2008 Budget Recap for AUSD
With the presentation of the First Interim in December, 2007, it appeared prior year budget cuts had paid off and AUSD was finally on solid financial footing. However, the release of the Governor's budget in January, 2008, changed all of that. In a February Special meeting, staff presented initial plans to address the impact.
December, 2007 Developments
At the December 12 BOE meeting, the Board approved the 2007/08 first interim report.
January, 2008 Developments
On Janaury 10, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger released his State Budget proposal for 2008-09 fiscal year.
The proposed budget suspends Prop 98 and reduces base funding (i.e., current year funding) for Revenue Limit and Categorical Programs, including Special Education, Child Development, Adult Education and Food & Nutrition. AUSD staff presented their assessment of the proposed budget on AUSD at the January 22 BOE meeting. The Alameda Sun published a recap article of the BOE meeting titled: 'Very Bad News' — Budget Crunch Heads for AUSD.
Governor's Budget Proposal
REVENUE LIMIT COLA and DEFICIT
How the COLA and deficit factor impact AUSD:
Special Education COLA and Deficit
Categorical COLA and Deficit
Regional Occupation Programs
February, 2008 Developments
At a special BOE Meeting on February 4, staff presented a review of the Governor's Budget Impact on AUSD, the Spending Reductions Planning Timeline and Staff Reductions Timeline. In addition, AUSD Budget Fact Sheet was distributed.
If you missed the meeting and would like to watch it on Alameda TV Channel 31 it will be broadcast as follows:
Impact of Governor’s Budget on AUSD (2 hrs)Thursday, February 7, 10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
Friday, February 8, 8:00-10:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 9, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 10, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
The state PTA has provided a set of letters that sent to elected officials. Trish Spencer, Alameda PTA Council has coordinated with other low wealth school districts and they are planning a trip to Sacramento on February 27th.
On February 15, the Superintendent issued a letter to the community explaining the current budget crisis facing the School District as well had her guest commentary published in the Alameda Journal and Alameda Sun. On February 26 the Alameda Journal preview the BOE meeting with an article titled: High school sports facing elimination and Blogging Bayport published an two entries: For Less Than a Cup of Coffee A Day and Opt In / Opt Out.
At the February 26 BOE meeting, after the Superintendent presented her recommendations for two years of budget reductions, approximately 40 speakers spoke in oppposition to various programs on the list. In addition, the Board discussed the parcel tax resolution.
A new group supporting the parcel tax has been formed called: Keep Alameda Schools Excellent.
March, 2008 Developments
The Board of Education held a special meeting at Chipman at 6:30pm to decide on the Superindtendent's revised list of recommendations and the parcel tax The Board approved $976,000 in reductions which led a student protest the following day and a poll in USA Today about the effect of high school sports on thier lives. For video see Blogging Bayport post: A Video is Worth a 1000 Words.
On March 4th the District solicits participation from District employees to serve on the K-12 Restructuring Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to:
The parcel tax measure is assigned letter "H" on March 15.
The Republicans worked on an alternative funding plan for education while on their annual retreat.
April, 2008 Developments
Here is a link to a video from the April 16th Protest, when Governor Schwarzenegger visited the USS Hornet. The first link is a YouTube video of lesser quality and the second link is maintained by Eric Ladenburg on his website (be patient as it takes a few minutes to load into the broswer window).
June, 2008 Developments
After counting all of late ballots including provisional ballots, Measure H passed. The emergency 4 year parcel tax will generate an additional $4 million. As a result, a number of planned budget reductions were restored with the adoption of the budget at the June 30 BOE meeting.
'Very Bad News' — Budget Crunch Heads for AUSD
By Julia Park Tracey, Alameda Sun, January 25, 2008
Alameda Unified School District's chief financial officer presented an updated look at the proposed cuts from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2008-09 grim state budget at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.
"I have bad news. Actually I have quite bad news," Luz Cazares told the board, then shared some figures from the budget proposal as it affects K-12 education and AUSD in particular. Among other action, Schwarzenegger's proposed budget suspends Prop. 98, which guarantees a minimum level of funding for public schools, and further reduces funding for public schools by $4 billion. In the 20 years since Prop. 98 was passed, it has been suspended only once. This boils down to a loss of some $4 million for AUSD in new and ongoing revenue, according to Cazares' report.
The governor "insinuates" that he'll pay it back sometime in the future, said Cazares, "but we should not expect to receive" all of it back. "It's a loss of new money (expected next year) and it's a loss of current dollars."
If this year looks bad, next year will be worse, Cazares said. "For next year it takes a pretty bad turn for us. (The governor) didn't want to hurt school districts in the current year — but that seems to be acceptable in the subsequent years. We'll take the brunt of the hit in the subsequent year."
In just one example, Cazares explained how special education funds could be cut as much as 11 percent — a challenge in a mandated program in which costs go up every year, even with a cost-of-living increase. Taking "$285,000 out of the special education budget would be a rather difficult task," Cazares said. "Those costs tend to grow over the year — the idea of cutting it by almost $300,000 is out of the question." The state is proposing to cut special education dollars despite a federal mandate to spend more on special education. A "Maintenance of Effort" requirement is that districts have to spend it even if the state doesn't give it to the districts, Cazares said.
AUSD "will have to complete a budget for next year by June that will be based on assumptions versus knowing what will be there. We can't take this level of a hit in one year without some sort of planning in advance," she said. But schools are not alone in facing budget cuts. "Every other sector, it's the same thing," said Cazares. "It doesn't create much collaboration across the board when we're all fighting for the crumbs."
School board members weighed in on how the board and district could manage the cuts. Mike McMahon pointed out that current funding is $5771 per student, but that "next year we would be funded at $5641 — a decrease of $130 per student.
"This is just Act I," he said. "Act II will come out in May with the governor's revise." Furthermore, "If we can't take the cuts, then we have to advocate for increasing revenue — that's a code word for (increasing) taxes," McMahon said.
"It's still going to be ugly; it's still going to be brutal," said member David Forbes. "I think we need to look within our own community, within ourselves to keep the school system we have. I know we can't wait for the state."
In honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday holiday, Superintendent Ardella Dailey began the meeting by reading a portion of King's "I have a Dream" speech, recalling how on Aug. 23, 1963, as a teenager, she had marched on Washington DC, and heard those words for herself from the freedom leader. Dailey noted that the words of the speech "are very relevant to today," and that the promissory note that King regarded as due is "what we should be giving to our students in California."
The board also held a public hearing to hear from the Renaissance Leadership Academy, a charter school that is seeking to join AUSD's growing cadre of independent schools. Lead petitioner Mandy Tham said the school, a K-8 academy which tops out at 205 students, will offer "choice for parents and achievement for students."
Speakers offered pros and cons for adopting another charter school on the Island. Rob Siltanen, a teacher at Alameda High School and a parent, said, "I have no doubt about the good intentions of these good people" but expressed his grave concern about impacting AUSD students with up to $1 million in revenues deflected from the main budget. He said such a diversion of funds would take the AUSD budget "from catastrophic to apocalyptic."
Others spoke of the need for parent choice. Jim Tham, an Alameda resident and parent of four, said "If you don't have money, you don't have choice," and said that in education, "You get one chance."
Member Tracy Lynn Jensen asked AUSD's David Dierking, student affairs and compliance officer, if students in AUSD have any options for where to go to school. In fact, there are many options for children who want to attend other schools, Dierking said. He said most of his days are spent getting students into a school that suits them best, using open enrollment and transfer options. According to Dierking, 20 percent of elementary students in AUSD aren't in their own neighborhood school by choice.
The board will take action on the Renaissance Leadership Academy application in two weeks.
State budget will decimate educational system
By Ardella J. Dailey, Guest Commentary, February 15, 2008
Twelve months after declaring 2008 "The Year of Education," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger now proposes $4 billion in cuts to education funding. "The Year of Education" is fast becoming, as noted by State Superintendent Jack O'Connell, "The Year of Evisceration," which I recently learned means to "gut" or cut the "life force" out of something.This in not just another "bad budget year for California" and "everyone must take a hit." This is the most harmful budget I've seen in my 25 years as an educator.
California's schools simply do not have $4 billion to cut. Nor does Alameda have the $4-5 million that it would mean here. If we were to apply straight, across the board cuts in Alameda, without respect to priority, as the governor did, we would need to cut 46 teachers, 16 office or clerical staff, six maintenance and food service workers, and four administrators.
Our schools and our community have already endured $7.7 million in cuts over the last seven years.
And yet, we continue to be the school district that gets better each year. This can only be because of the dedication and commitment of our resilient employees who continually go "above and beyond" for Alameda's children.
At a time when we should be investing more money to protect and increase our gains, school districts across the state are now being asked to reduce even further. This is not a matter of "trimming the fat." The governor's proposed budget reduction is equivalent to cutting more than $20,000 per classroom!
Even in the best of times our school districts are sadly under-funded. Education Week magazine recently gave the state a D-plus grade for its school funding efforts. California currently spends $2,000 less per student than the national average and ranks 46th in the country in school funding. And in Alameda, we already receive the lowest per student funding of any school district in Alameda County due to the inequitable way that the state funds school districts. When the governor asks California schools to make further cuts, it's like asking a poor family to skip a meal in order to make ends meet; hardly a realistic solution.
Reducing our investment in the education of California's -- and Alameda's -- children is not the answer to the state's fiscal crisis. Rather, California's financial health is dependent on what the governor, the legislature, and even what we do today to address the deficit in educational funding.
We must ask ourselves a series of vital questions: How do we prepare our youth to meet the demands of a democratic nation? How do we address persistent inequality in our society? How do we maintain our economic prosperity in an increasingly competitive world? And how do we make a better world for each of us today and for future generations of Californians?
Providing a quality education to every child, in every classroom and in every school is the answer to each of those questions.
High school sports facing elimination
Trustees tonight to review suggested cuts, offer feedback before proposals go to vote on March 4
By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, February 26, 2008
Faced with an anticipated $4.5 million shortfall in state money, school district officials may cut high school sports entirely -- basketball, swimming, tennis ... everything.
The Junior ROTC program at Encinal High School also may go, along with class-size reduction for high school freshmen in English and math.
The slate of belt-tightening recommendations from Superintendent Ardella Dailey comes before the school board tonight, when trustees will have their first chance to review them and offer feedback.
The board will vote on the proposals March 4.
The initial cost-saving measures from Dailey cover this fiscal year and total about $2.8 million. But she also proposes cutting an additional $2.2 million during the next fiscal year through "restructuring of the K-12 education program," which she said could mean closing or consolidating schools.
Other school districts, including Oakland, are wrestling with similar cuts.
The current Alameda shortfall stems from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut at least $4 billion in overall education spending as a way to help make up the state budget deficit.
Schwarzenegger also wants to suspend Proposition 98, the constitutional amendment that guarantees K-12 schools and community colleges annual money from the state's general fund.
"I do not want to be an evil doer because the governor does not have the courage and the vision to make our children and their education a priority in the state of California," said Dailey, who believes she has been forced into calling for the cuts.
The current recommendations follow Alameda trustees trimming $7.7 million from their budget over the past seven years.
Brad Thomas, athletic director at Alameda High School, learned about the recommendation Monday morning.
He called it a "major hit."
"I believe it's absolutely vital to have an athletic program at any high school," Thomas said. "It's part of the culture at the school. And if the overall culture takes a hit, then it will have an effect on academics."
If the board does end up approving the recommendation, Thomas said he would then expect to sit down with parents and others to look at ways to generate cash to keep the teams going.
Eliminating the funding for high school sports would save about $345,000 annually, according to Luz Cazares, the district's chief financial officer.
Closing the two swim centers, which also is in the cards, would save $120,000, Cazares said.
Also recommended are changing the hours of custodians to recoup $125,000, and reducing the number of middle school counselors to save $90,000.
But the biggest money-generator comes from the recommendation to free up $1.08 million in state-mandated reimbursement funds as a way to save about 20 jobs, including 12 teachers. The reimbursement funds go for state-mandated expenses, such as contract negotiations, testing and school accountability report cards. Alameda is looking at using the reimbursement money to help make up the shortfall in other areas.
Irate over cutbacks, Alameda high school students walk out of classrooms
By Peter Hegarty, Alameda Journal, March 6, 2008
ALAMEDA - Chanting and holding signs, hundreds of students in Alameda walked out of class Wednesday to show their anger at the school board's decision to gut funding for high school sports as a way to offset a $4.5 million budget shortfall.
"It's going to affect our entire school, not just the students who play," said Ahmad Shaghasi, a 14- year-old freshman cornerback on the Alameda High School football team. "The board is making decisions that will make us suffer. It affects our future."
Trustees initially were considering eliminating every penny from high school sports and closing the school district's two swim centers, which would have saved $465,000.
But during a special meeting that stretched into the early hours of this morning, trustees opted instead to cut $265,000 from sports and the pools, which the public also use.
Athletic directors at the high schools will decide now how to allocate what's left of the money.
"We did not want to tell the directors that there was no money for pools, but that they must pay for tennis or golf," Trustee Tracy Lynn Jensen said. "That wouldn't be fair."
Along with a slate of cuts, the school board decided to put an emergency $120 residential parcel tax on the June ballot to help generate cash.
The annual tax would stop after four years - but it would be on top of the current $189 tax that Alameda homeowners already pay for local schools.
The belt-tightening approved by the board includes eliminating music instruction for first- through third-graders, plus cutting back on middle school counselors and ending class size reduction for high school freshmen. About $200,000 will be saved from the loss of the music program, according to Luz Cazares, the district's chief financial officer.
Ardella Dailey, superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District, first suggested no longer paying for high school sports last month as a way to help make up the shortfall, the proposal quickly came under fire from parents, teachers and students, who packed the special board meeting at Chipman Middle School.
The outcry prompted trustees to continue earmarking some money toward sports and instead make other cuts, including laying off the district's public information officer.
"We are still strong as a team," said 17-year-old Jason Silsdorf, a 6-foot-11-inch player on the Encinal High School basketball team. "But we still want to make a stand. We are saying, 'Keep the teams."'
The cost-saving measures that trustees approved cover just this fiscal year and total about $1.4 million.
Dailey proposes cutting an additional $2.2 million during the next fiscal year, including possibly closing schools.
Oakland and other Bay Area school districts are wrestling with similar money problems.
The student walk-out today culminated with a rally inside Kofman Auditorium in Historic Alameda High School.
"We are going to work hard, we are going to save our schools, we are going to save our programs, and we are going to be on the courts and football fields next year," said Kevin Gorham, Encinal High's athletic director. "It's not about Alameda or Encinal. It's about us."
Saleh Alsharay, a freshman at Alameda High School, said sports provide students with opportunities beyond the playing field.
"Sports help some of us go to college through scholarships," the 15-year-old Alsharay said. "If we lose sports, we lose part of our school."
Trustee Mike McMahon voted against making any cuts, saying he would rather run the risk of state sanctions than short-change students by eliminating programs.
Jensen voted against the parcel tax after trustees decided during the meeting to raise the maximum amount for a commercial parcel from $7,500 to $9,500.
"I fully support the parcel tax," she said. "But I did not think that we should raise the amount after we had first told the public that it would be less."
The tax will need a two-thirds majority to pass.
Alameda school officials have cut $7.7 million from their budget over the past seven years.
The current shortfall stems from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut at least $4 billion in overall education spending as a way to help make up the state budget deficit.
Schwarzenegger also wants to suspend Proposition 98, the constitutional amendment that guarantees K-12 schools and community colleges money from the state's general fund.
"While the governor's previous budgets have resulted in record funding for California's schools, fully funding education next year would take billions from other critical programs, also faced with 10 percent across-the-board cuts," said Dave Long, state secretary of education, in a written statement. "These include health care for the elderly and disabled and our state's parks and prisons."
Mike Cooper, Encinal High School's vice principal, said state officials need to rethink the way they provide money to schools.
"I think the battle is not with the Alameda school district," Cooper said. "It's with the way that school districts are funded."
Tell us: Where would you be without prep sports?
Think back to when you were a teen-ager, and ask this question: How different would you be today if you hadn't had high school sports?
USA TOday, March 6, 2008
That question flooded my mind when I got a phone call Wednesday night from California, from my Alameda High School track and cross country teammate, Lester Mina. At first, from the sound of his voice, I thought someone close to us had died. Turns out our loved one was only seriously maimed.
"They're shutting down sports,'' Lester said.
He was about half right. With California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Say, you think he played high school sports?) hoping to cut the state's education budget by $4 billion, Alameda is looking to whack its school sports spending from $465,000 to $265,000. So who do they choose, swimmers or hoopsters? Infielders or linebackers?
My old team keeps in touch. One of our guys, Angel Martinez, born in Cuba, is CEO of Deckers Outdoor. Another, Tom Hui, born in China, is a software pioneer. We always talk about how being a bunch of scrawny distance runners who won a bunch of Alameda County Athletic League titles in the '70s helped get us where we wanted to go.
I'm guessing some other alums from the city's two public high schools feel the same way. Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell went to Encinal. So did a high-kicking pitcher the Tigers are counting on, Dontrelle Willis. And the Phillies' three-time All-Star, Jimmy Rollins. My school sent Chris Speier, Class of '68, to the majors for 19 years.
Alameda is a man-made island, separated from Oakland by an estuary. We used to call it "The Isle of Style." I look back at those days -- the San Francisco Bay Area of the anything-goes '70s -- and wonder how my free time would have been spent if coach Bill "Stubby" Thompson didn't have me running on the beach or doing 440s on the track every afternoon.
So yeah, Alameda was a great place to go to high school, but it's no more special than yours, which probably also is feeling the sports pinch. Tell us what it would have meant, if you had gone through what Alameda's kids are about to experience.
Assembly Reeps cook up education plan
By Judy Lin, Sacramento Bee, March 28, 2008
Saying they don't want to cut education, Assembly Republicans spent part of their retreat this week formulating a plan to fund schools without resorting to a suspension of Proposition 98.
In fact, GOP members said they think they can give a small year-over-year increase to K-14 programs – all without raising taxes.
"It's better than what the governor's proposed," Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, said Friday after blogging about the plan. "What it shows is if you take a hard long look at a budget that's in excess of $100 billion, you can find savings in adjusting resources to meet more pressing needs. And Republicans feel the most pressing needs are dollars that teach children rather than dollars that are not as directly involved in education."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to suspend Proposition 98 by cutting $4.8 billion from what he says schools should get next fiscal year. Instead of $60.4 billion for K-14 in the general fund, the governor would provide $55.6 billion.
Republicans say they think they can get education another $2 billion without suspending Proposition 98. The move would maintain year-over-year funding, they said.
DeVore wouldn't release details of the entire plan, but he said the caucus borrowed a few plays from the legislative analyst's alternative budget proposal -- except, of course, when it came to her suggestions for tax increases.
DeVore said the state already has the authority to lower the constitutional guarantee for school funding because general fund revenues have been falling below projections.
The state, he said, could then add $1 billion by sweeping up unspent education funds and suspending the Quality Education Investment Act, a grant program approved in 2006 as part of Schwarzenegger's settlement with the teachers union.
However, it's unclear where the rest of the money would come from. And it doesn't provide cost-of-living salary increases for teachers.
The GOP caucus could try to force a bill on Democrats, challenging the majority party's assertion that taxes are needed to protect public schools.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez's spokesman, Steve Maviglio, said Republicans haven't shared their plan with Democrats.
"The Republicans have embraced the philosophy of a stop sign, so if they have some ideas to bring to the table, we're more than happy to sit down and discuss them," Maviglio said.
2003 State Budget Crisis
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