AUSD Open House :(

I miss open house.


I loved night when I was a kid. My sister and I would dress in our Sunday best and walk down to Edison School with both parents. Having both parents at school might not seem like a big deal, but my dad, like many parents, had a regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, (or really, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and he couldn’t participate in field trips or bake sales. But, since open house was held in the evening, it was one of the few times he could. It was like “Bring Your Child to Work Day!” — except it was ”Bring Your Parent to School Day” instead.

Open house was the time when I got to show off. I had some learning issues that made school challenging for me, but the glorious thing about open house was that it wasn’t only about grades. It was more about the part of school that was fun. It was positive. It was about what I had accomplished, not simply the things that I had to work on. Because with me, there were always things I had to work on.

On these nights, my mom or dad would squeeze into my mini desk chair and ooh and ahh over things like my  and my solar system mobile. They would patiently read reports about raccoons and past presidents and lovingly say things like, “Your penmanship has gotten much better!” And, “Wow! I can’t believe you made up an entire story about a pickle!”

Even if my grades themselves were less than stellar, because of open house I always felt confident about myself and my work. And I felt that my parents and teachers felt good about me, too.

I have two girls that both attended Edison, my youngest is in fifth grade now, so it’s our last year in grammar school. Fourth grade, last year, was the first year there was no open house and I was surprised how much I missed it. I missed being able to praise my girl publicly. I missed being able to gush and make a big deal out of her projects and her reports that I know she worked so hard on. I missed being able to invite her grandparents and aunt into her classroom so they could see all the wonderful artwork hanging from the ceiling and stapled to bulletin boards around the room. They missed it, too.

I understand that the Alameda Unified School District is extremely low on funds. I understand that many parents would rather see the open house program cut than any actual learning time from the classroom and I hear you. I just feel that fun is just as important as an English or science lesson. Not like PE fun and not simply because of the praise. (‘Cause let’s face it, all of our kids are geniuses!) But because we’re invited into their world for an hour or two. We are given the opportunity to connect with them in their "office" and acknowledge that what they do all day is important, too. 

Can’t parents just do that at home? Sure, and I hope they do. All I can say is that it really did make a difference to my sister and me. And when I ask my kids, it's always one of their favorite school days. That and Valentine’s Day.

Andy Currid February 19, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Julie, I don't recall anyone making a commitment that class sizes would return to 20:1 with the passage of Measure A. That is certainly not what we asked the voters to fund. If you recall, we asked the voters to sustain 20:1 with Measure E in June 2010, and the voters said No. So class sizes were shifted to 25:1, and voters were asked to sustain that level with Measure A, which they agreed to in March 2011. Furlough days have been rescinded in Alameda for the current school year because we passed Measure A. Furlough days continue in many other local districts. What exactly is your expectation on furlough days that is not being met? If it's payment for days you didn't work in 2010-11, I think that's unrealistic.
Alameda Education Association February 21, 2012 at 02:55 AM
The contract is where the commitment was made to return to 20:1. Measure A is not the contract. The District pays for many things that are not stipulated in Measure A with rest of their approximately $90 Million budget. As Julie pointed out, the Superintendent and executive cabinet's pay increases are not stipulated in Measure A either.
Mary Sullivan February 23, 2012 at 02:37 AM
I agree with Sarah Hinds analysis of our situation here at AUSD. I have taught for 13 years here in Alameda. I would like to add this thought. If AUSD really does have millions of dollars in their reserves, according to an independent auditor it is one of the largest reserves in the state of California. The district had no business shortening the students school year last year, or furloughing the teachers. The superintendent and board members received raises and the students and teachers were furloughed. What a shame! M.S.
Anne (McKereghan) DeBardeleben February 23, 2012 at 09:34 AM
AUSD's records are kept on an accrual basis; basically that means revenues and expenses are recorded whether the monies have been received or paid out. Under the accrual basis reserves are not cash but the net difference of revenues and expenses. For instance, as of June 30 AUSD had a general fund reserve of $11.8M but the State owed AUSD over $8M of the revenues reflected in the balance. There is a cash account, Fund 17, used to hold cash for economic uncertainties. The Board determines when monies are set aside and when they are released - there is a minimum amount required to prevent the district from being penalized. This fund had $5.7M at the end of last year. The state combines these accounts to determine the financial health of a district. Combined they came to $17.5M. These balances have been developed in anticipation of continued economic pressures. The greatest drain on our district is the underfunded State and Federal mandated programs. The encroachment of these programs is expected to all but deplete the general fund reserve by the end of the 2013/14 school year. Without these reserves we’d be looking at major cuts again in the next few years. The information was presented at an early board meeting and can be found here http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/images/stories/pdfs/boemtg/2011_2012/boe_121311_f7.pdf I think its important to point out Board Members are eligible for a small monthly stipend for their services which has not increased in several years.
Tom Brody March 05, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Open house is a wonderful, magical thing for Edison school parents. The parents get to mingle with each other, and share stories about their darling little ones. However, when school activities at Edison (carnivals, Halloween parade, music in the auditoreum, open house, Edison garden) get cut out, there is nothing stopping Edison school parents from banding together, to form card playing night, or bowling night, perhaps an afternoon at the Navy dock sketching the Navy ships with a pencil and artists' sketch pad, or an Edison parents hike down into one of the steep valleys up in them thar Oakland hills.


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