachers that give these children a whole body whole mind musical experience, and I urge you to take a step back and regard the amazingly highly trained and musical individuals you currently retain in your district. You have in your power the ability to still provide music for your 1st -3rd graders. Instead of cutting music completely, please split the cut between music and PE! Provide your children with two amazing experiences I should mention that I, as a child, had the incredible experience of attending a private school where I was in music class daily. We didn’t have media center but boy we had music—(by the way, have you examined Media Center’s schedule? I believe they have 8 prep hours a week—wouldn’t eliminating those preps alone save music??) I feel th! at that musical exposure and experience has indeed colored my whole academic, musical, and personal life with a much richer pallet than if it had not been a part of my experience. Give your students an ounce of what I experienced and there is no doubt in my mind that their lives will be better for it.

Parent 3/11

I am submitting my comments on the recent school budget cuts. I have to say I think that this is ridiculous. My daughter attends Bay Farm School, which is a great school with great parental involvement. It angers me to see how things are starting to unfold, and the cuts to the music and the physical education programs in our schools.

I would think that there are other ways that cuts can be made. You are planning on taking away any advantage my daughter will get from the classroom. I am fortunate to live in an area that has an excellent school in Bay Farm. I would think that the board would want to keep it that way.

You are sending our kids at the plate with two strikes and no chance to succeed.

Parent 3/11

Please, please! Do not cut music and PE programs from our elementary schools. Music is so important in early childhood... it is mathematical in nature and so necessary for development. I know that once these programs go -- music in particular -- we will probably never get it back. In addition, the new early pickup time will be a hardship... parents already cope with multiple pickup times (Kindergarten vs. 1-6; Wednesday early days, etc.) and another one would cause chaos.

I know you have to make cuts, but once again, following up on my letter last week, I'd like to suggest a work furlough, which would save some money and perhaps make the music cut in particular unnecessary.

Parent 3/11

I’ve really been very patient, but am at the end of my rope!! Tier 3 = Minimize school services reduction, i.e. counseling, college and career technicians!? Really, that is an insult. Our counselor, Sheila Pula has already had her hours slashed in the last budget cuts. A large number of our seniors use that resource when applying for colleges. Not all students have computers at home you know. Do you really have any idea how hard she works helping out kids and parents through the process? I have been in there countless times with important questions. I AM PROTESTING LOUDLY!!

Parent 3/11

Our daughter came home from school yesterday with what she termed, very, very bad news -- seriously she said. We were alarmed, thought something had happened to one of her friends based on how upset she was. Instead, she told us how the school board was taking music away from her. She is in 2nd grade and was very alarmed that next year she would have no music.

After finishing her homework, she wrote the attached (with no help from us). We realize the hard choices you are facing, as you can see our 2nd grader really loves music and will miss it and her beloved teacher.

Thank you for your care in finding a solution that will allow all our children to be enriched, educated and challenged as they continue on in AUSD.

Parent 3/10

Please bring back the music program for our first through third graders!

As a mother of a third grader and kindergartener, I see the benefits of the music program firsthand. At Bay Farm School, the result of Ms. Bonnie's incredible commitment to teaching music has resulted in my children becoming more confident in performing in front of others and taking on leadership roles in other areas.

The music program is a source of enjoyment and pride for the children at school. To take it away would be to strip the children of a balanced education.

Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/10

PLEASE save our music program for our 1st-3rd graders. $200K can be found to save our music specialists and provide these young students with music, performance and a foundation that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. PLEASE!!!!!! You know it is right.

Parent 3/10

We need you to bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/10

I am sick at the prospect of 1-3 graders losing music. Music instruction isn't just 'good for math' - it is an essential part of a whole education in and of itself. I hope you will work with both the VAPA committee and the PTAs to continue to fund elementary music instruction, which is very good in Alameda.

Parent 3/10

We need you to bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/10

Music and Athletics are a means for more children to find success in our highly competitive society. Every child needs to have a chance at success and by eliminating programs that encourage the mind and body to be healthy and creative we are shortchanging our child and creating a very limited path to success.

I realize that you will be getting many letters saying the same thing here and that you feel that you have done the best that you can do to keep everyone somewhat happy and insure that at least the core education stays untouched, but I am afraid this is not good enough now.

Please realize that you are looking at a tipping point in Alameda Education. Highly educated, high income families come to Alameda for their excellent public schools. While you might believe cutting athletics and music will save you in the short run this is very likely to cause a mass exudus out of the public school system thereby lowering enrollment and taking those families most likely to support through donations and volunteering out of the system. We do not want to end up like San Francisco where anyone with options has to send their child to private schools to keep them competitive.

A strong public school systems where families of all socioeconomic backgrounds feel comforatable sending their children is the bedrock of an equitable society. Bringing down the education system to a level which drives away the portion of the population that has a choice to send their children to private school ends up segregating our schools and our children.

I ask that you not just find ways to be creative with the limited budget that you have, but also to use the best assets of our city to gain additional revenue and support from our state, individuals and companies in Alameda.

Please work with our professional atheletes from Alameda to help generate support for our cause. Please work with the companies that call Alameda their home to donate to the cause. Please set up funds that can be directed to our own schools that would encourage individuals to donate to their local school. Please help us use the lawyers of Alameda to fight against the suspension of prop 98.

Parent 3/10

I am a concerned parent with a two children (2nd grade and Kindergarten) at Bay Farm Elementary School.

I believe that the music program is an invaluable part of my children's education. Please consider a short-term solution that provides 30 minutes for music and 30 minutes for PE each week.

It is critical that we keep our music infrastructure in place while we work to devise a long-term solution.

Also, I urge you to attach the highest priority to restoring this program if the parcel tax passes in June.

Parent 3/10

We need you to bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/10

Serious question: At what point do you say the monetary cuts are too much and we can not provide a public education for the students in our district? More and more the education system we have in California is fee based. Communities that can afford foundations and parcel taxes provide a DIFFERENT education for students enrolled. It is not a public education as most of us would understand that term. It is definitely not an equal education. When can the board say , we can not provide an education for our kids with this budget?

Parent 3/10

I am the parent of two children in Alameda Schools. I do not want the music program for 1st 2nd and 3rd grades cut. Likewise,early dismissal is an unacceptable choice. It would be an unfair burden on families such as myself who have two working parents and need to provide after school daycare, and it would be an unacceptable message to send to our children. School is the most important thing in a child's life and the early grades are when they are forming their lifelong attitudes for learning. Do we really want them to think that the school board is giving up on them having a good education ? Do we really ant to see the exodus of children to private schools? Do we really want Alameda to be a town with substandard schools? My answer would be no to all of the above.

Parent 3/10

We need you to bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/10

I strongly urge you to rethink your decision to eliminate the music program for K to 3rd grade. Has anyone looked into the possibility of shortening the school year for students or work days for teachers. I am sure it would be better to have all the teacher employed vs some being layed off. Vallejo recently received concessions from the Police and Fire Department to avoid bankruptcy. Lets ask the teacher's union if they are willing to help with this situation to keep all their members employed.

Parent 3/10

PLEASE bring back the music for our 1-3rd graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. This allows easy coordination of prep time for teachers as well as a very positive program for the kids and their families.

Please preserve the music program at least part-time which will make it easier to bring back the program full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/10

Please bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminating the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. Currently PE and music service three classrooms at a time (30 children with each teacher). How is the PE teacher going to see 60 children at a time? Even if he/she has 2 classes at a time that is 40 children to one teacher. The classes have worked well together for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need your help to preserve the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once funds become available.

Parent 3/10

I am not able to come to the board meeting tonight, because I will be trying to mobilize Paden's PTA to save music for our k-3 students. Please find a way to bring music back to our children even if it is only 1/2 time. Share the cut with PE. Music is the only program for the arts left in the schools, please don't cut our children off from the only arts program that is taught by specialists!! They deserve better.

Parent 3/10

Please don't cut the music program from our school. My son is in 1st Grade at Bay Farm School and it would really be a bad idea to cut it. Music and sports are not electives or extras that are not as important as the other subjects but are subjects that are critically important to a childs learning and life experience. Please find another way to make the budget work.

Parent 3/10

We need you to bring back the music for our first through third graders! Rather than completely eliminate the program, please keep the combination PE/Music setup. PE and music have worked together well for years, allowing an easy coordination of prep time for the teachers as well as a positive program for the kids.

We need you to help us by preserving the music program at least part-time. This will keep our music program infrastructure intact and our music teachers on staff – making it easier to bring it back full time once we get the funds.

Parent 3/9

I am the father of two xxx High School students and a college Professor. I am not going to support a tax that places academic programs in a secondary or tertiary position to athletics, cleaning and primary school music preparation. Furthermore, the single most important element for preparing students for life after high school are counseling, college and career technicians which have been placed at the absolute bottom of your priorities. Counseling and class size reductions must be at the top of your list and everything else below them. Athletics should be at the bottom of the priorities. Athletics booster organizations can devote their energies to raising money for those programs.

I am not going to support a parcel tax that finances an inferior academic school system. My experience with Mr. Maiers and his team has been outstanding, and they, and I am sure other career counselors in the district, provide a service that is essential to the success of our students.

Parent 3/9

I am shocked that restoring college counseling is rated as a Tier 3 priority. Why would that be? One of the means of determining the effectiveness (and therefore the status of a high school if you need to put it in terms of property values) is the success of placing students in good universities. Without an effective college counseling program, our local high schools will not be successful in that endeavor.

Teacher 3/8

Since the 1980s Alameda has provided music education to its elementary students. Music in grades 1-3 has now been eliminated in its entirety by the district in favor of not reducing PE classes in grades 1-3 as part of the “shared” cutbacks. Below I have summarized the history of the music program, the current state of affairs and its undeniable unfairness to the elementary grades 1-3 students of the AUSD.

History of Elementary Music/PE

Since the early 1990’s the elementary music and PE programs have worked as a team, splitting an hour of instruction between the two subject areas, 30 minutes to each during the classroom teacher’s prep period. The board’s action has destroyed this relationship, eliminating music in grades 1-3 entirely in favor of a full hour of PE during the prep period. Expanding PE and eliminating music does not save a cent.

Until class size reductions to 20:1 music/PE was provided one hour per class per week and was increased to two hours per week with the introduction of reduced class sizes. The superintendent’s proposal would have rolled back music/PE to the exact same levels as were in effect prior to the implementation of class size reductions.

Board of Education Politics

After Tuesday’s vote Board President Bill Schaff stated the following: “That board member Tracy Jensen advocated PE and reducing athletic cuts over music for grades 1-3. The other Board members were willing to compromise on those issues in order to obtain a final budget resolution. But none of the Board members were happy with the outcome, including board member Tracy Jensen.”

Zero Dollar Savings

  1. The superintendent’s proposal and the board approved action BOTH result in the exact same dollar savings for the 08/09 school year; $200,000.00
  2. The approved plan will result in the COMPLETE elimination of music for students in grades 1-3 in Alameda.
  3. Both the superintendent’s recommendation and the approved plan will result in the SAME reduction in teaching positions; four.
  4. The approved plan will eliminate FOUR MUSIC positions and ZERO PE positions.
  5. The proposed plan would have eliminated two music positions and two PE positions.
  6. The superintendent’s proposed plan provides a balanced approach to reductions that reintroduced the successful historic formulation of music/PE instruction. The approved plan ELIMINATES a subject area for reasons that are known only to Tracy Jensen, are completely unrelated to the economic situation and have no economic justification or benefit; it is purely political “horse trading” at the student’s expense.

Benefits of Music Instruction

Music education delivered by music specialists in the grades 1-3 provides the following benefits to students that will be FULLY ELIMINATED by the approved plan:

  1. Music reinforces and supports other academic subjects to the benefit of the child’s total developmental and academic skills
  2. Music curriculum in Alameda has been integrated directly with the Houghton/Mifflin standards based reading program and supports academic subject areas directly, reinforcing and augmenting curriculum in math, reading, history, etc
  3. Music curriculum in grades 1-3 includes singing, movement, instruments and exposure to skills that are developmentally essential for the child in addition to the development of musical skills
  4. Music curriculum supports early grade skills development in classroom behavior, working as part of a group, listening, sharing, speaking/singing in front of a group, etc., that integrate with and support classroom activities and learning

Why Music Specialists are Essential

Music is a subject that most classroom teachers are not comfortable or skilled/knowledgeable in teaching. Due to this lack of familiarity and the high demands of other academic requirements for classroom time, it is unlikely that students will receive meaningful music instruction from their classroom teachers. Thus, it is most likely that the approved plan will deprive the students of the crossover skills and academic reinforcement that the music program currently provides and the superintendent’s proposal would have continued to provide. The approved plan will result in students arriving in fourth grade with no music skills or musical exposure.

Music Reinforces/Augments Core Curriculum

Alameda has worked for many years to provide excellent programs across academic areas that support child development and learning. Music has been an integral part of this program at all grade levels, the earlier grade levels providing the basis for timely skills development in tandem with the child’s developmental and academic growth. Elimination of music in the lower elementary grades will stunt musical and academic development for all students throughout the district.

Politics Trumps Education

It is both unfair and unseemly that the elimination of the music program in grades 1-3 is unrelated to the current fiscal crisis, is against the recommendation of the superintendent and is being executed under the cover of the economic crisis for reasons that are not publicly stated or known.

Parent 3/7

I applaud your efforts in this difficult time. But one thing has become clear - the last minute change to shift $200K from music prep to sports was a bad move. Alameda is a sports-oriented town and it will have no problems raising money for sports - be it 465K or 265K. Witness the KNBR announcement today and the volume of traffic on all the sports league mailing lists./

However, raising the $200K for music is going to be very difficult - we are trying, but it is tough.

Please reconsider that last minute swap so that both get funded - music by AUSD, sports by the community.

Thanks so much for your hard work in these challenging times!

Parent 3/7

It's time to get Sacramento to change the way it gives money to the schools it needs to produce a civilized society.

I'm for the new tax for Alameda to help raise money.

I think we could save money and at the same time have a better High School if we only had one of them. It would also go a long way to bring the city together as one insted of a defacto two cities. The Wood/Lum school site would be a great place for the new high school. It could be called The Alameda Jets with blue and yellow for the school colors.

Parent 3/7

Please save music for our K-3 classes. My understanding is you made no cuts to K-3 PE, please rethink your choice. Could we not have both reduced PE and Music, so the children get some instruction in both areas? This would save the same amount of money and leave the students with some music in their week. Music instruction is a vital part of education, and has been shown in study after study to improve student performance, language development, and cognitive ability.

At Paden, the school my child attends, every student and parent simply loves what Ms. Tousey brings to our school and community. She is a dedicated teacher. We recently held our school auction fundraiser, and Ms. Tousey’s contribution of a dance party for the children has raised over $800.00. This was the single largest money earner of the auction. She is an asset to our school and district, not a liability.

I understand that your job of creating a budget was not an easy one, and I am helping with the parcel tax effort, writing our state officials, and rallying at the capitol. However, if all these other efforts are to no avail the proposed budget cuts to music simply are not acceptable. Our children need Music as well as PE classes. Please bring music back to K-3.

I will leave you with a quote from my 7 year-old. When asked by the Lt. Governor’s aids why we were rallying in Sacramento Lily replied, “We are here to ask the Governor to give money back to the schools, so I can have music class next year.”

Parent 3/7

I agree that it absolutely horrendous what is being proposed to our schools, including but not limited to the athletic program cuts. I think that the parcel tax may be a necessary band aid approach, but I think we as a community need to look at the root of the cause. I know this a good way to tick of your friends and neighbors, but in my view it is due to proposition 13. Public schools and all community expenses should be supported equally by all, so folks who paid 200k for a house years ago which is now worth 800k should catch up on their property taxes. I am not suggesting you do it all at once but phase it in gradually, perhaps raise them 10% over the 10 yrs; for the elderly either do it slower or perhaps exempt them all together. An even more egregious example, is the old lady who paid 77k for her townhouse in the 70s, dies and leaves it to her kids who turn it into a rental property. The new owners are allowed to continue paying property taxes on the original 77K when the home is worth well over 500k (this is a real example of the first townhouse I rented when I moved to CA). So in some, I would ask you to consider if you agree with this to advocate change to the root cause in conjunction to the immediate fix that is needed- otherwise we will all be paying in ways more than financial for a long time.

Parent 3/7

I did not see any discussion of cutting back or eliminating any of the charter school programs such as ACLC or the one at Alameda Junior College. Are they not funded under the alameda unified budget?

Teacher 3/7

I am writing to voice my concern about the decision that was reached at last Tuesday’s meeting to cut the elementary music program for grades 1-3. While I do hope that you will consider revising the decision, it is primarily the process by which the decision was reached that is bothering me. As you are all acutely aware it was a very late, tense, and difficult meeting last Tuesday. I do not envy your duty in this dark time, and I completely understand the sense of urgency that you felt to get through the agenda. However, I strongly feel that the decision to eliminate music from grades 1-3 was based on misleading circumstances, false information that went uncorrected, and an incomplete picture of the real issues at hand. Above all I left the meeting feeling like the board went along with Tracy Lynn Jensen’s proposal to eliminate music entirely from the primary-grade curriculum because they were simply too exhausted and overwhelmed to debate the rather dubious claims she made ! in support of her position. Before continuing I would just like to remind everyone that the choice was not between keeping either PE or music, but rather between keeping PE only or PE as well as music. The board had the opportunity last Tuesday to maintain both of these vital programs and made the choice not to. At this point it is also important to emphasize that the net savings to the district between these two options is identical.

Let’s take a moment to examine the reasons board member Jensen gave for her position. I was unable to get a copy of the minutes of the meeting, so I am paraphrasing to the best of my recollection.

Claim #1: Classroom teachers are more able and would prefer to teach music than PE to their 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.

Ms. Jensen claims to have talked with numerous teachers on this subject. I’m not sure who they were, but a similar informal survey amongst my colleagues revealed the exact opposite to be true. One week ago, Assistant Superintendent Debbie Wong witnessed a lunchtime conversation in the staffroom at Washington School to this effect. In fact, most classroom teachers already do teach physical education. The mandated minimum weekly requirement for physical education in grades 1-3 is 100 minutes. Our students currently receive 60 of those minutes from our PE department. The remaining 40 minutes comes from our classroom teachers and programs such as Sports-4-Kids. There is no mandated requirement for music. Taking into account the 60 minute reduction in the school week we are forced to make to accommodate teacher preps without a music program, even the most musically-inclined of our classroom teachers will be hard-pressed to find time for music.

Claim #2: We need to retain our quality staff of credentialed PE teachers to teach to the national standards.

I completely agree! And we need to retain our quality staff of credentialed music specialists as well. Ms. Jensen mentioned one of our PE teachers by name as an example of the talented staff we are so lucky to have. Tracy Lynn may not know any of us by name, but I am extremely proud of our music department. We have developed a curriculum that not only teaches to the state standards but also compliments the district-adopted reading program. My students sing, dance, play instruments, learn to read and write in musical notation, and so much more. My fifth graders are working on dancing the cha-cha-cha and performing a traditional Cuban folk song accompanied by drums, xylophones and recorders. My second graders recently performed a lovely song and dance in Japanese. My students have learned songs in Swahili, French, Portuguese, Tagalog, even English. And yes, they knew what all the words meant. My first graders can’t get enough of the “Cat and Mouse” game where a classical piece! written by LeRoy Anderson becomes the soundtrack for a creative movement adventure. On rainy days the PE teacher and I will sometimes combine our classes to work on square-dancing or musical parachute activities. PE and music have worked beautifully in tandem in this district for longer than I have been here. Why retain only one quality program when you can retain two?

Claim #3: Physical education should not be reduced because PE enhances student academic performance.

Ms. Jensen did not cite any sources for this claim, but I can tell you that music has been proven to enhance student academic performance in ways that no other discipline can. Scientific studies in journals of neurology, education, psychology, and the arts continue to prove that music stimulates brain development, enhances academic performance, creates hemispheric connections between the left and right brain… the list goes on. I don’t doubt that PE also enhances academic performance, but doubling PE time at the expense of music for the sake of academic performance is like canceling your membership at the gym so you can buy more chocolate because you heard that chocolate is good for your heart. A quick internet search for “music academic performance” turned up countless studies; here is one of the first ones I came across: A study published in the February 2007 issue of Neurological Research states “Musical training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enha! ncing children’s abstract reasoning skills necessary for learning math and science.”

Finally, I would just like to point out that eliminating music will create some very difficult scheduling issues for the PE department. Under the current system, the music and PE programs work jointly to serve 60 students per hour. This is achieved by taking an entire class plus half of another to music for 30 minutes while the remaining half plus an entire third class go to PE. After 30 minutes these two groups are switched. For the PE department to teach as efficiently, they will need to have two PE teachers at each school site, teaching two groups of 30 simultaneously for 60 minutes on a yard that, in many cases, is simply too small to adequately accommodate such numbers. Factor in recess times that overlap with PE as well as the challenge of keeping first and second graders engaged in a PE lesson for a full hour (I believe the appropriate term is “herding cats…”), and you are really doing a huge disservice to the very program you are seeking to preserve.

I have nothing but great things to say about my colleagues in the PE department, and I think that our PE program does wonders for our students. I am left wondering, however, why PE was spared any cuts at all when music is being totally eliminated. Since the reasons given by board member Jensen are clearly inadequate, I can only hope that the board will consider revisiting this item at the next meeting (last chance before this becomes final) or at least do me— and the community and children of Alameda— the grace of providing a reason for depriving us of music’s uniquely magical presence when you had the opportunity—indeed the recommendation— to keep our children singing.

Community Member 3/6

As we observe the Alameda community’s reaction to the governor’s proposed budgets, we understand and appreciate the efforts put forth by the BOE, the AEF, the PTA, students, etc….. But, for now, instead of dividing our city apart with having to make a decision as to which program is more important to save than others because they all are, let’s go to the SOURCE of the problem – the lawmakers, the State Capitol. With all this momentum, wouldn’t it be better to pool all of the energy and resources now being expended, to arouse the involvement of all Alameda bodies, including as many citizens as we can: Our City Representatives, City Hall Members, BOE, AEF, Teachers, Students, Parents, Elderly, children, business owners, other community members, etc….to go the Capitol and do a rally. Can we organize something where we select a date and time to come to the Governor’s office TOGETHER and RALLY to deliver our message to the lawmakers that the devastating budget cuts will affect the state’s education system, our future? We’re not saying one small group here and another lone group there going to the capitol one day here and another day there. We’re saying, every group, schools, organizations, teachers, parents, students, businesses, etc… in Alameda. In other words, getting EVERYONE, as many individuals as possible in the CITY of ALAMEDA together, to go to the capitol. Let’s send a LOUDER message to our legislators and the public. The more people that gather, the louder the message. Let’s see if we can organize, and possibly raise funds if necessary to provide transportation, etc.. to those who don’t have access to go…..

Community Member 3/6

I own four units in Alameda. The tax will cost me $480/year. I will gladly pay it in return for the education I received in the Alameda Public Schools. What can I do to help?

Parent 3/6

Regarding the budget cuts in education and sports: why not eliminate the "free" school supplies, breakfast & lunches instead? These can be provided by the parents themselves. Students should not be deprived of a free education. Academics & sports are necessary for the development of a well rounded personality. Don't get rid of teachers nor cut sports, give some responsibilities to the parents themselves. Increasing taxes perhaps will solve part of the problem but will also drive homeowners away from the district.

Parent 3/5

I can only imagine the anguish all board members must be experiencing up and down the state of California, and I extend my support to you all. I also wanted to express my opinion about one cut that should not be considered. I truly hope that K-3 class size reduction will not be eliminated. California educators worked many years to obtain smaller class sizes. I am a former 2nd grade teacher who taught a class size of 30. I can attest that smaller class sizes allows for teachers to provide early intervention in math, reading, and writing, and develop strong skills that benefit children as they move on to 4th grade.

We also would like you to know that my husband and I would support an emergency parcel tax.

Parent 3/5

I was not able to stay to the end of the meeting yesterday as I have a child to take care of. Something that You, the Board of Education, has failed miserably at. Your actions will destroy the community and the lives of countless children. Can you really live with that??

Please publish the outcome. Rumors are flying. If they are true you are in for a legal battle that will cost the school system much more than any possible savings. Additionally the reality is your proposal to eliminate sports will cost the school system money through reduced enrollment and increased absence. Not to mention drop out rates and failure rates. You apparently were not listening yesterday or last Tuesday.

You can't play favorites with sports. They all must be retained. If you decide to allow certain sports and allow them to use the school facilities then all sports must be allowed. The rumor is you will allow football baseball basketball and softball. The rumor also says you will close the pool facilities. Your required 9th grade correculum includes proficiency in swimming. How will you accomplish this with the pools closed? I will support a law suit against the school district to prevent this descrimination against swimmers. You are also keeping predominantly male sports. Title 9 prevents such action. You must reconsider this shameful action.

Your graphs at the meetings showed we paid for education in past years with less money then is proposed for next year and we had sports then.

Wake up! This is wrong!

Parent 3/5

By keeping Football(the largest sport for boys) Basketball, Baseball and Softball I am thinking you might be in violation of Title IX. Swimming is the largest sport for girls at Alameda with over 80 girls participating. As the concerned father of a girl I may have to look into this.

Good luck with a tough job.

Parent 3/5

I know that making the budget cuts is an extremely difficult and emotional process not only for the school board but for the entire Alameda community. Being given a choice between academics or school sports, I would choose academics above all. Unfortunatly not everyone feels that way. Mr Siltanen sent a letter to the parents of Alameda High School asking them to work together for a solution and not be part of the problem. That solution he mentioned is passing a parcel tax to make up for the shortfall of funds in the coming years. The community needs to be united for the purpose of a solution. While athletics are very popular, academics are critical to ensure our youth are successful in their futures. Please communicate with the community the importance of solutions and what we can do as a community to insure the quality of education in Alameda.

Parent 3/5

Making cuts to high school sports is a terrible choice. And it is a choice. I'm sure a District position or two could be cut to save the 265,000 or taxes to Alameda business could provide that amount.

Some kids only keep up their grades to play sports, it's an amazing incentive. How will colleges look at these kids who are great athletes and could really use the scholarship opportunity? It's not fair to cut certain sports. Every child who has played soccer (for example) since they were 5 deserves the chance to play for their high school and maybe get a scholarship. Health, self esteem, friends, pride in their school/community..... Numerous other reasons.

Please reconsider!!!

Parent 3/5

It is with great sadness that I address you this morning. I was at your meeting last night until well past midnight. I too must make tough decisions regarding the future education of my sons. I cannot, in good faith, support a parcel tax that is not specifically ear-marked for high school athletics, AP classes, class size reduction, elementary school and middle school PE and music. I do not want the money (which will go up to $309/year, not just a mere $120) to be used "emergently" to save small schools or to pay for union negotiated raises.

Unfortunately, if we do not find other creative ways to save money and cannot specifically ear-mark taxpayers' money for vital services for our children, I will be forced to pull my two sons from the public school system and scramble to get them into a private school next year.

Please reconsider using the proposed tax initiative to save vital programs. I also request that the next time you come to the community with cuts that all financial information is transparent - including the salaries and salary cuts to the administration. I am a small business owner, and I assure you that when overhead increases and reimbursements stagnate my personal profit goes down. I must pay my employees, fund benefits, and keep the level of service the same no matter how the accounts receivables fluctuate. I can honestly say that it motivates my practice to make prudent contract decisions, purchasing decisions, staffing decisions, etc., so that we remain an excellent service and at the same time preserve our financial viability.

Parent 3/5

I attended last evening's meeting at Chipman Middle School. I am a parent of a child attending LMS and an Alameda property owner. I understand the situation the district and the board are in and I am not critical of the parcel tax proposal or of the unfortunately necessary district budget plan.

I am, however, upset about the poor way you ran your meeting. That Ms. Gibson sat there with pen and paper and did an ad hoc rewrite of the parcel tax proposal and that Ms. Jensen's attempt to discuss what appeared to be a major change was hurriedly dismissed appeared very unprofessional. If I understand correctly, Ms. Gibson changed the cap on the business levy from $7,500 to $9,500. But that didn't seem to be apparent to some of the other board members - except Ms. Jensen - and was glossed over in the silly arguments over sentence structure and word counting.

There was pretty much no discussion of this change.

I hope you know how this parcel tax campaign will play out in Alameda. We already heard some of the salient points that the opposition will make, either directly or by inference. They will say administrators make too much, that teachers are overpaid and/or incompetent and that the district and the board cannot manage money. I think your seeming inability to run a meeting in an efficient and professional manner just lends support to your opponents. Ms. Gibson arrived late, wasn't prepared and seemd to want to change the ballot language according to her ill-defined ("I just think it sounds better") whims. The other board members, with the exception of Ms. Jensen, seemed to acquiesce just to get it over with. And all this took place in front of students who are getting their first direct experience of democracy in action. Not good.

I hope the parcel tax passes. But people who oppose it are going to rightly say that it is just another burden the middle class places on itself in a society that already asks too much of us. I hope we all know that something more fundamental has to change. The first thing to change should be your approach to organizing your meetings.

Parent 3/4

It was unfortunate that the parcel tax came before the cuts because I know others would have spoken to the request that it be more specific to have proceeds generated go first to reinstate any cuts that were made last night (this morning) to things that have what I'm calling high impact to the students.

For example, athletics/pools, CSR for 9th graders, music to 1st and 2nd graders, AP classes. My read of the AP classes was that there may be some that will be offered 1st or last period at only one of the high schools, but there was nothing about transportation. There may have been others, I'm not sure though.

Music is specified under Measure A. Yet, that's being cut this time.

Parent 3/4

I learned today that a group of parents is threatening to attempt to “recall” any school board member who votes to cut sports as part of the 4.5 to 5 million dollars in cuts the board will be voting on tonight. I strongly oppose the recall effort.

I agree that eliminating high school athletics is unacceptable. The problem for all of us who want the best for Alameda’s kids is that it is also unacceptable to end the class size reduction program in grades K-3 by 09-10; to cut positions and programs at Encinal High School in 08-09; to close two or three elementary schools, a middle school and perhaps even EHS itself in 09-10; to end music education for K-3; to cut back even further on counseling and career services; and to lay off scores of teachers and staff.

I have been quite involved in a range of AUSD financial issues in recent years and I am certain that AUSD “district office cuts” cannot save anything even remotely close to the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary to save athletics or any other of the items I’ve just listed, let alone all of them. The Governor and the legislature bear the moral responsibility for these devastating cuts, not the AUSD board or staff.

So, while I think every constituency and “interest group” on the chopping block should advocate tonight for whatever changes to the "cut list" they believe should be made, starting Wednesday, we have to band together and work to pass the parcel tax to prevent ALL the cuts.

Passing the parcel tax would raise nearly 4 million dollars for AUSD and would reverse the proposed cuts. In contrast, a “throw the bums out” recall campaign by the athletes or the elementary parents or the EHS supporters or the teachers or the classified staff or any other group doesn’t “get its way” tonight will in the end make it impossible for any of those deserving groups to survive this state budget crisis. In the context of a recall campaign, we will never be able to convince the Alameda community at large to trust and invest more in the schools by approving the parcel tax. A recall won’t stop the 4.5 million in cuts from the state. What would the “new board” then cut to close the $4.5 million gap?

Whatever budget cuts the board approves tonight will be terrible. But the most important point to keep in mind is that we have exactly one chance to stop ALL these cuts and it isn't tonight: Beginning Wednesday morning, grown-ups in Alameda must work together to stop all the two-year planned cuts by doing everything we can to pass the parcel tax June 3.

So, please advocate passionately tonight for the changes you want to the budget cut list. But on Wednesday morning, we've got to wake up and move on together. As Ben Franklin put it in 1776: "We must hang together,...else, we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Please oppose the recall campaign.

Parent 3/4

I am very upset to learn that the Board of Education Department is going to close Alameda and Encinal High Schools' swimming pools due to the budget being tight. It is unfair to make the decision like this. You can not do that without Alameda's vote because we pay taxes to Alameda city to have swimming teams and pools.

Have you been thinking about how important the swimming and other sports are to our children not only their physical but also mental health?! The after school sports programs such as swimming can reduce children's illness, by doing that to decrease absence of school and cost medical expenses to the family; it also can keep the children be off the street to reduce the crimes in the island These after school sports programs will help our children get a college scholarship. That is why you can not close any of our sports programs!

Our children is our future! If the budget is getting tight, you should cut this from the jail or prison. PLEASE DO NOT CLOSE OUR SWIMMING POOLS AND OTHER SPORTS PROGRAMS!!! PLEASE KEEP OUR CHILDREN BE HEALTHY AND THRIVING!!!

Parent 3/4

When you take anything away from education, anything at all, think of what you're actually taking away. Think of the impact and the results - you will find kids lose interest, drop out and then ??? Strong students will be sent elsewhere as parents feel they need better schools for their students and then what? Families who can afford it will move away and then??? All I can see is a bleak future!

Parent 3/4

My son is on the alameda island aquatics. swimming is his whole life. sports is his whole life. you take away one of the many few things the kids life and it just changes everything. i just dont think it is a good idea for this to happen.

Parent 3/4

I strongly disagree with the budget cuts for the Alameda high school sports, AP classes, and music for grades 3 and under. High School sports is something that I really care about. There are 2 sports that I love and that is baseball and swimming. If we get rid of high school sports, it is like you are destroying a little kids dream or even ruining a carrier for someone right now. I would really like to enroll in college for swimming and baseball. Music is another thing that is important. It would be really sad to cut a little kid's time to sing and let there voice go out and shine. It would be very sad for little kids to not have music. And finally the AP classes. There are some really smart people out there who would like to get really good grades for college. If you cut the AP classes you might take away that persons future to be someone who does math for a job or even a scientist. So I say yes to use the back up money and save high school sports, music, and AP classes.

Student 3/4

I totally disagree with the state's new plan to cut the state's education budge. If they cut the budget then that means no more sports for High School, and no AP classes. I currently am part of a swim team and if the budget gets cut the pools will be closed. I really want a swimming carrier when I grow up and if I don't have a history of swimming than it will be much more harder for me to major in swimming for college.

Parent 3/4

I really disagree about the budget cuts for high school sports, Alameda athletic sports, and music for grades 3 and under. Please save education for Alameda.

Parent 3/4

PLEASE DEFER GRADE 3 CLASS REDUCTION TO 2009/2010 AS ORIGINALLY PROPOSED, AND CUT JROTC AS ORIGINALLY PROPOSED.

THERE IS A MUCH LARGER 3RD GRADE POPULATION THAN THERE IS PARTICIPANTS IN JROTC.

Parent 3/4

Do not cut school budgets. I am mother of 2 in the AUSD and everyone I know is appalled at the proposed cuts. Let's let our children know that they and their futures are # 1 priorities. Please stand up and represent us by telling the State to cut it somewhere else - like their own budgets NOT the budgets that affect our California kids.

Parent 3/4

In light of the budget talks this week, we would like to take this opportunity to urge the board to consider an idea most if not all the teachers at Bay Farm School are backing: a three- or four-day furlough. While we realize this would be unpopular with the unions and administration, it evenly spreads the pain -- a little -- across the entire district and spares our children (not to mention teachers who would be laid off in the current plan). In addition, this would not rely so much on a parcel tax that -- let's face it -- would be wildly unpopular, especially with the childless households in Alameda, of which there are more than those with children. Reliance on a parcel tax is folly, for what if it does not pass? What cuts would need to happen then?

A work furlough would cut enough of the operating budget so that our children are not as severely impacted by cutting programs wholesale -- probably forever. Anything that could be done to urge the district in that direction, it seems to me, would be an intelligent move, and one that teachers themselves came up with. Wholesale cuts would mean that more and more families who can afford it will probably abandon our public schools and opt for private schools instead so that their children do not lose out on crucial developmental programs like PE, sports and music.

Parent 3/4

I am writing to urge you all not to cut all high school athletic programs. I think that would have dire social consequences, without even consideration the great positive learning that adolescents glean from participating in athletics. Athletics provide a positive outlet for aggressive and sometimes hostile feelings that can be burned off in athletics. Team members learn to cooperate and support each other. You cannot learn these skills in the class room for the most part. I would be willing to pay more taxes to support high school athletics and other worthy programs that are on the chopping block. I have freshman daughter at Alameda High School and she loves water polo. She also played frosh basketball and she is in musical theatre. These are all positive and productive activities. I don't know how else teens can gather the lessons to be learned in these activities. This is not to mention the problems that will be encountered without these activities. I forsee real social problems down the road if these valuable programs are cut.

Parent 3/4

Regarding the posssible cuts and elimination of AP classes. My daughter will be a freshman at Alameda High in the fall. If AP classes are cut, many of us will be forced to leave Alameda or go to private school, because these days you can't get into college without those classes. I for one, would be happy to pay a fee for AP classes. It sure beats paying tuition for private school, and beats higher property taxes incurred by moving. Possibly a class would cost $100-200? And the classes are ususally no more than one or two per sememster, I believe. The coast would certainly less than what people have paid for preschool and day care when our kids were younger.

Parent 3/4

Please DO NOT vote to do away with all school sports. At a time when so many children are overweight and having health problems, no physical activity in or after school does not make good sense! Can we find other ways to save money without hurting the kids?!

Parent 3/4

Please save third grade! Third grade is such a crucial grade: it’s known as “the kindergarten of the upper grades” because it’s the foundation for everything that comes in fourth, fifth, and beyond. We introduce everything that’s to come. It’s our last chance to catch non-fluent readers, students with poor number sense, and behavioral and social problems before students hit a classroom of 32, in which the teacher is so much less available to help with these major issues. It is precisely because we have small class size that we are able to do so much in third grade, both academically and socially. In our current educational climate, and given current teacher salary and working conditions, it’s already exceedingly difficult to meet the needs of our students without burning ourselves out. With 30 students, that task is going to be almost impossible. The people who will suffer most are the students, and their losses will echo and resound throughout the rest of their educational careers. If we lose the small class size in third grade, we will see the effects all the way down the line through twelfth grade and beyond, and we will be paying for it for years to come. Please spare third grade class size reduction.

Parent 3/4

I know that each of you Board Members has an enormous task but PLEASE, PLEASE strongly consider keeping our children and their education as a top priority. We need to send a strong message that the children of Alameda do not deserve to suffer in their education due to some poor bureaucratic decisions made in Sacramento.

Parent 3/4

I am writing to urge you not to cut the class size reduction for 3rd and 9th grades. Instead, I would recommend that you combine the Assistant Superintendent and the Program Director into one position and that you eliminate the Public Relations position. That would send a clear message that you are putting the students first and making your cuts far from the classroom.

Parent 3/4

I STRONGLY OPPOSED THE CLOSURE OF THE SWIMMING POOLS AND END OF ATHLETICS PROGRAM FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL HERE IN AUSD. THESE THINGS ARE VERY VITAL FOR THE SUCCESS OF EACH STUDENT AS THESE EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES SERVES TO BALANCE THE CLASSROOM INSTRUCTIONS AND MOST SPECIFICALLY THE RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF THE YOUNGER ONES DEPEND MOSTLY ON WATER. I ENCOURAGE THE BOARD TO LOOK INTO THIS MATTER SERIOUSLY AND CONSIDER ANY ALTERNATIVE WAY OF MEETING THE BUDGET DEFICIT BY SPARING THE CLOSURE OF THE POOLS AND THE ATHLETICS PROGRAM OF THE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.

Parent 3/4

A major focus of our school district for the past years is on ensuring all students read, write, and compute on grade level. We have been making great progress in this area. It would seriously impair our efforts should class size reduction of 3rd grade and 9th grade English and math classes be eliminated. It is critical that our students have the academic skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.

Parent 3/4

I don't believe it is in the interest of our children to have to suffer and lose out on the proposed budget cut recommendations because we (and our government representatives) have failed to balance the budget and run the state efficiently. My daughter belongs to the Alameda swim team and is finally realizing the value of teamwork and fitness (she is overweight and disliked any physical exercise prior to swimming). We talk about a healthier California, and how our kids should be encouraged to participate in sports and exercise. Cutting this program (along with other equally valuable programs on the list) is wrong, very short term and has very dire long-term consequences.

Parent 3/4

With over 50% of the children in the US exhibiitng childhood obesity, it is a crime for the Board to even consider cutting sports programs to alleviate the budget deficit.

When did taking away from our childrens health become more important than taking a critical look at district overhead?

You need to take another look at how you will balance the budget without sacrificing the health of our children.

Parent 3/4

I am writing this letter to comment on the proposed budget cuts for school years 07-08 and 08-09. I may be different than many who comment as I have also participated in multi-million dollar budget cuts that included the loss of jobs. It is a very difficult position from which to operate and I empathize with your predicament.

I've tried putting myself in your shoes to understand the best path forward. Of course, smaller or no cuts by the Governor would be an ideal answer but that is something that cannot be assumed. Instead, as you are doing, a plan to absorb the state education funding cuts must be developed and likely executed.

My issue with the proposed cuts is that I liken them to taking our educational system from HD surround-sound TV back to the days of black-and-white mono sound television. The current plan eliminates color and vibrancy from our educational programs. As a Cal graduate I fully understand and support the need to keep our fundamental subjects whole. I also saw at Cal the value in diverse activities that helped to round out students.

I never participated in high school athletics. Nonetheless I am strongly opposed to full cuts of the athletic programs. These activities achieve a lot more than allowing our students to play games. In some cases they are what keep students in school. Athletics facilitate paths to higher education for many students. Without athletics some of these students will fail, many more will not achieve to their abilities.

As an alternative, I suggest that the twenty student classrooms in K-3 and 9th grade English are not required. Many of us went through all of our school years in classes with over 30 students and were able to succeed. As the parent of two AUSD students I would support this change. My experience tells me that it's not the class size that determines student success, it is family support and involvement.

Parent 3/4

Class size reduction is a much higher priority for all students going through the lower grades than some other items under consideration. I do not see any justification at all for supporting ROTC over class size reduction. Keeping classes small goes to the heart of what our schools are supposed to be able to do. ROTC seems tangential at best.

Please take into account the number of students affected by a particular cut, especially something that affects everyone so profoundly as having a manageable number of students in the classroom. Please do not get rid of class size reduction.

Parent 3/4

I am very concern regarding the proposed cuts for next year. I understand that the overall budget crisis is out of the school district's hands but I am not sure how you expect our children to learn when they are constantly under fire. I have a son going into High School next year and when I see the proposed cuts at that level I am frighten to understand how he is going to learn. Last year, the ASUD budget cuts eliminate after school sport at the Middle school level and now you propose the same at the High School level. What do our children have to look forward to and to motivate them to do better? My son is looking forward to doing sports next year and he is aware that he needs to keep a certain grade point average in order to participate in these activities. So, what happen now?

You are proposing to put a parcel tax on property owners in Alameda (which I am one) and to tax our local businesses. I feel that this is unfair since a large number of individuals that have their children in Alameda are not property owners in Alameda (and some do not even live in Alameda). I think that you should somehow figure out a way to charge me and every other parent that has a child or children in an Alameda schools. I am willing to sacrifice so that my child could get a good education in the town that he lives in. I understand that public education is not supposed to charge but when it is evident that we are in an extreme crisis situation. Then, extreme measurers most be taken.

Teacher 3/4

I am an Alameda Unified School District teacher and I am also a parent of two children who attend an Alameda Unified School District elementary school. The cuts you are proposing will affect my children’s educational foundation. During this time of economic turmoil, in December my husband and I bought a home in Alameda so that our children will continue to attend Alameda schools until they graduate in 12th grade. We will be selling our home that has been in my husband’s family in Oakland for over 34 years. I have worked in this district for 11 years and my children have attended school here in Alameda since Kindergarten under the Allen Bill. We have proudly expressed to other parents who have their children in private schools or home schooling how Alameda supports the programs that make a strong educational foundation for their children.

You are proposing to eliminate 20 to 1 in third grade. I wonder whether you have looked at the testing data for this grade level. The state has raised the level of academic achievement for this grade level and if you have looked at the data, you would have noticed that third grade is struggling especially in the area of language arts. Using “Measures” and the state testing data, we have noticed and documented that there is a slippage problem in third grade. At our school site we have talked at great lengths about how our third graders are not maintaining Proficient or advancing to Proficient or Advanced. Because of our concerns, we are now at our school site proposing and implementing programs that will give us, as teachers the tools to assist our third graders as well as the Kindergarteners through sixth graders. The ratio of 32 to 1 with no split day to allow us to meet with small instructional groups will not allow us to bring forth the educational impact we desire for our students. It will in fact be watered down our instructions because we need to tend to more children at a time. In order for us to make sure that all Alameda children are ready and prepared with a strong educational foundation to take the California State Exit Exam in High School, they must have an environment in which will support and give them the best opportunity to have a strong foundation in the elementary years. You cannot eliminate 20 to 1 in third grade without consequences of the grades thereafter. Third grade is a pivotal year in an elementary school child’s educational life. The number of standards that our third graders need to learn and maintain has increase twofold from second grade, and again, the standard levels have been raised. Proposing to eliminate 20 to 1 at this grade level is not a sound educational decision.

As for the proposal of eliminating music in the elementary grades; many families do not have the opportunity to give their children music lessons or introduce the enjoyment of music because of time constraints, job, and their family financial budget in their children’s elementary years. By the time children are in 4th grade, they have already formed an opinion about their musical sense and they are not as opened to the possibility of being a participant instead of a listener. Studies have shown that children should learn another language or even music before they have reached the age of 9. It becomes more difficult for them to process these skills. When music is taught in the elementary grades, it is taught to all so that all children will equally benefit and not just for the few children whose parents can afford to pay for music lessons. You take away music from the elementary school system; then there is no equity for all Alameda children to participate, feel, and learn how music can broaden the whole rounded child. I also believe by what I have seen from the history of other school districts that once you have taken away music, you will never put it back in our elementary schools.

I know that the teachers and community feel that a lot of the budget cuts have been directed at the High School level, but I feel many adults forget that the elementary years set the foundation for the child to be well rounded for what they could possibly learn in these high school years. We build the blocks that will allow the teachers in high school to refine and encourage deeper critical thinking in the High School child. We all have our jobs from the Kindergarten teacher to the 12th grade teacher. We should find other ways of cutting the budget that will not affect our students, but touch us, the employees of Alameda , from the district office, district support people to all of our schools.

Reconsider the proposal. Think out of the box so that it doesn’t touch the educational foundations of our children in Alameda.

Parent 3/4

The housing/foreclosure crisis is not expected to begin to ease until mid 2009. This is an educated guess of the financial community. The economic outlook is currently gloomy at best.

There is speculation that we could be headed for a recession. Therefore, it is possible that we have not seen the last of these “requests” by the governor to cut California school budgets.

What will we cut next? How about the following:

  • Every school councilor
  • Every librarian
  • Close the libraries/media centers
  • No computers/books available at school
  • Every Psychologist
  • Close/consolidate schools
  • Drama/Theater/ School productions
  • (ROP) Regional Occupational Programs
  • Custodial Staff, cut back

We have already cut $7 million in 7 years. Now we are asked to cut another $4.5 million. This is on top of a funding system that leaves our district and many more underfunded every, single year. This doesn’t even take into account the amount of money that should be added to the budget on a yearly basis just to make up for inflation!

Perhaps it is time to say “NO” to any more budget cuts. At the state level there are many more options to make adjustments for revenue shortfalls. Put everything on the table.

Parent 3/4

Please do not cut music in the schools. Our children benifit from music just like reading and math. In fact some children do better in reading and math because of their exposure to music.

My daugher learned so much in third grade. She was a late bloomer and she did very well becasue the teacher had 20 students. She received attention with learning issues that she struggled with since first grade.

I have a second daugher now in Kindgergarten. I do not have a good outlook on a public school education for her.

I may go back to work so we can send both children to private school.

Parent 3/4

I am writing to encourage you to not cut funding for high school sports in Alameda.

My son plays baseball for Encinal, and we are not opposed to paying a reasonable amount to support school sports and other programs, but this proposal to eliminate all district funding for sports is short-sighted and poorly conceived.

Simply consider how many students in Alameda participate in sports and enjoy the benefits of that participation for the rest of their lives. Given the robust youth sports programs of Little League, AYB and Alameda soccer that our children have enjoyed for the past eight years, I simply cannot conceive of living in Alameda without high school sports.

Our younger son wants to attend Encinal because of the JROTC program, so I would encourage you to keep funding for that program as well.

If we need a parcel tax or some other measure to fund the programs, including sports, JROTC and educational activities, that are vital to the character of our schools and out town, then let's get started on those solutions. But simply slashing entire programs such as sports is really a simplicistic and poorly whipped-together notion.

Parent 3/4

Please do not cut High School Athletic programs or eliminate the CSR program for grade 3.

Parent 3/4

I am having a very difficult time understanding how this Board can even consider cutting sports out of the High Schools.

Education is extremely important. How many student athletes do you think might possibly fail classes if it weren't for the minimum GPA policy that sports require? One is to many.

We complain that our children are overweight and out of shape.... and you want to consider cutting sports???

What role do sports play in our community? Just ask the young lady who had Down Syndrome and played on the AHS basketball team... or ask Special Olympians that are seen on the baseball field with the AHS baseball team, side by side in a day of fun for all....

As the wife of a coach, I can tell you that most coaches aren't doing this because of the huge pay checks they receive... feel free to cut coaches salaries. Institute a pay to play program. Any student wanting to participate is responsible for paying their way. Allow each program to be self funding.

By the way, since our schools are in such bad financial shape, I was wondering if the Board of Education would be willing to relinquish their paychecks... afterall, aren't you in this for the kids???

On one final note... in talking to the parents, it is apparent to me that people are prepared to move from our community or enroll children in private schools. I would venture to guess that you will lose more money in students leaving the district than in the small amount of savings from you will receive in cutting sports.

So glad that positions are up for re-election this year! I will be following your vote very closely and then be placing my vote accordingly!

Parent 3/4

While I agree that changes must be made, I don’t agree that they should be made at the expense of the children in this city. If we were to cut the school sports, we are essentially getting rid of every sport that Alameda offers – all youth sports – swimming, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc. Sports for a lot of children is an outlet where they can learn to cooperate as a team, build their confidence and make new friends, it’s also a way that keeps children off the streets, out of trouble and out of drugs and alcohol… which ultimately keeps them in school and helps to keep their grades up.

When I worked for the State years ago, as with every year a budget could not be reached and we were over budget. One way that the problem was resolved was for EVERY employee in the state – across the board to receive a 5% pay cut for one year. The amount of money that was saved by the cut, helped with the budget the following year. Alameda is one of the lowest paying school district in the county; however, I believe that employees would be more than willing to take some sort of cut 5% or less for a while as long as EVERY employee – top to bottom (that includes the superintendent on down) for a year to help keep sports and class reductions in tact. I’m not sure if you as members of the board have explored that avenue, but don’t you think there are other avenues to explore before making random cuts that affect the children?

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration to this and all other e-mails that you receive. I wish you the best of luck in figuring out this but also ask that you think about our children in this city in which we live.

Parent 3/4

I cannot say how upset I would be to have the class sizes increased in 3rd grade. My son who is in 3rd grade would be lost in the mix if the class was much larger. THere are a handful of students already that take up much of the teachers attention and I cannot imagine much learning happening if there were more children to manage.

I also have a daughter currently in Kindergarten at Otis, who deserves the same level of education, as do all the children in Alameda. I urge you to NOT increase class size in third grade unless you are prepared to have a teachers aid in the rooms making sure learning and not crowd control is happening for the students.

Staff 3/4

I know you had a late meeting last night, and I appreciate the struggle you went through to come up with what you came up with. As you continue looking at items, I have another suggestion for you to consider.

I would urge to look at cutting/reducing the secretary to the finance officer position. At the very least, this position shouldn't be a management position.

From what I understand, this position very rarely, if ever, works beyond an 8 hour day.

I heard CSEA say that there are 4 secretarial positions listed as management, and this is one of them. For the other positions, I think it makes sense because I believe that they work much more than an 8 hour day, and it would probably cost the district more if they were hourly employees who had to be paid overtime for all that extra work they do.

I would also suggest that they all have the same title to reflect that their positions support the executive staff of the District. I don't understand why they are all so different (it's confusing!) - maybe it has to do with when their positions were created, I don't know. But I think they should all be the same title, with the department defining them.

Example:
Executive Assistant, Superintendent & Board of Education
Executive Assistant, Assistant Superintendent & Educational Services
Executive Assistant, Personnel Services

or Administrative Coordinator, or something similar. This seems to make more sense. Just a change in title, not any money.

I also do not think the secretary position for the finance officer is even needed. The finance officer deals in numbers and spreadsheets, and she has two management positions under her that could handle running these reports. Does she really generate enough secretarial work to justify a full-time high-level administrative secretary?

Parent 3/4

I feel very strongly that you should not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. Although my child is in fifth grade and no longer impacted by this decision, I strongly disagree with this possible cut.

When my child was in grade 3, she suffered academic and social pressures that were very difficult for her and our family. Our third grade teacher is the person who became aware of her vulnerabilities and helped her extensively to get back on her feet. If she had had 12 more children in her classroom, there is no way she could have provided the individual attention needed.

I also understand that ROTC is still being funded. I consider this to be an unquestionable choice – between serving all 3rd graders throughout the district during a time that will impact them their whole lives – and a program for few at one school.

Student 3/4

I attended Otis, Lincoln, and Alameda High School, and am so proud to say that I grew up as a swimmer in the City of Alameda -- I began swimming at the age of 5 in Frank Weeden's program, and was a member of the Alameda Swim Team for over ten years. I attended University outside of the city, and have lived out of the country, but memories of my education and swimming in Alameda prompted me to convince my husband to move with our two young daughters back to Alameda. I have always been so proud and vocal about what a great place Alameda is to raise a family, so what you are proposing to do to the community with your latest round of proposed cuts is absolutely heartbreaking to me!

There is such a huge community of people in Alameda who are involved in swimming, and have been for decades. As I mentioned, I began swimming over 40 years ago, my oldest daughter is now involved in swimming competitively for the Alameda Islanders, and my mother is attending swim meets again. You are talking about affecting three generations of proud Alamedans, and I know that my story is not unique in this city.

I write to you today with a concern for ALL athletic programs in the Alameda schools, not solely for swimming programs. Athletics are a part of what keeps so many children in school (not to mention off the streets, in some cases). Many children continue to train in their respective sports in the hope of earning athletic scholarships to college -- how can you even consider putting our children at a disadvantage by eliminating athletics in the schools? There is a national epidemic of obesity amongst children -- do you want to be responsible for adding to it? Countless families will no doubt end up sending their children to schools and athletic teams outside of Alameda (if they can afford to), in order to put their children on equal footing with those from other communities, if these proposed cuts go through.

I BEG you to reconsider your position, and to think about the futures of our children, and the future of our city. Please don't make me eat my words about what an incredible place Alameda is for a child to grow up in.

Parent 3/4

It saddens me to think that our High Schools might be without a sports program. High School sports provide a much needed outlet for many, a reason to even attend school for others and a source of pride for all. The High Schools on the island will lose much of its identity if we take away the teams. On a personal note, as a mother of an 8th grader, we have already sacrificed a year without sports at the Middle School level. If sports teams are not available in High School, we will be forced to consider alternative options for schooling. We already have a daughter in a Catholic High School but our younger daughter was really looking forward to playing basketball for the Hornets. I can't even imagine how the current student-athletes must feel. If action needs to be taken, please take it promptly so that those of us on the fence still have time to consider our options.

Parent 3/4

PLEASE inact a parcel tax to take care of our budget crisis in the city of Alameda! We have four children in AUSD and we bought an overpriced home here....a parcel tax is not a great amount of money compared to the costs of private education. And besides....who needs private schooling when our public schools are so great!?!

Parent 3/4

I support the cutting of the JRROTC (or at least putting 100% burden on the Department of Defense)
I am against class size reduction for 3rd grade.
I am against eliminating music and early dismissal for k-3. In addition to the disappointment of not having music class, the childcare burden becomes very difficult to manage.
I support a parcel tax increase.

Parent 3/4

As a parent with children in 6th and 4th grades, it highly dissappoints me that the budget cut will greatly effect our children's education and the extra cirriculum that go with it. We specifically selected to live in Alameda because of the high quality public education it offers. My 6th grader has been a swimmer with the Alameda Islander Aquatics since 3rd grade. It is my understanding that the budget cut will affect her swim team, which will give very little if any access to the Alameda pools. My daughter has found much of her confidence and self-esteem from her love of swimming and being a part of the team. After trying several other sports, it was apparent that swimming and water sports is a vital part of her life, which we believe will be with her throughout her high school years. It would be a tremendous lost to her if she no longer could swim in Alameda. My 4th grader is learning golf and has potential to grow into a high school (even college) player. It will give us grief, if he too can no longer pursue that descipline. I write this short note, to request that BOE please consider all possibilities of keeping the high quality education and the extra cirriculum like swimming and golf in Alameda for our children and for a copius future for them.

Parent 3/4

Please do not cut sports from our schools.

Can parents volunteer an hour here or there to help the staff?

Parent 3/4

I am unable to attend the meeting tonight but want to express my strong feelings about the potential ending of the class size reductions for K-3.

I realize that the budget crisis is requiring extreme and drastic cuts by the district, though I am still hopeful that a parcel tax will temporarily stop them.

Given the need to balance the budget, I ask you to please keep K-3 class sizes small. My daughter is in Kindergarten this year and I can easily imagine how impossible it would be for a teacher to teach effectively to 30 young children. I value ROTC and high school sports, and all of the programs that are on the chopping block. But K-3 is the foundation for everything. There is such a wide range of abilities and behavior in the young grades that it is unfair to expect a teacher to succeed with 30 children in one classroom.

Student 3/4

This letter is in response to the proposed budget cuts you will be voting on this evening.

I would like to emphatically state that I am completely opposed to the elimination on the Athletic programs, closing of the swimming pools and discontinuation of the music programs as they will negatively affect the children in our community in more ways that you can possibly imagine. These activities provide our kids an outlet for stimulating their creativity, getting out their frustrations, escaping from the problems in their daily lives, developing healthy lifestyle habits, and setting goals and learning that it takes hard work and perseverance to achieve them. These activities teach our kids how to learn to develop and foster relationships, to work cooperatively and be supportive of other people, to manage their time well, and to perform well both as an individual and as a group and, most importantly, how to be a leader.

I spoke to you at last week’s meeting, detailing how grateful I was that I grew up in Alameda instead of San Francisco because of all the opportunities that were afforded to me by doing so. However, in 2 minutes, I could not sufficiently detail the ways in these opportunities put me ahead in life. Therefore, I would like to share some of that with you now. Both my cousin and I applied to the University of California at Berkeley. I had no doubt in my mind that my cousin was a shoe-in to get in – she went to one of the most prestigious public high schools in the country, Lowell High School in San Francisco, where she had accumulated a 3.85 GPA. She also had a small myriad of extra curricular activities and awards that filled about 1 full page when written out. Me on the other hand, I grew up in a smaller town with a less well known high school. Nevertheless, I had accumulated an overall 4.20 GPA with my honors classes taken into account. The biggest difference between the two of us, however, was the fact that the list of my extra curricular activities and awards filled 4 full pages when written out. This was mostly due to the fact that I played a sport every season for all 4 years of my high school career. I was able to fill the majority of those 4 pages with my sporting activities and the honors and awards that I received from participating in them. To make a long story short, I got in to Cal and my cousin did not. I am 100% positive that it was those 4 pages of extracurricular activities that made the difference between the two of us. Please do not let the lack of these activities be the difference between Alameda students and the other students in our state and in our country. Lastly, I spoke to you about the importance of keeping the swimming pools open for our community. As a swim coach for the Alameda Island Aquatics and a swim instructor in the city of Alameda for the last 15 years, I have experienced first hand the amazing benefits that swimming provides for the children in our community. At least one swimmer a year from our community receives a scholarship for swimming at the collegiate level and even more go on to swim for their respective college teams either as walk-ons or sans scholarships because there are none available. Unfortunately, because swimming isn’t a “main stream sport” like football, basketball or baseball, you would never know this. The high school swim teams and water polo teams have won more league championships than any other school sport. However, because swimming is not a “main stream sport” most people do not know this.

One of our swimmers Zoe Allen read a letter to you written by her teammate, Monica McNamara, in which Monica pleaded with you to not close down the swimming pools. Monica is a second generation Alameda swimmer. Both her mother Margaret (Stier) McNamara and her aunt, Ann Stier were Alameda swimmers. Both her mom and her aunt received scholarships to swim at Cal Berkeley where they were top performers for their team. Both her mom and her aunt were multiple winners of the Frank Weeden Award, which is the award given to the most outstanding Age-Group swimmer from Alameda and is presented every year at the annual Alameda City Swim Meet. Monica, in her own right is definitely following in those big footsteps. She won the Weeden Award last year, at the age of 10 years, old primarily due to her multiple top 3 finishes at both Junior Olympics and Far Westerns (one of the biggest Age-Group swim meets in the country that draws swimmers to compete not only from out of state but out of the country as well). Monica most definitely is on the fast track to earning herself a college scholarship for swimming and following in the path of both her mom and her aunt, but not if the pools in Alameda are closed down. Swimmers, unlike many other sports, must train year-round.

I myself am currently coaching a 7 year old swimmer, Lena, whose dad passed away a couple of months ago from cancer. She told me that swimming is the only thing she likes to do because when she swims she isn’t sad any more. Swimming is her escape. She uses it as a forum for channeling her energies into something positive. Lena is just completing her first year on our swim team. Despite being so “new” to the sport, she made the All-Star Team for our Zone and competed in the All-Star Meet this past weekend.

Our team, the Islanders, is filled with swimmers like Lena and Monica. We sent 40 swimmers to our Zone Championships last month and placed 10 kids on the All-Star Team. We had the highest percentage of our kids make the All-Star Team compared to the other 34 teams in our Zone. Please don’t let the dreams of these kids fall by the wayside. As a community, we cannot afford to let this happen – the results would be devastating.

Thank you for your time. I know your job is a tough one, but please keep the dreams of the kids alive.

Parent 3/4

I'm writing to strongly urge you to vote against cuts in the high school athletics program. If this funding must be cut, please consider only partial cuts, or cuts to be implemented at a later date. Both of these compromises would allow time for other fundraising efforts to be developed and promoted.

Teacher 3/4

Please do not make cuts in the Elementary Physical Education Program.

  • Obesity is a health threat to our students
  • 200 Minutes of PE per 2 weeks is required in grades 1-6 in elementary school
  • Physical education supports academic achievement

Parent 3/4

I know you have heard from many and that there are no good choices with these awful cuts but, I do still feel the need to put in my two cents J. I have no special interests to high school sports but I do feel that it is not the right thing to be cut. I know it would not save all the money needed for the sports program but I believe the smaller, non title 1 elementary schools (e.g.Otis, Edison, Franklin) could share a Principal. I say this as an Otis parent – Otis and Edison could have faculty meetings together, alternating sites. While, this is not an ideal situation, it is where the cuts should be made - further removed from the students.

Parent 3/4

We need to continue the athletic programs for our kids. This will not only be a healthy alternative for them as compared to winding up in bad company and bad drugs, but this is definitely a healthy lifestyle for them to grow into. As parent, I believe there is a better solution that just closing everything down to meet the budget cut. As parent, we're willing to sit down and see what we can do together to make this work for the kids.

Parent 3/4

We want to voice our opinion against the cuts that you are considering tonight. Mainly the ones regarding High School Sports and Classroom Size Reduction in 3rd Grade. These kind of cuts only affect the kids and are not a positive change.

I strongly believe the following:

  1. Protecting core instructional programs must take priority when deciding which cuts to recommend
  2. Programs that serve every child must be protected over programs that serve a specific population
  3. Class Size Reduction is one of the most important programs for closing the achievement gap

Parent 3/4

My older son, Robert, spoke at last week's meeting. Bobby is on AHS's water polo and swim teams and is currently taking 4 AP classes. My younger son, Will, is a member of Encinal's JROTC so you can see that both of my children would be effected by the drastic cuts the AUSD Board is proposing to make.

Sports are so important to our high schools. They are the hook that keeps many students involved in their education and motivated to keep their grades up. Swimming, in particular, keeps kids healthy in an age of childhood obesity. It is a sport that appeals to many young women. I believe AHS's women's swim team is double the size of the men's team. Studies have shown that high shcool women who are engaged in sports ae much less likely to have early pregnancies. By cutting sports, and in particular swimming, you are jeopardizing the health of young people.

Last week, you heard my son mention his long hours at the pool. Swimming is a sport where hard work is rewarded as much as talent is. And that offers an esstential life lesson. High school sports like soccer have grueling tryouts and do not have room on their teams for most of the kids who have played soccer their whole lives. Swimming and water polor at AHS and EHS are quite different in their approach. Everyone with an interest in these sports can join the teams. Kids new to these sports may not compete as much as the seasoned swimmers do in meets and games, but they are no less a part of the team. Again, these sports reward enthusiasm and hard work.

I've not really mentioned AP classes, but these classes are what sets AHS and EHS apart from small private schools. AP classes keep kids in the public schools and are essential. JROTC is so important to Encinal's sense of itself and I believe the board knows that no money would be saved by that cut when you take into consideration that the feds pay for much of the program and that an instructor would be hired to teach PE to kids in JROTC.

Parent 3/4

I'm sure as Board members you have the hardest job and we appreciate all the long hours you put into making our school community a better place. I know you will make the right decision for this city for the sake of our children. I would like to plead that children need sport. It keeps them in shape, mentally and physically. Keeping sport in school will teach children discipline and sportsmanship, a life lesson which they will use thought out their adult life. Sport activities WILL KEEP THEM BUSY AND OUT OF TROUBLE. Lack of team sport will increase truancy, drop in grades, and even behavioral problems. I URGE you not to cut sport activities for the sake of our children.

Parent 3/4

How did the 4.5 million figure come about? Why is this issue not evident in other cities? Where are our representatives? AUSD cutting 4.5 million will not affect a state deficit, what is the real need? Every elected official in the school district, our mayor, and any/all representatives need to be called to explain this and take responsibility. This should not be a parental problem, it's political so our politicians need to handle this.

Parent 3/4

do not take away sports from these kids. bottom line is that if you do, we will send our kids somewhere else and you will not be voted back into office next time around. dont do it

Parent 3/4

I was looking through tonight's agenda and noticed that there are only very minimal cuts from the central administration. I understand that they have been reduced like everyone else. But I'm disappointed that there aren't any proposals to reduce the administration cost. They've stated that everything was open to discussion. If that were true, why not discuss cutting from the curriculum and the assessment departments?

The core to education are the students and the teachers. The AUSD Administration states that they want to keep the cuts away from the classroom. Yet AUSD does many, many assessments at all levels that aren't mandated or funded by the state. While curriculum is obviously important too, why not suspend or severely reduce\blend their services for a year or two?

This is just one suggestion. I'm very disappointed that our admininstration hasn't brought up these and other suggestions to reducing our administrative costs. They have said repeated that they want to keep the cuts away from the classroom yet they aren't willing to cut from their own.

Parent 3/4

Cutting high school sports is the biggest mistake yet that this city has thought of to try and take care of long-standing problems. You should really re-think the long-reaching effect of this decision. The kids that no longer have these programs, will be out in the afternoon and that is just waiting for disaster.

Parent 3/4

Please do not eliminate High School Athletic Programs. This would leave hundreds of children without an activity that they look forward to participating in. Organized sports teaches children to be organized, leadership, team work and will keep these teens off the streets.

Parent 3/4

I was so disappointed to learn that the budget cuts had reached students in such a comprehensive way. I am sad to learn that instruction will be affected as well as extracurricular activities. I would like to express my concern for the elimination of all athletic programs in particular. I am an AHS Alum and was a student athlete in both high school and college. In fact, swimming in high school afforded me many collegiate opportunities that I might not have had otherwise. At the same time, being on a team gave me self confidence, taught me to work as a team, set goals, organize groups and taught me about leadership. I went on to swim in college, coach at the collegiate level and earn a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, writing my dissertation in the field of Sports Psychology. Eliminating high school sports would be devastating, not only to the culture of the high school campuses, but to each individual student athlete to whom sports is perceived to be "the only thing they care about" in times of pressure and isolation during adolescence. My children are still in preschool and we plan to send my oldest to Bay Farm next year, but my husband and I agree that we will look for alternative options to public school if these cuts reach the very activities that made our adolescent experience memorable and inspiring. We want to support the schools and take pride in our community, but this issue may be what drives us away. My husband and I are also participants in the Alameda Aquatic Masters program, and closing the pools would shut it down as well as eliminate a vital, energetic group of Alamedans who support the community in countless ways. Please don't cut athletics and close the pools. Thank you for your time and attention to this problem.

Parent 3/4

I read through the proposed list of cuts. Please do what you can to prevent shutting down sports in the schools. My son is headed to Alameda High next year, so we took a tour of the school and we are very impressed. We can't let our children down. Also, we can't close down the pools. We need the public pools!!!! How are children in Alameda going to learn to swim???

Parent 3/4

I am glad to see that cutting sports programs is finally on the table. It's time to focus on education, not athletics.

Parent 3/4

I strongly oppose the cutting of all sports programs.

This is not just kids running around in a field. It shapes who they become as an adult. It is an outlet, teaches team work,builds confidence,gives kids a constructive activity, a tool to decrease obesity and so much more. The effects of cutting sports is so vast from the simply forum of getting families together to how it will impact property value.

Please help in keeping our kids alive, inside and out.

Parent 3/4

I am a mom of 2 sons and I have to say that 99.9% of the parents are currently in denial that Alameda Board of Education will close a lot of great activities for kinds including high school pools. I believe that it will make a huge adverse effect on our community. I do not know a child who have not taken swimming lesson in one of the high school swimming pools. Alameda has very strong swimming programs that help kids not only to be water safe, but also helps our children to be active, exercise, be healthy and have goals in life. My son, 8 years old, qualified to be a member for all star team this year. I can not even describe what it meant for him and for a lot of other children like him. Because of the swimming they have dreams to be at Olympics one day, they do well in school and they want to excel in everything they do. It gives them hope, it gives them dreams! Swimming helps our children to get to great colleges and learn how to jungle a lot of activities!

One of the girls on a team recently lost her father because of cancer. Swimming gave her hopes that everything is going to be great, she is proud of herself and she believes that her father would be proud of her as well. A lot of parents put many years of hard work to build the swim teams. Teams have long history and many generations of swim couches.

Swimming to many children is not just a sport, it is a part of their life. Couches are great leaders that kinds admire as role models.. I strongly believe that consequences of closing pools can be so devastated and irreversible that Alameda will suffer from for many year. It is our children and we have to keep them out of streets and aim their energy in the right directions. If we, as adults will not do that, they will do it for us; however, there is no guarantee that is will be a good direction!

Please, do not let it happen. Do, not kill a dream for many children! Please, let them swim. Please, let them be healthy, let them be happy and let them to be a responsible members from early on in life!! Children like seeds, if we do not plant them right, we are not going to have a good crop! Children are our future who is going to run country in 20 years! What kind of people we want to raise? Does it matter! It does since they are part of our society, they are us!!!

Moreover, athletic team push children to do well in school and require the certain level of school attendance. A lot of children have a perfect school attendance because they are involved in sports. Now, State pays money to school for kids who attend school. Once we drop athletic programs, it is guaranteed that school attendance will drop that means less money for school!!!!!!!!!!!

Now we think that we can not afford to have an athletic programs; but the real question, CAN WE AFFORD NOT TO HAVE THEM???

We have to find some other ways to deal with budget cut.

Parent 3/4

After reading all the purposed cuts and reductions they all seem to be affecting the children.

What is being cut and reduced in the administration down town?

We spend a lot of money running tests that are not necessary because the tests are already included in the reading and math programs.

The state and district have no concern for the children and the effect it has on them.

Parent 3/4

I am writing to voice my support for high school athletic programs and for continued class size reduction. Please do not cut these programs as it will hurt our students for the rest of their lives.

Please take the time to re-evaluate and identify other areas where expenses can be reduced or voice your opposition to Sacramento. Children are our most important resource. Let's do the right thing.

Parent 3/4

As a resident of Alameda, one who moved here to make full use of the public schools, I am appalled and discouraged about the direction we are going. My daughter is in high school and has had an amazing education in the public schools. To make them less, by taking away sports and class reductions, is to send people to private schools. The pressure must be placed squarely on the shoulders of those in Sacramento to make the right decisions.

Parent 3/4

These children are the future of Alameda and California. If indeed you are cutting CSR to help preserve JROTC you are sacrificing the future of Alameda to fuel a war we should not be in!!!

Parent 3/4

It is easier to find funding for music, art and sports using outside funding streams such as PTA, AEF, and team fund raisers, than to try to use outside funds to try to re-institute CSR. Isn't it?

Our youngest students need the most help in training their focus. For the student's sake; give those teachers a break - at that age kids brains are at more varied stages of development - those classes require more personalized attention. I am certain 9th graders will deal with larger classes better.

ON THE TAX PROPOSAL BEING CONSIDERED...

How do you evaluate the benefit of quality public education to a parcel of land?

Is it different by size, value, or zoning of parcel?

How do you evaluate the benefit of quality public education to the people in a community? Is it different for parents, singles, couples, newlyweds, the elderly, those with mortgages, or those who rent?

How do you evaluate the benefit of quality public education to businesses in a community? Is it only of value to businesses that own land, or those that make increased profit from students because of their proximity to a school?

Shouldn’t all parcels, all people, and all businesses be taxed to some appropriate level?

How do you determine a “fair” school tax?

Is it “more fair” to those parents with public school students, who physically use the resource of our quality schools? (Some might say parents work hard enough for the schools – and this may be true in some cases.) Should each piece of dirt be taxed the same, or taxed by the size/value of the piece of dirt?

Do households with more people receive a greater amount of benefit from living in a community with quality schools than a household of one person? Should each person receive a small tax as well?

Is it fair that all to be taxed will be charged the same amount regardless of their ability to pay?

Shouldn’t there be an income based factor as well?

How do you determine what an “adequate” school tax is? Because we can only control locally the programs we can fund locally, how can any amount be too much?

How can you determine the maximum voters will approve?

What will happen next year if State funding is again reduced?

Without somehow having answers to all these questions how can you push for a new tax on the basis of so little study, so little research, so little planning, and public communication?

Don’t we know we are going to need more before 2012? Wouldn’t you take that bet?

While I think that AUSD has done a remarkable and responsible job at throwing this together, I think that our elected officials of the BOE should throw it out, and make clear in absolutely certain terms that the Governor’s proposal is unacceptable, out of order, and off the table. To do otherwise is to send the wrong message to Sacramento. It is time to draw the line.

Is there a way to determine how much of Alameda property tax SHOULD be going to fund State education? And most importantly; is this amount more than what Alameda receives in return?

Aside from all the ‘special assessments’ on property tax bills – is there a specific percentage of base property tax that could be determined, as earmarked for K-12 education? I would really like to know that number, if it could be determined. I know many who would choose to send this portion directly to AUSD, even if it is just for the sake of the message.

What will happen to a new local tax proposal if the State edu budget is increased to satisfy Prop 98? Will there be language to cancel this ‘Band-Aid’ if our State officials do the right thing?

I am sorry to ask so many questions in such a compressed time concept, and most of these questions are not intended to be rhetorical. This is just a symptom of this action being far to ‘rushed’ to make sense.

Parent 3/3

I just want to let you know that I am very disappointed that you are actually considering eliminating all high scool sports. Please reconsider and remember how sports help build character, discipline, teamwork and a sense of community. These benefits follow our youths into the work place and fosters a competitive spirit which our communities benefit from. Please don't take away this learning tool. It should not be forgotten that sports is also an outlet that helps keep our young people from doing drugs and alcohol and off the streets. We need sports as well as the arts. What will they do with their spare time? To eliminate sports will only hurt our future and our community.

Parent 3/3

Please do all you can to save sports programs in Alameda. Sports is such a huge part of our community's 'fabric' make up. My son has played sports in Alameda for over 7 yrs...and he is only 11 yrs old! We can't imagine what Life would be like without Alameda Little League, Alameda Soccer Club, Alameda Youth Basketball...and it makes sense that many of our children who participate in sports at a young age, do go on to continue some sort of athletics in high school--cutting high school sports now may make many families think twice about staying in or moving to Alameda. Some families may opt out of the public school system if sports were not part of the curriculum offered. Please listen to your constituents and do what you can to save Sports in our community.

Student 3/3

I am a senior from Encinal High School. Unlike last year, I understand why these cuts, as drastic as they may be, are being proposed. However, I do not see the financial sense in some of these cuts in the long run.

The first cut I do not agree with would be the cutting of all High School Athletic Programs. Although it will save the district money temporarily, it will also cause many students to leave the district for the lack of sports which excite students in school and keep others in schools. Moreover, by cutting sports, there would be a lot more students out on the streets and a lot less students managing to get into college based of athletics which often give students the boost they need to get into the college of their choice. Furthermore, sports also fill the pages of the local newspaper and bring together the community when there are games. An example would be the 2007 Homecoming Football Game which attracted thousands of spectators.

Another cut I don't agree with is the cut of a few AP sections, moreso in Encinal. I don't see the financial sense in this as AP classes do not cost the district more money to maintain than regular classes. Why not cut some of the other electives which have low enrollment? Furthermore, if sections are cut from the AP program, then less students will have the chance of trying out AP classes (especially in Encinal where we have open-enrollment). Less AP classes also mean less students which in turn means less funding for the district.

The third cut I don't agree with would be the Grade 9 class size reduction. Freshmen when they come into high school are more often as uncontrollable as a primary school student and as it is a new environment, these students need the attention of instructors more than the higher grades. Many teachers would dread teaching those classes and those students will probably not get the attention or learn much as I'd imagine (based off my ninth grade experience) that those classes would be too noisy for learning and uncontrolled. Sometimes teachers already have enough trouble with freshmen, they do not need even more in one class.

But I understand it is not the district's fault that such cuts have to be made. I am well aware of the proposals of the Governor. However, I am merely pointing out some of the less wise cuts as I believe that there will be a significant reduction in incoming students the following years if some of these cuts proposed are to be passed, which will in turn only cause the school district more financial grief.

I do, however, approve of the parcel tax suggestion as I think it will help out the schools of Alameda significantly.

Parent 3/3

As the mother of two future Alameda High School Student-Athletes, I am writing to you today to implore you not to cut athletics at our high schools.

Our children, who are currently in elementary and middle school, have, to this point, only been involved in the outstanding recreational sports programs that are offered here in our beautiful city -- Alameda Little League, Alameda Soccer Club, and Alameda Youth Basketball. Both kids have played since kindergarten. The benefit to both of them has been invaluable -- aside from the obvious health benefits, they have learned the discipline, responsibility, and teamwork associated with being involved in team sports, and have made lifelong friends. The importance of sports in their lives has been tremendous.

For many students, sports becomes part of their identity, their family, their focus. So many student athletes, who might otherwise struggle to find their way, both in the classroom and in life, find that purpose through their sports programs. Because of sports, many kids stay out of trouble and stay focused on their schoolwork, in order to maintain the necessary academic success that will allow them to continue playing. Without sports, some students will lose their incentive to remain in school, and as a result, will face a far less promising future.

It is unthinkable that a community such as ours, with so much wealth and opportunity, could face the possibility that our high schools would have no sports programs to offer our young people. It would be a blight upon the community, potentially leading to a decrease in population and the resultant tax revenues, lower property values, higher drop-out rates...in short, a PR nightmare for the city of Alameda!

I urge you to remove these cuts from your proposed budget and try to find some other solution. In the grand scheme of things, $345,000.00 is a drop in the bucket, and is a small price to pay for the incalculable benefits that athletics offers our students. Directly hurting the students, whether by cutting high school athletics, or by increasing class size for grades K-3, is not the answer.

Parent 3/3

I am aware of the very difficult financial position that the State has forced upon our (and other) School Districts. I urge you to find the way, the staff time and the creative thinking to pursue a different course for balancing our budget (or decide not to balance it this year or the next 3 years!). The cuts that are being proposed are drastic enough to force many Alameda parents to decide to move their children out of our public schools and into a private school OR to move out of the area all together. As a parent of 4 school-age children, I cannot fathom a school district with NO High School OR Middle School Athletics (those were cut last year), no music in grades 1 through 3 and larger class sizes in Grade 3. PLEASE reconsider this action and look 'outside' the box - there have to be alternatives (including fighting the State's budget cuts)!

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut sports from the AUSD budget. Sports affects the community in many ways. In addition to giving students a healthy activity in which to participate, it keeps them off the streets. It affects property values because families would not want to purchase a house in a district where there are no sports programs. As a volunteer and substitute in the district, I see so much waste. I see thousands of dollars being spent on furniture and larger computer screens when what was existing was just fine. Can't we eliminate some of this extra "pork" and not cut things like athletics and class sizes that affect our students?

Parent 3/3

Regarding the proposed budget cuts, I'm particularly concerned about the proposed realignment of Advanced Placement courses with enrollment as described in Exhibit E-1. Although I appreciate the analysis that went into this plan, to combine AHS and EHS enrollment in attending AP classes at either school, by offering the classes at the beginning or end of the school day will NOT be practical in terms of students getting from one end of town to the other in a timely fashion without disrupting the rest of their class schedule. How will my AHS daughter if taking a first period AP class at EHS get to AHS for her second period class on time, or get to EHS on time for a last period AP course? Same goes for a student attending EHS trying to get to AHS for an AP class. That isn't feasible. So in essence with the current plan, the number of AP classes will be reduced for both sets of high school students. My daughter plans on taking multiple AP classes in each of her Junior !

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. These instructional programs serve every child district wide and are vital to the success of the elementary curriculum. Please put CSR in grade 3 back on the 2009-2010 list to give us time to find ways to fund it going forward. Our son has a speech delay and still needs to have the one-on-one time in the classroom. Giving every elementary school student a good start is MUCH more important than a specialized high school program that serves only a few students.

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut the CSR for 3rd grades. Saving the JROTC at the expense of 3rd graders is not the solution.

Parent 3/3

We have 2 children within AUSD currently.

  1. We are strongly opposed to any plans for moving up the date of cutting the Class Size Reduction money in grades K-3. Core instructional programs must take priority when deciding which cuts to institute. Class Size Reduction has proven benefits and serves EVERY child in that classroom. We would strongly urge maintaining the small class sizes through Grade 3 and NOT moving up the date of cutting CSR monies to this Fall.
  2. We are also opposed to cutting music and PE time in Grades 1-2. Those periods should NOT be seen as simply fill-ins for core class teacher prep time. They enrich and enhance greatly a child's school experience, and I consider them an important core component of school for kids in this age group. It's integrated programs such as music, PE, art, garden, that make a school not just a "good school" but a "great school".
  3. Lastly, cutting all high school sports programs, including swim centers, is short-sighted and will create a multitude of other "costs" down the line. Just to list a few of these potential future "costs": loss of motivation to achieve academically in some former high school athletes, teenagers with no after-school sports programs to draw their attention instead turn to crime or drugs/alcohol, loss of community spirit and community building opportunities, decline in the physical health of our children and wider community, and so on...

We would much rather see us raise a higher parcel tax in order to avoid cuts altogether in our great school district.

Parent 3/3

We are absolutely appalled at the news that Alameda school district is going ahead with increasing class sizes to further programs such as JROTC. This is yet another example of the folly of putting military issues ahead of education-which is why education is in such trouble in this country.

Parent 3/3

There are no words to describe how upset I am that TAKING AWAY HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS WOULD EVER BE CONSIDERED! I have lost nights of sleep trying to imagine how under ANY circumstances ANYONE would ever think this to solve our budget problems. I am sure that you have not considered the big picture! This is something that in the short term would fill our streets with more kids wondering around getting into trouble for lack of better things to do, to effecting the whole city infrastructure by making Alameda a place with High Schools void of sports, a place NOT to raise a family. Once nationally ranked great high schools, would become schools that leave nothing but a bad taste in the potential family home buyer that may be considering making Alameda their home. The maintenance of the family environment that Alameda is famous for would be lost forever with an insane move such as this. THIS IS A BAD IDEA!!!!!!!

Parent 3/3

Like many other parents: I strongly believe the following:

  1. Protecting core instructional programs must take priority when deciding which cuts to recommend
  2. Programs that serve every child must be protected over programs that serve a specific population
  3. Class Size Reduction is one of the most important programs for closing the achievement gap
  4. HS Sports is crucial to the academic success and personal identity of many students.

Without HS sports:

  • many students will transfer to private schools--leaving AUSD with even less funding . *those students who do not have the resources to attend private school but are boderline academically, will completely fall away/disengage from academics --w/o the motivation to keep their grades up (in order to be on a team) many students' grades will drop, as will their self-esteem because their identity/success is around sports
  • many capable students will lose out on sports scholarships (and this relates back to private schools--kids who have a college future in sports will leave AUSD for private schools).

Here is my plea:
Please , Please do NOT:

  • cut CSR for either the 3rd or 9th grade for 2008/2009.
  • eliminate HS sports
  • close the HS pools

Parent 3/3

I have 2 daughters-1 in kindergarten now, and 1 going into kindergarten next year. Given the high ratio of special needs students in my eldest daugther's K class (up to 5 at one point) I can see how it will become utter chaos trying to rally 30+ kids. It's no easy task trying to discern who has additional special needs or behavioral problems without any history or experience with these new students. Our children are learning how to adjust to student life--that is demanding enough in itself. Please think of a better alternative, until the teachers have some grasp of what they are dealing and can divvy up the load appropriately.

Parent 3/3

I profoundly oppose the idea of eliminating High School sports in Alameda. I played sports in high school and truly believe that the lessons we learn in life comes from being a part of team, attending practices, representing your school, experiencing the ups and downs of wins and losses, but more importantly, building character, teamwork, focusing on attention to details, and prioritizing homework with athletic events create a balance to the students well-being. Colleges look for well-balanced students in their application process and Corporations look for prospective hires to be multi-talented with the ability to prioritze their work loads. Our future successes will depend on your decision. I urge you to review this issue to the fullest and to vote against the elimination of High Shool sports in Alameda.

Parent 3/3

How can class size reduction for 3rd grade even be considered? Isn't this a matter of law?

Parent 3/3

I would like to voice my opposition to the proposal to "Eliminate all high school sports on the island of Alameda" that will be voted on Tues., 3/4/08.

Parent 3/3

I am writing all of you to add my voice to the list of teachers and parents who are horrified by the list of district programs which are on the chopping block if the state imposes the budget cuts on us. I am a teacher and I am a AUSD parent. As a parent, I implore you to find other ways to save money than by eliminating class-size reduction and eliminating our music program in K-3. What a bleak future for next year's third grade students: 31 classmates and no music program.

There must be another way and, as a teacher, I have a suggestion. We need to find a way which calls for an equal sacrifice for all and a big source of extra dollars. I have discussed with teachers at my school that our district needs to consider a work furlough. That is, we reduce the school year by a few days and every single AUSD employee does not receive pay for those days. Spread out over the number of paychecks, I would consider this a small sacrifice to pay in order to keep our classes small, save the careers of those who will lose them and salvage our music program. I am not the only teacher who thinks this is a big idea which merits exploration. The time might be right for AUSD employees to welcome a short work furlough as a solution. Ask the AUSD employees before you dismiss this idea!!

Parent 3/3

I am a mother of two and a former teacher. I taught for 15 years both before and after class size reduction. I can tell you from personal experience that class size reduction makes a tremendous difference in student achievement. It would be a terrible mistake to increase class sizes for the lower grades. The only reason you're not hearing from more parents is because they don't know what's going on. Parents and students will be impacted terribly if you increase class size.

Teacher 3/3

AUSD has always played an important role in the physical education of our young students. Speaking as a graduate of AUSD, being on the yard playing games that were challenging and stimulating gave me a sense of accomplishment and value. In the last couple of years I keep hearing that all schools must have “highly qualified” teachers. My sense though is that having classroom teacher’s teach physical education standards is not HIGHLY QUALIFIED. The reality is that our classroom teachers don’t have the expertise, nor do they have the extra time (160 min a week) to work in the PHYSICAL EDUCATION STANDARDS THAT ARE NOW REQUIRED TO BE TAUGHT BY A “HIGHLY QUALIFED” PHYISCAL EDUACTION TEACHER.

If you ask any 1-3 grade students or even 4-5 student how often their teacher takes them out to do physical education NOT RECESS GAMES. The students will must likely reply not often. If the teacher does, it’s for kickball or just free time which is not under the CCR’s nor the physical education standards. A cut in the Physical Education program means that the classroom teacher will need to make up on half-hour of addition instructional time plus there weekly time.

Third point is that we as a district want to continue to improve our API score. It has been shown through research that a student who is actively involved in a physical education environment is more likely to have a healthy body and mind. At my school I have, very challenging skills both physical and mental. These skills transfer over into the classroom: angles, spheres, distances (geometry), oral communication, problem solving, socialization, history, and believe it or not reading/writing.

These kid's especially the ones that are less privileged need this environment for their self-esteem, body image, and general health. If you take physical education away from the students, shame on you.

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. My mother was a first grade teacher for thirty years and she saw only a few years with twenty kids in a class before she retired. She said it was the most important development for education.

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. We are the parents of an Edison 2nd grader, so this cut would affect us personally. But more importantly, these instructional programs serve every child district wide and are vital to the success of the elementary curriculum.

Parent 3/3

I strongly oppose the proposal to eliminate high school sports in Alameda. This would be a disaster for the kids, community and property values. If sports are eliminated our family and many others will likely leave Alameda.

If there is no money in the fund I'm sure corporate sponsors like Pete's, Wind River, Nob Hill etc.. would be willing to to get involved. Let's not panic but rather, get creative and find a solution.

Do the right thing and vote against the proposal.

Parent 3/3

Please keep the class size reduction.

Please count on my support on that. I don't mine to pay extra tax to keep the class size reduction.

Parent 3/3

As you currently work through the thankless task of trying to decide which programs to cut, I would ask you to consider the following.

  1. As the "island city" I think it would be odd for Alameda not to have aquatics programs at our schools
  2. At a time when childhood obesity is on the rise, swimming and aquatics programs are important for the health of our children
  3. In addition to the school swim programs, closing the pools would impact Alameda's club swim teams

I know we are all fighting for our piece of the school budget pie. Thanks for the time and thoughtful consideration you are giving these tough choices.

Parent 3/3

As a parent of a child in the 3rd grade, I strongly urge the Board to reject the Superintendent's proposed budget cut to include cutting Class Size Reduction (CSR) money for grade 3. I volunteer regularly in my son's 3rd grade class and I see first hand the need and benefit of CSR for the children. Children at the 3rd grade still require individualized attention and instruction.

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. I have 2 children - one will be going into K next year, the other is currently in 1st grade. Large class sizes in these grades will reduce the quality of their education. Teachers in these grades are already stressed enough. Why do we want to make their jobs harder? These instructional programs serve every child district wide and are vital to the success of the elementary curriculum.

Parent 3/3

I have reviewed the Superintendent's latest recommendations and, while I understand the reason for such a list, I find not one of them to be acceptable. Neither should the Board. Please immediately take the necessary steps to raise revenues and also pursue serious action in Sacramento to keep this from happening again. It's time to "Just Say 'No!'" to further cuts to the quality of the public education in Alameda. The consequences of not doing so are greater than can be borne by this or any community.

Teacher 3/3

Please do not cut class size in K-3!

I have taught in the primary grades for 20 years. I strongly believe the following:

  • Protecting core instructional programs must take priority when deciding which cuts to recommend
  • Programs that serve every child must be protected over programs that serve a specific population
  • Class Size Reduction is one of the most important programs for closing the achievement gap. (www.reduceclasssizenow.org)

Please do not cut class size in K-3!

Parent 3/3

DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT...
ELIMINATE all high school sports on the island of Alameda.

Parent 3/3

I understand the board needs to look for ways to eliminate expense. But really is eliminating high school athletics the correct way to go? I urge you to reconsider and find cuts in other areas. Do we really need such a top high administrative team?

Parent 3/3

While I truly appreciate the severity of the financial position for our School District (especially after the very thorough and clear presentation from the CFO at last week’s meeting – she deserves to be recognized for doing a truly quality and professional presentation!), I am disappointed that the cuts continue to primarily be addressed at areas that directly touch our students’ lives.

  1. I believe the cuts in ‘maintenance’ are truly appropriate (this will have minimal direct impact on our learning environments).
  2. I would like the district ‘staff’ to look for creative ways to make cuts – for example, the office clerical staff in several of our Elementary schools is quite generous and definitely not utilized in the most efficient manner. I am certain that additional savings can be found in many of the staff areas. Swim Centers – it appears that, much like the use of other District facilities, these centers should actual be able to generate revenue for the School District. Most of their use is by organizations that are outside of the school district and that are ‘for-profit’ organizations (Swim Teams, ARPD, etc.)
  3. I think the LAST thing we should do is cut the athletic programs – we already lose MANY students in Alameda (our own Mayor’s children, for example) to private schools outside of Alameda for the sake of Athletic opportunities. If we offer no athletics, we will lose many more students and will suffer additional financial implications.
  4. I believe we should, as a community, agree to going into a negative budget to send a message to Sacramento that we cannot continue to have viable schools in Alameda!

Parent 3/3

I strongly agree with what xxx xxx listed as the approach to prioritizing which programs to save:

  1. Protecting core instructional programs must take priority when deciding which cuts to recommend
  2. Programs that serve every child must be protected over programs that serve a specific population
  3. Class Size Reduction is one of the most important programs for closing the achievement gap (see www.reduceclasssizenow.org)

Parent 3/3

First, thank you for your hard work in such difficult times. It is appreciated by those of us who care about public schools.

I'm writing today because I'm concerned about the possibility that class size reduction might be sacrificed next school year so that Junior ROTC could be saved. I don't know that there is a clear quid pro quo on this decision, but it seems clear that when you compare the two programs, keeping class sizes small for younger kids affects many more children. My daughter will be in third grade next year and I know the value of her education has been immeasurably improved by the small class sizes she has experienced so far. I just don't see eight-year-old as being ready to handle bigger classes, much less the children in lower grades. Please save this program if you can.

Parent 3/3

Do these cuts automatically go into effect, or are they contigent on the passage of Arnold's cut-throat budget...which hasn't happened yet?

Parent 3/3

PLEASE do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. These instructional programs serve every child district-wide and are vital to the success of the elementary curriculum. As the parent of a fifth grader and second grader I have seen first-hand the transition required by fourth grade students when class size jumps to 32 students. I cannot imagine what this would be like for incoming third graders and the wonderful teachers that would also be affected.

Class Size Reductionis vital to the continued success of our students and our schools!

Parent 3/3

I strongly urge you to explore other methods of saving money in the school system other than eliminating sports. I suggest larger class sizes, elimination of any ethnic studies or bilingual education programs or sexual education.

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3.

After a long decision-making process, we decided to enroll our daughter at Washington Elementary rather than private school.

We have been so happy with our decision. We now are part of a caring, involved community (that is growing!) at Washington.

A large factor in our decision was because of the Class Size Reduction policy for K-3.

I understand that these budget cuts are hard for everyone, but CSR serves every child district wide and is vital to the success of the elementary curriculum.

Parent 3/3

I have two daughters in Third Grade and Kindergarten. I feel that their success in school is directly related to a smaller class size. The teachers not only know their name and general personality, but also are sensitive to the different ways in which they learn. As a result, my daughters receive more attention, gain more confidence in learning, and are more focused, paving the way towards good study habits and future success.

Parent 3/3

It is absolutely unacceptable for the schools to cut organized sports. What do you think keeps these kids off the street and busy and gives them self confidence? All three of my children have played orgainzed sports since they were five years old and it is the single best thing I have ever done for them. I don't care what it is you cut other than sports. Make the classes bigger and have fewer teachers. It would also be bad for the desireability to live in Alameda, I sell homes here and this would definately not be a plus for the community.

Parent 3/3

PLEASE DO NOT CUT HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS PROGRAMS. I am the parent of a Lincoln Middle schooler who will be attending Alameda High. Sports is a very big part of his life as well as many of his friends. Organized sports activities are essencial to our kids for continued growth. They learn teamwork, how to deal with wins and loses as well as keeping busy and out of trouble.

PLEASE DO NOT CUT HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS PROGRAMS.

Parent 3/3

Please do not cut sports from our high schools! Sports are extremely important to the minds and bodies of our students--especially since P.E. is only required for two years. Parents at Alameda High have already put in so much time and money into the sports programs--e.g., the parents paid for the tennis courts to be resurfaced this year. We can do more, but we need the support of the school district to keep funding these programs. What will happen to the students who are counting on sports scholarships to go to college if there is no more sports program? Please do not act hastily--perhaps give less to the programs and the parents can give more, but don't cut them completely! The students need these programs!!

Parent 3/3

I know you have many difficult decisions ahead of you in trying to maintain a balanced budget. However, I would like to strongly encourage you to make your choices based on the best education for the largest number of Alameda students.

With this rule guiding you, I am confident that you will agree that smaller class size for children in their first years of school is critical. It is in these first years that they develop the building blocks for their future - reading, and math skills – not to mention their joy of learning. A teacher’s ability to give individual attention to classes with 32 students would be severely impacted. Please do not cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. The extra attention in these early grades will more effectively provide them with the fundamentals to grow into successful students bound for high school graduation and hopefully beyond.

Parent 3/3

Please, please reconsider moving the Class Size Reduction cut back on the 2009-2010 list. This is a critical program that is vital to the success of our schools.

This is sudden cut would cause many parents to lose faith in the public school system and would result in many “jumping ship” for the private school system. (I’ve heard this from an unbelievable amount of parents across the district.) It would cause more damage than help.

Teacher 3/3

Why are there no district administrators and consultants on the chopping block???There are superfluous administrators,PR spokes person and consultants who could be cut with no impact on students. How about a ten per cent cut on the top administrators' salaries and benefits??? It would show good faith on their part, at least.

Parent 3/3

Please do not eliminate class size reduction for any K-3 grade. Programs that ensure a quality education for children district wide must be preserved over programs that serve select populations. I know there are many difficult decisions that must be made right now, but education has to be our top priority.

Parent 3/3

I am writing to strongly protest the proposed cut in classroom size reduction for third graders in an effort to save JROTC. Smaller instructional class sizes are vital to young children attempting to learn the basic skills that they will depend upon for the rest of their lives. It seems odd to make a cut in an academic program and instead support what is essentially an elective with little to no academic component. I myself went to high school at Encinal and participated in the JROTC program. While I met many wonderful people, the program provided little in the way of academics and led to future careers for very few students. There is absolutely no way that the JROTC program can compare in importance with class size reduction. I have a prospective entering kindergartener, and if class-size reduction is implemented, I no longer will feel that I can send her to public school. I hope you consider this when you make your decision tomorrow night.

Parent 3/3

I moved to Bay Farm Island in 2004 specifically for the school district. I have 8 year old twins who attend Amelia Earhart. I am fairly confident that if my neighbors were paying what I am in property taxes, there would be no budget crisis. The school district helps to maintain the housing values of us all, whether we have children attending the schools or not.

Parent 3/3

Without CSR in the public schools of Alameda, I, as a concerned parent, would be highly encouraged to place my three young children into the private schools that are offered in and around the Alameda area. This choice would be in the best interest of my children, but would not be one that helps sustain the high reputation that the public schools of Alameda have earned for themselves.

With CSR, I would feel that my children would get the same education from the public schools that they could obtain from any private schools. Help keep my children in Alameda's public school system. Bring CSR back to grade 3!!

Parent 3/3

Thank you for including me on your community sounding board discussions. Hopefully the feedback from the group has helped you in understanding what's important to the community, but the group has been instrumental in helping me understand our financial dire straits and instilling my trust in how district administration is considering and handling all options.

One thing I felt everyone in the group agreed with was when you stated that you developed the first list of cuts with the understanding that core education was most critical to our students and should be altered last and as minimally as possible. When discussions arose as to how the cuts might look unfair to West end schools, I also felt that everyone agreed that extracurriculars, regardless of where they're housed, should not take precedent over core education values.

So please help me understand why you have revised your cut list to include class size reduction in Grade 3 and leave an extracurricular in place. I was at last week's Board meeting and understand the large cry regarding inequity across the island. However, it's not correct, and cutting class size reduction before an extracurricular goes against everything that you stated were our core values. In addition, the community was silenced by Ms. Jensen in providing any opinions regarding class size reduction and school closures because they were not to be discussed until next year. So if it appeared that the community at large cared more about JROTC than class size reduction that would only be because it was misled.

PLEASE, PLEASE reconsider your prioritizing of cuts. Forcing cuts to core education across a grade level can not be viewed as being more equitable than cutting an extracurricular offered at one school.

Parent 3/3

I would like to ask you to please consider the ramifications of allowing 32 children in one third grade class. Not only will the teachers who will be laid off be affected, but also the reamining teachers and, more so, the children. All children, in particular, eight year olds, need more attention than they would receive from a teacher trying to teach up to 31 others. I know there are more factors that the general public may not see but I beg you to think about how drastically this would hurt so many people.

Teacher 3/3

The 3rd grade CSR elimination was slipped in after last week’s meeting where all other reductions were open to discussion. Even though I understand this problem is not the fault of the administration or the board (except perhaps in failing to aggressively pursue parity in funding with other districts after the base closure), I am disappointed in this tactic. I feel utterly helpless.

Now, having said all that, I’ll do the best I can next year for however many kids I have in my class. It will be after next year that I’ll reflect on my level of frustration vs. my level of accomplishment. That’s when I’ll decide to leave teaching or not. I have heard much the same from many other teachers. With new teachers leaving the profession at a rate of 50% within three years, I wonder how students’ needs will be met when veteran teachers flee our unsupported public schools, too.

Parent 3/3 90+ EMails with same message received on 3/3

Please DO NOT cut Class Size Reduction in grades K-3. These instructional programs serve every child district wide and are vital to the success of the elementary curriculum. Please put CSR in grade 3 back on the 2009-2010 list to give us time to find ways to fund it going forward.

Parent 3/3

I am shocked and appalled at the turn of events that occurred this weekend. JROTC for Grade 3 CSR? Is this the direction this district is heading? As a parent of a current third grader, I urge you to rethink this. Maintaining CSR benefits all children in our district. Academic programs must be protected before extra and co-curricular activities. Additionally, parents were discouraged at the last Board meeting from speaking on behalf of maintaining CSR by Board Member Jensen because it would not be considered at the March 4th meeting. At best this change is misguided, at worst underhanded.

I have worked hard to be supportive of this district. I understand that hard choices must be made to keep our district on the right track. However, I cannot and will not support a parcel tax whose disbursement will be directed by a group that believes that Alameda education is better served by funding an extra or co-curricular program benefiting 200 or so students, over a critical core academic program like CSR.

Teacher 3/2

I will repeat what I stated earlier: these reductions are virtually ALL being borne by the schools and the students. There are cuts that can be made at the district office: why is there so much office space for the number of people who work there, especially as students are being crammed more and more in our classrooms? It will be harder for teachers, parents, and students to agree to try their hardest for a parcel tax when the district office is taking such a minimal loss. For public attitude and appearances alone, there should be a sense of SHARED sacrifice.

Parent 3/2

I thank you for your careful consideration of what is best for our community regarding the formidable task of cutting $4 million dollars from our already thin budget.

My perspective comes from my position as: a parent of Alameda students for 10 years (xxx, xxx, xxx), a parent of a swimmer with the Ala-Gators who is looking forward to playing on the women’s water polo team a AHS this fall, a 5th year 1st grade teacher in AUSD (xxx and mostly at xxx), a property owner in Alameda, an AEA site rep, a health educator and a member of many committees between teachers and district personnel working toward a vision of excellence for our schools.

If the Board decides to move forward for budget cuts for 2008-2009, I urge you to consider:

  • The total number of students affected by any specific cut.
  • Board Member Forbes’ suggestion that CSR be considered differently at our affluent schools versus our Title 1 schools. (Although, schools like Paden, who have a high percentage of Title 1 students, might also be considered for continuation of CSR). Our Title 1 teachers have more re-assessing to do, more SST’s and IEP’s for learning disabilities to set up and attend, more documentation for at-risk students, coupled with less support from the parents.
  • Our high-school sports program certainly serves more students than does the ROTC program. Students without high-school sports will be less competitive for top colleges and universities. Isn’t there some way to create a transition to support from local businesses and athlete fees, without dropping it all in one year?
  • Eliminating grades 1-2 Elementary Music and PE affects every student in AUSD. This also ties back to the issue of reduced child care on site. If the way to provide for teachers’ prep time is through early dismissal, where are those children going to go with reduced child care? With children in school for shorter hours, what are we to sacrifice if classroom teachers are asked to fill in for music and PE? Write off math altogether? Reject the new social studies program or the new writing program?
  • Closing the pools affects not only all students who choose Encinal or AHS but our entire community. Many of my students regularly swim at Emma Hood Swim Centers in the summer, a low-cost highlight to their otherwise uneventful summers. We are surrounded by water. How do we put a price tag on teaching water safety on an island?
  • Our alternative high schools, though important for many learners, just do not serve the numbers that our 2 largest schools serve. Choice at the elementary and middle school has already been eliminated; perhaps this is a place we have to look.
  • Eliminating CSR for all 3rd and 9th graders affects all students in AUSD. Further, given this era of fast-paced curriculum that does not follow the developmental pace of children, never mind those on the slower end of the developmental curve, eliminating 3rd grade CSR will only leave more students behind. The pace of our curriculum already has us telling parents of kindergarteners that their child is at-risk of failure. Third grade is a last chance to “catch up” before the learning-to-read task turns rapidly to the reading-to-learn task. How are we supposed to meet the concerns of disenfranchised parents when we eliminate their child’s last chance to catch-up?
  • 9th grade CSR is crucial in preparing students for the advanced writing and critical thinking tasks of secondary education. Still, my prejudice is towards more support earlier, and so elementary CSR should take precedence over 9th grade CSR.
  • If cleaning is reduced to an alternating A/B/ schedule, I assume this also applies to district offices? If we’re starting to take out our own trash, I hope that applies to all district staff. The reduction of custodial substitutes needs to include some provision that bathrooms will be cleaned. The standard for cleanliness already appears to be quite low (kids are careless and gross), but we could have a health and safety violation quickly on this issue if we’re not careful.

Again, I want to encourage all Board Members to vote against adopting these cuts. I believe in public education and want to continue to work and send my kids to schools that educate whole citizens, not splintered and dissected people with no hearts and no joy. Let’s work together and save our schools!

Parent 3/2

I understand the need to balance the budget, but not at the cost of our children's education. High School sports mean more to the high school community and the local community than you may realize. AUSD will lose students through drop outs and changing schools--I believe this will ultimately cause the district to lose ADA money. Many children who have never played a sport join up in high school. If sports are cut, it will be extremely difficult to bring them back. I think Mr. McMahon's plan of submitting a deficit budget is the only approach that should be taken at this point. I think it would be sending a strong message to the governor, especially since the state is in constant deficit.

Parent 3/2

My son goes to Encinal. Why are the cuts (VP, clerical) not split between the two high schools?

Teacher 3/2

As usual, the superintendent fails again to 'clean her own house' first; that is, the district office needs a purging of its over-inflated administrative staff. With that kind of budgetting, I will never support a parcel tax and promise to work to defeat it.

Parent 3/2

Why don't they get rid of the incompetent teachers, say the bottom 10 %. They are a drain on the budget and do not teach our kids anything. My children had a horrible math teacher at Lincoln Middle School two years ago. She is still there getting a very high salary because she has been teaching for so long. It is a waste of my tax dollars. The interim principal would not address the problem because he said, "I used to be a teacher and we stick together". That is bull... We need to improve the quality of teaching at the schools - get rid of the bad teachers.

Parent 3/2

I can't believe that of all the proposed cuts, JROTC is considered important enough to save but CSR for grade 3 isn't! The Sup is willing to eliminate all athletics but JROTC is a priority? Why don't we just send all the kids into the military then we won't need High Schools at all?

What is with the priorities being espoused here? SCRAP the JROTC. What a waste of money! And how about some more cuts from the administration offices?

Parent 3/2

I strongly believe the following:

  1. Protecting core instructional programs must take priority when deciding which cuts to recommend
  2. Programs that serve every child must be protected over programs that serve a specific population

That being said, I feel it is a mistake to recommend JROTC for 300 kids at one site instead of preserving CSR in grade 3 or 9 for at least twice as many kids at every site.

Furthermore, the intention of the two year plan was to buy time to pass a parcel tax. As you know layoffs will occur by March 14th forcing the reorganization of K-12 into effect before the May revise, the June election, and the passing of the 08-09 budget. Rehiring and restoring the 13-14 staff members and classrooms lost in this decision will be difficult and time consuming. This program would be impossible to restore if the parcel tax doesn’t pass until November or June 09.

In my previous email I addressed how misleading the process was at last Tuesday’s Board meeting. Telling the public that they will have plenty of time to comment on the 09-10 cuts when they are addressed in December, then making recommendations to the contrary after the public comments were finished, deprived the public of an opportunity to advocate for those programs. These are the same people you will be asking to give you more money in the coming weeks. I am sure you all remember that we were promised that CSR would not be cut if we passed the parcel tax two years ago. The Superintendent's first recommendations honored that promise. This recommendation does not. Be aware that people are losing faith in the process. The decisions you make on Tuesday will do a lot to determine voter confidence; something you cannot afford to lose.

I came to the meeting last week along with 4 others that I am aware of to speak on behalf of CSR. I was told to hold my comments, and I did. Please take a moment to read the research and data available on reduceclasssizenow.org. Particularly in regard to how it enables a school’s ability to close the achievement gap.

I did speak on behalf of the superintendent’s original budget plan and on behalf of the parcel tax. I stated that it was our only hope to save these programs. I said that even though I knew there is a way to save CSR at 3 and 9 and high school sports without losing any other program. I didn’t say what you already know, and what no one wants to talk about. Now that you have declared “open season” on the K-12 program, I’ll say it, “Small schools are too expensive. They do not cover their own operating costs. They drain money from instructional programs that serve every child to protect the interests of a small select group. WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD THESE SMALL SCHOOLS. The cuts are too deep this time, and there is too much to lose.”

On Tuesday, you will decide which message to send to our children and the voters. You can either save CSR, an instructional program that serves every child or make JROTC the crown jewel of AUSD. The choice you make will have an effect on the upcoming parcel tax election.

Parent 3/1

Thank you for providing the update on the budget cuts proposed for 08-09. I was disappointed to see that the elimination of sports programs remains in the budget, and now academic programs at the high schools, specifically AP offerings, are being targeted. I would like to suggest the following alternatives...which may not be enough to offset the athletics programs but would certainly allow for the current AP schedule to continue. These are all reductions that could be made at the high school level:

  • Eliminate the one-semester Current Life class that the district requires all high schoolers to take. This is not a state requirement for high school graduation, it is difficult for students to fit this into their class schedules without taking zero period, especially if they are on a UC track and/or wish to take more than one year of performing arts, and, quite frankly, my experience is that the kids don't get much out of this (unless you want to count hearing about other students' issues/problems as a learning experience).
  • If we want our students to develop life skills and have a positive school experience, keep the athletics programs instead! Elimination of this requirement should enable us to save at least 2.5-3 FTE across the district. Stop sending home progress reports mid-quarter. At least 75% of the time, all that is noted is whether or not the student is passing...it's rare that actual grades are listed. Save the paper, postage, and staff time needed to complete this work, and just send grades home at the quarter mark.
  • Eliminate the Senior Portfolio. This project is of negligible value, the timing of it is such that it's due right when college and scholarship applications are due which puts undue stress on our high school students, and the English teachers, many of whom will have increased class sizes next year with the elimination of the class size reduction program for 9th grade, have responsibility for coordination (and, I presume, grading) of this project.

One thing I haven't heard discussed as part of the equation is how much ADA funding we are anticipating that we might lose if some of these cuts are put into place. I can guarantee that some students will look for other schools to attend if there are no sports programs and academic classes, espcially AP classes, are cut at the high school level. I would hope that before the Board votes to finalize any of these proposals that consideration is given to this.

I am a supporter of public schools, and have been actively involved since my daughters were in elementary school. While I'm not thrilled about the prospect of an additional parcel tax, I will vote for it...but I want to be certain that all possible options to balance the budget have been evaluated.

Parent 3/1

I am writing to you to strongly oppose the cutting of team sports at all levels, but especially the High Schools. Sports are too important to our kids. For some, there would be no further education if not for the ability to earn scholarships. Sports also encourage some children, who otherwise would not, to keep their grades up in order to stay eligible. Please do everything in your power to find an alternative to cutting Sports.

Parent 3/1

Words cannot express my disappointment at the steps that are being considered to offset the decrease in funds for our schools. Eliminating sports from high school? Increasing class sizes? Getting rid of the music program? Why would anyone thinking of raising a family even consider moving to Alameda with the meager state of our education? My first inclination is to get my children the heck out of the Alameda school district! But we love our community and are willing to contribute financially to keep our schools the way they are. I'll bet many people are willing to pull together to keep the quality of our education at the same level. The teachers have proposed a work furlough. Has that been fully explored? How about a parcel tax? Has that been fully explored? I strongly urge you and Superintendent Dailey to reconsider the strategy of how to deal with the budget cuts. The negative repurcussions will impact our district (and property values) for years to come.

Thank you for all your efforts in giving our children an education that we can all be proud of.

Parent 3/1

Please do not cut sports out of either Alameda or Encinal High Schools.

The proposed $375,000 savings would be reduced significantly because a large number of students (200+) will either leave the district to attend private schools or because families will relocate to other areas where high school sports are offered.

Parent 3/1

I am writing you encourage all members of the board of education NOT TO cut athletic and programs that are vital to the Alameda High Schools. Athletics create positive spirit and energy in schools that spreads to the community. The life lessons learned from participating in sports are invaluable such as team work, cooperation, and social bonds that are not learned in classrooms. I have seen first hand the positive development of students involved in sports. Athletics bring together students that might not otherwise become acquainted and creates lifelong connections. What message are we sending to our youth and the future of our city by cutting programs so close to the hearts of so many? I cannot imagine what trouble could develop with all the kids involved in sports and music programs with idle time on their hands. Families will not want to be a part of a community that has such disregrad for the students. Not every child is an academic overachiever. Many keep their grades u! p to be able to participate in sports, or see that as a possible chance to get into a college that they may not have had otherwise. Do not take those opportunities away. Maybe participation fees are the way to keep these programs intact. There must be something we can do to preserve what we have.

As a parent of three sons who have spent over a decade each involved in swimming and water polo, I hope you consider the value of the two swimming pools at the high schools. Alameda cannot afford to be without one of the few recreational options we have. Pool time is in demand by many groups in Alameda and a necessary venue for a family oriented community.

One of the best traits of Alameda is the sense of community. Please DO NOT make a mistake and do away with programs that will have a detrimental effect on our community's future. Remember the BEST interests of the students and community, do not short change our youth and take away the spirit athletics and music add to our schools!!

Parent 3/1

Cutting the sports programs, Music, JROTC, and closing the swim centers is a terrible thing to do. Children that have devoted their lives to these programs will be terrribly let down. Further cuts the years ahead will be inevitable due to the loss in taxes from property values as the Alameda realestate market sinks (who would pay 900K for a house in a community with substandard schools.)

Parent 3/1

I found the Alameda high student council member's comments to be very poignant and to the point. We are abandoning our responsibility to our children by limiting their education. It's very sad that we have declined to the point that we offer our children less of an education now than we were able to in the 1940's. Please don't make any of the suggested cuts!! We need to pass the parcel tax and utilize our local merchants to help raise the funds needed to keep our schools vital and enriching for our children. If you don't have decent schools, you will lose more than students; you will quickly see your tax base and revenue from sales tax wither away as families flock to places that CAN offer decent schools.

Parent 3/1

I am writing to express our deep concern with the proposal to cut school sports program in Alameda. If we were to cut sports in our local schools not only would the entire community but put our kids at risk. I am most concerned with the children of Alameda as well as my own 3 children who are involved in school sports. I am fearful that if the kids are not in sports they would find other activities to occupy their time that would not productive and they may get into trouble. We are begging you to vote against this proposition and find another alternative to assist in the the budget shortfall.

Parent 3/1

For my 2 cents worth – I’d be perfectly happy eliminating all monetary support for JROTC, as was originally proposed –

If all high school athletic programs are to be eliminated, will there be a corresponding decrease/elimination in maintenance of fields? Why spend $ on maintenance personnel, etc. (and including utilities, like water), if there are to be no programs – I think it really is a crime that sports and music have second-citizen status in schools in general (I realize this is not a phenomenon unique to Alameda) – At a time when kids are experiencing health issues (obesity, diabetes, etc.) and spending too much time in-active, it seems a shame to make this not only the first area to be cut, but that it is a complete severance –

Parent 3/1

Thanks for the update. As a parent of K and 2nd grade kids at Otis, and as a student math teacher at Encinal High these cuts are very upsetting. Some directly affect my own children (1/2nd grade Music/PE, 3rd grade class reduction), some affect me (different pick up times due to the Music/PE reduction?) but the one that bothers me the most is the elimination of athletics and swimming for High School students. I'm currently teaching Algebra I at Encinal High and many of the students I have in those 2 periods each day are involved in school athletics. It is key for them to have athletics and many of the families could not afford to independently sign their children up for sports outside of school. Also involvement in the athletic programs is a big motivator for those students to keep their grades up. I think the district should think carefully about the affect removing athletics will have on the morale of the student body.

I know there are tough decisions to be made all round but the teenagers need their athletics.

Parent 2/28

First, I would like to commend your intention to vote against the proposed budget cuts. This is a good strategy to shift the power from the state to the school districts. If the State feels they can run the school better, then maybe they should. I would additionally suggest efforts to recruit other school districts to follow this same strategy. This should serve as a wake-up call to the Terminator.

Second, I would like to know if the board has heard proposals for growth and revenue generation. I don't claim to know the interworking of public education. As ac businessman with experience with failed and successful startup, I have seen how detrimental a mindset of budget cuts can be without plans for growth. Without an attitude of growth and revenue generation, you may as well shut it down. To that end, I have some area worth exploring related to revenue growth.

  1. AUSD has a very compelling differentiator over private schools. Its called land!! AUSD has the ability to provide sports, swimming, JROTC and other services that most private school can match. That is the biggest differentiator and we need to leverage that. What is preventing a marketing strategy to all those parents sending kids to private school? Can a plan be developed to bring them back? This can significantly improve ADA revenues.
  2. Fee based services: What would it take to re-define 'public education' to include a small fee (semester, monthly, etc.). Just like public colleges, there are Tuition Fees (In-District, Out-Of-District), Book Fees, Service Fees (Sports, JROTC, AP-classes, etc.) and others.
  3. AUSD's competition, i.e., private schools charge anywhere from $500-$1800 per month. I believe, a fee of $200-$2000 a semester is far more acceptable than closing down schools. In fact, if you do decide to close schools down, consider making those schools fee-based or charter. Obviously, fees collected per schools should be spent in the specified school. Hence, I fully expect smaller schools to have higher fees.

  4. Privatization of Schools. In looking at the whole budget, next to labor cost, school operations is the biggest cost. Why not 'privatize' the schools, i.e., hire corporations and universities to operate a portion of the schools/campuses AS A BUSINESS. We should embrace change. AUSD has nothing to loose. Either AUSD changes and adopts out-of-the-box ideas, or the state in its infinite wisdom will do it. I would prefer we do it on our terms.

    This has been engaged by several school districts on the East-coast (NY, PA, etc.). This will allow AUSD to maintain a recurring revenue stream (lease of properties, revenue sharing, etc.). Outsourcing of school operations is a financially feasible approach. These operators can make reforms (that AUSD, as-is, may be prevented from making) and can generate revenues significantly greater than the ADA funded levels.

  5. Invite qualified Charter & Private School Operators (e.g. national nonprofit charter networks such as KIPP schools to for-profit companies like Edison Schools) to open a new campus on existing AUSD campus targeted for closure. - Qualification based on approved program (similar or exceeds principals' of AUSD) and financing.
  6. Privatization of AUSD. If the public continues to fund the state coffers with education-related taxes, what would it take to stop this. Instead ALL taxes (K12 related) currently assessed in the property tax for the state should be withheld and re-directed to 'privatized' AUSD. The revenue from this + combination of fees (as described above) should provide AUSD with the independence we need. Yes, it forces us to be self-reliant. However, it also allows us to make decision based on our community needs. It also allow us to stop those idiotic programs like no-child-left-behind, etc.
  7. Parcel Tax I recognize the proposed 'emergency' parcel tax is small and temporary. If we are going to spend $70k to the county to add this on the June ballot, why not add another proposal for a $500 (or whatever) permanent parcel tax.

The effort to market and educate is the same. Why not give the voters a choice ? What are the issue if we introduce 2 parcel tax proposals?

To make it interesting, if we include a proposal to terminate/withhold assessed property taxes to the State (K12 related) and divert that to AUSD directly, then you have a strategy that will shake up how public education is funded.

I have to believe, the total revenue proposed above will far exceed the $6000/student ADA revenue AUSD is making now. (I will defer to your CFO for exact numbers)

There are plenty of risk. The alternative is the State taking over. I believe there is nothing to loose. In PA, the state had to bailout the state school districts last year and required private operators to help with the reconstruction of the school system. We should learn from this and try to control our destiny. We need to embrace change.

I am willing to offer my help (if needed). I don't claim to understand the political issue you will face. However, my experience is in business development and strategy to turn failing startup. AUSD is failing as a business because your revenue is not in your control. This can be changed. I believe, the pain is significant and its time to embrace change.

I would like to understand if these approaches have been considered and what risk and issues can be expected if these are adopted.

Parent 2/28

I have two daughters who are members of the Islander Swim Team. They have both benefited greatly from their participation on the team. Not only is swimming a great form of exercise but they have also learned about discipline and team work. Our team relies on the high school pools for our practices. Alameda is surrounded by water and it is essential that Alameda kids learn to swim. Please reconsider the closure of the high school pools.

Parent 2/27

We shouldn’t even be in the position of having more than $4 million slashed from our district’s operating budget. But we are. Because the governor refuses to raise taxes and harm his popularity, the dirty work is instead left to the cities and the school districts that are bearing the brunt of the impact.

Our community needs to come together to preserve the quality of education in Alameda. Countless cities – including neighboring cities like Oakland and Albany -- have recognized that the only way to ensure adequate funding for their school districts is through parcel taxes.

This is not simply an issue that affects those of us with children in public schools. The proposed budget hits everyone in Alameda.

We will all feel the impact in a town with a long, proud high-school sports history, when the playing fields are suddenly silent; when, in a former military town, we can no longer afford to fund a JROTC; and when the students who used to participate in these activities are suddenly adrift on weekday afternoons, just hanging around, aimless and bored.

These cuts will have a ripple effect on the quality of life in our community, and on the reputation for educational excellence that draws people to Alameda and also bolsters our real estate prices.

If we, as a community, cannot come together to recognize the need to preserve the integrity of our school district, then we have not only lost sight of our proud history – we have also undermined our future.

Parent 2/27

Last night Board Member Jensen asked the public to hold our comments on issues on the 2009-2010 budget cut recommendations and speak to issues on the 2008-09 list. Before public comment on budget reductions began, she asked for a point of clarification stating, there was no need to address closing Wood SchooI, Class Size Reduction, and reductions in counseling services because those issues would not come up at the March 4th Board meeting. To which Luz replied, “That’s correct.” Then Board Member Jensen continued to say comments on school closures and CSR would be revisited in December, and the public would have plenty of time to comment in the future. No one else on the board or from the district challenged this notion, and we were all led to believe those item were safe for now. I attended the meeting with a half a dozen elementary parents that came to speak on behalf of the two year plan and specifically on behalf of saving CSR in K-3.

They chose not to speak after being lead to believe CSR cuts were not eminent. After public comment finished, both Board Member Forbes and Board Member Jensen asked the Superintendent to look at CSR cuts again. To request that CSR be revisited after telling the public it won’t be acted upon at the March 4th meeting is misleading at best. I have to assume those suggestions came after a night of emotional terrorism where uninformed as well as calculated comments tried to portray the Superintendent as an inequitable, east-end puppet who can't count.

THE PROPOSED CUTS AT ENCINAL DO NOT PUT THEM IN A WORSE POSITION THAN EAST END SCHOOLS. THEY SIMPLY BRING ENCINAL TO THE SAME STAFFING LEVELS AS THE EAST END SCHOOLS. AHS has 2 vice principals and 4 counselors for about 1,900 students;Encinal has 2 vice principals and 3 counselors for about 1,000 students. The proposed cuts put them in line with AHS and leave them better off than Lincoln Middle School which will serve about 1,000 children with 1 vice principal and less than one full time counselor. If people are going to rant about equity, they better check the numbers. Encinal has had more than their share for a long time. Please understand I am not suggesting they have more than they need or deserve, but they currently have more than the east end schools and still will even if these proposed recommendations are accepted.

I want to address Board Member Forbes suggestion that the Superintendent reconsider cutting a single grade CSR in an effort to protect ROTC at Encinal. That would be a mistake for the following reasons: 1)It is premature to re-org an entire grade level when we have a good shot at a parcel tax in June (or November). I just don't see us restoring the program even if we come up with the money 2)academic programs need to be protected before extra and co-curricular activities 3)It is wrong to cut a program that serves all children at every school to benefit a program that serves about 300 at one school 4) and again we were all told (and please check your TIVOs on this) public comments on CSR were “not really necessary” because those issues would not come up at the March 4th Board meeting. To which Luz replied, “That’s correct.”

Furthermore, the suggestion that the CSR cuts only occur at schools that do not receive Title 1 monies is the least equitable suggestion of the night. As you know Title 1 schools receive funds to support our district's most vulnerable students with math coaches, reading specialists, school behaviorists, etc. Non-Title 1 schools also have achievement gaps to close and serve low-income students, students at risk of retention and those who score below basic on standardized tests. ALL THEY HAVE TO COMBAT THIS IS 20:1 STAFFING for a few years and a handful of untrained parent volunteers trying to tutor children "in the pod".

Please do what you agreed to do last night and delay the restructuring of the K-12 program until 2009-2010. By then we will know where the budget and parcel tax numbers stand and decisions can be made based on information not fear and guilt.

Parent 2/27

Having stayed for the entire meeting last night, and hearing all the comments and passionate pleas from students, teachers, parents and concerned citizens I must say, that I think you are in the most difficult situation this city and Board of Education has ever faced. I urge you to evaluate what your true needs are and challenge this city to pass a new permanent parcel tax with will keep our school system healthy and allow us to offer the kind of education every student deserves. Please, please, please get a second opinion before hiring and accepting the opinion of the consultant you have selected. We need to obtain the most money we can and put this issue to rest. You can not continue to keep asking for more and more each year. The state situation is only getting worse. We need to assume that we can not count on Sacrament for anything. A sizeable parcel tax is really the only answer. It takes the same amout of work to convince property owners to pay $120 as it doe! s $1200. Please do not sugar coat the situation at hand. Get your message out loud and clear. THIS IS NOT A SITUATION THAT YOU MADE. It is a decision the state made for us. With the cost of private edcuation creeping up each year, a sizeable parcel tax is on only solution we have to our hopeless situation.

Parent 2/27

I feel the need to thank you all for working so hard on the behalf of my children. I know how difficult all the late nights can be, especially when coupled with dealing with hardships.

I have expressed some real feelings about this need for a parcel tax, I have echoed the statements by Luz, I don’t yet know what the REAL State budget will be…so many unknowns, so many reasons to lay the ‘blame’ elsewhere etc…

All that said, I also want you to know I will work as hard as I can in my little circles to promote passage of whatever parcel tax you put forward.

After listening to the speakers at last night’s meeting lamenting the amount of work for such a small boost, and hearing Tracy say that Ms Kahn is less than enthusiastic to do the footwork for an inadequate amount, there are obviously valid reasons to ask for what you really need.

The problems with asking for too much can be simplified. 1st - It is hard to imagine what too much is – for our kids. What does that look like? To some degree, a number is arbitrary. What ever it is will be spent. To a great degree, how it is framed is more important than the number itself, we know it will be within reason. A potential problem is Arnold releasing a revised budget for consideration before June 4th. Could he and his advisors do so, what would that do to our parcel tax ballot? My guess is that if he makes no such suggestions in March, our legislators may take some shots at him, but he should not make public any revisions 60 days prior to June 3.

I would also expect a low voter turnout, and you have a lot of hard workers, experienced at working on these school parcel taxes. In that way success feels more likely. I urge you to consider that at the expiration of these parcel taxes we will be trying to make them permanent. If the two parcel taxes combined were $500 /yr or even $50/ month, it could help a lot more than the $309 we would be looking at, if you follow consultant’s quick assessment. Even a dollar a day is just as easy to sell as $309/yr.

With an eye for the future permanent conversion I urge you to consider a ballot measure of $175 - $300 per parcel for residential plus $0.20 -$0.25 / sqft commercial, industrial with no cap. I think South Shore is getting enough of our money, even thru their ‘school benefit’ drives alone, it is easy to see the benefit to the center from AUSD shoppers. I also wonder if there is an option to tax the businesses independent of the land. This way, many companies at Alameda Point who lease space from the City could also “contribute” to our schools.

Whatever your choice for a number, I am sure many across the District, like and Earhart parents will certainly be more than willing to share their experience, strength and hope in training others to help get this passed. I wonder if the Measure will be able to state that none of the proceeds will be used for administration or even for the salaries of staff or teachers of the mandated basics – that it is intended for protecting CSR, arts, music, sports, and character supporting organizations like ROTC, after school care, tutoring, supervised homework groups and specialized teaching for at-risk or students special struggles, and all the other wonderful offerings that most citizens are not aware of. I also understand the danger of over-selling what we now have, and don’t envy those who must settle upon the ballot wording.

Parent 2/26

Please show us the way to sustain the complete, high quality public educational experience - which includes athletics (and specifically aquatics) - that the children of our community now enjoy. If another parcel tax is necessary, then let's work together to make it happen.

Parent 2/26

I am concerned about your proposed cuts to the school budget. Although there is a threat of cut backs by the Governor for the schools, so far no budget has been passed and no cut backs have been put in place.

It seems to me that currently you are using scare tactics to force those of us who own property in Alameda to vote for a bond measure to pay for school expenses.

It may be that a bond measure is needed. Your scare tactics are not appreciated.

Don't threaten the kids and their programs before you know what your budget will be. And before you cut the kids educational benefits, look to see where you can trim the fat in your adminsitrative budgeting.

Parent 2/26

Comments: Agenda item G3 - proposed elimination of support for the athletic programs at the high schools will not only affect high schools but also children who use the swimming pools for their swimming lessons. We live in an island surrounded by water. It is very important for children to learn how to swim, someday this knowledge night save not only their own but others as well. Sports programs are essential. Together with academics, they promote the total well being of students.

Parent 2/26

I am writing this e-mail to ask you NOT TO CUT SCHOOL SPORTS PROGRAM and NOT TO CLOSE POOLS!!! Sports programs including swimming programs are too important for our children. This really will affect health of our community as well. Sports programs keep our children healthy and in shape. Not only that, they prevent them from getting into mischiefs.

I beg you not to let this happen!!!

Parent 2/26

Well I guess the front page article in today’s Journal is one way to get a parcel tax passed!!

Parent 2/26

I've just reviewed with horror the proposed cuts. I realize this will undoubtedly be painful, but I have to ask how can a poor parent see what AUSD will be spending its money on after these are implemented? In other words, I see the proposed reductions but I've never seen a full list of the programs AUSD supports. How do I know there aren't any hidden pet projects that continue to be funded are less relevent to the District's mandate than K-12 education? For example, after all the bloodletting will AUSD still remain in the day care business? What about the adult school program, with its overemphasis on GED and ESL?

I'm all for pitching in to fund the shortfall and supporting a parcel tax, but not if I disagree with the District's basic spending priorities.

Good luck, and thanks for your hard work. In the meantime, I'm checking on the tuition at SJND.

Parent 2/26

The parents of youths which have been attending the pools of Alameda, CA unanimously oppose to this as a propose plan. This acitivity has a great signficant impact on the lives of our youths future growth. Closure would also threaten the nature of health care. Many students have overcome challenges. The chance for youths to excel and gain of confidence in achievement.

There are many that have become lifeguard through training at these facilities. My son started out as a tot in swimming classes at the Alameda pools and has become a competition swimmer.

This opportunity has given him the confidence that he can achieve more. He is now 15 years of age and still participate at the pools, as well as achiving other activities.

There are very few place youths can attend in walkable neighborhood and these communities are a part of that.

Alameda can continue to help our youths as long as the swimming facilities stay open.

Parent 2/26

It is a shame that we have to sacrafice our children's education and their well being due to government official misuse of funds and their inadequate budgeting. The education and well being of our children is our future. Capitating education and sport activities in Alameda community are a great TRAGEDY. I have three daughters, two at Amelia Earhart(a Distinguished school) and one at Lincoln. All three of my daughters participate in swim team (Alameda Island Aquatics) using the Alameda High Pool (Emma Hood) and Encinal Pool. If the pools are closed down, they will have no place to practice swimming for their upcoming swim meets. My daughters and many other swimmers have great potentials to be a great swimmer, maybe a future Olympian who will represent Alameda. Examples of great athletes born out of Alameda are Jason Kidd and Dontrell Willis who call their hometown Alameda. If the resources are cut, we will never know what kind of great potential our children hold. Sport activities keep our children healthy and vibrant, please reconsider keeping the spirit of swimming or any other sports alive here in ALAMEDA.

Student 2/26

I am a freshman at Encinal High School and a member of the JROTC program. While I could make an impassioned plea about the benefits of being enrolled in the JROTC program, I won't - because I know that every potential cut has benefits to those involved, and I'm sure you will hear many people give emotional cries not to cut their particular program or service.

No, I am here to appeal to your financial sensibility.

May I remind you that if JROTC were discontinued, the 264 students served by this program would have to be put back into regular classes. And I'm not just referring to PE. While there are curently 163 freshman and sophomore students taking JROTC in place of PE, there are 49 juniors and 52 seniors currently enrolled in JROTC as an elective.

Current Encinal PE sections are not just at capacity, but overcrowded, and Encinal would have to hire an additional PE teacher. According to the District's Human Resources Department, the median salary for PE teacher is $60,000, not including any future increases or raises of any kind. The estimated savings of cutting JROTC is $61,000.

And as far as the elective classes go, our office staff says that Encinal has no space available in art, ceramics, drama, or any ROP course. Encinal has literally no wiggle room, which makes it that much more difficult for students to change schedules or drop classes. Even if you were to deny every inter-district student (according to the District's Student Services Department, there are 35 freshman, 34 sophomores, 38 juniors, and 41 seniors on inter-district permits), it still would not equal the number of JROTC students who would need to be placed back into regular classrooms.

I also believe that the contract is written such that the District would need to give the Army one year's notice of intent to eliminate the program. This would mean the earliest this could be done would be the 2009-2010 school year.

The JROTC program (along with Marching Band) is something that sets Encinal High School apart from every other high school in the area - nobody else has this program. If you take it away, then Encinal becomes just like any other high school. If there were no JROTC and/or no athletics, then what would be the point of attending? Those students who cannot afford private school but who are residents will probably sign up for ACLC. Non-residents will probably sign up for BASE.

On behalf of the students being served by the JROTC program, I respectfully ask you to reconsider cutting the program.

Teacher 2/26

I would like to look at the past history of AUSD to present my out of the box thinking to solve the proposed cutting of music in grades 1, 2& 3. Years ago when teachers had three prep periods we serviced them with music,PE and media center. Media center saw the children for one hour and music and PE shared the other hour for one half hour each. The generalist would then teach any extra PE minutes. The third prep was a minimum day.

Going back to this schedule would allow the children to continue a strong music education background which studies have shown supports and enriches their academic performance.

When you are considering the cuts to music please remember to look to past history for your decision making in the future.

Parent 2/25

I am looking at the proposed budget cuts and note that there is surprisingly little reduction from the superintendant's budget. I think one of the biggest wastes of school resources is bureaucracy yet there never seem to be cuts there. Of the nearly 3 Mil proposed less than $45,000 is coming from the Administration budgets and the biggest cut there is to continuing professional development opportunities. Yet we can cut counselors, (a really needed element of eduction) teachers, the class reduction efforts that have been made, the athletic program.

What about a few layers of administration?

Parent 2/25

I am unable to attend this week's Board of Education meeting, but wanted to again register my support for the resolution to place a parcel tax measure on the June ballot. I strongly encourage you to vote in favor of this resolution. I think the proposed parcel tax represents Alameda's best hope for stabilizing our public schools' funding, at a time when we are likely to be impacted by a shrinking State budget for several years to come.

As a homeowner in the district, I consider the proposed $120 yearly residential tax a small price to pay to help maintain the quality of Alameda's public schools. Our public schools make a vital contribution to the quality of life in our city; they are one of several factors that have continually made Alameda a desirable place to call home, and have no doubt played a part in the considerable appreciation of home values across the island in recent years. I've lost track of the number of parents I know who have relocated from San Francisco and other neighboring cities, buying homes in Alameda in order to have their children attend Alameda schools.

As a parent with children in Alameda's public schools, I don't want to see any cuts to our current programs, but without approval of this resolution, and subsequent passing of the parcel tax, I think drastic cuts are inevitable. I don't anticipate that the State legislature will act promptly or decisively to avert the Education funding crisis we are facing, so we must take action ourselves.

There will be those who call for a longer-term parcel tax, or even a permanent tax. In the current, worsening economic climate, I think that would be very hard to achieve. This proposal addresses the short-term crisis we face, without precluding our ability to adopt revised measures in future when our mid to long-term funding situation becomes clearer.

And of course there will be those who object to any new parcel tax at all. Asking taxpayers for additional money is never something that we should do lightly, but these are exceptional times. Without this temporary tax, we face disastrous cuts in our school programs, cuts that have the capacity to impact the quality of life in our city for all citizens, not just that of families with school-age children.

Parent 2/25

I am opposed to the elimination of high school athletic programs. I am also opposed to the closing of the swim centers at Encinal High and Alameda High. These two facilities serve the public for much more then the high school use for sports programs. I am the president of the Alameda Island Aquatics (AIA) age group swim team. We depend on the use of these two swimming pools year round for over 90 youth swimmers. This program is an essential building block for young people developing their sense of personnal achievement, dedication understanding of the value of a good work ethic and setting and achieving goals. It is an extremely valuable program producing many leaders in our community. Closing these facilities will put these 90 + kids fro under 8 years old to high school seniors out of the sport. There is a second age group swim team in Alameda (Ala-gators) which would also be severely adversely affected by the closing of these pools. In addition to kids the adult masters sw! imming program relies on the Alameda High School pool facility year round. I am am member of this team and closing of the pools would also end this valuable community group. In addition to these year round swim teams the ARPD use of these pools for summer water programs is critical to the community. You need to realize the negative effects closing these facilities will have on a great number of people in addition to the high school students and high school sports. This item must not be approved.

Parent 2/25

KEEP WILL C. WOOD SCHOOL OPEN

I am very concerned about the school's proposed budget cuts and the proposal of closing Wood School again. We fought this battle last year and were fortunate enough to keep the school open and save jobs. Again, I am asking for your help in keeping Wood School open.

Closing schools and consolidation is not the answer. How large will the student to teacher ratio become then? Cutting school programs for our kids is not the answer either. We need to convince State legislators not to cut funding from education.

Please remember - it's about our children, our future, and what is best for them. They deserve to have a good foundation, a good school, good teachers, which will help pave the way to a bright future.

I urge you to make the right decision and keep Wood School (and all Alameda schools) Open.

Parent 2/25

I am opposed to the elimination of high school athletic programs. I am also opposed to the closing of the swim centers at Encinal High and Alameda High. These two facilities serve the public for much more then the high school use for sports programs. I am the president of the Alameda Island Aquatics (AIA) age group swim team. We depend on the use of these two swimming pools year round for over 90 youth swimmers. This program is an essential building block for young people developing their sense of personnal achievement, dedication understanding of the value of a good work ethic and setting and achieving goals. It is an extremely valuable program producing many leaders in our community. Closing these facilities will put these 90 + kids fro under 8 years old to high school seniors out of the sport. There is a second age group swim team in Alameda (Ala-gators) which would also be severely adversely affected by the closing of these pools. In addition to kids the adult masters sw! imming program relies on the Alameda High School pool facility year round. I am am member of this team and closing of the pools would also end this valuable community group. In addition to these year round swim teams the ARPD use of these pools for summer water programs is critical to the community. You need to realize the negative effects closing these facilities will have on a great number of people in addition to the high school students and high school sports. This item must not be approved.

Teacher 2/25

I am enraged that our politicians and voters in this state do not have the good sense to set aside public money in good economic times to keep our essential services functioning at an appropriate level in bad economic times. I am also appalled that cuts are being made "across the board" of all public services rather than allocating money based on priorities. But, here we are.

I want to encourage the board to CONSOLIDATE SERVICES rather than ELIMINATE SERVICES in our public schools. I think that it is much better to provide quality education at fewer sites than inferior education at more sites. he same is true for administrative services.

Please do not as PROPERTY OWNERS to hand over more money for schools. It is not an equitable method of raising revenue. EVERY PERSON WHO LIVES, WORKS, OR RECEIVES SERVICES/GOODS in Alameda benefits from good public schools in Alameda. They should ALL contribute to their health. As an owner of a very modest town home, I am not likely to vote for another parcel tax, in spite of the fact that I have a child in an Alameda public school.

If, after consolidating services as much as the district can, there is still a deficit, may I suggest that you consider an equitable way of raising money: property tax that is commensurate with he VALUE of each residential and business property, sales tax, income tax, utility tax, etc. Be creative and fair. Any new tax should be TIME LIMITED, scheduled to end when the economy improves.

Parent 2/25

I AM URGING YOU,AS A PARENT AND HOMEOWNER IN ALAMEDA, TO KEEP WOOD SCHOOL OPEN:KEEP NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS. THESE PROPOSALS ARE NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR CHILDREN AS THEY UNDERMINE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION CHILDREN DESERVE.

Parent 2/24

In response to the discussion regarding a parcel tax, might the school board consider a 'service tax' or adding on to the current sales tax?

Parcel taxes by definition are not equitable. Our home is taxed the same way an apartment building is taxed which has more residents, some most likely children. Parcel owners are already paying to the hospital district. I know a parcel tax is a dependable amount and a tax on sales is dependent on the economy, but has the board considered this option? Maybe give voters a choice.

By adding for example, a quarter cent on to the existing sales tax, how much money could the schools potentially receive? Everyone who purchases in Alameda would contribute. I don't think increasing the sales tax from 8.75 to 9% would particularly scare off purchasers.

The Alameda Towne Centre mall saw a jump of 10.4 percent in sales tax collection. ( had Target been allowed to come to Alameda, more sales tax would have been generated, SL )

'Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson urged Alameda residents to do more shopping on the Island, saying that when Alameda residents shop elsewhere, they essentially pay for infrastructure and services in other cities. The average per capita sales tax revenue collected statewide is $141, and $148 in Alameda County. The figure in Alameda is $74.' from the Sun Newspaper

Parent 2/24

Once again there seems to be significant focus on budget pressures. Yet the published district budget lacks detail, except in areas of planned cuts. Greater transparency at line items and even on a cost per school basis would be appreciated.

I found this website with more detail. http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/.

Interestingly it appears to indicate that Alameda ADA revenue exceeds the state average. Hmmm ?

In addition, on this link from the Lincoln Middle school site, I found Alameda spends more than double for administrator salaries as compared to other districts. Yet, it appears the only thing the superintendent proposes to the board next week is a small clerical cut for administration. http://www.axiomadvisors.net/livesarc/Presentation/SARCAdministration/Portals/Portal1/Detailaspx?CDS=01611196090054&LanguageID=1&Preview=False&Category=+&DivID=DSR

Finally, there seems to be a direction of bigger is more efficient. “Lets close some schools to save money.” Theoretically this works as it provides a broader base and thus more program offerings. But in reality, bigger leads to lack of accountability. My son goes to Lincoln Middle School and it is overwhelming to students and parents. Is there a correlation of less participation in the LMS PTA than we found at his elementary school ? Studies are provided on the Gates Foundation site and they now fund efforts to drive back to smaller schools and accountability in the nation’s largest school districts. The charter schools movement is also partially based on this smaller principle.

Alameda should encourage the local schools to thrive, reward them for excellence and leadership, and allow for individuality. Needs at Edison school are met because parents are involved and willing to make a difference – encourage that sprit. The goal of equity must not lead us to the lowest common denominator. Change the focus from “no child left behind” to “excellence out in front”. For example, highlight the AP program success and drive that high achiever mentality even into the middle schools. Allow the parents to come together and help with after school sports and various other items on the chopping block – it’s that involvement and their willingness to fund/volunteer that will make a real difference.

I know the data is always subject to interpretation and that you spend a lot of time looking at these details.

However, greater transparency is needed, scrutiny of admin spend is expected of the board, and local involvement is essential – particularly if we are headed to an additional parcel tax vote.

Community member 2/24

In order to pass any parcel tax, we will have to mount a campaign that will involve the time and effort of everyone in the community who cares about kids. I have lived through discussion upon discussion as to how much to ask for--the pundits say go for a minimum or it will not pass. I don't think that a minimum parcel tax is worth my time or effort, since it is like spitting in the ocean. I will of course vote for whatever the board decides to do, however I do not want to work for the passage of a tax that will send us back to the drawing board or one that will not really do the job that needs to be done.

Parent 2/23

We do appreciate the gravity of the current budget situation. Our daughter is headed to AHS in the fall. We just took her on the AHS 8th grade tour this past week.

We believe in public education and are prepared to do what it takes to make her education experience a good one for the next 4 years. If that means a parcel tax, so be it.

Community Member 2/23

The School District is suggesting another "emergency" parcel tax. This is not an emergency, it is bad planning. When the last "emergency" parcel tax went on the ballot in 2006 I warned the School Board that in a year or two we would be back in exactly the same place. I am not a prophet. The situation was foreseeable. Yet, Superintendent Daily and the Board has taken no action.

Back then I suggested we research and place on the ballot a square footage tax. Berkeley has had square footage taxes funding the Berkeley Library and their School District since 1980. Of course, such a tax would take work to research and calculate. It is not as easy as a parcel tax. But Berkeley did it by hand in 1980, we now have computers. A parcel tax is regressive. The fair system we used to have, a tax based on value, is prohibited by Proposition 13. A square footage tax is much more fair because square footage mirrors value. A square footage tax could:

  1. Replace all of our current regressive parcel taxes
  2. Lower the amount of tax the average Alamedan pays
  3. Have different rates for business and residential property
  4. Include a cost of living inflation factor creating a more stable funding base
  5. The School Board could decide to raise the tax only to the limit of the inflation index
  6. Bring in more money than our current parcel taxes

This is not rocket science, nor is it something new and untried. It only takes planning ahead and asking Alamedans how they want their schools run before another "emergency" occurs.

Parent 2/21

I was reading about the last council meeting and wanted to weigh in. I think the GOvernor's plan is ridiculous and am offended as a voter to have my will so disregarded. We have voted to increase parcel taxes and all other requests to ensure our future -- our children are as educated as possible.

I do disagree that neighborhood school is the most important thing. I think class size and qualified teachers are much more important. It would be great to have all our children walk 2 blocks to school, but that is not the reality anymore, it's not the 60's, 70's or even 80's when elementary schools were just a few hundred students and funding was a different story.

Many of us are in a situation that requires our kids to go to schools farther than a few blocks. I'm offended my the parents who think they have a right to keep their school small when the rest of us have school sizes of close to 600. Join the rest of us and see the world w/ non rose colored glasses -- this is the new reality. It's happening everywhere not just Alameda. HOw many of us realized this and are doing our best to live w/ it, vs. those at the more effluent addresses in Alameda seeing it as their right!

We look at it as our daughter (2nd grade) and son who will be going to school in 2 years, as an opportunity to really see diversity and learn to get along w/ people.

Please do not give up on the small class sizes, they make such a difference in our childrens' lives.

Teacher 2/21

Recent discussions over anticipated budget cuts in our district have prompted me to write this letter. I appreciate the letter writing efforts being spearheaded by our PTA council, but I truly believe that this response is inadequate. I believe that the current political climate demands a stronger and perhaps more “militant” response.

I truly believe it is time for all of the school districts and unions in public schools in California to say that we will not continue trying to make horribly insufficient budgets work, and that rather than cut our educational programs further we will shut the schools down for a month or whatever it takes until the needs of our students can be adequately funded. I believe this is the only reasonable response on the part of Alameda Unified School District and our unions to the budget cuts we are facing at this time. We have already made too many cuts in our programs, and it is simply impossible to educate our students adequately if we are forced to make any more budget cuts. I really believe it is time for us to take this position publicly.

I think it is time for everyone who cares about public education in California to publicly and vociferously discuss each of the following issues:

  • Per pupil spending in California compared not only to other states (which are also inadequately funded) but to private school tuitions. We need to make the point that as long as public schools are funded at the current rate, only families who can afford to pay for private schools and private tutors will get an adequate education, and anyone who allows this to happen is endorsing that kind of inequality and supporting the idea that only the already-privileged should be educated.
  • Class sizes in public schools compared to class sizes in private schools. We need to point out that 35 students per class is too large to reach students in any grade level, and that rather than eliminating funding for class size reduction, funding to achieve this goal needs to be increased.
  • The fact that public schools need to provide special services for students with learning disabilities (special education), students who are learning English (we need to support Sheltered instruction at all grade levels so that students can learn English and their other academic subjects at the same time), and students whose life circumstances require that we provide them with counseling, medical care, food, and other needs in order to give them a chance to learn. We need to make the public understand that without these services, we are dooming all of these students to second-class citizenship, and again raise the issue of fairness – why should only those who can afford a private education and already have favorable life circumstances be entitled to education?
  • The way that No Child Left Behind and other standardized-test driven policies actually punish schools and children with the neediest student populations by taking more money away from those schools, so that the inequities discussed above are actually increased by these policies.

If we don’t start taking these positions publicly, and refusing, as a unified force, to accept a completely inadequate level of funding for public education, the following things will continue to happen, and a bad situation will get worse:

Advocates for the neediest groups of students will continue to fight over “crumbs”: immigrant students are pitted against poor English-speaking students; students who need special education help are pitted against “regular education” students who are below grade level in reading or math skills, etc., etc. None of these programs are funded at appropriate levels today, and it is ridiculous for informed educators to support budget processes and policies that allow the neediest students and their advocates to continue to fight against each other.

Music, art, sports, vocational education and all other aspects of a well-rounded education for our students will either disappear completely or be part of the “fighting for crumbs” process described above. As intelligent, educated human beings, we know that students need both reading instruction AND music, math instruction AND art, sports and physical education AND guidance about college, etc.

Teachers will be pitted against custodians, paraprofessionals, security personnel, secretaries, administrators – instead of all of us fighting together for the level of funding that we need, we will find ourselves blaming each other for a situation none of us created, and our unions will lose whatever strength and influence we may now have. This will be the inevitable result of any attempt to make a completely inadequate budget “work” for any school district, and I believe that is the position that Alameda Unified School District is in today.

I think we need to make those who are against public education (because their own children have access to private schools and they are happy with that privilege) come out of the closet and argue that position publicly. The only way we can do that is by saying NO to the policies and processes that are tearing public education down right now.

So, I would like our school district administration, school board, parent associations, and every one of our unions, not only in Alameda but across the state, to take the following position:

  • We will not make classes any larger.
  • We will not cut services for special education students, English language learners, or other students with special needs.
  • We will not eliminate counseling services, health services, librarians, or other support services.
  • We will not eliminate art, music, sports, vocational education, or other aspects of a well-rounded education.
  • Rather than do any of these things, we will shut our schools down until we can get an adequate level of funding from the taxpayers of this state. One action that will certainly cause us to shut our schools down is the suspension of Proposition 98.

Parent 2/21

KEEP WILL C. WOOD SCHOOL OPEN

I am very concerned about the school's proposed budget cuts and the proposal of closing Wood School again. We fought this battle last year and were fortunate enough to keep the school open and save jobs. Again, I am asking for your help in keeping Wood School open.

Closing schools and consolidation is not the answer. How large will the student to teacher ratio become then? Cutting school programs for our kids is not the answer either. We need to convince State legislators not to cut funding from education.

Please remember - it's about our children, our future, and what is best for them. They deserve to have a good foundation, a good school, good teachers, which will help pave the way to a bright future.

I urge you to make the right decision and keep Wood School (and all Alameda schools) Open.

Parent 2/20

I want to express my adamant opposition to another parcel tax.

I have two children at Otis and I certainly understand the need for support for the schools, teachers and especially the students. I provide a ton of support to Otis through donations from my company, Alameda Advertising and Recognition as well as personally by contributing substantially to both kid’s adopt-a-classroom campaigns as well as many of the other school fundraisers.

My company also contributes pretty regularly throughout the City’s school and youth programs. I definitely get the need. The need is there for a Youth Community Center as well – and hopefully the Boys and Girls Club can get built. There is a lot of need.

However, it “NEEDS” to stop being on the backs of homeowners.

I struggle to cover my mortgage, taxes, insurance – etc. How did it become my bonus, as a struggling homeowner, to be the proud recipient of yet another parcel tax proposal. Now please note – I voted for the Hospital assessment (albeit begrudgingly) and both the previous school measures. I know that we have to maintain our schools and the cuts have been horrendous – but why is the option always to bilk the homeowners?

Why is there no proposal to help the financial difficulties of the schools by looking at those residents who are enrolled at the schools but live in multiple unit dwellings?

I grew up in an apartment in town and went to Haight School , so I know first hand that there can be some struggle financially in those situations – but there is struggle financially in most of our situations.

What percentage of students enrolled in Alameda Schools come from houses that would be assessed with this new parcel tax as opposed to those that live in multiple unit dwellings? Can those numbers be provided? Why do the students that come from multiple unit dwellings get an exemption on the backs of struggling homeowners?

My mother lives in a small Condo in town – why should she be more responsible for paying for Alameda ’s students through a parcel tax that will hit her hard – then any parent of any child enrolled in the schools, who lives in multiple unit dwellings and pays nothing?

Wouldn’t a residence tax be more fair? That way at least every residence is required to contribute. If every residence did contribute – then the assessment would lower for everyone. If there is a 30 unit apartment building and the assessment is $100.00 per every residence in the city, then the schools get $3000.00 from that property while the residents who live in the building see their rent raised about $8.25 per month. Instead – those 30 resident properties will pay the same as my mom in her small condo, while those residents living there with enrolled students are exempt.

How about a per child enrollment fee?

I’m not opposed to paying my fair share for my kids’ education in AUSD. I’d vote for a residence tax if it was fairly proposed – and I’d vote or agree to an enrollment fee per child. Those two options allow for a fair distribution of contributions. But I will not vote for another parcel tax and I will consider campaigning strongly against it.

I refuse to stand by and see folks like my mom have to pay while student enrolled parents in multi-unit dwellings are exempt once again.

Parent 2/19

I just heard that the JR-ROTC program might be cut from Encinal. Why? The Army helps to pay for most of the cost. Some of the students who attend this program find a home in this program with their instructor and fellow students. Something that they may not have a home.

The majority of students who take this class do not go into the military. Rather, by taking this class they have developed a sense or worth. They know they are not something to be tossed aside.

Take this class away and put them in a P.E. class with 100 other students and what do you get? Nothing! Well done ASUD.

If I could vote for a voucher system-I would. You would not be getting my money.

Parent 2/17

Lets say we are short $4.4 mil. (not say we are).

What about go to Bank of Alameda (since they are the local bank and support the adopt a classroom program) and see if they would give AEF or AUSD a "temporary bridge" loan under the premise (maybe use the word promise) we would pay them interest, in the mean time and they would get the money back when we get the Prop. 98 money (Uncle Arnold is good for it - are you also maybe interested in a bridge I am selling on ebay - just kidding).

Lets say at a current interest rate the $4.4 mil. costs AEF or AUSD about $40,000/month or say $500,000.00 for a year (rounding everything).

Divide the $500,000.00 by 10,000 students (I think that is the number you mentioned at the meeting) - in essence each student has to come up with $50.00 for the year. We come up with $20.00 now for the teacher for supplies - what's another $50.00 and not have to worry about a parcel tax not passing, layoffs, school closings, etc.

I know there will be some that say they can not afford it - the $50.00 = $0.27 / day you child is in school (based on 180 days). The $50.00 would be paid within the first week of school and maybe each PTA would help with the accounting and tracking.

It was just an idea - let me know if it has any merit.

Posted in reverse order of date received

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Last modified: February, 2008

Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.