From Kirsten Vital, Superintendent of Schools:
Dear Alameda Community,
As we approach the winter holidays and the start of a new year, it is a good time to take a step back and reflect on our many successes and challenges. We are grateful for the community’s partnership in all that we have accomplished together for our students in 2012. Continuing student academic growth, protecting enrichment and athletic programs, and maintaining a solid three year budget have been among the greatest points of pride for our District over the past year. At the same time, we know many challenges remain and we recognize that in everything we do there is always room for improvement.
Last Night’s Board Meeting and Next Steps in 2013 for the Board of Education
Last night’s meeting of the Board of Education addressed many important issues and will help set our direction heading into 2013. The Board swore in Barbara Kahn as a new member of the Board, elected Niel Tam as Board President, Trish Herrera Spencer as Board Vice President and Mike McMahon as Board Clerk, organized the assignments and appointments of Board members, and approved its schedule of meetings for the coming year. The agenda also included presentations of annual reports on the Measure C facilities bond and the Measure A parcel tax, a public hearing on the District’s first interim budget for the 2012-13 school year, information on magnet schools and innovative programs, and action to increase middle school options. The Board also began discussion of the community engagement process in coming months related to our “Phase II” study on facilities across the District, the future of Historic Alameda High School, and the possibility of purchasing property for district office space. We hope all who are interested will participate in the community conversations about our facilities we will be having in the first months of 2013.
The new Board is planning a working retreat in February to reflect on the state of AUSD and consider the big picture of where we are as a District and the best ways to continue to move us forward in coming years. We will continue to keep you updated on the work of the Board.
In 2012 we reached labor agreements will all three of our employee bargaining groups. We are hopeful that in 2013 we will conclude successor bargaining on a new contract with AEA, the teachers’ union.
Bargaining teams for AEA and the Board of Education have met several times since the start of this school year and are making progress on a successor agreement. AEA has now passed all of its initial proposals to the District. The District has also passed its initial proposals with the exception of economic proposals.
The parties are set to discuss economic proposals on salary and benefits as well as the District's three year budget after the Governor makes his new budget proposal early next month. Bargaining teams are scheduled to meet twice more in December and throughout the months of January and February.
Fiscal Update on State Budget and Ruling in Measure H Appeal
We are hopeful that in 2013 and beyond we will at last see an improved fiscal picture for public education in California. The passage of Proposition 30 last month is a step in that direction and will provide some budgetary relief. However, it is important to understand that Prop 30 includes no new programmatic funding for schools, has some restrictions on the use of its funds, and is funded by temporary tax increases. Even with Prop 30, State funding of the District is still significantly below 2007-08 levels. We are eagerly awaiting the Governor’s new budget proposal in January to see how he proposes to address education funding.
Whatever happens with the state budget in Sacramento, we will continue to face local budget challenges as well. Last week the California Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Borikas et al. v. Alameda Unified School District, a lawsuit filed by parcel tax opponents challenging the legality of Measure H, a parcel tax passed in 2008. The decision validates the parts of Measure H that taxed certain parcels $120 but also directs the trial court to declare invalid parts of Measure H that taxed certain commercial and industrial property at a different rate than $120 per parcel. The decision also directs the trial court to conduct further proceedings to determine whether there should be any further remedies, including the possibility of refunds of some tax revenues collected from 2008-2011. The courts have not yet ordered any refunds and therefore no refunds of Measure H dollars are currently available.
If at a later date the trial court in the Borikas case does order refunds of tax revenues already collected and spent, this court decision has the potential to be a significant blow to our budget with many negative consequences for our students, teachers and staff. We are carefully evaluating all of our options for how to proceed with this matter in the courts and the legislature. We will keep you informed on the status of this case.
Last week’s decision on Measure H does not affect the legality of our current parcel tax, Measure A. In November 2010 after extensive outreach and in partnership with many leaders of our business community, the Board of Education voted unanimously to structure Measure A so that it applies the same tax rate to residential property as it does to commercial and industrial property, unlike Measure H. In 2011 the District won a court decision in a separate lawsuit, Nelco, Inc. et al. v. Alameda Unified School District, which concluded Measure A is valid and legal. The plaintiffs in the Nelco case did not appeal the court’s ruling and the time for filing that appeal has now passed. As a result, Measure A funding is secure for the remaining five years of Measure A’s seven year term.
Thank you again for your support of our schools and our students this year. Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. As always, feel free to email me at email@example.com or call me at 337.7060 with your feedback, questions and any concerns.