Mike McMahon AUSD
BOE Meetings Assessment Facilities FinancesFavorite Links

AUSD Enrollment Policy Revision

Kindergarten Enrollment Process

February, 2009

In prior years, the District staff would establish an enrollment timeline for a series of events including including information nights, determination of Open Enrollment status for school sites and establishing enrollment dates for Kindergarten and other grades enrollement. Typically the Kindergarten enrollment was in early March, grades 1 to 5 was about one month later. In 2007, the dates were moved up to give parents better information on their child's enrollment status.

In February, 2007, the Alameda Sun wrote on article on Edison kindergarten enrollment process. In a Letter to the Editor, a Fernside resident voiced her opinion about the enrollment dilemma facing Alameda Unified School District. After receiving comments from the public during school board meetings, staff prepared a recommendation to change the Kindergarten enrollment process at June 26th Board meeting.

John Knox White covered the initial meeting on his blog Stop, Drop and Roll with an entry entitled: The yellow copy is for you, the pink copy goes to accouting, the blue copy is for our files, the grey copy.. Over the Summer, the Edison School Neighborhood Network worked on a flyer that was distrubuted in the Edison attendance zone. In addition, they circulated a petition, resulting in 173 signatures. As a result, Board members received numerous EMails. John Knox White followed his first blog entry with another one titled: Kindergarten Enrollment, take 2. Lauren Do's Blogging Bayport also posted an entry Portable Education.

At the August 14th Board of Education meeting, staff presented a recommendation to revise Kindergarten Enrollment process. 15 speakers spoke in opposition to the proposed revision that will replace the first come, first serve process with a random drawing whenever there are more applicants than spaces available.

The revised proposal was scheduled to be voted on at the August 28th meeting. The Board decided to delay making a decision to a later date in order for staff to provide more information on facilities and attendance boundaries changes.

The Alameda Sun prepared an article titled: Kindergarten Conundrum after the 8/14 BOE meeting as did the Alameda Journal with their article titled: Edison lottery plan placed on hold.

On August 21st, the Edison School Network Neighborhood met and developed an action plan of next steps.

In an August 31st Alameda Journal article, the Superintendent mentioned a report that will offer an "inventory" describing overall space in the district, including classrooms and offices.

In September the School District posted a communication titled Issues & Options: Enrollment on the District website encouraging individuals to send their comments. At the September 25th BOE meeting, the Superintendent presented information regarding a comprehensive planning process to address changing district demographics, enrollment imbalance between schools, inconsistency of high-quality education programs and long-term fiscal solvency. Local blogs Stop, Drop and Roll created an entry titled: Smells Like Teen Spirit and Blogging Bayport created an entry titled: Tipping the Imbalance. The Alameda Sun article and Alameda Journal article covered the announcement of the task force.

On October 1st, the District announced the enrollment policy meetings will be held between October 8 and 17, 6:30  8:00 PM. The enrollment meetings will combine families from two neighboring schools, and are scheduled for 6:30-8:00 pm on Monday, October 8 (Bay Farm and *Earhart), Wednesday, October 10 (*Haight and Washington), Monday, October 15 ( Edison and *Otis), Tuesday, October 16 (*Franklin and Lum) and Wednesday, October 17 (Paden and *Ruby Bridges). (*Asterisk indicates where the meeting will take place.)

On October 9th, ESNN published a Area Survey that was a result of a a door-to-door survey of residences in the Edison School District, to sample the number of kindergarten students expected to enroll at Edison Elementary School in upcoming years. This report was sent to the Board of Education with this cover letter. In addiiton, ESNN published a copy of a letter sent to parents from the Edison principal requesting future student information.

On October 17, the District published a response to series of questions that the ESNN group has submitted to the Suprerintendent and Director of Student Services. On October 17, the editor of Blogging Bayport attended the Ruby Bridges/Paden Enrollment created an entry titled: Round Em Up Little Kiddies. Stop, Drop and Roll published an entry The Wall in anticipation of the first read at the October 23 BOE meeeting. Blogging Bayport published an entry; Lottery in June corn be heavy soon on October 23rd. The Alameda Journal published an article titled: School officials to discuss kindergarten lottery policy on October 23rd.

At the October 23 BOE meeting, there were 13 speakers with 10 speakers requesting that the staff recommendation not be adopted. One speaker presented the idea of an advance registration system that could be used. The idea involved allowing parents to register their child as early as birth and would set their enrollment priority at the time of registration. The Alameda Journal published an article: Lottery plan loses parents' support and the Alameda Sun published an article: Tough Choices for School Enrollment.

On November 9, the Alameda Journal published an editorial titled: Kindergartner lottery not ideal, but it's fair. On November 13, Blogging Bayport had an entry titled: Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble. The Alameda Journal published an article titled: Officials set to vote on school lottery.

At the November 13 meeting the Board approved changing the Kindergarten Enrollment process. The next step in the process will be addressing the anticipated shortage of 230+ seats at elementary schools across the district in the next 5 years. The Board is expected to make initial decisions in February, 2008.

On November 14, Blogging Bayport had an entry titled: Baby Mama and Daddy Drama covering the side drama about news piece shown on the 11/8 Alameda Currents episode regarding the kindergarten enrollment issue. On November 16, the Alameda Journal covered the Board action with an article titled: Trustees approve kindergarten lottery and the Alameda Sun article was titled: Kindergarten Lottery Approved.

The discussion now shifts to the work of the two task forces charged with the responsibilitiies of developing recommendations to address capacity and program issues in the District.

On January 22, the District announced a community workshop on Recommendation of Elementary Capacity Task Force. On Monday, February 4, at 6:30 p.m., at Paden Elementary School , 444 Central Avenue , the Task Force will report to the community on the recommendation it will make to the superintendent. This workshop is an opportunity for parents, staff, and community to provide feedback on the Task Force's work prior to the Superintendent making her final recommendation to the Board of Education on February 12.

With the end of the two week enrollment period for 2008, Stop, Drop and Roll published a entry titled: You Got to Enroll with the Punches.

In 2009, the Kindergarten Roundup saw another over enrollment problem east of Park Street. Kindergarten Roundup applications exceeded the available number of spaces at four elementary schools: Bay Farm (13 over), Edison (20 over), Otis (14 over) and Franklin (7 over). Earhart did not exceed allotted spaces during the Roundup but has since received applications that would fill their available kindergarten spaces. As February 13th, staff is exploring the ability to add classes to Edison and Bay Farm.

Last year the District found that cancelling a K class at Bay Farm due to under enrollment left us with no method of deciding who was transferred. Therefore, all four schools that are over this year will conduct a random drawing (“lottery”) to determine enrollment priority. If we have to cancel a class in the fall, the random drawing priority list would determine who would have to transfer. 

The random drawings will take place as follows:

  • Wednesday 2/18 – Edison 11:00 AM, Bay Farm 2:00 PM, Franklin 3:00 PM
  • Thursday 2/19 – Otis 9:00 AM

Additional Background Materials

Proposed Change to Enrollment Administrative Reg 5116.1
Annotated Version of Kindergarten Roundup Process
AUSD Board Policies and Adminstrative Regulations Click Go and Enter: ALAMEDA for username and public for the password
2006 Demographic Study Prepared for AUSD, June, 2007 Revision
Girls Inc Lease
March 13th BOE Meeting Powerpoint from Demograhers
2006-07 School Attendance Zones (a very large 6MB file, does not load everytime, try twice or save the pdf to local hard drive and open there)
2005 AUSD Facilities Master Plan Capacity Numbers new capacity study being done in Fall, 2007
School Site Demographic Data
9/25 BOE Meeting - Superintendent's Powerpoint Presentation on Educational Excellence, Boundaries and Facilities
ESNN Questions for AUSD
AUSD Response to ESNN Questions
Edison School Neighborhood Network Area Survey (published 10/8/2007)
Notes/Suggestions from First Two Community Meetings
Notes/Suggestions from Last Two Community Meetings
Other District Practices of Kindergarten Enrollment 10/23/2007 BOE Meeting
Demographic Report Presented at November 13 BOE Meeting
Adopted Kindergarten Enrollment Process
Revised Timeline for Task Force Activity Issued by the District 12/5

Emails Received Regarding Enrollment Policy

# of Comments Through 8/14 # of Comments 8/15 and 10/23 # of Comments Received After 10/23
16 39 13

Alameda Resident 11/14/2007

I have been so disturbed by the opinions voiced at the last two board meetings.

I adamantly support your vote to initiate a lottery system for over-enrolled schools. I believe this is most fair solution for all of the children in our very diverse district.

While I understand the angst of parents who are worried their children won't get into Edison, I cannot support an enroll-at-birth or enroll-at-move-in system, because it would automatically reward families whose parents can a) afford to own a home; and b) are stable enough to stay in one place for long periods of time.

While such parents may be the most vocal at public meetings, I do not believe they are representative of the community as a whole.

Over the last five years, I've had the privilege of visiting many different schools on the Island. I say this is a "privilege" because at every school I've met children who are bright, enthusiastic, and passionate, yet have parents who are renters, or are homeless, or can't speak English, or are dealing with substance abuse issues, or who struggle with any number of the many difficulties that can beset families today. I truly believe those children deserve just as strong a chance of getting into their neighborhood school as the children of the affluent.

Having listened to the public comments, I have to say I'm very grateful that my children are at xxx, where they learn, on a daily basis, lessons in diversity, integration, tolerance, respect, and community service. My children truly play with children of all skin colors and all economic classes and all academic abilities. I can only hope that as the district continues to work on its capacity issues, that model spreads to other zones within the district.

Edison Resident 11/14/2007

First, I would like express my disappointment in your vote to adopt the lottery system for kindergarten enrollment in our school district. Now that you have, I would like for you to publicly comment on my suggestion for keeping priority for applicants who do not get into their local school regardless of where they attend.

The current policy states that if a child is not enrolled as a student in the school district he/she will be considered a transfer student and not given priority to attend his/her home school the following year. There was much talk of fairness at the board meeting tonight. I find this policy to be completely unfair due to the capacity issues and enrollment policy changes.

My daughter attends Rising Star Montessori which is about the same distance from our house as Edison school. If on the day of the lottery she is not one of the lucky few to get into Edison she would be diverted to who knows where. I would no longer be able to walk her to school, she would not be able to play with the neighborhood children and would have to commute to school every morning and afternoon. In order to avoid this I would gladly pay the tuition at Rising Star where she is already acclimated until next year when she should have priority to attend our home school, Edison.

This option does not put a financial burden on anyone else except me. It would create space in closer schools for those who are diverted and unable to afford private schools and give an extra option to those who can without taxing the community. I have attended the community meetings and the last two board meetings and have not heard anyone comment on this idea. I thought a polite e-mail would have gotten a response, but it appears that only those complain the loudest are acknowledged.

Edison Resident 11/13/2007

I was disappointed to see no mention in the agenda of suggestions I made at the last board meeting. First, I suggested sharing the burden of diversion so that every family is diverted only for one year from their neighborhood school. I understand that would be disruptive from year to year as friends might want to be diverted together, etc, but a system for voluntary diversion could ameliorate that problem. And the approach would have several advantages: (a) all members of the community would have a stake in high quality education district-wide; (b) divisions in neighborhood community would not be created with some families feeling left out as a result of multi-year diversion; (c) it would be fair in a deeper sense - giving everyone an equal amount of time in their neighborhood school - rather than fair simply by virtue of being arbitrary.

Second, I suggested that you create an additional "green" priority category so that people living within 1/4 mile of the school - people who really are likely to walk to school - would have priority.

These changes are consistent with and could be added as future amendments to the existing lottery proposal voted on at tonight's meeting.

Edison Parent 11/13/2007

Although I am unable to attend tonight's meeting, I am writing to urge you to hold off on the proposed changes to the kindergarten enrollment process. I think we all agree that the real issue is a capacity issue, and I am looking forward to learning more about the possible ways we can deal with this. Changing the enrollment process before we have an understanding of this bigger issue seems premature. Thank you for listening to all the parents and community members who have had thoughts about this issue.

Edison Parent 11/13/2007

Once again, I write in opposition to the proposed lottery plan.

From attending many neighborhood and School Board meetings on this subject, it seems that the Board simply plans to trudge forward without considering the impact of he lottery on future students and families. Not one change has been made to the proposed plan since its inception by the Board, other than to promise to "reach out" to provide information to preschool families and those in the Coast Guard.

An advance registration policy seems to have been dismissed as a possible option without even seriously considering the issue.

No consideration has been given to the younger siblings of diverted children. Indeed, Mr. Dierking himself admitted that a non-resident younger sibling would never have priority over a resident if that school is overcapacity, even if an older sibling had been involuntarily diverted to that overcapacity school. That means that if my older child is diverted to a school across the Island, it's possible I might have to drive one to Washington and one to Bay Farm. That does not treat children not yet in the school system the same as children who are lucky enough to have a sibling already at Edison, who are guaranteed a spot in a neighborhood school.

No consideration seems to have been given to the families who have moved to Alameda simply so their children can attend a wonderful neighborhood school. Instead, we have been told, you will need to wait and see what happens in 1 or 2 or 3 years, and then find your own way to school. And of course, afterschool care on a moment's notice, once you finally find out the school you'll be sent to. No consideration has been given to transportation issues, and how to assist families of children who will be diverted to schools that are not within walking distance, other than to say "you're on your own." It is unfair to expect certain families to bear the burden of added transportation time (and gas expenses), but not others.

No serious consideration has been given to the fact that a lottery will make Alameda schools undesirable for people considering a move to Alameda, resulting in less money for the district.

If the Board plans to push ahead and vote in a hastily considered "solution" like the proposed lottery, simply to quiet the complaints about "first come, first serve," -- which is exactly the message the Board is sending to the community -- I urge you to do so on a trial basis and explore more permanent options AFTER the task force has made its recommendations and has had a chance to seriously study the adverse impact on the community. I also challenge the Board to seriously consider re-drawing the boundaries so that neighborhood children may attend school with their neighbors. If you address the overcapacity problem directly, instead of pushing the problem on to Alameda families, you will not need to worry about lotteries or "first come first serve."

Edison Parent 11/13/2007

I learned about the proposed Lottery System from another neighbor, and I am terribly concerned and disappointed. I also read the editorial in the Alameda Newspaper, regarding the lottery system for Edison, this weekend and strongly disagree. The author must not have small children in my neighborhood and the lottery system most likely does not impact him/her at all.

I see many people driving to Edison school to drop off their children each morning - because they live too far away to walk. It is incredibly frustrating to know there is a risk that my children will not be able to attend Edison due to overcrowding - especially when we live so close. In July 20xx, my children turn five and we are going to need three slots at Edison. For me, this is a simple proximity issue. Moving to xxxxx Drive six years ago and deciding to stay last year was heavily influenced by the fact that our children would be attending Edison. As you probably know, there are several other families that live very close to Edison school in a similar predicament.

Please find another solution - other than a lottery - perhaps adjusting the attendance boundaries for schools with a long-term high demand like Edison. It will be very difficult for my family if my children cannot attend their neighborhood school. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Alameda Parent 11/13/2007

I urge the board to vote yes on the proposed lottery for Kindergarten Enrollment. I understand that there will be some disappointed families if their children do not get an initial spot in the Kindergarten of their choice. The fact that one buys a home in a district intending to go to that school is not an issue for the School Board to to be concerned with. The School Board has a responsibility to all the students in Alameda, not the property owners and certainly not to some who think their child's entire future will be impacted if they do not get to walk to school.

I think that anyone that is concerned over the public schools losing enrollment to private schools would agree that a sibling priority makes sense. It would be physically impossible for a parent with 2 young children to attend different schools that start and end at the same time. The fact that those against the sibling priority do not yet have a child in school is just another case of people looking out for the good of their one child, not the district on the whole. To say that parent involvement will go down if a student is diverted sounds more like an empty threat than an actual outcome. Parent involvement would be directly impacted should children in one family have to go to different schools. And if the parents of the diverted children do not choose to participate in the school at which their child attends, who loses out?

Please do not let this very vocal minority speak for the district as a whole. Vote YES on the Enrollment Lottery with a Sibling Preference.

Edison Resident 11/13/2007

We are writing this to implore you to vote against the establishment of a kindergarten enrollment lottery. Three years ago, we made a very substantial financial commitment to our future child's education by buying a home in the Fernside neighborhood. One of the primary reasons for choosing this location was to ensure that our child would attend Edison school. Now as our daughter approaches her first birthday, we are extremely disheartened to learn that she may not be able to attend her neighborhood school even though she lives only three blocks away from it. Nobody who makes this kind of conscious commitment would ever want the quality of their child's education to be left to chance.

An enrollment lottery is not the answer. Though touted as "fair", it does not take certain important factors into account such as distance from the school or length of residency within the school boundary. How far away could our child's school be? What if she can't get into Edison or even Otis? Could she potentially be schooled across town? We do not want our daughter to attend school away from the neighborhood and friends she will grow up with. If the school board does approve the lottery, we would be forced to seriously consider sending our daughter to private school. Since we are certain other like-minded families in our situation would consider this alternative, there would be a potential for further declining enrollment within the district. Furthermore, a lottery could have a detrimental fiscal impact upon the families who have invested so much to move into neighborhoods such as Fernside.

As suggested during the October 9th School Board meeting, an early enrollment program would be a much better way to determine placement at impacted neighborhood schools. In addition to giving families an opportunity to enroll their children as soon as they are born or move into a new school zone, it provides the school district with important data to aid its future capacity planning. The ability of neighborhood schools to increase capacity to meet future growth is critical. In the next few years, the demographics of Fernside will certainly change. More and more families with young children will look to move here and to similar neighborhoods. Demand for placement in these schools will continue to increase for years to come. We would strongly advocate that you act now to increase capacity at Edison and the other small neighborhood schools. Those of us who chose to move here for the sake of our children's education would be willing to do much to help this process. As we have already made a substantial investment by moving here, we are sure many of our neighbors would be willing to protect that investment by approving a parcel fee to aid in the expansion of our schools. You would engender strong support among these parents if you took this long-term approach. The ability to accommodate future growth is critical to the continued success of public education in Alameda.

Finally, we would ask you to please reach out to those parents whose children are not yet enrolled in public school. We are motivated to do all we can for our children. Speaking for ourselves and several others who attended the October 9th School Board meeting, we were very disappointed by the lack of notification for discussion of this issue outside of school channels. We heard many people comment about how they knew about this issue only because they were told by a friend who already had children enrolled in school. We learned of this discussion by chance ourselves. We never heard a word about the neighborhood meetings at Edison, nor were we contacted for the neighborhood survey. We would have you consider that the only reason why the lottery proposal received initial support from parents during these sparsely attended neighborhood meetings was because those who attended already had children in school, children whose younger siblings would be exempt from the lottery. They supported the lottery proposal because they would not be affected by it. The October 9th board meeting was not even mentioned in the local papers until the day of the meeting, making attendance difficult for those who had just found out about it after arriving home from work. Judging by the overwhelmingly negative response the lottery proposal received from the impassioned parents at the half-empty board meeting, we can only wonder how packed it might have been if the enrollment policy discussion had been more widely publicized ahead of time. This lack of communication outside of school channels does not serve the district well. By excluding those of us whose children are not yet in school, you are depriving yourself of an energized and motivated resource.

Again, we implore you to please vote against the establishment of a kindergarten enrollment lottery. Instead, please seriously consider the early enrollment proposal. It is the only truly fair method of determining enrollment until the capacity of the affected schools can be sufficiently increased to meet the growing demand. Thank you for your consideration.

Alameda Resident 11/13/2007

I strongly urge you to vote AGAINST the new enrollment policy under consideration at the November 13th Board of Education meeting.

I urge you to consider that this is not just a change in enrollment policy. This is a MAJOR district policy change that will have many consequences. Those consequences may be unintended, but can certainly not be called unforeseeable. For example:

  • The uncertainty introduced by this lottery policy is very likely to scare parents who can afford it, into exiting the system. The sentence in the policy reading: "This reassignment [to another school] may take place at any time between May 1st and the 20th school day of the new school year." is enough to send those who can afford to do to so, searching for options that won't wait until the 20th school day to confirm a student's enrollment.
  • Busy parents who may have had the time and energy for one or two activities in support of their local school or it's PTA will be less motivated to do so. If their child is "only going to be at this school a short time"... there is less incentive to get involved to make that school as strong as possible. Furthermore, let's be honest, if your child's school is across town and you don't know any of the other parents anyway, the community is unable to exert the positive peer pressure of other neighborhood parents knowing how involved or not, you are in the PTA.

    I firmly believe the quality of Alameda's public school system will go down if this policy is passed because the system would lose who knows how many good quality students and lose parents with the resources to help the public schools with their time, talents and money. Meanwhile, the very people you are most concerned are being hurt by the current policy would be the most hurt by a decline in the public school system. Those without flexible schedules or financial resources are unlikely to be able to make up the volunteer hours and fundraising support provided by the parents who can choose to exit the public school system.

    I agree that a policy that has parents camping outside in-line overnight is not a good longterm solution. However, let's not rush to change the enrollment policy to a lottery just because it "sounds" fair. Let's find a policy that is a positive change for the district. Considering this lottery policy without giving honest consideration to the unintended consequences that it brings with it is not fair to all the students who will remain in the system. This Board may soon find the over-enrollment "problem" solved, only to discover many other problems it must handle without the same parental and community support and funding it currently enjoys.

    Please vote NO on Nov. 13th. There must be a better way.

    Edison Resident 10/27/2007

    I think AUSD's plan of a school zone lottery seems the most equitable. Like the Alameda theater, the people making the most noise don't represent the majority.

    Edison Resident 10/26/2007

    I was at the meeting and, while I oppose the lottery, wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment that capacity is the real issue.

    This would not be such a controversy if the projected enrollments for each school better matched the capacity and we didn't have the spectre of a quarter of a neighborhood's kindergarteners being diverted and scattered across the island.

    I did not speak at the board meeting but did raise a concern at the Edison community meeting which I do not think has been addressed.

    I understand it is the district's intent and practice to get parent input about where to send a diverted child. But I would still like to see that in writing as part of the policy. (For instance, parents of diverted students could rank their choices of where they would like their child to attend if space is available.)

    Edison Resident 10/26/2007

    I share your frustration about all this time spent on enrollment policy when the real issue is the one of capacity. If capacity had been addressed first, no enrollment policy change would have been needed and/or if one was needed people would not have been so up in arms. Mr. Dierking and others have kept saying this is about 2s and 3s being diverted and everyone ends up back at their home school. But without a capacity fix it seems like it will be 20-25 diverted at Edison next January when my son enrolls and with such a high number the odds of his making it back to his home school before 4th grade seem slim. And it may be worse for my daughter in 2010.

    Please remember we're talking about 5-year-olds. Going to kindergarten is very emotional. Being able to go to school with friends from the block and the neighborhood that they know is what helps them to feel secure. I want my children to be able to walk to school with their friends and to feel secure. That's why we chose to move to Alameda. And that's why I'm involved. And this is one of the reasons this is so upsetting to me.

    I hope the district will be able to implement some true fixes for the capacity issue. And if you implemented an advance registration system -- the district would never again be so taken by surprise about future enrollment at any school.

    Edison Resident 10/24/2007

    My husband attended last night's meeting but was unaware of the process to speak. Our fault for not looking ahead of time into the process. Needless to say, like many parents we bought our house two years ago because of the Edison school district.

    We did attend the community meeting for Edison/Otis conducted by Ms. Dailey and Mr. Dierking. As I appreciate the time they spent with the community, nothing changed in their proposal to the Board after hearing from the community for over 2 hours that night. There have been many great suggestions. Most of those suggestions are good for the future, but I don't see any solution for next years registration.

    Since my daughter starts Kindergarten next year, I want a solution for next year. I don't understand all this talk about lottery & diversion. If you have a top rated school, you would want that school to grow. Why not just move the fence lines to the sidewalk and add portables to accommodate all students living within that district? Until we can get a bond or property tax increase passed to pay for a school renovation. Or go to an am/pm schedule? You have an area where parents are willing to do whatever it takes: volunteer hours, donations, charge each kindergarten student the additional cost for the portables.

    I agree with Mr Forbes, the President, your concern is not our home values. My concern is for my daughter to get a good education and be in a parent involved school. As this is my concern and many other parents, we would not have chosen Alameda if I knew I was gambling with my daughters education. As much as I love Alameda, the decision at Edison will have a great impact on what current residents do and future residents choose. Why would you gamble in the Fernside district? Go buy in Piedmont, Orinda, Laffayette or other good school districts.

    Mr. Dierkling's survey was not satisfactory to me (with the exception of Pleasanton). I moved from Newark to Alameda because of the lack of top rated schools in Newark. I want to know what Piedmont, Orinda and other good schools districts do/did. I was born & raised in Piedmont. All Piedmont elementary schools went through this same issue. The schools were not pretty for a long time, with many portables until they were able to pay for renovation. Don't lower Alameda standards. This is a beautiful, growing and thriving community.

    Please don't pass a band-aid fix. Let's address the real issue and move from there.

    Edison Resident 10/23/2007

    I am writing to express my concern about the proposed kindergarten enrollment policy change and the incredible divisiveness the two proposed options have caused between neighbors, within neighborhoods, and across our beautiful island of Alameda.

    Asking people to choose between only two options -- either a school zone lottery with a sibling priority exception or a first-come/first-served system -- has had the effect of creating tensions among friends and neighbors and pitting large groups of parents against each other. It has been really detrimental. It seems clear that most parents who have a child or children already enrolled in school and also have a younger sibling not yet enrolled are in favor of the lottery with the sibling priority exception. Similarly, it seems clear that most parents with only preschool or younger children, to the extent they are even aware this issue is being decided right now, come out in favor of first-come/first serve as the lesser of two evils.

    On Monday night at the Otis meeting, Andy Currid spoke about an advance registration system that sounded much better to me than either of the above two options. It sounded like something that had the potential to bring the community back together while also benefiting the district.

    Basically under this system parents can register a child for kindergarten at any time after they both have a child and are living in the district. The district assigns the child an enrollment priority number at the time of this advance registration. Registrations are accepted year round. This system greatly benefits the district in that it supplies it with ongoing information about what kind of enrollment numbers to expect in future years at every school. This allows the district to do more advanced planning and to prepare much better for the future.

    This system also allows people who might be considering moving into a neighborhood to make informed decisions. They are able to contact the district in advance and determine how long the list is for a particular year's class before deciding to move to that neighborhood. Moreover, having this information available and providing it to families may actually alleviate some of the overcrowding at particular schools. With this information, some families would undoubtedly choose to move to a neighborhood where there are more classes or less students registered so that they could ensure their child would be able to go to their neighborhood school.

    I have not been able to get this advance registration idea out of my head. While not perfect either, and there would probably need to be some exceptions made for Coast Guard families or others with particular hardships, it seems like a really good option that should be explored. This option could also include a sibling priority if the district felt that was needed. I feel like this option may have the potential to have widespread support and bring the community back together in that many people (both those in favor and against the lottery) applauded at the Otis meeting after Andy briefly described it. I also heard that many parents at the Ruby Bridges meeting preferred this option when it was briefly brought up there.

    I did a little searching for a district using this system and found that the Pleasanton Unified School District has been successfully using a similar system for years. They base priority for enrolling in any neighborhood school on enrollment date followed by earliest move-in date to the city of Pleasanton. Here is a link to the Pleasanton policy: http://www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us/pub/BoardPolicies/5000 /5190-REG.pdf

    I think the system that Andy proposed is actually superior to the Pleasanton system in that it provides so much important data to the district. It also takes away the stressful uncertainty of a lottery or first-come/first-served policy. And it allows people to make informed decisions before moving into an area.

    I hope you will consider this option and request district staff to explore this option further before any decision is made.

    Edison Resident 10/23/2007

    I was unable to attend tonight's meeting. I would like to offer my comments regarding the kindergarten roundup policy.

    1. Please find a way to keep siblings of a family at the same school. There is absolutely no way to be an involved parent with children at multiple elementary schools. And logistically it would be impossible to drop and and pick up very young children, who cannot be left alone, at different schools that start at the same time.
    2. Please consider boundary changes, including the buffer zone option. Though difficult, if the demand is truly there (and hard demographic data needs to be gathered to make this decision) it is the only way to preserve neighborhood schools where blocks of families attend together.
    3. If a boundary change is not possible, please pass the early registration process.
    4. Lastly, please do not cover the tiny Edison playground with portables. Change boundaries or use Island High to expand Edison or start a new school.

    Edison Resident 10/23/2007

    While I'm sure there will be a strong voice supporting the old system, I am writing to support the proposed changes to the enrollment policy. The lottery is the only fair method that affects all families in the same way. First come, first serve is not a reasonable process and discriminates against families who could not camp out in order to get a spot. Given the tight enrollment at Edison, it seems certain that boundary changes are the longer term solution, as painful as that will be for the community.

    Alameda Resident 10/23/2007

    Unfortunately, I'm unable to attend tonight's meeting, but I just wanted to voice full support for the staff recommended changes to the enrollment policy. I think the new policies reflect the district's commitment to not only keeping families and communities together but also bringing back a level of dignity and fairness to the public school enrollment process that our great school district deserves. I also feel that the staff's community meetings were an effective way to get more public input from the entire school district and not just from one well organized and vocal group from one area.

    Edison Resident 10/23/2007

    I am writing to express my family's deep concern over the possible change in enrollment practices being considered for Alameda Elementary schools, particularly, Edison Elementary.

    We live within walking distance to Edison and are saddened by the thought that we may not be able to walk our young daughter to her neighborhood school when she begins kindergarten in Fall 2010.

    As Alamedan's, we all pride ourselves in our deep sense of community, small-town values and commitment to family. In fact, this was a main driver in our purchasing a home in Alameda. A lottery system would contradict these values we all hold dear.

    For our family, a lottery system would lead us to seriously consider moving out of Alameda. Over the last decade we have seen Alameda go from a cute "undiscovered" (if not a bit worn-down) town, to a charming little community of involved families, fun shopping and dining, cleaned-up streets, gorgeous homes and healthy economic growth -- all things we are proud to have witnessed. We are excited to be a part of a prosperous city growing in all the right directions. We fear a lottery system would drive many of us out of Alameda, which would not a a positive direction for the City of Alameda.

    Please understand we are sympathetic to the difficulties the School District faces -- over-enrollment is a tough problem (on an island with no room to grow!) but it is an important decision that deserves careful thought. Our family urges you to work hard to find a solution other than the lottery system. Please keep our communities in tact!

    Edison Resident 10/23/2007

    As a new father, relatively new Alameda resident who moved for the schools among other reasons, and Board member of the Fersiders Homeowner's Association, I am comfortable saying that this decision is neither good for the school district or the Fernside in the long-term.

    I know that I will not be leaving our daughter's education to chance and neither will other parents who have the option -- so the school district will be losing the revenue and involvement of many of those most capable to give of their time and resources. <\p>

    Please listen to the xxx's and the other parents. <\p>

    We are building a very nice community in the Fernside with all the new families with young children and it's sad to see the school becoming a dividing line as the school board rations it's services to the neighborhood. <\p>

    Edison Resident 10/23/2007

    I am deeply concerned about the lottery for kindergarten enrollment at over-enrolled schools. The lottery is a poor, short-term solution for a this problem. Children, families, and all Alamedans will all suffer from children not attending their neighborhood schools. Community will be lost, families already strapped for time will have to commute their children to school, Alameda streets will become more congested and polluted, and our property values will suffer as our neighborhoods will be less desirable for families.

    Over-enrollment is projected to get worse in the coming years. Under the current lottery plan, my 3-year old daughters chances of enrolling at Edison will be slim and the thought of her not attending a school that she can walk to with our neighbors is discouraging to me. Alameda treasures its small-town atmosphere and neighborhood schools are often centers of the Alamedan communities. The Alameda School Board should consider it to be mission critical to find ways to increase capacity at the over-enrolled schools. I read in the paper that the school board takes pride in having neighborhood schools. It is not enough to simply make that statement.

    Edison Resident 10/22/2007

    We urge the Board to adopt a modified version of the staff recommendation to amend Enrollment Policy AR 5116.1. Alameda has committed to the goal of establishing its reputation as a green city. The need to redirect students from some neighborhood schools to other Alameda schools presents not only an issue for the school system and affected families, but an important environmental, traffic and quality of life issue. Requiring people who live across the street from the school  or a block or two away  to get into their cars and drive to another part of the city is not consistent with Alamedas goal of becoming a green city.

    o be consistent with green principles, the Board should include, perhaps after a priority for siblings, a priority for children living within two or three blocks of the school (or a quarter mile circle to make it truly uniform). Adopting a likely to walk to school priority would minimize an unfortunate by product of redirection: having people who wouldnt otherwise be driving get into their cars to drive around the island during rush hour.

    In addition, at least with respect to Edison, a likely to walk to school proximity priority for students living within a quarter mile of the school is likely to increase economic diversity and also may enhance racial and ethnic diversity.

    We chose to live on Broadway (despite the traffic) because we take smart growth seriously, and we wanted to be able to walk to public transportation to get to work, walk to the market, and, most importantly, walk to our neighborhood school. When I raised this point at a meeting on October 15th, someone responded by saying that these are small neighborhood schools, and that everyone lives near the school. But its simply not true that proximity is immaterial. A person who lives even half a mile from the school is far less likely to walk young children to school and far more likely to get into a car in the morning to get their kids to school, and that is a significant difference.

    Edison Resident 10/22/2007

    Although my first choice is to send my child to our local Elementary school (Edison) the reality is that there is a possibility that there may not be enough room for her in the coming school year. In this case my child would be diverted to a nearby school (Ottis in our case) if there is enough room. Even then there is no guaranty that she would be allowed enrollment there either. And, if I choose to send my child to a private school she would loose priority to enroll in our neighborhood school the following year.

    It is my recommendation that this policy be changed to allow parents to send their child to a private school without loosing their priority to enroll in their local school the following year or when space is available. Please understand that the decision to send my child to a any other school whether private or public is due to the lack of space in our local elementary school.

    I would also like to convey my dismay with the Superintendent, that she did not relay this suggestion to you in her notes from the meeting with the community as my recommendation was well received by parents in the community.

    Edison Parent 10/22/2007

    I was one of the Edison parents who slept all night outside in the rain to get my kids enrolled in Kindergarten this year, and I'm glad I did it. The lottery proposal you're floating is not popular with the pre-K parents I've spoken with, and none of the people in this area are happy about the effect your decision will have on our property values.

    I realize that moving kids to and fro like cattle, especially in a District that does not provide transportation, is the most convenient and lowest cost solution for the District. However, you need to understand very clearly that people have been paying over $900,000 for homes in the Fernside area specifically because of the Elementary School here. It would be unwise for you to shut their kids out of this school and force them elsewhere, especially as Otis School is also over-subscribed.

    I should also point out that I'm fairly convinced that some of your demographic data are wrong. In the demographic presentation by Shelley Lapkoff, she predicts that the 615 Harbor Bay appartments will house only 44 children. I wrote asking her to explain how she predicts that 615 two to four -bedroom units will house just 44 children, because that makes no sense. I think she based that prediction on a quick look at 11 children in the 144 then-occupied units, and extrapolating. Even if only 1/3 of the units have 3 or 4 bedrooms, if they're occupied by families with just a single child, that's still 200 children.

    Back to my point: We want Edison district kids to go to Edison. We understand that if we've got 65 kids for 60 spots, you need to divert 5 of them. And for those five, we favor the first-come, first-served method. HOWEVER, if we've got 75 kids, we expect the District to make a fourth classroom available. Edison is one of the oldest facilities in the District, with several portable classrooms, and it is deserving of capital expenditure and rennovation. The truth is, despite your constricted budgets, this end of town is delivering more property tax revenue, and that revenue is partly due to the existence of Edison School. I know one man who sold his home in San Franciscon and paid more than $1 million for a Fernside district home, because San Francisco has a lottery system. So yes, the lottery proposal will kill home values and cause yet more families to move. If you think increasing classroom size at Edison is a difficult financial move, well... you're forgetting that not increasing classroom size is also a bad financial move.

    I realize that this is inconvenient, but your lottery program is not what the residents want. We didn't work hard all our lives to get a good job so our kids could go to school based on lottery. Tracey Jensen moved across town to Gibbons Drive so her kids could attend Edison. Would she have bought that house if she thought her kids' enrollment would be subject to lottery? Would you buy a house that subjected your kids to a lottery?

    If you need political support to pass a bond measure, then ask us to help and we'll open up our checkbooks. But just as God doesn't play dice with the universe, please don't play dice with our childrens' education.

    Edison Resident 10/18/2007

    Please understand that the ideas being generated by the "Edison School Neighborhood Network" are those of a few parents. They do not represent me or my neighborhood. Most of these individuals don't have children currently enrolled in school. They also live a block from school (conveniently out of any buffer zones). I have two objections to what the Edison School Neighborhood Network is proposing.

    One is the "Buffer Zones". I did not buy my house with "buffer zones". I live a block and a half from school but along the western border of the Edison district near Park Street. I want my children to go to school with their neighborhood friends. A buffer zone would mean that from year to year the children from my block could be diverted to different schools depending on beginning Kindergarten enrollment that year. I dont see how their argument of keeping children in their neighborhood school can support diverting students at all, buffer zone or not. They are only thinking about their own street and children, not mine.

    Secondly, its painfully obvious that they dont have children in school yet by the suggestion that middle school start in 5th grade. Having children leave elementary school and start a whole new school in fifth grade is a very scary idea. I feel that sixth graders arent even ready for that transition in the current system and would prefer elementary schools be K-6.

    I understand that the district is under pressure to realign enrollment for a variety of reasons. But I can guarantee a public outcry if the boundaries are changed, that goes for Elementary and Middle School. Please dont let the so called Edison School Neighborhood Network fool you into believing they speak for the parents at Edison school. I know they misrepresented the districts proposal for new enrollment changes when they asked for signatures on their petition and they didnt even canvas my neighborhood at all.

    I believe the proposed district enrollment policy is fair and should be put in place for 2008-09 enrollment. Alowing parents to camp out is terrible. I also believe "buffer zones" are a smoke screen to try to ensure that this elitist group furthers their own goals of guaranteeing their own children enrollment. Please dont consider this idea.

    I would also like to know why these individuals were even at the Earhart and Bay Farm community meeting. Are they now trying to represent those schools as well?

    Edison Resident 10/17/2007

    I would like to state that the person (xxx xxxxx) that is the main speaker of a proposed "Buffer Zone" lives very close to Edison school so her property value would not be affected by any change to district lines.

    The ESNN is a very small group that does not speak for the majority of my neighbors and friends.

    I would like to know how this small group get their ideas published on the district website. A lot of the "solutions" they have come up with are not only ridiculous but inflamatory. At one meeting I sat in on, they suggested that renters should not be allowed to enroll at Edison school. They also suggested that there should be priority given based on when you bought your house.

    They also canvas the Fernside neighborhoods and spread false information, such as a lottery would be city-wide and that the School Board is trying to "sneak through" changes in Kindergarten enrollment. This is all done in order to get their petitions signed.

    I am very concerned that this elitist and entitled group is getting way more attention that they deserve.

    Edison Resident 10/17/2007

    I would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to community input on the kindergarten enrollment issue, both through these e-mails and the community meetings.

    As the mother of two young children who hope to enroll in Edison in the coming years, I support sibling priority, but I do not support a lottery.

    We moved to the East End of Alameda two years ago from Oakland, primarily because of the quality of the schools. We did not move to Berkeley specifically because it uses a lottery for school enrollment.

    We decided to make the financial stretch to buy a home in an area with good public schools so we would not have to send our children to private school.

    I believe there are three factors' driving my neighbors' opposition to a lottery.

    • Educational quality
    • Convenience
    • Neighborhood cohesion

    As a working mother, I would love the convenience of having my neighbors walk my children to and from school. And I believe a neighborhood school, with active parent involvement, creates cohesion both at the school and in the greater community.

    But my biggest concern is educational quality. I chose to move to this area because Edison is an excellent school. Despite what was said Monday night at Otis, that all Alameda schools are good, you yourselves know they are not equal. There are other schools in the district I would consider sending my children to, but not all of them.

    Parents, understandably, do not want to leave their children's education up to chance. They want to know -- well in advance -- what school their children will attend.

    I understand there are concerns about the equity of first-come, first-served. I have also talked to two single mothers who have said they would rather find childcare for one night rather than have to drive their children across the island to school every day for their length of their elementary careers. I also don't think it is unfair to "reward" parents who are willing to go the extra mile for their children's education, even though I don't relish the prospect of "camping out" to enroll my child in kindergarten.

    If you do enact a lottery, I hope it includes some provision for parent choice, such as allowing parents of diverted students to rank their choices of where they would like their children to attend, assuming space is available.

    But if some of the projected numbers are correct, neither a lottery nor first-come, first-served is going to solve the underlying problem of too many students for the East End schools.

    I am heartened that the superintendent has begun a process to address this problem.

    It appears there could be at least 80 kindergarteners again this fall at Edison, and there is currently space for only 60.

    I support adding portables so as many neighborhood children as possible, if not all of them, can attend Edison.

    But if that proves unaffordable or otherwise infeasible, I think you have no choice but to shrink the Edison boundaries, even temporarily while we deal with this "bubble," if that's what it proves to be.

    Diverting a quarter or more of the neighborhood's students seriously undermines the integrity and benefits of a neighborhood school.

    I also support the idea of pre-registration when children are very young to help the district with its planning. At the very least, the district should be gathering information on younger siblings at kindergarten registration. (I don't think the ideas of early enrollment or priority for long-term residents are feasible or fair.)

    Edison Resident 10/17/2007

    I was glad to attend the October 15th meeting at Otis School for the discussion of the current and proposed enrollment policies as they pertain to Edison School . Although there was much discussion on these two options, I feel that there may be other more complex options to be explored.

    In regards to the current kindergarten enrollment policy and the situation at Edison Elementary School, I feel that it is very important for community members to understand that if a group of parents arbitrarily decides to start a line for registration on a date other than the registration date, it no longer becomes a situation where every child has equal access to their local neighborhood school.

    Instead, the first people in line will consist of those in the know. They will be families who live close to the school and can see from their kitchen windows that a line has started; they will be ones who happen to be walking by or are at school for other reasons; and the will be the lucky few who are called by their friends in line.

    The families at the end of the line, however, will more likely be parents who were out of the loop. And they will be single-parent families, ESL families, and those who cannot leave their children for the night.

    Even well-connected families, not having planned to spend X number of days in line, may find themselves caring for a sick child or on a business trip. It takes a certain amount of resources to be able to drop everything in your life to go stand in line for a day, two days or a week. Not every family has these resources.

    This first-in-line system clearly does not treat all children in the neighborhood equally. And if it continues the school population will no longer reflect the diversity of the Edison neighborhood.

    The other option presented by the district is that of a lottery. This option seems to be highly undesirable to many families in the Edison School district .

    It appears that the best solution will be far more complex, involving layered or perhaps flexible district boundaries. If the hard work is done to set-up buffer zones of enrollment, it could be beneficial to the district as a whole. The system could be used whenever and wherever the district has over-enrollment at a given school. And by setting up flexible boundaries or zones, a student is assured that they attend their next closest school (the closest school for children on the west side of a zone will not be the same as for children on the east side). Parents too, can understand when they move into a neighborhood that a given home is within one of these buffer zones.

    The larger immediate issue, of course, is not the handful of students that have been diverted in past years but the 20  60 students that may not be able to attend Edison in the next two or three enrollment cycles and for the years that follow. In the past, diverted students quickly returned to their home schools when space arose. This current enrollment bubble will be different. It is highly unlikely that two or three classes of students will be able to return to Edison . So, if diverted, it will most likely be for their entire elementary schooling. This represents a real loss to the Edison community and the students, and a hardship to the affected parents.

    I think these children should be accommodated. I urge the district to add the facilities / portables needed to provide these children with an education at Edison from kindergarten through 5th grade. If the flexibility does not currently exist in the districting, then it will have to be at the school itself. Stagger lunches, recesses, and usage of the multi-purpose room. Hire new teachers. It can all be done. Perhaps the Edison PTA, who currently gives gifts to the school in excess of $50,000, would be willing to assist in significantly reducing some of these costs. It will be tight for a few years but you already have a very involved and energetic community motivated to preserve a rewarding experience for our children. At the same time, I urge a move to a more flexible district system, so that future bumps in enrollment can be accommodated.

    Edison Parent 10/16/2007

    I write this email in response to what I heard occurred at the meeting tonight at Otis school regarding the enrollment policies under consideration in the district.

    Unfortunately, I could not be there for work reasons, as I am sure is the case with many parents in the district. I did, however, hear of some of the events that took place, and have been following the issue as closely as I can.

    First, let me say that I dont think that polling the meeting is an effective way to determine what the parents in Alameda want to see happen. There is obviously a vocal group of parents that are opposed to the lottery idea, and they were in force at the meeting I am sure. Notwithstanding that groups opinion as to what counts as a parents commitment to their child, there are often good reasons why parents cannot attend a function like tonight, and for that matter participate in a marathon camp-out to enroll in school. Our votes/opinions are no less important.

    So let me add mine, to get rid of the first come first served policy (policy is really a bad description  this last enrollment at Edison was more like a confused, unorganized free for all). I wont bore you with more self evident statements about how unfair this policy is, but it is, and should be changed for that reason. This is public school, so the test as to who gets in to the neighborhood school doesnt (or shouldnt) depend on how far you are willing to go for your kid, even if that were truly tested by this flawed policy. Everyone has a right to go to school here, whether you own property, are a single parent, are disabled, mentally ill, whatever. In any event, I am sure we could all think of our own and much better tests of each others commitment to our families and our children's suitability to attend a particular school. Private schools have better ones, like interviews, essays, financial commitment, etc. But this is public school, so why are we thinking about it in these terms?

    Aside from the inequity of this system, in my view, by continuing this non-policy the school district would be ducking its responsibility. Do you think that you can rely on the parents good judgment to just sort it out themselves come enrollment day (as it sounds like most parents want)? Its too late this evening to write them down now, but I could tell you several anecdotes from last Edison enrollment which would disabuse you of that belief.

    Also, please dont be swayed from the sensible sibling policy. It is good for kids (siblings feel comfortable at the school they have seen their big sibling go to), good for the schools (parent involvement, teachers get to know families, etc.), and good for parents (I cant imagine having to rush two kids off to two different schools  someone will be late, or left by themselves to wait in line). Aside from that, there are compelling safety reasons to have this policy  what if there is an earthquake, or other city wide emergency  one parent cant be in two places at once. These are good reasons to have this policy, despite the fact that only children wouldnt get the benefit of it. I also strongly support giving the children of teachers a preference. For all the talk of keeping neighborhoods and families together, I dont understand not supporting a sibling and teacher preference.

    Edison Parent 10/16/2007

    Dear Mr. Forbes,

    Thanks very much for taking the time to respond.

    After attending last night's meeting at Otis Elementary, I am still concerned that the Board does not fully appreciate the number of students who will be diverted in 2009 and 2010 if nothing is done to increase capacity at Edison beyond 60 kindergartners. All of the examples offered at last night's meeting focused on "3 or 4" students being diverted from Edison. But from the data collected in the Edison Neighborhood survey, it looks like the class of 2009 may see more than 120 kindergarten applicants competing for 60 slots (with 45 of them siblings of currently-enrolled students). The class of 2010 might see close to 110 applicants competing for 60 slots (with 57 of them siblings of currently-enrolled students). If those numbers are accurate and remain constant, that would mean 110 students -- all non-siblings of currently enrolled students -- would need to be diverted from Edison school in 2009 and 2010. As you can imagine, the chance of an open spot at our next closest neighborhood schools will be slim to none. There is no way that any parent of a child not yet in the Edison school system to plan ahead.

    I understand sibling priority is a hot issue, and it seemed that last night's meeting was stacked with parents of children already in the school system. But if the Board plans to implement a lottery system with a sibling priority -- which does nothing to guarantee that younger siblings of diverted children will be attend the same school -- the raw data shows there is nothing fair about it. In 2010, after the siblings are admitted, 50 non-siblings will be competing for the remaining 3 slots. If the Board is committed to a lottery, please seriously consider subjecting all applicants to a lottery the first year (the 2008 class), as Superintendent Dailey mentioned as a possible option, and then offering the sibling priority to future classes based on who won the 2008 lottery. At least then the playing field will be leveled, everyone will have to take their chances once, and if a child is lucky enough to win a lottery slot then he or she will win the priority for their family. No one can seriously argue that a lottery that treats everyone equally is unfair.

    Please consider any solutions that will prevent dozens and dozens of children from attending their neighborhood school, whether that solution is A.M./P.M. kindergarten, adding more portables to Edison in the back near Lincoln, or even changing the boundaries. Quite frankly, I don't care which school my child attends in our general neighborhood so long as it is the same school as our neighbors and we are assured a kindergarten slot.

    Edison Parent 10/16/2007

    Superintendent Dailey and Mr. Dierking:

    Thank you for your time, patience, and diplomacy last night at the Otis/Edison policy meeting.

    I was very happy to hear that you seem committed to keeping as many children as humanly possible in their 'home' district, and I was delighted and relieved that changing the zone boundaries is no longer being considered. The District should exhaust every other avenue before considering that 'nuclear' option.

    I was also pleased that 'first come first served' seemed to edge out the lottery idea, though perhaps some method of making that system more equitable is possible.

    Edison is a success both because all of you at AUSD have done your jobs well, and because we as parents have done ours. This issue will affect both our children's futures and our property values (and thus retirements, college funds, and ability to support parcel taxes, etc.) for years to come.

    Thank you again for soliciting our views and incorporating them into the District's plan. I look forward to the Board's next meetings on this important issue.

    Edison Resident 10/11/2007

    I am a parent of an almost 3-year old (xxx), living within the Edison school zone. Every morning, we watch from the window as 13 children on our "Christmas Tree Lane" block of Thompson Avenue walk to Edison School together. Five more children will join them over the next three years. Overcapacity issues must be addressed to ensure that all of the children on our street will be able to attend the same neighborhood school. A supposedly unbiased "lottery" that nevertheless prioritizes siblings of current Edison students is not the answer.

    Of course, I am a biased parent. More than four years ago, we spent a fortune for a tiny old house simply so that our future children could attend school in this wonderful, community-based neighborhood. If the lottery and/or sibling priority plan are implemented, there is a very real chance that Ava and her future younger sibling(s) will not be able to attend the same school as her friends and neighbors. We will not be able to participate in community "walk-pools" or afterschool care within walking distance of school and home. We, like other working parents, will be at a substantial disadvantage to secure afterschool care because we will not know where Ava will be diverted until the very last minute. Our property values will decline because potential buyers will likely shun a home that fails to guarantee a spot in a neighborhood school. Frankly, we are holding off remodeling our home (and investing any more in our future in Alameda) until this issue is resolved and we have some assurance that Ava will be able to attend a neighborhood school. We hate to leave Alameda, but a lottery with a biased sibling priority plan may leave us no choice.

    I have no idea why the Board has examined attendance boundaries for middle and high school, but refuses to examine them for elementary schools. But it's entirely clear as to why they want a sibling policy: it instantly quiets the parents of currently-enrolled children. More than one parent on my street has expressed their relief that "they're safe" because they already have at least one child enrolled at Edison. A sibling priority only protects the siblings of currently enrolled students. Those of us with children not yet in the school system are at great risk of being diverted to a variety of schools across town. Not only that, we are at risk of having younger siblings sent to schools different from the one(s) to which the older children will have been diverted. The Board's suggested policies only protect currently enrolled siblings and it is inherently unfair to parents with only one child, parents of children too far apart in age to take advantage of the priority, and parents with children who are not yet in the school system. Most important, such a policy does absolutely nothing to address what should be the goal of all Alameda schools: to have neighborhood children attend neighborhood schools.

    My husband and I are strongly opposed to a lottery, and particularly a lottery that is entirely unfair because it does not treat children equally. At this point, the "first come, first served" policy at least grants all children an equal shot at attending a neighborhood school (if they are lucky enough to have parents able and willing to spend several nights camping out). But if overcapacity is addressed through re-districting or adding facility space, there will be no need for a lottery, a sibling priority, or overnight campouts.

    I am happy to discuss this at any time, whether by phone or email. I plan to attend the October 15 meeting with the Superintendent, as well as the upcoming School Board meetings.

    Edison Resident 10/10/2007

    Last night, Janet Gibson inquired about how parents might share ideas across the various school meetings now taking place to discuss the District's K enrollment policy and capacity plans. Heather and I mentioned that the ESNN group of parents and community members had created a list of questions that were shared with David Dierking and Superintendent Ardella Dailey on Wednesday, 19 September. It was indeed our hope that the questions would help the District respond positively to the concerns folks have shared about K enrollment and capacity issues.

    The questions were also posted at the ESNN website, which is accessible to all: http://groups.google.com/group/esnn/web/draft-of-questions-for-ausd .

    If you have any questions, or can think of anything we might do to help clarify or facilitate ongoing discussion among parents, the District, and the community, please feel free to let us know. We also would like to express our appreciation for your time and sincere responses last night.

    Edison Parent 10/3/2007

    First of all - thank you so much for your great communication on this topic!!

    • Am I correct in assuming that this meeting is to share the same ideas shared in June?
    • Is the purpose to gauge reaction or to roll-out as finalized policy?
    • Is the vote still likely to come back before the Board at end of October?
    • Am I correct in assuming that if approved it would be the policy until the new task force came up with different solutions and received approval for them?
    • Why would the District be in such a rush to implement change if the recommendations will be made in time to affect January Round Up?

    Edison Parent 9/28/2007

    I was among the group of parents with preschoolers within the Edison boundaries who attended Tuesday night's meeting.

    We left confused as to whether the priority/lottery proposal will move forward on Oct. 23/Nov. 13, or if the issue is being rolled into the superintendent's larger planning process on enrollment and boundaries. (And if the latter, what that means for the January round-up for next fall's enrollment, since it appears Edison could once again be oversubscribed by at least a full class.)

    I also understand that at a prior board meeting, board members had asked for information regarding the capacity at Edison and the possibility of adding portables. Did you ever get any information from staff? Tracy Jensen said something Tuesday along the lines of, "We know there isn't room for any more portables at Edison," but I don't know if staff reached that conclusion. We haven't seen any numbers.

    I appreciate your emphasis on facilities and the need for possible expansion at Edison and other schools.

    Edison Parent 9/28/2007

    I am strongly opposed to any attempt to remove my street from the Edison/Lincoln/AHS School zones. I have lived in Alameda for 10 years and during this time have strived to purchase a home in the Edison School district . My wife two children and I have lived in cramped apartments and sacrificed penny by penny to save for a chance to provide our children with decent public education and safe diverse caring community.

    We recently made this dream true come by purchasing a home at 2515 Eagle. The sacrifices that my wife and I have made to insure our children have paid off, and our oldest daughter has been attending Edison since Kindergarten. Next year my youngest daughter will be ready for Kindergarten in fall of 2008. Our block alone has three other young families who have recently moved to the neighborhood to insure our children can attend Edison School as well. The home and apartments that are on our street and neighbor-hood have been transformed through our hard work and investment in improving the area. Our effort is leading to revitalization, and is timed with the commercial development of the Nob Hill and Market Hall shopping complex. The result is a cleaner, safer, more attractive neighborhood that is increasing property values, property taxes, and sales tax revenues for city, county and public schools alike. This area which once lost it luster is brightened by fresh paint, active commerce, and the sound of kids playing on our quiet street.

    Being in the Edison school district has provided the motivational engine that has fueled the families and property owners on our street to work hard and improve the area. You are gravely mistaken if you ever think you will be allowed to crush the dream we have all been working for by moving our children educational future out of Edison .

    Instead you will face angry, hard working, tenacious, aggressive, vocal and resourceful crowd that will never let you or any one destroy the educational future our children, the community we have built, and the property values we have increased. My neighbors and I will not let you make the wrong decision for our children, and our city at large.

    Furthermore I am willing to be an active partner in developing alternative solutions to the challenge of meeting the demand for Edison school, such as adding additional temporary structures to unused playground area, developing schedules that accommodate additional children, better utilizing current building space, developing a better system for enforcing the entrance criteria to reduce the number of children attending that do not in fact live in the district.

    Please let me know if you have questions about my opinion or need help in developing solutions to the demand for Edison school.

    Alameda High Parent 9/25/2007

    I remember there was talk at one time about combining Alameda High with Encinal High onto one campus. Why not move the District office out of the old high school buidling and speed up the modernization to accomodate the 1,100 or so Encinal High students? Why keep two expensive campuses going? Very simplistic I know, but with the old high school renovated I would think there'd be plenty of space. Changing the borders isn't going to solve the high school enrollment problem. Even if you transfer 500 kids down there you are still left with a low enrollment on a large expensive campus. Combine to two high schools and call it a day. I'm sure you already know that you will lose large numbers of high school students to the private sector. I could give you a list of 75 families that I know will leave the public schools if forced down to Encinal.

    Alameda Resident 9/24/2007

    Is the BOE meeting open to the public? Where and when are the BOE meetings held? Thanks in advance for your help.

    Editor Note:Meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in City Council Chambers - City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting is recorded and broadcast live on AP&T and AT&T, Channel 15.

    Edison Resident 9/24/2007

    Thank you for being so forthcoming with all that is going on within the District. Do you have any idea of what the proposed boundary changes will be?

    Edison Resident 9/20/2007

    I reside at xxx Eagle Avenue and have become aware that there has been discussion to move the Edison School District boundaries in order to alleviate impacted enrollment at the elementary school. As a resident of the Edison School District who purchased my home 1 = years ago with the intention of starting a family, the school district boundary was instrumental both in my choice of my home and the value of my property when I offered a bid to the seller. Any attempt to change the school district boundaries will be publicly objected to by me and my neighbors.

    I am interested in knowing more about what options are being considered to solve the problem of over enrollment at Edison Elementary and what the current state of affairs is at this time.

    Edison Resident 9/12/2007

    It is with great distress and interest that I am following the districts discussion of how to address overenrollment issues in the Edison Elementary zone. I will join with other neighbors to vehimently oppose any re-zoning that would affect my home and my childs future school placement as a 2009 Kindergartener. It is only one year ago that my family purchased this home for well above the price of comparable homes in other areas of the island, specifically to place our child in Edisons boundaries.

    Though I understand a difficult decision must be made, please be aware that my neighbors and I will do everything in our power to fight any re-zoning efforts. Re-zoning us to Haight Elementary would also affect our future middle school zone (shifting us from Lincoln to Wood) in an educationally detrimental and unacceptable way.

    Please consider other problem solving solutions to the current overcrowding.

    Edison Parent 9/12/2007

    My neighbors and I will oppose any attempt to remove our street from the Edison/Lincoln/AHS school zones, should one be made. We will watch this issue carefully.

    On our one block alone there are four new families with young children who hope and expect to go to Edison and Lincoln. All of us bought or rented our houses there specifically because we gain access to the excellent education available at Edison and Lincoln.

    As the parent of an AUSD student, I will oppose any attempt to redraw our current school boundary. This issue affects not only our children's education but our property values as well, and we will be vocal should a change that impacts that be proposed.

    AUSD Parent 8/28/2007

    I strongly object to the idea of a school lottery in Alameda, as described in the Alameda Sun recently.

    As the parent of an AUSD student, I oppose any attempt to institute a lottery and urge you to keep in place current school boundaries. Students need to go to the schools nearest their homes, where their friends and neighbors attend and where their parents are most willing and able to support school programs.

    Edison Resident 8/21/2007

    I am an Alameda resident and parent of two kids, my oldest is at Edison school currently. I have been following the recent discussions on changing the enrollment policies and procedures. I would like to express my endorsement of moving up sibling priority from 7th place to 3rd place.

    My oldest child will soon start first grade and my youngest is scheduled to start next year. I have become very involved within the Edison community and look forward to the day when my younger daughter can start as a kindergartner. If sibling priority is moved up this will help ensure that my daughter will get a chance to finally attend the school she has become very familiar with, the school where she already has the support system of her sister and other friends, and the school where she can express the school pride she already has for the Edison Otters (she even knows the school song!).

    On top of the reasons stated above, allowing siblings to have a priority at an elementary school allows parents to more easily coordinate drop-off and pick-up from school. For myself I am the sole care-giver and driver for my kids because my husband works long hours and so being able to drop-off/pick-up both kids at one location is much easier than trying to be two places at one time. I also think of single parents and how coordinating drop off/pick-up to two different elementary schools would be an extra burden on top of an already stressful life.

    I thank you for your time reading this and also for your continual efforts to ensure the Alameda schools always provide an excellent education to all the students of our community.

    Edison Resident 8/17/2007

    Thanks for your continued efforts to update the now-very-interested parents in the Edison Network. I am not a parent, yet, but my wife and I are new residents and homeowners of Alameda. We hope to begin having children in the near future and the quality of schools in Alameda was the no.1 or no. 2 reason why we bought here. The other reason being proximity to SF where we both work.

    First off - please excuse my ignorance, but I'm just getting to know Alameda - and BOE policies for that matter (no kids!).

    I have a couple of questions/suggestions - I wanted to contact you directly about them first, but feel free to post this message on the google group if you think others would be interested.

    1. Despite the current state of home loans, home prices in Alameda seem to continue rising; I assume that property taxes collected by Alameda are as well. I may be simplifying issues here, but shouldn't the City be kicking in more funds to accommodate the facility/enrollment needs?

    2. Does Alameda or the school board conduct regular/annual surveys for continued determination of demand for kindergarten/elementary school spaces? Just an observation here, but there seems to be a demographic shift happening with older home owners retiring/passing on, etc and new home owners (like us) moving in. - forgive me, I haven't read the demographic report just yet. If there is a need, I can surely line you up with a few marketing research and polling colleagues of mine to assist, likely at a discounted rate if not pro-bono. I serve on the local board of the Northern California / Pacific Northwest chapter of the Marketing Research Association (www.ncpnwmra.org) and the SF American Marketing Association (www.sfama.org) . CfMC is in the marketing research industry as well, but it's our clients who do the work you would want to do.

    3. Somewhat related - I have a quantitative background and prefer to use scientific indexing methods for decision making. Assuming a lottery stays in place, how about a weighted lottery whereby each registrant is indexed for priority. I'm thinking the index would consider the admission items and priority currently on the list (siblings, relocated, etc) as well as a block-vicinity score/ranking. The block-vicinity ranking would require creation of a secondary index of sorts whereby registrants on blocks that are closer to the school (or further away from other schools) receive higher rankings than others. E.g. I'm on Johnson Ave and Mound, my block-vicinity ranking would be 7, versus someone on Central and High who would receive a ranking of 6. I'm obviously simplifying, but I think you can catch the gist. Again, I'm not the person to be putting this in place, but I know a few people who could assist.

    In any case - thank you for your consideration, response, patience, and support during these likely-stressful-for-you times.

    Edison Resident 8/17/2007

    I just saw the Alameda Sun Article dated 8-16-07 on Kindergarten Conundrum. I was surprised to hear that a petition was circulating in the Edison School District favoring adjusting boundaries as opposed to a lottery system. What surprised me is that and I did not receive a copy of the petition, especially since I live within the Edison school district (but on the edge of it). I'm concerned that the petition didn't arrive in the areas where the organizers figure will be outside the boundaries of their new school district. Has anyone suggested any specific streets that would form the boundaries for this new Edison School District?

    I figure that I could guess where the new boundaries are proposed, by looking at where the petition was circulated. I'm sure that those who signed the petition would be against the boundaries if they knew that their own homes would fall outside of the boundaries.

    Edison Resident 8/16/2007

    Once again you win the prize for communication and Im starting to think that information is the key to fairness. I hope that the board doesnt make any quick decisions about the capacity and boundary issues in the elementary, middle and high schools for several reasons. First given the current mortgage situation you may have a slowdown of growth in home buying and unfortunately foreclosures which may decrease numbers. Second, if a change to enrollment at Edison takes place I think it should be accommodating the increased numbers with portables etc. There is a precedent for this as there was an issue in the recent past regarding over enrollment at Edison with upper grades. That is the least devastating choice to families who have already invested in homes in the Edison, Lincoln and Alameda High Districts. With mortgages harder to get, home values are going down also. If you add in lottery or district boundary changes you are hammering already hurting families. The timing couldnt be worse.

    As far as getting the enrollment numbers up at Wood and Chipman and down at Lincoln , I m really not sure what middle schools will remain open given our budget crisis. How can you even think of changing boundaries when you dont even know what schools will remain open? If you already know, I hope you will add that to the open forum that is taking place.

    Bravo for the beautification of some of the schools. It really does matter what a school physically looks like. The students and families share a sense of pride and well being when a school is beautiful to look at. I think these kinds of improvements are under rated.

    Edison Resident 8/15/2007

    Alameda School Board,

    You have the power in your hands to change kids lives
    You have the power in your hands to change families lives
    You have the power in your hands to over time change a community
    You have the power in your hands to affect property values
    You have the power in your hands...................

    I am sure you are getting hit with plenty of feedback on your upcoming lottery vote. But I too must weigh in. While I realize no short-term solutions are perfect and sincerely hope you also begin working on the long-term solutions NOW. I implore you to not enact a lottery at Edison schools.

    I'll admit my reasons are selfish. I am willing to do what it takes to ensure my kids get the best education I can afford. If I have to camp out for days I'll do it happily knowing at least I had a say in what happened to their future. This whole issue is painful for us (and I am sure many others have similar stories to tell). Two years ago my husband and I choose to move to the fernside district (from the west side) specifically to get to Edison. This came at great personal sacrifice in that we had to increase our mortgage (which is likely underwater now) to higher than we felt comfortable with but knew (at that time) with certainty that we could give our children a great public school education. Now if we lose our ability to go to Edison we don't have the funds to pay our mortgage on top a private school tuition.

    We made a deliberate choice to move earlier than necessary so our kids could really grow up in the neighborhood where they would attend school. We live in a great neighborhood with lots of kids and great people. Yet now as we stand in wait of your decision - I feel frustrated. Will our choice turn out to be a mistake. Will my kids get in. Will I be able to give them what I moved to Fernside to give them. Will I be able to offer them an equal alternative?

    Life holds no guarantees - but I suspect many of you are parents and know how critical it is to give your kids every opportunity possible (socially and academically).....please take the longer term view of this decision. People will think twice about moving in if this uncertainty exists. People will think twice about staying if this uncertainty exists. Over time the community will be changed if young families decide there aren't enough good schools in Alameda to raise a family here.

    Alameda Resident 8/15/2007

    Thanks for all the updates. You are a wealth of information. Regarding the kindergarten process, you seem to imply that the boundaries changes may be coming sooner rather than later. Is that true? Is there a timeline for the boards consideration on this?

    Edison Resident 8/15/2007

    My husband and I bought our first home a year ago and are new to Alameda. We have no extended family here and few friends, and were looking for a community that our kids can grow and thrive in. We know we have found it. Our neighborhood is full of kids and young families and we have been enjoying the warm reception by our fellow neighbors and Alamedans in general. We live across the street from Edison School.

    My husband and I looked at many different neighborhoods across East Bay, but bought here for the above reasons. Of course Edison's excellent reputation was a huge draw for us, and we paid more for a smaller house to live within its boundaries. We have two sons, ages 4-1/2 and 3. We have been looking forward to when our eldest son can start Edison in the fall of 2008. We want to be a part of our immediate local community by utilizing our neighborhood school and being active participants in it. We would be extremely disappointed to have to send our kids elsewhere.

    I attended the Board meeting last night and I was pleased at the Board's reception to the parent comments, and the conclusion that this issue needs to be researched further. For me personally, I would favor the chance to wait in line to enroll over the uncertainty of a lottery, as did most people who addressed your board. However I can understand the argument that a lottery is fundamentally more fair.

    Overall I hope that serious thought is given to the possibility of expanding the school facilities with more portables. It is the only way to assure all the parents are appeased and to keep all the kids at their neighborhood school. I echo the sentiment that as homeowners we would be willing to contribute in any way we can to make this happen. We just want for our kids to be invested in our local community. We love it here and are looking forward to meeting and growing with other families in our neighborhood. I want to be able to see my kids playing at recess when I look out my window! Please give us that chance.

    Edison Resident 8/15/2007

    I was at the meeting last night.

    After sitting through the entire discussion about the lottery, I think the thing that impressed me the most was the lack of communication and outreach for this item. Sorry you were short of staff this Summer but I believe the law says there is a 72 hour posting regulation and that it must be stated in language that the public can understand. Because these two mandates were not followed, I think the people felt there was the intention to "slip this by". I found out about this meeting and the agenda through a neighbor who heard from a friend who overheard a conversation about this. You addressed this and denied the intention to sneak it through. Thank you.

    I also did not know that another k-class was added to Edison and Otis. How do I find out about these developments? What will happen to these students, and the schools, when they reach 1st and 2nd grades?

    The second issue was the idea of a lottery to solve too many students (the few, 1-3?) for the Edison and Otis schools. In G-8 it is clear that this was proposed to only apply to Kindergarten. But what happens when my children graduate from Edison and are eligible to attend Lincoln Middle School? Are they then subject to a lottery? I think that parents saw this as a beginning to an unsuitable solution to the need for more facilities for East Alameda. Aside from the lottery, I saw proposed the solutions to be; redistricting or more facilities. Are there any other solutions? We look to you as our leaders to seek good solutions and inform us and ask for our input to make decisions that benefit our schools and the community.

    I learned a lot at the meeting and plan to attend more whenever I can. I too have to make arrangements for my children so I can represent them in the Alameda School community. We are lucky to be a two parent family but I believe that I would find a way to be present for the important issues in my children's' lives regardless of my family or work status.

    There was the idea presented that parents would choose ( those that could) to place their children in private school rather than face uncertainty of enrollment. A bigger issue to ponder is what happens to an economy when there is uncertainty. People do not want to buy, plan or invest when they are uncertain. This I think would be a big impact on our community. We need to work to assure the people that there will be a place for their children in the community where they live. We, Alameda, are a unique area in this large east bay and SF community. I would like us to keep that which allows us to be nurturing and special.

    I believe the point was made by our solidarity and response last night that community schools are valued. Our strenght to come together, as well as the educational community, is what makes Edison a great school.

    I thank you for delaying this most important decision to allow for more information. We all make better decisions when we are well informed.

    Edison Resident, Prepared Remarks Delivered at BOE Meeting 8/14/2007

    Alameda Unified School District is facing a major crisis that threatens the very fabric of our neighborhoods and why families choose to live in Alameda. The historic school boundaries and school facilities are out dated and no longer meet the needs of our community. Without a realignment to attendance boundaries our children may not be able to attend their neighborhood school. While there have been hints of this problem in the past, the issue became resoundingly clear when earlier this year parents camped out overnight to ensure their childs enrollment in Edison School.

    In March the Board reviewed a demographic report that concluded there is a shortage of space in the elementary schools East of Park on the Main Island and raised concerns about Alameda High and Lincoln Middle School. The report further stated that there is a mismatch between where students live and where facilities are located and that this situation is likely to worsen, as the East End is the one area that is likely to experience enrollment growth. The report clearly recommends that the District realign attendance boundaries, increase facilities, or provide incentives for residents to enroll elsewhere. The report suggested starting this process early in the school year to allow plenty of time to implement changes before the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.

    Why, after spending between sixty to ninety thousand dollars for this study, are we putting aside its recommendations that recognizes the Districts outdated boundaries and provides solutions? Why are we ignoring the experts and substituting a band-aid solution that doesnt get to the heart of the matter and wastes precious time for the next school year?

    While the proposed revision to enrollment procedures may be well intended, it is sadly misdirected because it postpones the unpleasant inevitability that the Districts boundaries need to be adjusted. The School Board needs to make the tough decision and direct staff to hire a consultant to follow through on the demographic consultants recommendations.

    I recognize this is a controversial solution that will affect the existing students and their families as well as future students and families, but it is the proper, long-term and effective solution.

    In reading the staff report, I am also concerned that the enrollment procedure does not identify any criteria to determine when provisionally enrolled students will be placed in a class or moved to another school. Who will make this decision? On what basis?

    I am also concerned with the recommendation to give siblings top priority in over-enrolled schools. While well-intended, is unfair and overlooks the real issue. Should siblings be able to attend the same schools? Ideally  yes! But the way to ensure this is not to provide an unfair, first in advantage, its to realign attendance boundaries. If the school district boundary were redrawn, all students residing in the school attendance area, including their siblings, would be able attend their neighborhood school.

    The District should also consider creating special programs that would draw students from across the island. A Spanish Immersion Program or a Science and Technology School in the centrally located, under enrolled schools may provide an incentive for some parents in a densely populated attendance zone to enroll in another school, at their option. In a district where I taught, a similar program was so popular that parents lined up each year to enroll their children into a school that offered an educational alternative to the traditional neighborhood school.

    I would also like to address the lack of notification provided on this major issue that impacts all families with young children on the East End of Alameda. The staff report was unavailable until yesterday afternoon and this hearing is being held at the peak vacation time for families. This does not provide for the oopen, transparent public decision making , and There has been very little time for the public to educate ourselves on the issues surrounding the attendance lottery process and thoroughly understand staffs recommendations. No time has been allowed for the community to weigh the implications on neighborhood schools, property values and loss of state funding when families choose to send their children to private schools. The community should have more time to understand the issues and provide alternative solutions to the Board for consideration.

    As elected officials, I respectfully request that you make the tough decision and not move forward with staffs recommendation which disregards a highly paid consultants advice, ignores the real issue plaguing the District, and provides an inadequate solution. Lets not waste time with an ineffective, albeit well-intended proposal. We need to develop a long-term solution that includes innovative ideas such as creating special programs at under enrolled schools to address the mismatch between where students live and where facilities are located. We need to realign the school attendance areas and provide facilities that will accommodate the incoming population of students in the East of Park attendance area. The time to act is now! Lets get to the difficult task ahead of us.

    Edison Resident 8/14/2007

    I am very sad to hear that you feel it is okay to go ahead with installing a lottery system for the schools of Alameda without the consent of the parents who work so hard to have good schools for their children.

    What is your source and motivation for trying to push through this kind of change? Who thinks this is a good idea? Not the parents of Alameda I can assure you. Are you not supposed to be our representatives? Perhaps you no longer wish to serve us?

    I understand that there is a real concern for the number of students in the neighborhoods for the school facilities available. I was told that the over crowding and lottery were two different issues. Then let's treat them as two separate issues. What are other possibilities for solving the problem of so many people wanting and being eligible for the schools?

    There are many reasons why the lottery is a bad idea. The reason we moved here from the East Bay was because of the schools. I know there will be a lot of people dissolusioned and unwilling the accept the uncertainty of a lottery system for their children. We will loose these vaulable people, who volunteer and spend so much of their time to ensure their children have a great educational experience, to private schools. I could go on and on and I probably will in the future. But I want to get this to before the meeting tonight to voice my opposition to such a damaging and hurried solution to a problem we all need to work together to solve.

    Edison Resident 8/14/2007

    I am a 4 year resident of Alameda and recently learned about the Edison School vote being conducted this evening about the enactment of a lottery system.

    I would like to strongly encourage a NO vote and ask that the school district consider the following:

    • Effectively survey the demands for Edison School for current students and students for the upcoming 5 years to allow for effective planning
    • Adjust the existing borders of the elementary schools while Edison remains at maximum capacity, other schools in the Island are under- attendance
    • Add classrooms, teachers and resources for over enrollment problems

    Thank you for your considerationand I appreciate your support. If you are in need of local citizens to help research or play a more active role in resolving this issue, I would be happy to help.

    Edison Parent 8/14/2007

    As one of the many who camped out at Edison in January (#3 in line!), I feel that a more equitable solution to the problem is a lottery. I happened to be third in line because I live close to the school and saw a line forming. Others were quick to join if they were well-connected in the Edison social network. This left many out in the cold, literally, if they did not have either community roots or the ability to sleep overnight on the pavement. This rationale is clearly unfair. A more equitable solution is to lottery the available slots to Edison-area kids.

    However, lacking some sort of enrollment cap, a secondary problem exists which is limited space. Edison will temporarily solve the problem this year by repurposing an existing portable classroom. If the schools enrollment continues to surge next year, the site has limited capacity for additional portable classrooms and playground space. The District is likely to face lawsuits from parents if overcrowding is not foreseen and addressed. Clearly therefore, and in concert with a lottery, the School Board should establish an enrollment cap.

    Ultimately and sadly, there may be no way to avoid denying some Edison-area kids from attending Edison School. However, the rules to determine who, and how many, get in to the school should be logical and impartial and the existing scheme is more akin to an endurance competition on Survivor. The tribe has spoken: establish a lottery and an enrollment cap.

    Edison Resident 8/14/2007

    I received a very disturbing notice regarding the possibility of a lottery to decide where a child will go to school. I had thought that since my son was born this April I would have a few years to adjust to motherhood and would not have to get involved in school politics for at least another 4 years. Apparently I was wrong.

    I was born and raised in Alameda and have strong ties to the community. I also went to Edison School and have fond memories of my time spent there and was looking forward to sharing these memories/experiences with my son when he started school. The friends I made there continued on with me through middle school (Lincoln) and on to high school (Alameda High). As Edison is just 2 blocks from my house why should I have to even consider the possibility of taking my son to another school? This would be terribly inconvenient and time consuming as I am a single mother. I know for a fact that people who live outside of the Edison school district are putting their children in this school. I think that the Board should focus their energy on making sure the children of Alameda attend the schools that are closest to their homes. This is Alameda for goodness sake how bad can the other schools possibly be? If they are that much worse wouldn't it make sense to bring them up to Edison's standards? Maybe you need to do a marketing campaign letting residents know that all of the schools are competent and if they aren't fix the problem.

    I spent 5 years in South Carolina and if I would have had a child there I would have put him/her in a private school so that they would have received a good education. When I moved back to Alameda the thought of a private school had never even entered into my thought process until now. The next closest school to my home would be St. Philip Neri which I am now going to give some serious thought to.

    Edison Parent 8/14/2007

    I was one of the parents who camped out overnight to register my daughter in Edison School this year. I also have a two year old son who will be attending Edison in three years.

    Ideally, I think there should a policy in place to prioritize siblings of children already enrolled in Edison. It seems unrealistic that parents should face the prospect of taking their children to two separate elementary schools. Please let me know if any such policy exists or is being considered.

    I also understand that a lottery is being considered to manage registration for Edison School. I strongly oppose such a change. I believe capacity should be expanded to accommodate the growing population of young families on the east end of Alameda. In lieu of that, I believe the current "first come, first served" system is the best option. This at least provides some degree of control to parents. If they are motivated to sacrifice some sleep and comfort for their children, then they have the ability to increase their odds of acceptance. My wife and I moved out of San Francisco to avoid the lottery system. It would be very disappointing to have such a system put in place here.

    I appreciate you consideration of my positions and would appreciate any information and status that you can provide regarding these two items.

    Edison Resident 8/14/2007

    We moved to Alameda two years ago with the intention of enrolling our son in kindergarten at Edison in 2009. We live two blocks away from the school on Yosemite. It is now my understanding that staff has proposed a lottery system for enrollment in response to what happened earlier this year with parents waiting overnight to enroll their children. Though I applaud your response in asking them to clarify the proposed lottery system further before taking any formal action, I would urge you to truly gauge the affect that a potential lottery system would have on the neighborhood, the district and the city of Alameda.

    Edison Resident 8/13/2007

    Many parents moved (and continue to move) into our neighborhood with the specific intention of sending their children to such an excellent school as Edison and with our childrens education as a top priority, we would lose many of those families should enrollment at Edison not become a certainty for those living in the area. I know that in recent communications and in the flyer that was recently distributed, it mentions that many parents would send their children to private school. I am one of those parents. If my sons enrollment at Edison was jeopardized, we would definitely enroll him in a private school rather than place him in another school across town. And given the number of private schools in the East Bay to choose from, that would almost certainly entail a move off the Island altogether. I doubt that we are the only family that feels this way and, thusly, the disruption to the community would be palpable and the reputation of the city overall would be negatively affected.

    Unfortunately, I am unable to make the BOE meeting this evening due to family obligations, but please consider this letter as my vehement objection to the adoption of a lottery system for Edison enrollment. As many other parents have mentioned, I urge you to consider a re-calculation of the schools boundaries (as was recommended in the demographic study for the middle and upper schools) to address the issue of over-enrollment.

    Edison Resident 8/13/2007

    As a properly owner living in the Edison School District, I strongly object to any and all attempts to make Edison School student attendance being determined by a "lottery". We take pride in saying that our children all attended Edison School. Parents living within Edison School District boundaries should have priority attendance without exception.

    Is it true that some employees working in Alameda, but actually residing in surrounding communities, are given special privileges that allow their children to enroll in Alameda schools (e.g. Edison)? If true, this preferential treatment should be eliminated immediately!

    Why do test scores vary so greatly across the island? All Alameda schools should meet the same educational standards desired by parents hoping to win the Edison lottery. When all schools reach the desired standard, there will be no need for a lottery! Vote No!

    Expanding classrooms should be a top consideration. Many years ago, Kindergarten classes were both AM and PM. This allowed older kindergarten students to attend PM classes, while younger students attended AM classes. A simple solution for the present kindergarten problem.

    It is my sincere hope that you will vote "NO" to this outrageous proposal.

    Edison Resident 8/13/2007

    I would urge that you not introduce a lottery system for attendance at Edison School. Children who play together on their streets, whose parents socialize on those same streets, who walk together to school should nor be made to separate when school time comes. Because the school board cannot make the tough decisions to limit school attendance by adjusting school boundaries on those same streets the students need not pay the price. Special attendance permits should be eliminated to make room for district students. Classrooms should be added if necessary at Edison. Efforts should be made to make other schools as attractive as Edison to avoid the overcrowding at Edison. The students should not have to make the sacrifices forced on them by overcrowding and poor planning on the boards part.

    I am not a parent of children in the schools but watch the children in our neighborhood growing in a wholesome environment that is centered around a neighborhood school.

    Edison Resident 8/12/2007

    It was with extreme concern that I read a letter from my neighbor telling me that the Alameda School Board may make attendance at Edison School subject to a lottery. Both my children went to Edison and were able to WALK to school. As a working/commuting parent, it would have been a great hardship to have had to send them to another school. I am strongly against a lottery system. Why don't you just change the border of the Edison district as has been done in the past?

    Edison Resident 8/11/2007

    I am writing to ask that you do not approve at lottery system for Edison Elementary School. There are many reasons, all of which I'm sure you are aware.

    A lottery would prevent our children from attending their neighborhood school. We moved to the Fernside in order to have our 2 children attend Edison (they are 3yrs and 6mos) - we did not move here to have a 'chance' to go to Edison. Changing the system now feels like a 'bait and switch'.

    A lottery system would add the burden of driving my children to school rather than walking them to/from school. I'm sure many other parents would be in this same situation, thus adding congestion to the city streets.

    Instead of instilling a lottery, please effectively survey the demands for Edison -- how do you know we are here and have 2 children who plan on attending (other than mention in this email)? What is your method for knowing accurately the demand? Future enrollment needs to be surveyed so that a long-term plan can be well thought out and supported by the community.

    I'm sure that you are concerned about class sizes and that is probably one of the main reasons for your move towards a lottery. I am concerned about class size too. Please add more classrooms and teachers so that a lottery-based enrollment is not necessary.

    Although my family cannot be at the meeting on Tuesday night, we would like for you to hear us in our plea to the Board NOT to go forward with a lottery to decide who gets into Edison.

    Edison Parent 8/11/2007

    We are writing as concerned parents in regards to lottery scheme that may be employed for the Edison School District. This proposal is causing enough concern amongst residents of the community that we have formed a new group, The Fernside District Neighborhood Network.

    We understand that you will be voting on the implementation of a lottery scheme in the coming weeks. We are urging you to delay any action until a more comprehensive study of the proposed changes have been evaluated. As a group we would like for you to consider the following:

    Carefully Evaluate and Conduct a Comprehensive Demographic Study
    The study from Lapkoff and Gobalet Demographic Research of March 12, 2007 is a start; however, its not nearly comprehensive enough because a survey was not taken of local residents to determine the actual number of children who will be entering into the system over the next five years. Additionally, the research group, on page 46, even suggests that additional study would help us reach a conclusion about this [enrollment forecasts]. A five year demographic study would take a few months to complete; however, it would help all of us make decisions based on sound findings.

    Important Decisions Necessitate Community Involvement
    The decision before you impacts many of your constituents in the community. Edison school ranks highly because parents are involved with the teachers and administration. The decisions ahead may not be easy due to physical limitations of our facilities; however, we urge you to make these tough choices in consultation and dialog with those of us most impacted. We suspect that working together we can come up with solutions that can enhance the enrollment process and be equitable for all stakeholders.

    Consider the Financial Implications of the Lottery System
    Many of us paid a premium to be in the Edison school district so that our children could be afforded the best possible public education. The premium that current and future residents place on the school system has a direct impact on our property values. Secondly, we dont want to take chances on our childrens education. We suspect that many of us would simply opt out of the public education system and enroll our children in private schools if our children are unable to attend Edison. Since many of us have multiple children this could have an impact on ACUSD enrollments. Lets work together to maximize enrollments to insure that ACUSD can optimize its student funding.

    Thank you for your consideration. We sincerely hope that you will decide to delay any action until this important issue is more thoroughly researched. We look forward to seeing you at the next board meeting.

    Edison Parent 8/11/2007

    I do not want to have a lottery system for Edison school!

    I believe that this not the answer to what may be a temporary problem.

    Edison Parent 8/1/2007

    We are parents of two children, ages 2 and 4, living two blocks from Edison school. Before we share a concern and request for your help, we want to say how much we appreciate your website, and the obvious time and effort you have taken to keep folks informed. To access board meeting information, demographic reports, and other district information has been extremely useful. Thanks so much for all of that!

    Our issue is with the District's proposed Kindergarten Enrollment Roundup process. We are expecting our older son, Jonathon, to go to Edison for Kindergarten in 2008, but heard recently from friends that the District has decided to use a lottery process to establish enrollment in Edisons 2008 Kindergarten class (after giving preferential for siblings). That news really has caused us, and many in our neighborhood, great concern, as you can imagine.

    We read the demographic report and recommendations from Lapkoff and Gobelet available on your website, and the text of AR 5116.1, which appears to have been approved on 6/26 of this year. It certainly seems as though revising the school service area boundaries might be a better long-term solution than relying upon chance, and creating great uproar and disatisfaction across the area.

    I wonder if not a prudent step to take immediately might be to really understand the scope of the 2008 enrollment problem for Edison, and Otis - rather than wait until January for a signup, and then notify parents of affected students in May? Are we looking at a problem that amounts to 5 children? 25? Or possibly more even more?

    On our street alone - Johnson Ave - there are at least 3 families with their oldest children expecting to attend Edison in 2008, and none of us have ever seen a survey, or participated in a study, to establish enrollment expectations. (On our street, we have 11 children already attending Edison, and 5 more will get sibling preference under the board policy for enrollment at Edison in the next two years. So the demographic report's projections of continued increase in demand for Edison are certainly borne out locally.)

    We have heard the board policy is just a proposal. And we have also heard it is a "done deal". It certainly seems as though the idea needs much more discussion and consideration.

    Would you be able to share your thoughts on this issue with us?

    If there is something we might do to help you, more information you might need, or assistance we could provide by participating in a survey or action group, please let me know. Thanks very, very much for your time and leadership so far on the Board, and for taking the time to listen.

    Edison Parent 8/11/2007 follow up response to my reply

    I think everyone we have talked with in the neighborhood network does understand and agree with what you said - and don't think folks are saying that the lottery would open opportunities for folks outside of the existing service boundaries. The flyer I've seen mentions "within current attendance boundaries" several times. Coincidently, when we were talking some folks at the Crosstown Coffee House last week about the issue, one expressed pleasure that they thought they would, by a lottery, have an opportunity for their children to go to Edison, but we clarified that wasn't the case. All the folks involved that my wife and I have met are aware that the service boundaries still remain as one of the primary prioritization factors, but that as written in the District's June Roundup proposal, lottery results would still rank second (after sibling priority) for residents in the service area.

    The concern I believe is for the case where there are too many folks inside that existing service boundary to be accomodated by Edison. Then, a lottery would seem to randomize among that group who might be directed to another school, requiring them to drive to another school with more capacity. Of course, if the school is over capacity, and another class can't be opened, *some* folks will have to drive. But one issue with a randomized approach is that those selected probably cannot work with neighbors to share rides, perhaps necessitating more of individual car trips twice a day.

    Realigning boundaries, while still ending up with some folks in the exsting boundaries having to change, might at least keep those families in the same block(s), which could help a bit to preserve community and enable shared rides. I know this might be an issue where you cannot make everyone happy, of course, and recognize that anyone who has to move to a different school will have issues with whatever policy is selected.

    Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the lottery as a prioritization factor also raises for families a fear of feeling of being left out, and some we have talked with felt that they would resort to moving their children to private schools rather than face the prospect of driving across town to a school they don't choose.

    Even before we get to this point, it seems that the District should move quickly to find out the scope of the problem (if it is indeed a issue) for 2008 and beyond. Waiting until January for the enrollment roundup registration would leave lots of folks in a very concerned state, for possibly no reason. I'll look forward to the meeting Tuesday, and again appreciate your responsiveness.

    Drastic Measures to Secure a Spot

    Kindergarten Enrollment Process

    Alameda Sun, February 2, 2007

    For about three dozen parents, the allure of enrolling their kid at Edison elementary was great enough to cause them to camp out overnight at the school.

    And at about 2 a.m., when the temperature was in the mid-40s, it began to rain.

    Marcheta Williams, Edisons principal, said parents who wanted to register their children for next years kindergarten classes began lining up in an open-air corridor at the school on Sunday night, at about 8:30 p.m. By 10 p.m., about 34 parents were lined up.

    Williams said the overnight camp out was unfortunate. If you buy a house in a neighborhood, you should be able to put your child in that neighborhoods school, she said Monday afternoon.

    However, Williams said a parent told her the camp out was a nice party.

    At 9 a.m. on Monday, Padens secretary began registering students for one of next years three kindergarten classes, which enroll 20 students each. Williams said 18 students were put on a waiting list.

    Williams said last year parent began lining up at 3 a.m. for kindergarten registration, but never have they spent the night.

    Letters to the Editor

    Alameda Sun, February 2, 2007


    Dear Ms. Dailey, members of the school board, Ms. Williams, and members of the City Council:

    We live in the Fernside district of Alameda, and plan to send our son to our local elementary school, Edison, in the fall.

    We found out about the parent information night from a neighbor and attended. Concerned by the number of parents at the enrollment night compared to the number of open positions in the school, we came early (5 a.m.) to get in line the following week for registration. I was shocked to find that 67 people ahead of me had spent the night.

    We now find ourselves in an unexpected and alarming situation: we may be unable to send our child to our local elementary school. This is concerning to me on a number of levels.

    I fail to understand why there were apparently no surveys of the local demographics, with proactive plans to address the changing population? Clearly, the number of young children in the Edison area has increased over the past couple of years, and the school district has completely failed to address this issue proactively.

    I fail to understand why a situation was created where people felt a need to sleep outside all night in the rain to enroll their child in their local public school. This situation has disadvantaged certain parents (single parents, parents outside of the local parental network who were unaware of the panic, etc.) and is advantageous to no one. It is simply ridiculous.

    I fail to understand why the district did not send out a mailer to all residents in the area regarding the parent information night? I imagine there are some parents out there who still are unaware that any of this is going on. January is early to register for public school.

    I trust everything is being done to ensure that only local residents are attending their local schools (or, that they have priority). Everyone knows, unfortunately, that there are people who will try to get around the system by using friends and relatives residences as their own in order to get their child into a school they perceive as better. This practice prevents local students from attending their own school and must not be permitted.

    I am concerned at the general philosophy that appears to prevail in terms of a solution: It is not acceptable to simply say, well, youll just go to some other elementary school. Pulling children out of their neighborhood so they cant attend school with their neighbors and friends is harsh. And having them go from their preschool to Edison for a month and then shipping them off to some other school far away is a horrible amount of negative transitioning and, as you must know, is traumatic to the child.

    I sincerely hope the school board, superintendent, principal, and city are working aggressively to resolve this issue and find a way to permit local students to attend their own elementary school, whether by splitting up the kindergarten day into two sessions, adding an additional portable, or some other creative means. Failing to figure this out for the 2007 school year and beyond will have negative repercussions on Alameda and the public school system here as a whole; property values in neighborhoods are driven in part by the schools. If word gets out that even if you live in a certain school district there is no guarantee your child will attend that school, it will surely cause some to reconsider where to buy their house and where to send their kid to school.

    As residents of Edisons geographic district, we should be assured our child can attend our local school.

    Other schools do not have these problems; there is no excuse. I look forward to hearing your resolution to this matter.

    Kindergarten Conundrum

    By Marc Albert, Alameda Sun, August 16, 2007

    Dressing for work, James Zou flipped on the news at 6 a.m. and was immediately stunned.

    A film crew was just two blocks away, outside Edison Elementary, doing a stand-up about swarms of nervous parents hoping to snag one of 60 kindergarten slots at one of Alameda's top primary schools. Most had camped out through the blustery night, enduring a chilling winter storm.

    When the shock wore off, Zou, a 37-year-old postal worker, felt he had no choice. "I ran over there and called in sick." Zou's daughter pulled number 71, eleventh on the waiting list.

    It ended up working out for Zou. "I'm in because they added an extra class," he said. School officials, in an effort to ease overcrowding, shifted offices around and put up walls to add an extra classroom. At Otis Elementary, another over-enrolled east side school, the computer lab was hurriedly converted to an additional kindergarten class.

    Now Zou worries whether his other daughter will be able to attend Edison. He's concerned about having to pick up two children from two different schools at the same time.

    Alameda Unified School District officials, responding to complaints about the district's first come, first served school assignment regimen met Tuesday to consider alternatives. No decision was made.

    Board members, who sought suggestions from district officials to ameliorate the school assignment issue, were told there are no easy answers. Dave Dierking, the district's student affairs officer, described three options: switch to a lottery system, shift school zone boundaries, or find some way to add capacity. "Every one of these solutions has costs and creates problems," Dierking told the board. Dierking said a lottery would be the most equitable solution.

    But many east side parents and prospective parents aren't thrilled. Organizers submitted 173 signatures on a petition urging the district to move school zone boundaries if they had to, and rejecting a lottery system. "We wanted our children to walk to school," parent Anne Neunsinger said at Tuesday's school board meeting, warning that if the lottery is imposed, she and other parents may well leave the district. "We will be forced to look at private schools," she said. Neunsinger said declining numbers of children would reduce the funds the district receives from the state.

    The district is caught in the whipsaw between reducing class size and changing demographics as more young families with children move in on the east side. With classrooms designed for classes of 32 children, the district has run into a facilities crunch. When officials responded to public demand for smaller class sizes they instituted a 20-child maximum. "People plopped down $900,000 on a house so that their kid could go to a particular school and now they can't go to that school," he told the board. Several parents feared a lottery would force down property values on the east end.

    Dierking said the district couldn't add classrooms and teachers because of financial constraints. Under the 20-student per classroom policy, administrators try and get as close to that maximum as possible, but that means when enrollment rises, there aren't enough seats to go around.

    Overall, Alameda has excellent schools. According to the most recent rankings from the California Department of Education, Bay Farm, Amelia Earhart, Edison and Franklin all received perfect scores of 10 out of 10 in a 2006 statewide ranking. Otis and Paden scored nine out of 10. Haight and Lum received eights and Woodstock a seven. Longfellow earned a five and Washington a four.

    Aggrieved parents say they just want their kids to attend class with peers from their own neighborhood. Saying it is how a neighborhood becomes a community. "We've seen the lottery system in San Francisco and it doesn't work," said Jennifer Mullin, a marketing consultant who bailed out of San Francisco and bought specifically in Edison's zone so her 11-month old could be guaranteed an excellent school. Brian Fowler, a 35-year-old market researcher said the schools are what brought him and his wife to Alameda. "We probably wouldn't have bid as high [if we knew about the lottery] and would have considered moving to the North Bay," he said.

    Shifting school zone boundaries would take time and likely create a firestorm among families across Alameda being shifted from one school zone to another.

    For now, the district's first come, first served policy will remain in effect.

    For parents like Zou, the controversy is anything but esoteric. If his second daughter gets bounced to another school, it could create real hardship. Meanwhile he's also concerned about how fair the current system is.

    "A single mom? What can she do? Can she camp out all night with her kid?"

    Edison lottery plan placed on hold

    Parents convince school board to first consider other methods to alleviate overcrowding at popular school

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, August 17, 2007

    Alameda schools officials have decided to shelve a plan to create an enrollment lottery at Edison Elementary School after parents told them that there are better ways to deal with overcrowding.

    The goal behind the proposal was to avoid what happened in January, when dozens of parents camped overnight at Edison to guarantee their children would get into the school.

    But on Tuesday, the school board decided to delay voting on the lottery until it could hear how much it would cost to create additional classroom space instead, such as through installing portables.

    The board also wants to hear how long it would take to adjust attendance boundaries as a way to deal with the overcrowding.

    "We realize that increased enrollment is an issue throughout the district," said parent Sharon Khadder, who pushed for the delay. "But the board needs to look more carefully at how it affects Edison. They also should get more input from parents before they take action."

    The board will likely look at the issue again in late September or early October.

    "Parents are clearly concerned," Trustee Tracy Lynn Jensen said. "But people should know that we as a board do value neighborhood schools and we want to maintain them."

    Currently, the district's policy calls for a student who lives in a school's attendance area to get priority -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- followed by children who cannot attend their local school, and then others who want to enroll for various reasons.

    Children who live in the attendance zone would still have priority under the proposed change.

    But the new policy would also give added weight to students who have a brother or sister already enrolled at the school, and use a lottery if the available slots are full.

    What some parents fear is that a lottery will prevent children from attending their local school and increase traffic as children are driven across town to another campus.

    They also say it could undermine property values because people will no longer consider the local school when buying a home.

    Dave Dierking, who directs student services for the district, told the board that adding portables or adjusting enrollment boundaries are the only ways to deal with overcrowding, short of shifting students to other schools.

    About 20 children were put on a waiting list last year at Edison. Total enrollment was about 255.

    School officials expect the number of students to increase at the school, however, due to young families moving into the neighborhood.

    Fifteen parents addressed the school board on Tuesday -- all against the lottery. But on Internet discussion boards, other parents have backed the lottery, saying it's more fair to those who cannot wait in line because of work or other issues.

    District hopes for an 'A' in Enrollment 101

    Officials will study school population trends and try to determine how to best utilize space for classrooms and office facilities

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, August 31, 2007

    Last year, Alameda school district officials wrestled with budget woes and balancing the books.

    So what will be big issue this fall?

    The ups and downs of enrollment, according to Superintendent Ardella Dailey.

    "We have to look at the trends and how enrollment balances with our facilities," Dailey said Thursday. "We have to look what's going to happen in the future."

    Next month, the board will hear a report that will offer an "inventory" describing overall space in the district, including classrooms and offices. The report will detail how the district is currently utilizing its facilities and how they might be expanded or adjusted.

    The briefing will be tied into a demographic study earlier this year that predicted overall enrollment will drop about 106 students by 2011. The decline will mostly take place on Bay Farm Island and at schools located between Park and Webster streets.

    On the other hand, enrollment will likely increase around the new Bayport housing development -- where Ruby Bridges Elementary School recently opened -- and from the new housing planned along the northern waterfront.

    About 10,000 students are currently enrolled in Alameda public schools.

    What makes enrollment key is that it's the bread-and-butter of Alameda schools: The state allocates money to districts using a formula based on average daily attendance. The district's overall budget totals about $48 million.

    Over the past few years, district leaders have trimmed about $6 million from the budget and dipped into their 3 percent reserve to balance the books -- money that state law requires be put back. That, in turn, means the district needs to come up with at least $1 million annually in on-going revenue or resort to making a new round of budget cuts to balance the books.

    District leaders learned just how quickly enrollment can spark passions earlier this month, when parents showed up at a school board meeting to slam the suggestion of creating a lottery for kindergartners at Edison Elementary School.

    The idea was floated to avoid what happened in January -- when dozens of parents camped overnight to guarantee their child would get into Edison.

    But after listening to parents -- who feared the proposal was the first step toward a districtwide lottery that would undermine neighborhood schools -- trustees opted to continue studying the issue.

    "We want to maintain a situation where we have class-size reduction with kids still going to the school that's near where they live," Trustee Tracy Lynn Jensen said.

    Among those who helped prepare the demographic study is Luz Cazares, the district's chief financial officer, and Bob deLuca, who helped before he retired as facilities chief.

    Next week, Dailey will meet with Cazares and other key district leaders to look at what's ahead this school year, and enrollment will be among the items on the agenda.

    "There's two parts," Dailey said. "We need to develop a policy for how we handle a situation where two or three kids cannot get into a school. And we need to look at demographic trends and what classroom space is available."

    Among the ideas that may emerge over the next few months -- and come before trustees -- will be to adjust the attendance boundaries for some schools.

    While enrollment will be on the table, the budget will likely not be a hot topic this school year, according to Cazares.

    The reason?

    Lawmakers in Sacramento passed a state budget and the district now has a three-year contract with the Alameda Education Association, which represents teachers. That eliminates the uncertainty that surrounded the district's budget earlier this year.

    The settlement offers employees more money, starting with a 3 percent pay raise next July. Officials say they can absorb it because the state budget includes a cost of living adjustment.

    Other issues on the horizon this fall include some that are ongoing, such as aligning what's taught in the classroom to what appears on standardized tests and upgrades at various schools as part of modernization efforts.

    Schools search for ideal numbers

    Alameda superintendent says district must balance declining enrollment with areas expecting more students

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal,September 28, 2007

    With some schools facing declining enrollment and others expecting an increase, Alameda district officials must find the ideal number for each school if they hope to continue serving the needs of kids, Superintendent Ardella Dailey said.

    Officials also need to consider shifting attendance zones as a way to balance enrollment across the entire district, Dailey said.

    Plus, they need to look at how to pay for it.

    "The reality is that the community's desire for and the value placed on small neighborhood schools equates to high operating costs," Dailey said.

    Dailey suggested this week that the school board create a task force to gather input from parents and others about the issue and that the group make recommendations by the end of this year.

    Work on implementing any new policy could then start in March.

    About 10,000 students currently attend Alameda schools.

    A demographic study carried out earlier this year predicted overall enrollment will drop about 106 students by 2011. The decline will mostly take place on Bay Farm Island and at schools located between Park and Webster streets.

    On the other hand, enrollment will likely increase around the new Bayport housing development -- where Ruby Bridges Elementary School recently opened -- and from the new housing planned along the northern waterfront.

    Dailey wants the task force to look at how much space is available at each school and what would be its ideal enrollment, and then suggest ways to meet the goal.

    District leaders learned just how quickly enrollment can spark passions a few weeks ago, when parents showed up at a school board meeting to slam the suggestion of creating a lottery for kindergartners at Edison Elementary School.

    The idea was floated to avoid what happened in January, when dozens of parents camped overnight to guarantee their child would get into Edison.

    But after listening to parents -- who feared the proposal was the first step toward a districtwide lottery that would undermine neighborhood schools -- trustees backed away from the idea.

    Parents also convinced the school board to scrap a proposal to close Wood Middle School, which Dailey initially proposed as a way to save money because of its declining enrollment.

    Currently, about 600 students attend Wood. Lincoln Middle School has 900.

    Not only does the current enrollment imbalance affect whether a student sits in a portable classroom, it also plays into whether a campus has the space to offer elective classes, Dailey said.

    On Tuesday, the school board backed creating the task force, although trustee Mike McMahon questioned whether it would be truly effective.

    Dailey made the recommendation during her "State of the District" talk.

    She also said the district should make closing the "achievement gap" -- or the difference between how blacks and Latinos score on standardized tests compared to whites and Asians --the top academic goal this year.

    In the latest round of the Academic Performance Index, for instance, just over 73 percent of whites were considered proficient in math, compared with about 36 percent of blacks and about 47 percent of Latinos. Among Asians, about 72 percent were considered proficient.

    But Leni von Blanckensee, who oversees testing for the district, noted that the numbers are climbing. Five years ago, just over 50 percent of Alameda students were considered proficient on the math exam. The number now is more than 62 percent.

    AUSD Polls Public for Answers

    By Jonathan B. Opet, Alameda Sun, September 28, 2007

    Cramped classrooms at east Alameda schools and enrollment imbalances have district officials searching for answers.

    But when and how quickly recommendations can come together was debated Tuesday night at the Alameda Board of Education meeting.

    District Superintendent Ardella Dailey delivered a "State of the District" presentation, laying out broad goals for this year.

    The report "is meant to present to the board and community planning for the future" of Alameda Unified School District, Dailey said.

    A demographic study for the school district released this spring says: "Enrollment increases are anticipated from Bayport, from the new housing on the Northern Waterfront, and in the area East of Park Street on the Main Island." However, during the next five years overall enrollment is projected to drop by about 106 students, according to the study.

    The demographic study detailed growth at the east end's elementary schools, which are nestled in neighborhoods and have limited additional on-site space.

    This year Dailey suggests, among other issues, studying enrollment boundaries and mapping out future plans for the neighborhood schools currently not big enough for students.

    "Now is the time and the opportunity to proactively address Alameda's changing demographics, the district's need for fiscal solvency, and our community's high expectations for educational excellence and equity for all students," Dailey said.

    Dailey said last year's budget-cutting process reinforced her belief in a community dialogue. When the school district was faced with eliminating programs and some positions, scores of parents, students and residents attended meetings to express their opinions.

    To help form policy on enrollment and school facility issues, and future financial problems the school district might face, Dailey proposes working closely with community members this year by recruiting volunteers for a task force.

    But one official questioned whether forming a task force is a prudent approach to the pressing nature of crowded schools.

    Citing the prevalence of portables in the school district, board member Mike McMahon said, "The community needs to put permanent structures on campuses."

    In addition, he said the public needs to know soon the costs of building new or modifying current structures.

    To that end, he spoke against Dailey's recommendation to form a community task force to discuss long-term plans.

    "I guess I am not a big fan of task forces," McMahon said. He urged the board to consider this year's tight timeline proposed by Dailey and how past task forces have been "not necessarily productive."

    McMahon also cautioned against delegating responsibilities.

    "I believe the citizens of Alameda elected us to do this work," he said. Notwithstanding, board members generally agreed with Dailey's task-force plan.

    Task force members should be identified by Oct. 5 and a plan should be ready by February, according to the board.

    School officials to discuss kindergarten lottery policy

    Plan would go forward if applicants outnumber openings; only residents of school's attendance zone would be eligible

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, October 23, 2007

    Kindergartners wishing to attend an overcrowded Alameda school may have to take part in a lottery to secure a spot under a new policy that school district officials are considering.

    Officials stress, however, that a lottery would kick in only if a school received too many applications and that it would involve only children who already live in the school's attendance zone.

    Superintendent Ardella Dailey is backing the proposed change, which comes after the school district hosted five neighborhood meetings on the issue.

    "It would not be a districtwide lottery," she said. "We take pride in having neighborhood schools and we do not plan to change that."

    The Board of Education will hear about the proposal tonight and vote on it Nov. 13.

    The lottery would replace the current "first come, first served" policy that critics say is unfair to parents whose jobs or schedules prevent them from waiting in line.

    The idea behind the change is to avoid what happened outside Edison Elementary School in January, when parents camped out overnight to try to guarantee a spot for their children. About 18 children ended up on a waiting list.

    Total enrollment at the school is about 254. (Webmaster Note: Edison enrollment is closer to 375 while Franklin enrollment is closer to 250.)

    But officials expect the number of students at Edison to climb because of young families moving into the neighborhood -- a key reason why officials are now revising the enrollment policy.

    Under the proposal that goes before trustees today, priority still will be given to children who live in a school's attendance zone, but added weight will be given to those who have siblings already enrolled.

    Students with the least priority will be those transferring into Alameda from another district.

    What makes getting a handle on enrollment essential is that the state uses a formula based on attendance to determine how much money the district receives.

    Currently, about 10,000 students are enrolled here.

    Alameda school officials recently closed Longfellow, Miller and Woodstock elementary schools when enrollment dropped at those campuses.

    Moreover, a demographic study carried out earlier this year predicted overall district enrollment will drop about 106 students by 2011. The decline will take place mostly on Bay Farm Island and at schools located between Park and Webster streets.

    On the other hand, enrollment likely will increase around the new Bayport housing development -- where Ruby Bridges Elementary School is now located -- and from the new housing planned along the northern waterfront.

    Along with revising the enrollment policy for kindergartners, district leaders will look at shifting attendance zones in the future as a way to deal with the issue.

    Among the ideas that emerged during the community meetings was for the district to provide more outreach to parents with preschool children and to parents who serve in the Coast Guard, especially before they move to the base in Alameda.

    The upcoming kindergarten enrollment will take place from Jan. 21 to Feb. 1, 2008.

    Lottery plan loses parents' support

    With enrollment on rise, district's idea to stem campus overcrowding is unfair, residents tell school board

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, October 26, 2007

    Alameda school district leaders still have not decided whether they will create an enrollment lottery for kindergartners as a way to deal with overcrowding at some campuses.

    But parents who showed up at a school board meeting Tuesday told officials to shelve the idea and find an alternative.

    An enrollment lottery would undercut neighborhood schools and is unfair to people who may have purchased a home because they wanted their child to attend the nearby school, parents said.

    Officials also had not studied the repercussions, they said.

    "I personally cannot support this policy because there's no transportation being offered to students who are diverted," said Trish Spencer, president of the Parent Teacher Association council in Alameda.

    Trustee David Forbes, however, noted that an enrollment lottery would kick-in only at schools with too many applicants, and it would involve only students who already live in the school's attendance zone.

    "This policy is not a districtwide lottery," Forbes said.

    He added that a task force is looking at how many students each Alameda school can handle, and officials will be reviewing those numbers during the next few months.

    One parent suggested the district create a pre-registration system -- allowing parents to register their child shortly after birth -- instead of using a lottery. Forbes asked the district's staff to check into that idea.

    Trustees are set to vote on the new policy Nov. 13.

    The lottery would replace the current "first come, first served" rule that critics say is unfair to parents whose jobs or schedules prevent them from waiting in line.

    The idea behind the change is to avoid what happened outside Edison Elementary School in January, when parents camped out overnight to try to guarantee their children a spot.

    The demand prompted the district to create an additional kindergarten class at Edison, bringing the number of kindergarten classes now at the campus to four.

    About 60 more kindergartners applied districtwide this year than were anticipated, said Dave Dierking, head of student affairs for Alameda schools.

    Along with the extra class at Edison, the spike led to additional kindergarten classes at Earhart, Lum, Washington and Ruby Bridges elementary schools, Dierking said.

    The overall number of kindergartners enrolled was not immediately available. Currently, about 10,000 children attend Alameda public schools.

    Along with creating a lottery if a school receives too many applications, the proposed new policy would give added weight to students who have siblings already enrolled at the campus.

    Students with the least priority will be those transferring into Alameda from another district.

    A recent demographic study predicted that overall district enrollment will drop by about 106 students by 2011 and that the decline will take place mostly on Bay Farm Island and at schools located between Park and Webster streets.

    On the other hand, the study showed that enrollment will increase from the new Bayport housing development -- where Ruby Bridges added the extra kindergarten class this year -- and from new housing planned along the northern waterfront.

    The jump in kindergartners also means the district will experience an "enrollment bubble" as children become older and move into middle and high school, Dierking said.

    The upcoming kindergarten enrollment will take place Jan. 21 to Feb. 1.

    Tough Choices for School Enrollment

    By Marc Albert, Alameda Sun, October 26, 2007

    One thing about district's enrollment policy has become clear: there's no easy answer.

    That's the general feeling of the Alameda Unified School District as the clock ticks down to January's enrollment period for the 2008-09 school year.

    The district has been under pressure for months to revise its first-come, first-served school assignment policy as an unexpected spike in enrollments has outstripped available classroom seats. The problems are especially acute on Alameda's east side at what are considered by many parents to the city's preferred elementary schools.

    "Every viewpoint was represented. We heard from a wide range of opinions," Donna Fletcher, district spokeswoman, said about recent meetings with parents.

    The unenviable choice is between continuing the current policy, which critics charge shuts out those not on neighborhood e-mail lists; and what would essentially become a lottery system that a second group of parents charge is also unfair. A chief concerns is that children could be assigned to schools outside of their neighborhoods that might be lower performing or require commutes. Opponents of the lottery also say that by the time their assignments are known, it will be too late to enroll in private or parochial schools.

    "The goal is to develop a policy that is a fair policy to the most people, one that gives an equal chance for everyone to enroll for those spots," Fletcher said.

    The issue came to a head last year when some parents, hoping to get their children into Edison Elementary School camped out overnight in poor weather to gain slots in the school. Edison was received a 10 out of 10 in a statewide achievement ranking.

    Critics charged that single parents or those with inflexible employment hours were at a disadvantage when competing for slots with families where a parent or household employee could hold a spot in a line overnight.

    Members of the school board acknowledge that there are no easy answers. "Regardless of what process you set for an enrollment priority, there in essence is always going to be one group that is going to be disadvantaged," said Mike McMahon, a school board member.

    School District Superintendent Ardella Dailey held a series of five community meetings over recent weeks to solicit input. Fletcher called the meetings "really valuable. [The meetings] put us in touch with a whole group of parents that aren't in our system yet. We realize we need to have better outreach with parents that aren't in our system yet," she said.

    A third way was presented to the board by one parent Tuesday night, essentially adopting some form of pre-registration program that let parents place their children on the enrollment list as they are born.

    The board is expected to vote on the issue at its next meeting, Nov. 13. McMahon said the issues go deeper than just re-shuffling the enrollment policy.

    "I was extremely frustrated on the amount of time and energy that we're spending on one piece of the puzzle of what really is a capacity issue," he said. "Threading the needle on that capacity issue will solve most if not all of the problems."

    Essentially, the district's capacity has shrunk because of mandated reductions in the number of students per classroom. At the same time enrollment has risen in some parts of the district. The district also closed two schools on the west side of town in recent years in response to declining enrollment and budget problems.

    "The real issue we should be dealing with is the capacity issue," McMahon said. "As to the enrollment, I could go either way."

    Possible short-term solutions to increase capacity throughout the district include adding more portable classrooms, shifting to year-round schools, reactivating closed schools and creating magnet programs in schools with available space to redistribute students. A long-term solution might be building an additional school. "Parents want certainty, that's clear to me," McMahon said. "We need to expand to meet the demand. Fiscally, whether we can do that, remains as the challenge," he said.

    Kindergartner lottery not ideal, but it's fair

    Editorial, Alameda Journal, November 9, 2007

    ALAMEDA SCHOOL DISTRICT leaders will decide Tuesday whether or not to establish an enrollment lottery for kindergartners when a school reaches its capacity.

    Frankly, while a lottery may not be the ideal solution, it seems to be the most fair to everyone. There are no easy answers when a school faces overcrowding. And while, overall, school enrollment is shrinking, it may not be a common problem. But when it occurs at any school, those parents and students will feel the impact.

    As with any issue, there are two sides. Parents often buy homes in neighborhoods where there are schools they want their children to attend. Realtors promote certain areas as having particularly good schools or high academic reputations. Homebuyers expect to be able to send their children to the school close to them.

    That would be true in a perfect situation. But if a school cannot handle the number of students moving into its area, another solution must be found.

    Currently a "first come, first served" policy is implemented by the district, which resulted in parents having to camp out overnight last January to try to get their children into Edison Elementary School.

    Parents should not have to resort to such drastic steps. And, as critics have pointed out, not every parent is able to take time from work or their schedules to camp out overnight or wait in long early-morning lines to register.

    One parent suggested at a recent school board meeting that a pre-registration system be created, to allow parents to register their children at birth for a particular school. This too smacks of unfair advantage, and doesn't take into account the high mobility of today's families, who may come to a neighborhood long after their children are born.

    That leaves the lottery as the most pragmatic option. Officials emphasize that a lottery would only kick in at a school when it receives too many applicants for kindergarten. It would not be a district-wide lottery, and would be limited just to those students who already live in that school's attendance zone.

    And the policy would give priority preference to those students who already have brothers or sisters attending that school.

    We would hope the district uses a lottery plan only as a temporary solution and will continue to look for equitable ways to balance school attendance with the least disruption to families. School officials expect a "bubble" of high enrollment in some areas in coming years as these kindergartners move through the grades. The district needs to begin now to come up with a common sense plan to meet the needs.

    That plan may already be in the works, with the creation of the two task forces on elementary facility capacity and secondary program options. The task forces will present their proposals to the community in public meetings between now and February, where there will be an opportunity to discuss the findings.

    The task forces are a good step in trying to come up with long-term solutions with the help and involvement of the community.

    It's a balancing act between school sites and student enrollment. Finding the most efficient use of all school facilities and getting students into schools closest to their homes is the challenge.

    We can hope the district and the task force members can find solutions.

    But the lottery makes sense as a fallback plan.

    Officials set to vote on school lottery

    Proposal would replace 'first come, first served' rule that critics say is unfair

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, November 13, 2007

    Alameda school district leaders are expected to vote tonight on whether they should create an enrollment lottery for kindergartners as a way to deal with overcrowding at some campuses.

    When the school board members were briefed about the proposal last month, some parents told them to shelve the idea and find an alternative, saying it could undermine neighborhood schools.

    Trustee David Forbes, however, noted that an enrollment lottery would kick in only at a school with too many applicants, and that it would involve only students who already live in the school's attendance zone.

    Superintendent Ardella Dailey is backing the change.

    Districwide, about 60 more kindergartners applied this year than were anticipated, according to Dave Dierking, head of student affairs for Alameda schools.

    The increase prompted an additional fourth kindergarten class at Edison Elementary School, plus the spike led to more kindergarten classes at Earhart, Lum, Washington and Ruby Bridges elementary schools, Dierking said.

    In January, some parents camped out overnight at Edison to try and guarantee their children a spot, which in turn led officials to consider the lottery.

    The new system would replace the current "first come, first served" rule that critics say is unfair to parents whose work or schedules prevent them from waiting in line.

    Currently, about 10,000 youths attend Alameda public schools.

    Along with creating a lottery if a school received too many applications, the proposed new policy would give added weight to students who have siblings already enrolled at the campus.

    Students with the least priority will be those transferring into Alameda from another district.

    What concerns district officials is that the increased number of kindergartners will now create an enrollment "bubble" as the students become older and pass through the district.

    As a way to deal with it, trustees also will hear tonight from a task force that has been looking at overall elementary school enrollment, along with what's available for classrooms and other space in the district.

    Among those who served on the task force were Dierking and Luz Cazares, the district's chief financial officer.

    A recent demographic study predicted that overall district enrollment will drop about 106 students by 2011 and that the decline will take place mostly on Bay Farm Island and at schools between Park and Webster streets.

    On the other hand, the study showed that enrollment will increase from the new Bayport housing development -- where Ruby Bridges added the extra kindergarten class this year -- and from the new housing planned along the northern waterfront.

    The upcoming kindergarten enrollment will take place Jan. 22 to Feb. 1.

    Trustees approve kindergarten lottery

    By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, November 16, 2007

    Alameda school district leaders have decided to create an enrollment lottery for kindergartners as a way to deal with overcrowding at some campuses.

    The Board of Education backed the proposal unanimously Tuesday, despite opponents telling them it could undermine neighborhood schools because some parents might be forced to drive their children across town to school.

    But trustees said the new system -- which will replace a "first come, first served" policy -- was more fair to parents whose schedules prevented them from waiting in line to guarantee their kids a spot.

    Trustee David Forbes noted that the underlying issue was the amount of classroom and other space available within the district, which officials are studying now as a way of addressing the ups and downs of enrollment.

    In January, some parents camped out overnight at Edison Elementary School to enroll their kindergartners.

    That prompted district officials to float the lottery idea.

    Along with creating a lottery if a school received too many applications, the policy approved Tuesday will give added weight to students who have siblings already enrolled at the campus.

    Some parents, however, said that the sibling-priority was itself unfair to families who are enrolling for the first time, which in turn led trustees to tweak the proposal so that the sibling rule would kick in only if the siblings are enrolled during the same school year.

    Among those urging a yes vote was Superintendent Ardella Dailey, who pointed out that the lottery will only happen at a school with too many applicants and that it would only involve students who already live in the school's attendance zone.

    Under the new system, the students with the least priority still will be those transferring into Alameda from another district.

    About 60 more kindergartners applied districtwide this year than were anticipated, according to Dave Dierking, head of student affairs for Alameda schools.

    The increase prompted an additional fourth kindergarten class at Edison, plus the spike led to more kindergarten classes at Earhart, Lum, Washington and Ruby Bridges elementary schools, Dierking said.

    Much of the increase stems from new housing in the city and younger families moving into some neighborhoods.

    School district officials said they now must find ways to deal with the spike in enrollment that inevitably will occur at other campuses as those kids become older.

    Kindergarten Lottery Approved

    By Julia Park Tracey, Alameda Sun, November 16, 2007

    The Alameda Unified School District Board of Education approved a controversial plan to determine which incoming kindergartners will get preferred status in vying for available seats in schools at Tuesday night's meeting. The plan, known as a lottery or random drawing system, gives first enrollment priority to siblings of students in grades one through four currently attending the school.

    The remaining enrolling kindergarten students will be assigned enrollment priority numbers through a random drawing. These students will then be enrolled until all places are filled; the remaining students will be provisionally enrolled and placed on notice that they may be diverted to a neighboring school. The reassignment may take place anywhere between May 1 and the 20th day of the new school year, according to board documentation.

    Numerous parents lined up to address the board and to ask that alternatives to a lottery or sibling priority be considered. At issue for all parties was the question of fairness; while a random drawing was deemed as "most fair" by many, if siblings are guaranteed a priority, then parents of children already in school have an unfair advantage, some parents said.

    Parent Whitney Gabriel said that having "no exceptions" to a random drawing would be fair while parent Andy Currid said that calling the lottery "the fairest" is "disingenuous without considering it as part of the policy change." Currid said that it seemed that the parents in favor of the lottery were parents who already have children in the system and he called the lottery a "policy of convenience, simply to avoid the spectacle of an overnight campout" of parents awaiting a first-come, first-served registration process.

    Dave Dierking, student affairs and compliance officer for AUSD, said that with the ongoing issue of capacity at existing facilities, regardless of the method, "The same number of students will be diverted no matter what" policy is used. "One's definition of 'fair' depends on one's situation," he said. At Edison School, the scene of the overnight campout for limited kindergarten spaces, "students will be competing regardless" of sibling priority. He asked, "Does the fact that someone has been somewhere longer give someone more rights?"

    In discussion before the vote, member Bill Schaff said that, "fair is a personal perspective," and stressed that capacity issues must be addressed. "I, for one, am not hesitant to consider reopening elementary schools" that have been closed in recent years because of lower student population. Though the lottery option may be unpopular with some parents, "Any policy that we make can be changed by any future board  it's not set in stone," Schaff said.

    Member Mike McMahon agreed, saying, "This isn't done yet," and that since earlier parental concerns had focused on the need to keep siblings together, he felt that the lottery system with sibling priority allowed each school "to maintain its integrity (as a) neighborhood school, so siblings can go to school together."

    Some speakers expressed concern that families without transportation could be diverted to schools beyond walking distance, among other issues. Hardship on individual families will be considered in diverting students, and Dierking said that in student policy, hardships are considered "on a daily basis" in his office.

    Before calling for the vote, board president David Forbes praised parents for their involvement and stressed that "the big picture is that we have a capacity issue. Capacity is the real elephant in this room." With that, the board unanimously approved the administrative regulation on kindergarten enrollment procedures.

    A board workshop on capacity issues takes place Dec. 12 at a location to be announced, and the public is invited to attend.

    A public meeting is also set for Dec. 5 at Haight School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to share the results of the Superintendent's State of the District focus on elementary enrollment forecast and facility capacity.

    Allen Bill Description


    Comments. Questions. Broken links? Bad spelling! Incorrect Grammar? Let me know at webmaster.
    Last modified: October, 2007

    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. FAIR USE NOTICE
    This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.