Dear Alameda Community Member:
As we pass the mid-point of the 2011-2012 school year, I am pleased to report that our schools and our students are continuing to have a great year, with exciting educational opportunities on the horizon for next year and beyond. On the fiscal front, the news from Sacramento is much less encouraging: Although is protecting our core programs, we remain very concerned about how the state’s ongoing budget mess will affect us here in Alameda.
Educational Options and Innovations: Magnets and Programs Approved by Board of Education
We are thrilled that we are able to expand academic choices for students across the district. At its meeting last week, the board approved several proposals for magnet schools and innovative programs that had been submitted last fall by teams of teachers, parents and administrators and then reviewed with the board and the community in earlier meetings in recent weeks.
Specifically, the board approved a 21st Century Learning K-6 program at Bay Farm; a Math, Science, Technology with Integration of Music program at Earhart; Global Education Through the Arts, a K-5 magnet school to be located at Washington school (opening fall of 2012); and a 6-8 “Junior Jets” magnet school at Encinal High (opening fall of 2013).
The board’s approval of these proposals culminated work that began in 2009, when AUSD worked with and gained input from a wide range of community stakeholders to formulate the AUSD Master Plan. The Master Plan, adopted by the Board in 2010, reflected the community’s interest in programs of choice for Alameda students. Thanks to the sustained hard work of many teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and community members, as well as the passage of Measure A — which provided critical funding for the planning stages for these magnet and innovative programs -- the Board was able to approve these proposals to provide more programs of choice in AUSD.
With Support from the Alameda Community, Measure A Funds Are Preserving Educational Quality
Thanks to the Alameda voters who passed Measure A last year by a margin of more than two to one, AUSD’s budget protects the 11 core educational priorities specified identified in Measure A, all in accordance with input the community provided at public meetings in 2010 and 2011 leading up to Measure A.
Last week the eleven-member Measure A Oversight Committee held its second meeting of the 2011-2012 year. The committee, charged with reviewing AUSD’s compliance with the terms of Measure A, will continue to meet this spring. Later this spring the Board will also hear a progress report on the first year of implementation of Measure A. Next fall the Oversight Committee will present an Annual Report on Measure A to the board and the community.
State Budget Watch: Flat State Funding for AUSD in 2012-13 if Proposed State Initiative Passes in November; Millions of Dollars in Mid-Year State Cuts for AUSD if Initiative Doesn’t Pass in November
Earlier this month Governor Brown released his proposed budget for 2012-13. His proposal would close an estimated $9.2 billion State deficit through a combination of program cuts and temporary revenue increases tied to the passage of a new ballot measure in November.
If the governor’s proposed initiative passes in November, the “best case scenario” for education funding would only result in maintenance of flat funding for 2012-13, not any real increase. On the other hand, if the initiative doesn’t pass, Governor Brown is proposing mid-year “trigger cuts” of approximately $370 per student for 2012-13, an amount even larger than the possible “trigger cuts” we faced this current school year. That $370 cut by the State would amount to approximately $3.2 million in cuts for AUSD.
In addition to this possibility of a multi-million dollar mid-year cut from the State, the Governor’s proposals also create uncertainty in many other areas and so makes planning very difficult. For example, the Governor has proposed ending completely the K-3 Class Size Reduction (“CSR”) program for next school year. Although Measure A allocates more than $1.5 million dollars to help keep our K-3 class sizes small, the state funds supporting CSR are also critical for supporting that program. If the State were to eliminate CSR funding, we would face some very difficult and expensive tradeoffs. The Governor has also proposed eliminating many other categorical programs currently providing funding for AUSD and replacing the current overall funding system with a completely new weighted student formula. As we learn more we will keep you updated.
The district met with AEA on Jan. 30 to resume mediation with an impartial mediator. After meeting with the parties for approximately 4 hours, the mediator concluded the mediation and stated that he will be certifying the parties to the next stage of the impasse process: fact-finding. Although the parties' relative positions and offers during mediation are confidential, the district participated in mediation in good faith, and attempted to meet AEA's interests with a different proposal. Unfortunately, the union and the district were unable to reach an agreement on class size in mediation and will now begin the fact-finding process.
In fact-finding, each party will have an opportunity to present the facts which support their respective positions. The fact-finding panel will consider several factors including comparable class sizes in neighboring similar districts. The district will continue to work with AEA through the fact-finding process to try to reach a negotiated agreement. For more information about the fact-finding process and the status of negotiations, please visit the Labor Relations page of our website.
Superintendent of Schools