Mike McMahon AUSD
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Master Plan Feedback

July, 2009

Throughout the Master Plan Process there will be numerous opportunities for feedback. This page is intended to centralize the feedback in one place.

Master Plan Workshop May 20 Feedback  Master Plan Workshop June 2 Feddback  Master Plan Survey Results 


Master Plan Survey Comments

Community input is overrated. Most people know very little about school finance, curriculum, and district management. Most people are concerned with their little piece: their job, their child, their neighborhood schools. That's why we hire professionals to lead, to look at the big picture.
I do think it's important for district leadership to be clear what is and is not possible (AUSD can't, for example, given the state of funding, have all it wants). And to make basic facts clear: AUSD has lowest admin expenses in the county, AUSD has low per student funding, AUSD can't do everything.
But not all ideas are good ones--most aren't. And most people aren't anything close to experts. So the leaders of this master planning process need to present a real, frank, assert and reality-based assessment of where we are and were we might go.
Also: the community does know about visible waste in the district. Whenever employees are lounging around, whether it's in clerical jobs or gardeners out at the school, people hear and see and know about it. This is one small town. Accordingly, every step toward professionalization and performance-based assessment of teachers and staff is a good one. There is no room for anyone in the district to be sitting on their a__.

I support a parcel flat parcel tax that is the same for all parcel of properties, with exemptions for the elderly.
Also, suggesting a parcel tax based on sq ftg seems to be perilously close to inviting another lawsuit if passed. Make the parcel tax structure simple and avoid litigation.
Also, if you want to heal the community after the polarization that took place on the LBGT you need to address: 1) AUSD accountability, 2) Board accountability.
eg, most school boards have posted policy and a list of how board members have voted. We have none.
Alamedeans want a school district that is accountable.

Although I like surveys, in order to obtain the type of information desired, I do not think they are the best UNBIASED way to collect information.
Surveys which allow for more narratives(such as this item#8) are useful as they allow for comments not addressed in the usual survey format.

I appreciate your efforts to keep the public informed, but it would be nice if each board member also took the time to contribute.

I would like to see the Master Plan committee expanded to include reps from all of our employee groups, selected by those group members.

I believe that mini-task forces working on specific tasks could generate other ideas."

Better anaylsis on the specific administration positions and their role in supporting actual edacation of youth. What are we getthing for our money. How many administrative support people do we really need? Many business and industries are surviving with less of these types of positions. Evaluate what administrators are being sucked into doing support for the unions outside of the AUSD

Have a serious discussion about why the community is terrified of the single comprehensive high school concept. Why is there no public discussion on this matter and why is there never been any financial analysis on this matter since it was last proposed 20 years ago?

Encourage broader involvement from all stakeholders by providing time/meetings to solicit ideas and concerns from the community rather than relying on inside task group to be the provider of ideas for the public to react to. Many of the questions for response here have never been discussed in public, so whose ideas are they? How do some ideas get the traction to be surveyed at this point? It makes it look like there is already an agenda that we are not aware of.

Get the PTA Council involved to share info with each school. They can add info onto school newsletters. The homeowners Associations can add info into their newsletters as well. Flyers at the libraries and parent online newgroups are another way to inform people.

Is there any ongoing effort to lobby for equalization of the state funding for various districts?

Educating the public is a daunting task, and as such, needs to be a large scale operation. Multiple meetings and lots of outreach with the accommodations for feedback are a necessity.

Specific applicable statistics would also help (like enrollment numbers per grade, budgets for each school, projected income for each school, etc) and how these #'s would change under different circumstances (charter, busing students, etc.). I think the process has gotten off to a good start but there is lots of room for improvement. Informational meetings every 2 weeks maybe, since the master plan has to be decided on by September. Or a dedicated website that is updated at least once a week.

Interest tends to go in waves; it seems to peak around big meetings, then fade. I don't know how to keep people current without overwhelming them, but... there ya go. Drama, but not too much drama. Passion is hard to sustain. There's also the question of laypeople espousing ideas and not thinking them through to their logical outcome (I am sometimes in this category). So if - then scenarios are helpful.

I understand that the issue is what we can afford. These are uncertain times, and it may take 3-4 years before the financial health of the state is better. However, do we have to reinvent the wheel? Can we learn from other communities/cities/counties/states/countries in how to build up a strong educational infrastructure? Even if we spend half of the amount of a Connecticut school district, does the percentages of where they/we spend differ. What provides better learning for the students - 20 kids with one teacher, or 35 kids with one teacher and a 1/2 teacher's aide? Why do some districts have teacher's aides, and other's don't? It cannot all be paid by foundations and pta's. I don't think all people understand that most jobs have evolved inclucing the tools we all use to do our jobs. 50 years ago, teachers, police, fireman, nurses and admnistrators did not use as much technology as we do today. Perhaps chalk and a blackboard is all what was needed, but that is not where we are today. To create the smart, savvy workforce of tomorrow, we need the best teachers and tools we can have. I think there are many people who don't understand what it takes to run a successful enterprise. I honestly don't know what can be cut from the school district budget. Is it possible to have a meeting on a weekend? Could there be a joint task force with business owners, parents, higher education, retirees and the school district about what can and needs to be done for our community.

Provide links with additional information so that participants can provide a more informed opinion

Charter schools like magent school need a drawing card. How can we draw up three "specialities" for the middle schools or two for the high schools?"

There was a K12 Task Force comprised of teachers, District, and community members that met for a year and investigated several issues. The Board should reconvene that group and ask for their continued feedback.

We need more info before decisions are made. Thank you for your efforts now.

Local newspapers should carry more information, at least to point to websites discussing AUSD topics. Sun editor at Measure H meeting said she would do all in her power to support schools. Most citizens care about schools so such informative articles would increase readership.

The (2) public meetings already held were much too shallow; topics deserve to be discussion themes"

AUSD must look harder at 'self-teaching' web & computer based curriculum for middle and high school except at lower level or beginner's courses. (The same can be said for adult and ROP education.) See National Standards for Quality Online Teaching.

Rebuilding trust after Measure H and poorly controlled LGBT issue will continue to be big issue facing hopes of parcel tax proponents. Also seems no action has been taken to balance ADA financing despite all the pre-MH ballot talk but that is what I expected

As a parent, I want to know the District is doing its best to provide the best possible education for my child. I don't feel we have an obligation to educate children who do not reside in our district. If we need to close schools so we can have less schools that are all excellent, let's do that.

I'm tired of the political elite in Alameda calling all the shots. We pay our taxes and these are our children. They don't have any right to indoctrinate our children with their views on sexual behavior nor do they have any right to continue spending money on school sites that don't make fiscal sense."

You are dumb and blind to not see what a division the Board of Education has caused by approving this curriculum. You need to work overtime to regain the trust of this parent."

If task forces/groups/committees are created - allow for representative sample. All processes/decisions/decisions to be - made public/put online/all in central place. Create more forums for parents of underrepresented groups (mainly hispanic and black populations) to speak if they cannot afford time to attend town meetings as more socioeconomically able families can.

After the awful way the school board handled the LGBT issue, they have a long way to go to earn back parents trust. Isn't it ironic that they spent so many dollars and hours adopting a controversial program and now several good families are leaving the district when we could use the support.

Parent's need to be better notified about programs or curriculum that will affect our children. Even this survey, I found out about it accidentally by stumbling upon it. This shouldn't be the case. There needs to be better communication between the board the parents. Please consider how the parents can be better informed about decisions that are being implemented. Thank you so much for all your hard work!

Remember that you are voted in the position to serve all of the citizens of Alameda not promote a protected class of citizens. We are all citizens. If you under perform you will be removed from office. Nothing personal

When it comes to discussing whether charter schools or magnets are attractive options, it's all in the details. You are more likely to get clear support or disagreement if you can provide more specifics - for example, about what a magnet would look like, and more detail about the type of charter you are considering and who would manage it.

Give the populace information about ideas considered and ample opportunity to have the ideas of the populace heard and considered. Accept the rights of the people to be informed of possible negative impact on their children and allow them to not participate in such negative curriculum.

AUSD just told the majority of parents and others who tried to get involved in school issues that they are bigots and that their beliefs are not only unimportant, but will be contradicted in the schools with the LGBT curriculum. I think AUSD should expect those people to vote against funding, to work to unseat board members, and to not trust AUSD because of it's pro-gay bias. No jutice, no peace.

If you want to improve this process, reconsider your decision on Lesson 9. The majority of your stakeholders don't trust you or think you listen to them because you ignored them when they made the effort to participate in the process re. Lesson 9 for elementary schools.

AUSD, Kirsten Vital, and the Board should not bother asking for input from parents and the community if they will not consider it. The approval of the LGBT curriculum disregarded all the opposition from the parents and community. You have lost the trust and faith from parents and the community.

As for budget cuts, you can start by cutting Vital's $200K salary."

In reviewing the reduction of expenses, it was difficult to choose without know what the cost savings would be.

As to public input, after the LGBT fiasco, why would I believe that my opinion mattered anyway. The majority of the speakers were clearly not in favor of the curriculum but those opinions didn't seem to make a difference in the final decision."

The best way to increase student enrollment is to regain the trust of the community after the introduction of the LGBT curriculum. Many of my friends are pulling (or have already pulled) their children out of AUSD schools and put them into private schools because of this curriculum. As the curriculum stands right now, I too, will be schooling my children elsewhere when they come of age. Drawing enrollment from other cities will only make Alameda parents less willing to school their children in AUSD. If you want to increase enrollment, fix what is driving your own enrollment away.

Would be interested in seeing a creation of a well-represented task force that would address the needs of the school district community ESPECIALLY the West End which has been historically disenfranchised due to socio-economic, racial factors.

We need more informamtion from every family member in the district and include the business community.

Teachers salaries, and what the benefits are. The cost breakdown for each school, cost to run, maintain, salaries teacher/nonteacher, students, what they offer, how are the kids fairing (test scores) per grade. Map of boundry lines, and getting rid of open enrollement.

Freezing all salaries until this the problem is fixed, and changing raises to merit based instead of mandatory. Getting rid of the very poor teachers and there are some. Also quit using the students as a means to get raises for the teachers that is disgusting to use children in that manner, and when you state that 92% to 94% is used for salaries that is what you are using the kids for."

Keep the process open.

I would like to see more outreach in the community and education as to how funding is sent to the school system. I also am interested in salaries for our district and also other districts in comparison. I am not in favor of more taxes, the business community is very important to Alameda and the feelings have been tainted towards the school district and property owners. A large number of voters in Alameda are renters and they should pay as well for our schools via a door tax or renters tax possibly added to their personal income tax. Many business have closed recently and will continue to as the econnomy continues to tank. We are a water town with numerous marinas that are being taxed unfairly due to measure H. Example: Legacy Partners $350,000.00 per year for measure H while more than half of their properties are not being leased.





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Last modified: , 2009

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