Comments Received from Alameda Regarding Potential Budget Cuts
For background, see AUSD Budget Reductions Frequently Asked Questions
Posted in order of date received
I am deeply saddened by your overly hasty move Tuesday night to approve the Superintendent’s budget cuts with only minor modifications. It was clear to those of us present that even the Board members continue to have questions regarding the cuts implication’s and enactment. As trustees, you have a fiduciary responsibility which I do not think you met when you approved this list of recommendations with these questions unanswered.
I continue to have several questions:
Finally, I thought giving the district administrators a “platform” from which to spin their tale of woe was highly inappropriate. The SEAC wasn’t given a similar amount of time. And it was flat wrong to do it after taking public comment. It noticed that, unlike the public, the district was not required to limit the length of their comments. In addition, it was unbefitting of your position for certain board members to editorialize on the cuts on behalf of the district. I believe we already have a PR person for the district and based on the budget you approved this position remains safe from the cuts.
I am suspicious of the Board and District’s motivations. I feel certain the teacher’s contract is the only reason that class size was not touched. When that contract is up for negotiation, many of us will be watching closely. Maintaining the quality of education for Alameda’s children should be your number one priority. You were elected by the people of Alameda, those are not the same people you chose to serve Tuesday night. I certainly hope you do better in the future.
I have concerns about the 2 day work furlough. The greatest burden will fall on the teachers. They have a shorter work year, and therefore will lose a greater percentage of their annual pay. Also, knowing teachers as I do, they will still give up their time to do the work that they usually do on their 2 "work days".In fact, I know very few teachers who just use the work days for teacher related preparations. Most come in several days before school starts to set up their rooms, ready the curriculum, etc. All without pay! This doesn't seem fair. Also, administrators are given about a month to prepare for the opening of school. Please take this into consideration. The greatest burden should not fall on the teachers.
I am writing to urge you not to vote for any budget cuts that involve a reduction of work days for teachers. As a high school teacher, I can assure you that I use our work days to the fullest extent possible - grading final exams, determining grades, and ensuring a top-quality education for all my students. Thank you for taking our needs into consideration when you vote on this question.
I read in the paper about some of the suggested cuts for next year. I didn't read anything about possible "Golden Handshake" early retirement or other retirement incentives. It seems the district could save at least $20,000 plus per teacher in the first year alone and multiple thousands per new teacher for many years to come.
I would also like to suggest exploring a 4 day, extended hour work week. I read it is being done in other states like Colorado. They have found significant savings in student attendance, teacher/employee attendance and maintenance costs. Plus AUSD could offer a minimum of childcare sites to cover parents in need and have them pay on a sliding scale. The child care program could pay for itself and maybe even make alittle profit for the WCDC.
I am deeply disturbed to learn that our Superintendent chose to suggest drastic cuts to the District's Resource Department over ANY significant cuts to the district staff.
Not only were ALL of the district's teaching staff ridiculously insulted and uselessly threatened concerning our positions for next year - but now each and every one of us will be seriously effected by these cuts to the resource department.
How can you allow so many of these cuts to occur so close to the education of the student population you are representing. It is criminal to think that you have no other choice.
Do you truly believe that almost all of this burden should rest on either the teachers or even the students themselves...do you truly not have any other choice - look again. There were several other plans suggested by the committees set up by our Superintendent himself. From what I understand, he basically dismissed these plans altogether.
I hope you are aware of the influence you have and do whatever you can to truly support the students in this community.
Tonight the fate of the '03-04 budget is in your hands. It is critical that your decisions be made with great skill and care, much like a surgeon who performs a surgery on a patient with minimal adverse effects.
Because schools are about providing the best possible education for our children, I urge you to resist any cuts that directly impact the students of Alameda. Please keep cuts as far away from the classrooms as possible. Any cuts that directly effect children will only result in higher future costs to the district and the community. This is one area we cannot afford to cut.
Additionally, I urge you to resist approving a two-day furlough as a means to cut the budget. A furlough would only further penalize the teachers of Alameda. The Alameda teachers have endured years of sacrifice and pain. Several years ago, the teachers were subjected to a pay freeze. Two years ago the teachers nearly went on strike to obtain a double-digit raise that was rightfully theirs. Since then the cost of health care insurance has sharply risen while the district's contribution to these costs has stagnated. A few weeks ago the teachers received the ultimate insult as 635 lay-notices were issued. Needless to say, the morale of teachers is at an all time low. To take two days of pay away from the teachers would only add to the injuries inflicted over the years. The teachers of Alameda are a hard-working, generous, dedicated group of professionals. Do not forget the sacrifices and pain that we have endured over the years.
I implore you to resist the meat axe approach to this budget. Instead, use the careful skill and care of a surgeon who minimizes the trauma to his/her patient. Make your cuts targeted and as far away from the classroom as possible. Resist balancing this budget on the backs of the teachers as well.
It is my sincere hope that when you make your decision tonight, you will do so using wisdom, common sense, and compassion.
Teacher 4/8Thank you for your support regarding the teachers of the Alameda Unified School District. Please consider the excesses in the administration ( media position, teachers on special assignment that never work with students and advise teachers;Diversity leaders). Your thoughtful consideration is appreciated.
I volunteer my time to xxxx and xxxx Schools for between 4 and 6 hours each day. I am very concerned that the direction of budget cuts in wrong. Particularly for the media centers. The appearance I get is that downtown upper managegment is again "protected" while teaching staff (our media staff) in on the chopping block! This is unnacceptable.
I was not happy with the poor handling of the teachers' near strike and now I am very unhappy with the proposals for budget cuts. We work very hard to make xxx a superb school - we have spent considerable funds providing books, computers, alpha-smarts, etc... If you want me to begin to accept staff reductions at xxxx, I need to see serious reductions in "Overhead" staff - such as the assistant superintendent.
I say go with the SEAC recommendation all of it.
I do have some thoughts and information on Special Education.
The current argument for having 3 program specialists is we are so badly out of compliance we have to have that extra program specialist. The reality is the psychologists are doing the majority of the compliance work. The duties program specialists performed were duties that the psychologists performed the majority of. We have a ratio of admin to staff of 8:1. We don't have ratios for the most involved students that small. We cannot afford it.
One of the major factors we fell out of compliance, to the point that the state made ultimatums, was because the director hired in 2000 does not share any of the caseloads. The division of labor now requires double the number of program specialists when there has been no increase in student enrollment or SPED teachers. Something does not add up here. If as a board member you feel that special education needs to be cut please direct that cut to the administrative staff. Know that the psychologists are doing a wonderful job, and the bulk of the job, on the compliance issues. This department needs some direction and you as board members are in a position to provide it.
As a parent of a 1st grade student at xxx and a preschool-aged daughter, I would like to place my strong recommendation for maintaining the teacher/child ratio, and not increasing the number of students per teacher, especially in the elementary grades. As a parent and former elementary school teacher, I feel that an increased number of students per teacher would have a very negative affect on the quality of education for all the children.
I vote to maintain the teacher ratio and also the liberal arts curriculum (music, arts, second language acquisition, etc.)
I attended both the Town Hall meeting at Alameda High School on March 27th and the special AUSD Board meeting on April 3rd. At both, the majority of speakers pleaded for budget reductions to be kept as far away from the classroom as possible. Apparently the SEAC was listening, while the District Office was not.
The SEAC, comprised of 11 individuals representing the interests of a diverse group, spent a considerable amount of time analyzing the current budget and recommended that at least one and perhaps two full time employees be eliminated from the District's budget totaling between $120K and $240K in savings. The Superintendent dismissed this suggestion.
This discrepancy further illustrates the divisiveness that plagues our school district and feeds the perception that our current administration thinks of themselves first, that teachers in this district are not valued and that there is no hope for change.
When asked about the absence of District Office reductions, Dr. Nishino responded that it is difficult enough already to accomplish all that is required of his staff. GUESS WHAT? THIS IS HARD! Ultimately it will be hardest on my five year old son and all of the other children this district serves. We are asking students to attend larger classes, to wait longer, to be seen and heard less. We are asking teachers to serve more children and to take a pay cut. Don't allow the administration's contribution to total reducing one clerical position.
You have a decision to make. There is not a single correct answer to this problem. You will not come through this process with out angering many people if not most. Lessen the pain by mandating that everyone give something to solve this crisis. Otherwise, we are not in this together.
Some information is missing in a big way. In order to make cuts in the administration, we need to know salaries and jobs. I personally feel that, before you ask the teachers to take 2 days without pay, the superintendent, asst, CFO, et al, should all take at least a 5% pay cut(?maybe more!)—hard to tell without knowing where they are. Also, I understand that there is a “car allowance” for some admin positions???-eliminate!!! Paid time off should be cut at the admin level and more than likely, there are positions there that could be staffed with “lesser” or part timers eliminating the need to fund full benefit packages. I would much rather see cuts come where the kids are not directly impacted and the teachers can “stay happy!”
Any way to get complete data? I would assume that it is public record? But, I’ve asked several times and never seen it! It seems to be quite elusive making me even more skeptical!
I respectfully ask that you reconsider the option of two furlough work days for all AUSD employees. I realize that the cuts must come from somewhere, however, you are not asking for two days pay from teachers, you are asking them to work even more days for no wages than they already do. You might say that no one has to return any ealier than the first day of school, however, any conscientious elementary school teacher I know already works at least two weeks for free. Now you are asking them to give up what they know to be "the right thing to do" and simply show up on the first day of school and be ready for their class. I doubt that any of you could do your job very well without preparation. Please reconsider this not-so-well-thought- out financial cutback.
Do appreciate any effort to find monies that do not hit students directly nor catastrophically.
2-day "furlough" is simplistic & regressive; is really a 2-day layoff (if passes neg.)
Special Ed:reduce admin. staff first, not Resource Teacher positions. 9+ Spec Ed admin. per 70 Spec Ed students is entirely too rich for AUSD. Previously 2 "prog. specialists" ran the dept. Another "prog. spec." was hired this yr. Have we identified 50% more Spec Ed students?? What do the other 6+ admin. do?
Supt. Nishino said the dist. has been out of compliance. Training does NOT have to be provided by administrators. TSAs can be imminently effective. Besides, trainers w/ their feet in their classroom are much more realistic about what is possible, probable, and effective in a classroom w/ real students AND they can model for their trainees. PAR funded some spec ed training 2 yrs running. A decent salary would probably attract fully credentialed Spec Ed teachers in the first place.
Resource students sometimes have soc./emotional issues that exacerbate learning for themselves and sometimes for others as well. Some parents are openly hostile to Resource teachers and school personnel. Teaching loads should be equitable but numbers alone do not tell the whole story. 28 or even 25 to one could be impossible; each teacher's caseload needs to be examined. Savings from Spec. Ed should come from administrators/administration first, not the special teachers who work directly w/ special students and their families. Parenthetically, what is the Spec Ed encroachment on the Gen'l Fund this yr and next??
Media Center: workload should be equitable. Every program/teacher needs to be evaluated: some do an extraordinary job; others... Note: media ctr teachers do not hold parent conferences, have IEPs nor individualized assessments nor write rpt cards (no small task, particularly w/ individualized comments). Some have a computer specialist who teaches, trouble shoots and is pd w/ grant money. Note: I have been a media ctr teacher and speak not w/o some knowledge & experience.
SF Chronicle mid-March stated that pink slips were sent to 635 teachers & 50 administrators. 50 administrators!!!!!!!!!!!! (Editor's Note: 18 adminstrators are Principals)
That's an extraordinary # for a poor district w/ 10,500 students. Here is an opportunity to examine every position and evaluate whether/not each is absolutely necessary, and if found necessary, whether/not the job is truly administrative, wholly/partially.
"overtime & compensation" + "conference & travel" = $272,000 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow! Who gets pd overtime? 55-60 hrs/wk is an easy wk for me as a classroom teacher; I regularly work longer. I am not pd overtime. I also work unpaid during "vacations". Who travels & attends conferences @ Dist. gen'l fund expense? I thought workshops were pd w/ grant monies.
The four top administrators are pd "vacation buy back days" - @ per diem, yes??? How many others are pd for vacation buy back days? How many days does this all total?????????
Public Information Officer: position reduced as part of resolution of fiscal crisis 2 yrs ago. Would be disingenuous if position were larger than what was agreed to at that time. Furthermore, we have plenty of administrators who should be able to speak for a district this size.
SEAC recommendation to consider for reduction @ Dist. office: Spec. Ed, ELD, Pub. Info. Off., MOF, ROP/Second., K-8: YES!!!!!!!!!!! Serious consideration AND action!
Note: I am not anti-administration. A certain amonnt is necessary; however, we cannot afford ineffective nor superfluous workers, least of all administrators who are paid more and are farther from direct contact w/ students than those of us who work w/ students all day, every day.
No, I never expected to become monetarily rich by teaching; neither did I expect to become progressively farther in debt the longer I taught nor impose by teaching such incredible hardship on my own children at home.
Please make those budget cuts as far from the classroom as possible. The 20 to 1 ratio should not be touched. In my classroom, I have 7 ELL kids and 4 at-risk students. Thanks to a low teacher-student ratio, they are all reading at grade level now.
Teacher 4/7I cannot and will not suggest any budget cuts that will directly affect the classrooms. We are in the business of educating children and doing it well. Addtionally I cannot and will not support any budget cuts that will ask AEA members to take a cut in pay. Hence, I am not in favor of a two day furlough. The reasons for opposition to the two day furlough were made quite clear at the April 3rd budget workshop. Alameda teachers have had a history of "doing without" over the years, especially during tough economic times. When the time finally came for us to obtain the double digit raise that was rightfully ours, we came quite close to going on strike. It was literally in the eleventh hour that a strike was averted. Young teachers do not earn enough money to even afford to make ends meet. Many have obligations for student loans. The cost of living in the Bay Area makes it nearly impossible to survive on a single teacher's salary. I can't even afford to live in Alameda. The out of pocket expense for health care coverage is skyrocketing. The district does not provide enough money to cover its teachers and their families. Older teachers nearing retirement would be penalized with a two day furlough, as it will reduce their salary, thereby reducing their reitrement dollars.
I am in favor of cutting any areas that do not directly affect the classroom and that do not cut the salary for teachers. Additionally, I think it would be most appropriate for our top administrator to take a pay cut as well as a car allowance cut. Other superintendents in the Bay Area have taken this noble step.
I really think that use of ratios ends up targeting the small schools (a.k.a. the "West End") is a bigger problem. Why punish the population who need the resources most? I'm not so sure there is much sense there other than this is the community with the softest voice.
There is a serious miscalculation of savings in one of the suggested items for reduction in the proposed budget. The 9th grade classes at the two conventional high schools (AHS and EHS) are NOT uniformly 20:1. The only 9th classes at 20:1 are math and English. There is no savings possible where there is no class size increase possible. Non math/English 9th grade classes such as science, foreign language, and PE are currently at the maximum allowed under state and union contract rules. This can be verified quickly and easily by checking the SASI system for course enrollment or calling the counseling office of either high school.
Our "Computer Club" run by our Media Center Specialist. My daughter is a part of our "Computer Club" which our MCS runs after school every week. She really enjoys the program and it helps develop her interest in technology. I would hate to lose that program as I believe it would truly have an adverse affect on my daughter and the other children who are benefiting from this program.
Unfortunately there isn't enough explanation for some of these for me to make a good decision but I would vote for the District Office Reorganizations ($240), Superintendent's office $30, Staff Development $150. Also I heard the Superintendent has a car (cut that!).
On my list I would have kept district office management reorganization. They can find two administrators that are not needed.
Eliminate the two administators for $240,000. The positions can be handled at the sites with input from either Ardella or Alan. Give HS principals temporary power to handle ROP.
The campus officers should stay if possible (could the city pay for them?). As should AHS' counselor - we have 500 more students than EHS.
We need NO PR person in a time of financial crisis!
If there is a hiring freeze, cut back 1/2 personnel position; if there is a spending freeze, slash purchasing.
Find Superintendents's secret stash of money squirreled away for technology purchasing - we know he has one.
Turn off the district's air coinditioners! - sell them to parents at a fundraising garage sale for the district -- this would be a good faith sign from the central office.
Please try to keep the decisions as far from the sites as possible - just because high school kids are older is not a reason that they can be short-shrifted. They realize it immediately and it harms morale - this comes back in unforseen ways, such as increased graffitti, truancy, fights.
When you review the recommendations for proposed cuts we urge you to look as far away from classroom teaching as possible. Teaching is at the heart of the educational process which is why we were surprised that the cuts recommended by the Superintendent involved only very small reduction of funds for the central administration. We are certain that important savings are possible in central administration. Certainly the Board must consider these before cutting the number of teachers or asking staff to take a cut in pay. One alternative which should be considered instead is going into reserves, which we understand the state law now allows.
In general, we don’t think you understood how much damage the act of dismissing every teacher has been. At the very least it is extremely demoralizing to staff. And it is all the worse knowing that if the Superintendent had been doing his job competently the universal dismissal notices would have been unnecessary. Looking at the big picture we see a school district being terribly mismanaged in a time when the budget shortfall has created problems which would be difficult enough to manage with the best of will and greatest skills that are now required. Just think of all the tremendous amount of work and money needed to organize all those “letters” and how much time may be needed to hear the legally mandated appeals of each individual teacher. And at the end of the day perhaps twenty were necessary rather than six hundred thirty!(Editor's note: The legally mandated appeals will be held on April 30th therefore no appeals have been heard.)
I attended both the Town Hall meeting at Alameda High on March 27th and the special Board meeting on April 3rd.
Prior to leaving the job market to become a full time mother, I was in public accounting for approximately 12 years. Much of my job was to review and interpret financial information. Let me share with you what I interpreted from the SEAC’s budget cut recommendations.
The SEAC was comprised of a group of 11 independent individuals. These eleven people took a good hard look at the District’s budget and expenditures and decided that somewhere between $150K and $270K could be cut from the district office. To me that says that these eleven people feel the district office runs fat and could be cut back. For the Superintendent to include only $30K is, at a minimum, insulting and self serving. The Superintendent went on at some length about how the suggested positions were categorical and therefore could not be cut. I understand about categorical funding, but I fail to believe that there is no one or nothing in that office that could be cut back on or reduced.
I think the discrepancies between the SEAC’s proposals and the Superintendent’s highlight a strong and growing problem in the Alameda Unified School District; that of a general mistrust of district management by the public at large. Based on the special Board meeting last Thursday, for me this feeling now extends to a number of members on the Board. Add to this the persistent rumors that individuals in top management positions have asked, or are going to ask, for raises and the situation gets down right embarrassing. Alameda is such an amazing community, yet in two national papers recently we were held out as an example of how to mismanage a district. And the way this district has treated its teachers is revolting! They are our lifeblood and without these quality individuals we are just another urban school district.
The sad fact is that these are hard times. These hard times should be borne by all members of this district equally. I think the furlough is a great idea on paper. But truthfully, why should the teachers, who out of everyone work the hardest for the least, have to shoulder the brunt of the budget problem? Why not have the top salary earners take three days of furlough, and the teachers take one? Remember, these are the same teachers who three weeks ago were told by this District that their services may not be required next year. Now we want them to donate their time to us? Please!
I would strongly urge the Board to remember to put our children first in this budget cutting process. I have said the following before. Which do you think our children are more apt to notice: more crowded class rooms or a few less bureaucrats down at the district office? Is your fondest memory of elementary, junior or high school the district’s public relations person or lawyers? Or was it your media center time, your high school counselor, a teacher who had the time to care? Please do the right thing, our children are counting on you.
Cut $120,000 in 2 phases from the district office. ( could be 2 administrators, attorneys, information officer, plus $30,000 for Superintendents office, $24,000 for summer school, only remedial paid for, everything else self supporting, totaling $294,000. Nothing on it is subject to union negotiation. Nothing near the classroom in all this.
I know I am an old pest on this, but I believe that the AUSD simply must change it policies to encourage the highest quality programs as a top priority and to state once-and-for-all that AUSD will not (cannot) compete on teacher salaries.
AUSD signed a contact with an aggressive union that ate up the "Measure A" funds and the one-time funding made available to district's when the state General Fund was flush. Now AUSD is back cutting what shouldn't be cut.
Cuts will drive out "choice" families and leave the district with a student body that is void of the best students in Alameda. This is a terrible cycle to perpetuate. Choice parents are choosing private school or are moving out of town as a result of having no hope that AUSD can mend this problem.
Given that the 70,000 people in Alameda want a nice town to live it, and a good school district is a critical element to that, I urge that the board at least talk about opening up the contract now that times are different than when the contract was signed. At least it ought to be talked about in public hearings.
Thanks for letting us give input. I would choose the 2 day furlough, and the media center, BTSA support provider, School Resource Officer, Carpenter, Summer School, Board of Ed, Travel and Conferences, and anything else except the student/ teacher ratio. I have no preferences or knowledge on the other items.
I don't trust this list that the superintendent gave you regarding the 9th grade staffing ratio. Since when have the high schools staffed using a 20 to 1 ratio for all 9th grade classes. That is totally bogus. Only English and Math has done that. Perhaps an issue has always been that we have not revamped classes midway once people drop out, hence being able to reduce staff.
I'd revamp district office. Get rid of the BITSA position, Reduce the super/school board budgets. Get rid of overtime and staff development. Reduce school resource officers, SROs ( let the city pick that up).
I think most, if not all parents would like a better choice. These are very limited options! Where was the opportunity for public input? Where is the full budget, full disclosure, of how our money is spent so we the tax paying parents can see whether the Superintendent, or SEAC has recommended anything close to what a majority of parents would do.
I disagree with the furlough--a quick fix, but unlikely to be accepted, and furthrmore, we have historically protected the classroom on the backs of teachers, who if they are the breadwinner, are least able to handle the cut or not keeping up with inflation that we had for so many years. I believe that the community has to feel some pain in the cuts or they will never come up with an adequate parcel tax.
In this day of internet conferences, list-serves and education, I would cut the Conference and Travel and Staff Development totaling: $ 272,000. I would also seriously look at Overtime and Compensation time totaling $150,000. In the business world, overtime is the operative word, if one wants to keep a job. $422,000........Now, $80,000 toward beginning teacher support and assessment... When I taught, the principal did the assessment and my principal made many unannounced visits to my classroom! Support was conducted in house by rotating volunteer teachers, and 2 retired teachers ( unpaid ) take away $80,000... $502,000 eliminated Hummmm, what in the heck is two days furlough? Bag it! $516,000 eliminated My total = $1,018,000
I am a parent of two preschoolers, the older boy now in kindergarten at xxx. My wife also works an evening shift several times a week. Although it is a hardship to bring boys to a public meeting at bedtime, these meeting issues are still important to us. Especially how our money is spent for our children's education, and how our community is affected by the threat off 100% layoffs due to the lack of administrative preparation. I am thankful for this website which allows me to express my opinions to the dreadful situation our community's schools now face. It is stunning that AUSD's website does not provide crucial information, or a forum such as this, so voters with children have a better opportunity to voice opinions to the superintendent, his school board, and to other parents, voters, and taxpayers. Don't we pay our administrators enough money now? Aren't any of them computer literate enough to provide this service? Do they care about their jobs, our community, our children's education? Look at all the time teachers put in at home to prep, to grade, for staff meetings, parent consultations, forums, and now probably career planning! Look at what Mike McMahon does for this website and forum. Do we see any kind of commitment like that from the administrative top salaries, or are they too important for voluntary work to improve the situation? Now the Superintendent wants to pile more burdens on the shoulders teachers!
I was stunned to see the superintendent's recommendations with little or no comments to explain his reasoning. (Editor Note: Explanations were provided in meeting documents, my website only contains numerical recap.) Because I was unable to attend the workshop meeting I will ask others for help here asking for some explanations item by item. I do not intend to be augmentative, but the lack of information provided increases suspicion.
I tried to get a complete budget from AUSD, but the information I received was scant at best. Can anyone get a full budget (including the salaries, benefits, stipends, supplemental budgets or perks paid to each position) Can we get this public information on this website?
Parents Received multiple copies of same letter 4/4
I am writing to you in hopes of compelling you to consider the following information before making a decision on budget cuts which will impact all Alameda students and the future of education on the island.
After reviewing all three of the proposed budget reduction plans for the AUSD in 2003-2004, it is sad to see that all of the plans fail to protect students and the quality of education. Once again, these proposals mostly resist making substantial cuts at the administrative level while pushing for enormous reductions in classroom education (i.e. student-teacher ratios).
The personnel who have direct contact with the students bear the brunt of budget exposure.
What has caught my attention is the proposed 2003-2004 budget reductions which include the possible elimination of Media Center Specialists. This is perplexing for a district lead by an administrator who has made it clear that integration of classroom technology is one of his most important goals. Even more troubling is the proposal to make these cuts at smaller school sites.
These smaller school sites service students whose need for technology access and training is at least equal to other schools. By using this formula for reductions in Media Center staffing the district will only create a greater "digital divide" on the island and demonstrate a great inequity.
At Franklin School we greatly value our Media Center Specialist and the superior program that is provided to all students in both technology and library services. Additionally, the staff has benefited from on-site technology training provided by our Media Center Specialist. Most recently,the PTA began sponsoring an afternoon "Computer Club" for tech hungry students which has been extremely successful.
The Franklin PTA has funded our Media Center with significant financial support. We accepted the district's plan to move to a PC platform and embraced the move by providing the funds to completely refit our computer lab with the appropriate hardware and software. A major expenditure, but one we willingly approved because of our confidence in our Media Center Specialist. We provide additional/on going funding to our Media Center so that our students can enjoy the best technology available without placing additional strain on the district.
I urge you to consider only those budget recommendations which impact students and teachers least - including Media Center Specialists!
I was shocked at the Superintendent's recommendations. I was also upset to hear the word on the street, that he felt the committee was too inexperienced to handle the job. In other words, we didn't follow his suggestions. If that was the case, why did he bother forming the committee. Oh course, I know the answer.......PR.
I would like to make the Furlough work. I am not sure it will. Right now I am not sure about AEA. I think enough teachers are upset over the Superintendent's recommendations that they may not even consider it. I think it is still something to look at. I think it is something the public wants. No administrators cut is a shame. They could rearrange things.
As a teacher in this district, I would like to voice what many, if not all, of us are thinking. As the budget cuts occur, we often wonder why do so many of the cuts seem to affect the classroom more than the TOP levels of Administration. For example, instead of proposing teachers work two days fewer, which would mean that we have to do our grading at home without pay, it would be great if the board would look at some of the percs of the Superintendent, such as a car allowance, etc. The other item, which we often discuss, is why does this district have one and a half lawyers, both are paid at TOP salaries. According to our lawyers on staff, the full-time lawyer basically works part-time but is paid full time. This is due to the billable hours. Also, why do we need an assistant superintendent, a secondary program director and a publicist. What positions can be consolidated? We will be working with the parents of this district on these issues, and we also hope that we can have a good relationship with all of the school board members. The teachers of this district are your greatest resource and the needs of the students are our first priority.
I teach Special Ed at xxxxxx. I wanted to add my 2 cents' worth to the budget debate. I was at the meeting last night at Wood but I would rather email you my thoughts as I don't do well at off-the-cuff speaking unless I'm in my classroom. First, on the subject of cuts in Special Education, Glenda McDowell spoke for many special ed staff when she said the administrators don't do anything. The psychologists work tremendously hard and so do the teachers. We should ask why the district suddenly needed 3 Program Specialists when we have always had 2 and have had no noticeable increase in enrollment in special ed. It seems totally unfair to eliminate teaching positions while our current administrators take it easy. Also, I understand that some of the savings in Special Ed are to come from students who will be returning from non-public schools. Of course, at any time an IEP team (or a litigious parent) could decide that a student needs to attend an expensive non-public school. There goes that savings! It's definitely something to think about.
Second, the subject of the furlough: While it wouldn't affect me because I am married and we earn 2 incomes, I know plenty of people who would be affected by a seemingly small reduction in pay. We have to keep in mind that many in the district, no matter how much they earn, are now paying several hundred dollars out-of-pocket for health insurance. This basically results in a net decrease in their salary. And NO ONE expects that we will get a raise this year; so as the cost of living goes up and our wages stay the same they in effect decrease. Ask my paraprofessional who is a single mom and works 3 jobs if she is willing to give up 2 days' pay. You know what her answer is going to be.
Finally, there is a rumor going around all the schools that Dr Nishino has asked for a substantial raise. I fervently hope that this is just a rumor. If it turns out to be true, and he is granted a raise, the entire community will be at your doorsteps demanding to know why!
I wish I had some good suggestions for you in areas that the district could realize savings, but I don't. Our school seems to be operating on a shoestring budget.
I’M PRETTY DIGUSTED BY THE FACT THAT NISHINO DIDN’T TAKE THE COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATION TO CUT THE EQUIVALENT OF 1 FTE AT THE DISTRICT OFFICE AND HAS THE GALL TO SUGGEST THAT ONE LOWLY CUSTODIAN BE CUT. THIS IS THE EPITOME OF TRYING TO PROTECT HIS CRONIES AND HIMSELF! OF COURSE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT DISTRICT EMPLOYEES WILL NOT LIKELY PASS TAKING FURLOUGHS. THE SO-CALLED RAISES OF THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS HAVE BEEN EATEN UP BY THE INCREASE IN HEALTH BENEFITS COSTS. THIS ESPECIALLY HURTS THE BEGINNING TEACHERS AND THOSE NEAR RETIREMENT SINCE PERS AND STRS BENEFITS ARE BASED ON HIGHEST YEAR SALARIES. I WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO ADOPT THE SEAC LIST IF YOU ARE ABLE. I DON’T UNDERSTAND A PROCESS WHERE A COMMITTEE MAKES RECOMMENDATIONS AND ONE PERSON HAS VETO POWER OVER THEM. CAN THE BOARD REJECT HIS AND ADOPT THE COMMITTEES?
NOTICEABLY MISSING: Was there a place to reduce admin positions and SALARIES?
Parent 4/2I am a xxxxx Middle School parent, a 6th grade teacher in another district and an Alameda voter. I strongly disagree with the proposed elimination of middle school electives. Research shows that enrichment courses are essential for this age child. I will not be able to support any board member who votes to eliminate electives.
I wanted to express my support for a few specific programs that may be under consideration for reduction or elimination from the budget. I had attended the Town Meeting last Thursday where many parents, students and teachers expressed the same sentiments as I have, so I felt it unnecessary to speak, however, I did want to show my support in an e-mail.
My main concern is with cuts to elective classes for the middle schools. Please do not do this. As one of the speakers last Thursday said, it is one of the few times that students get a chance to take risks; having to make a personal selection of a class based on what you are interested in is the beginning of what shapes who one is individually.
I am a parent of a student at Lincoln Middle School and at Earhart Elementary. Great schools that are striving to keep their students ahead academically and in the case of my children are doing a great job with them. My middle school child works very hard and is doing well, and though he may (or may not) enjoy his academic classes, the one that brings joy and enthusiasm to his day is band. Hopefully you have heard from other parents who are big supporters of Mr. Dan Dooha-Chamber's efforts with the Lincoln Middle School Band. True, he is a bit irreverent, but he is in tune with the kids' moods and emotions; feelings that can be addressed only in elective classes. Even if the band did not take any trips, it would continue to have an enormous enrollment, because for those students it's an opportunity to enjoy music and creativity, camaraderie and team effort. It's a time when they can express emotions in a safe and non-critical way. Please do not eliminate this class!
My children are fortunate that they have parents who are creative and musical and foster those values inside and outside the home. We have the time and money. Unfortunately there are many families where this is not the case. Do not take away these students' chance to be themselves! Do not make cuts to elective classes please! Thank you!
I am demanding that the SEAC's proposed budget cuts be made public immediately. It is my understanding that the SEAC committee intended to publicize their recommendations via email once they were presented to the Superindentent but were stopped from doing so by the Board of Education. In my opinion there is no acceptable rationale for continuing to deny the public access to this information.
The community is entitled to this information for two reasons. First, an understanding of what is being considered is necessary in order to advocate for programs at the public forum this Thursday. Second, without this information, there is no accounting for discrepancies when the Superintendent makes his proposed cuts.
You can not pretend that this process included input from the community until an exchange of factual information begins. I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter
It is my sincere hope that once the board of education acts on the budget, they will do so using wisdom, common sense, and compassion. Schools are about educating children and doing it well. If cuts are kept as far away from the classroom as possible, Alameda will continue to be one of the finest school districts in the state. If cuts are made that directly affect the classroom, this district will be on the road to ruin.
Just a thought I want to pass on. I met someone from southern Oregon the other day. She said up there they have gone to a 4 day school week up there for the same reasons we are looking at, budget problems. I don't know how that impacts all the state requirements regarding the curriculum, or union problems.
Also, what about direct solicitation of parents with school age children? Or soon to be kindergarteners? I know it would be difficult. Where would the money go? General fund. watch dog group. Geez, you would think we would trust the group teaching our kids, but I bet someone would want a panel to oversee the additional funds. 10,000 kids times so $100? times $200? Some would be able to send more, some less. I know, another headache.
I am quite distressed to think that you would consider eliminating K-3 class size reduction. It is quite obvious that I do have a personal interest as a first grade teacher in the continuance of the highly beneficial program. That is not my only concern.
As an active member of the successful Parcel Tax movement, I feel that this is an area which the community felt was or would not ever be at risk. Any tampering with this notion will dramatically jeopardize our excellent, trustful, relationship with the community which will be absolutely necessary in order to successfully revisit the Parcel tax extension in the future. Let's not make a quick fix decision that will have a profound, negative impact on the students of Alameda in the years to come.
I am VERY dismayed to learn that, in these times, our superintendent, asst, and personnel person will be receiving pay increases!!!! Please, I’m sure that their salaries are public info—what are they and what are they going to? Why are they not taking cuts to help avert layoffs and program reductions??????
I have 3 children in the district. We have been in the District for 4 years. I have an older daughter, 10th grade, who is now living with family outside of the District and attending school elsewhere.
Both of my twins required early intervention, as they were premies, and one received special services at Woodstock Child Development Center, the other one received special services at HeadStart where she was "mainstreamed." I'm glad you have continued to support Woodstock Child Development Center. Without that, I don't know what Alameda would do to provide early intervention. I am a strong supporter of early intervention.
I can proudly share with you that both of my twins are now solid third graders (both still have issues: fine motor skills, behavior mod, speech; however, both can and do thrive in a regular third grade classes), which is part due to the fact that they have benefited from the 20:1 ratio. I am a strong supporter of the 20:1 ratio. It greatly increases the chances that every child in that class will have an opportunity to learn. Without that (and the dedication of every teacher), I can honestly say that one of my twins would have been retained at least once by now and would not have the academic success that they are now enjoying. Even with the 20:1, her teachers have put forth special effort to educate her, but without it, it would have been impossible.
In response to the proposed cuts of April 2001 Reductions 2002/03, SEAC Consensus List August 2001, and Superintendent's Additions to SEAC List, after discussing the proposed cuts with my family, we offer:
THANK YOU for continuing to support WOODSTOCK CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER. Early intervention works.
Source Unknown - part Email chain 3/30
The SEAC of eleven individuals is currently compiling a list of items, totaling $1.7 million, to be slashed from the district's budget? Does no one realize that the things we have fought so hard for, such as class size reductions, are on the chopping block? Is music and art no longer important to children's educations? Does no one realize that when you examine the tentative list of items which could be cut, 87% are from programs that DIRECTLY affect our children? Is no one wondering why a hard look hasn't been taken at expenses at the district office? Does no one wonder why our district has to employ a public relations officer and two lawyers? Does no one else feel that Dr. Nishino can pay for his own car allowance in tough times like these? Why did the district assume a wait andsee attitude when it came to giving notice to 100% of our teachers, but they are rushing to push through these changes? Why has there been very little notification to the general public that this is currently occurring? At the event last night a very well respected teacher asked me: "WHY AREN'T PARENTS OUTRAGED?". I had no answer.
As a first grade teacher at xxxxxxxx for the past ten years, and as a first grade teacher having had class size reduction for 5 of those years, please please do not cut that...anything else (except salary) would do. We finally are seeing results of 20:1 in the upper grades because we can actually INSTRUCT 6 year olds to read and do math. We can actually get around to each child every day for one on one instruction and encouragement. Please do not retreat from this essential program which is finally resulting in better readers, writers, and mathematicians!!
I understand class size reduction is under consideration for budget cuts. Although, I only have 20 first grade children in my room, one is full inclusion (autistic), one is resource and both are English language learners. In January, I had seven children at risk of retention. Now I am only worried about one of the seven. I am able to meet the needs of these students but would be "hard pressed" to deal with more children.
Please keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.
I urge you to keep cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. It is my sincere hope that you see the importance of preserving a 20 to 1 ratio in grades K through 3. Teaching reading and writing is critical during these early years of our students' lives. Because of smaller class sizes, these children are able to receive the one-on-one attention they need to develop the necessary skills for reading and writing that will serve them well into their academic years and beyond. Early intervention and early literacy development are vital to a child's success in school. If class size reduction is eliminated or compromised in any way, we will surely increase the number of at-risk children who "fall through the cracks."
The majority of the students in my first grade class at xxxxxxxxx School are English language learners. Several receive free or reduced lunches. Two are at risk for retention. Many do not receive academic support at home for a variety of reasons. In other K through 3 classes throughout Alameda, the scenario is similar, however the challenges are in most cases, greater. Most of these classes also have children with special needs. The typical classroom of 2003 is much different than it was seven years ago when the class size reduction program was first implemented. More children than ever come from families known as the "working poor." Few resources are available to these families to help them support their children's education. More children than ever are English language learners. The number of children with special needs has also increased. It is vital to the children of our community that we steer away from any cuts in the class size reduction program.I realize during these difficult times that budget cuts are inevitable, but I implore you to be prudent in keeping these cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. Please do not vote for any recommendations to eliminate class size reduction in the primary grades.
My feeling about cuts is that they are best done "across the board" - everybody/every school site gives up a fixed percentage of its current year budget for future year. For the teachers and support personnel, the percentage is less hard on the lower paid in terms of real dollars and most people, while they don't like it, recognize its equitability, and don't fight "my program is more necessary than their program", which is a very bad situation in terms of people working cooperatively with each other in the future. The across the board methodology kind of gives the "we are all in this together" feeling over the long run. It must, of course, inlcude the superintendent, and all the "brass", as well as right down into the lowest paid. As a matter of fact, if the top staff were to take their percentage cut and then voluntarily and very publicly give up another, say, 5%, it does a lot for morale and takes away a lot of breath from the sails of the perpetually disgruntled.
I appreciate all your efforts in searching for what works best for children. I would like to bring to your attention the proposed cuts for 2003-04. Most of the cuts directly affect the education of our students. We are hoping that if cuts have to be made that they stay as far away from the classroom.
I am personally shocked that there are barely any cuts happening down at the district office. This districts budget, compared to the states suggested budget, is way out of proportion. I can't quote exactly the amount our district carries in certain areas ie, school site verse district, but I believe it's nearly 18% at the district. Way to top heavy! I hope all of you get a chance to investigate the districts budget carefully. Take notice of all the jobs that have been created for past site administrators just to keep them employed. These jobs where administrators salaries are being used to pay people to do jobs that school sites really don't benefit from. Would the student miss them if they were laid off?
If you recall the last board meeting when Stan Rose announced that all administrators would be receiving notices. One of you asked Stan how many that would be and he replied, "I'm not sure of the exact number, I don't have those papers in front of me". One of you asked could he give an estimate and he said, " around 60". At that point I believe it was Janet Gibson who started to questioned how many schools we had and so forth. I hope all of you have or will pursue that answer so you can see all of the money that is being wasted. What are these "administrators" doing?
I know we all have a rough time ahead of us, but let's not forget who this is all about. The children, our students, our future, our hope, and their dreams.
I am very concerned about the cuts and how they will be made. I expect that middle school and then high school will take the heat of the cuts. Middle school has the fewest parents and lets face it, many don't even like their kids during these years! So, it is the easiest place to make cuts in some ways. I also know that electives are a top area to eliminate. Actually, I don't have a problem with that because this community will not pass another parcel if they aren't feeling the pain. However, I do have one thing that the district has the responsiblity to do and I am afraid that no one will have the courage to really do this. Chipman has spent the past two years collecting research and data on what really needs to happen in the middle grades if we are to get ALL kids reading at or above the 50th percentile. We are finally there. We have actually built a master schedule based on the kids needs and not on what we want to offer or want to teach. No other school in the district can say that and I would actually go so far as to say you won't find another middle school at all who is doing this.
The problem, we can't do it if we don't have the ability to offer a morning three period block and an afternoon three period block. This is not to say that all kids need this. We do need to be able to do this for our lowest of the low. The data is conclusive, they need a three period block of time with clear, direct, explicit instruction by a very well qualified and experienced teacher who has the appropriate materials and support. We actually have almost all the elments in place however, if we go to a six period day, we will not be able to have one teacher teach two blocks because they will only teach five periods. Without this, we do not have the staff to teach all the sections necessary and we would also need. I think the district has the opportunity to actually show that the achievement gap can be closed and a staff willing to do the tough work. Equity would not require we do this for all kids in the district nor all kids at Chipman, only those at the VERY BOTTOM!
I appreciate the difficult position we are all in as we attempt to serve children. I am one of the original teachers of the Math/Science Technology Program at Wood. Wood is in the process of trying to create small learning communities through out the school.
As difficult decisions on how to reduce costs are being made, I encourage the board to support smaller learning communities. The Math/Science program at Wood has no extra cost to the district and has served the students and the parents and teachers well.
I think that the committee, whoever they are, should look at closing Island school to be moved and could be revamped and reopened sometime in the future. Paden and Franklin closed, and then reopened. Savings 1/2 time administrator, ?# of custodians, secretaries etc,. as well as costs of maintainence utilites etc. Kids who were not incorrigible (most of them) could make up units through contracts with regular staff--saturday school etc.
School pr person is a luxury.
I have heard that the document center has its figures embedded throughout the budget and that it is very costly.
I fear that the cuts are going to come from the administration who have their own biases.
Will the public have a chance to respond to the "targeted" cuts once that's decided. Will that be a preliminary decision? As far as I know, there's not a # available of the $ amount of the cuts, that it's still pending. So, without that, I'd assume we'd have a plan that would tell us what we cut first, second, third, until we reach the actual amount of the reduction.
However, unfortunately, this did have a strong negative impact on our teachers at Earhart who received notices Wednesday because our principal wasn't there Thursday and today, as happened during Measure A.
Also, I'd assume that seniority would be taken into consideration in regards to the exact teachers that are cut, even though their pay would be more than new teachers. I hope the result of this will not be to lose our senior, experienced teachers that we tried so hard to retain with Measure A. Presumably their Union would advocate that position.
I am hopeful that those on the budget cutting task force represent the entire district--not just in terms of elemetary interests, middle, etc., but also are representative of the various neighborhoods in town. I know we at Chipman have spent the last two months restructuring the school to better meet the needs of all of our students, in an attempt to close the achievement gap. I know similar discussions have been taking place at EHS as well. I just hope many voices will be heard, and that the district, in an attempt to receive more money, won't burden the schools already burdened by lower performing students (ie., inter-district permits from other districts).
Community Member 3/13
I understand how difficult the cuts will be and wish our government put as much emphasis on education funding as it does on the war. But who am I to suggest that change.
An announcement was made at Lincoln Middle School today that there will likely be no band next year due to budget cuts. Being in the band has changed my son's attitude about school and that change in attitude has brought his grades up significantly. Music is a necessary component of our children's education and is not "fluff". Please do not cut the music program from the middle schools! The kids are also coming home saying that they heard at school that all their teachers are going to be losing their jobs. Why is the district causing the students this undue stress? I realize that with the budget cuts from the state, some cuts will need to be made, but I beg you to start at the top, not in the classrooms. We need our teachers, including the excellent band program's Mr. Dooha-Chambers at Lincoln!
I am still wondering, when will Nishino, Legaspi, etc. take a pay cut??? I think the board should insist on this. Not only to save a job or two, but as a matter of good faith! Asking for teachers layoffs when we have a heavy admin. budget is preposterous!
I appreciate all your time and do not envy your position. Question, I'm sure they won't be, but how can teachers be laid off if there are indeed students to teach? Do their salaries also need to be adjusted? Are we looking at school not even starting in September at all? (keeping in mind that we don't have a calendar!)
Parent 3/12What are we fighting this war with Iraq for? Our kids? When we cut back school days in Oregon, eliminate programs, lay off teachers here in the US?
I also want to say that I hope the Superintendent isn't getting a raise and that you will consider lay-offs as far away from the classroom as possible. for example, do we really need two lawyers and a PR person?
Knowing that money will be tight perhaps it's time to sit down and assess the real needs of the district and consider making cuts further from the classroom. Perhaps we need fewer administrators. Perhaps the Superintendent could pay for his own car. Perhaps we don't need a special administrator to supervise the high school curriculum. Perhaps we have to look at class size and at refusing to do unnecessary state testing. It's time to stop wasting money on unnecessary conferences and future planning and focus on the instructional needs of students.
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