Due to unprecedented state budget cuts, ongoing state economic uncertainties and the narrow defeat of the Measure E parcel tax, AUSD is moving ahead with closures of secondary and elementary schools.
Dear Alameda Community Members,
As we enjoy the summer break, I’d like to thank AUSD families and staff for coming together and making this another successful year. This success would not be possible without shared sacrifice, and families and staff stepping up to give extra time and effort.
Points of Pride
Our District is especially proud of our accomplishments this past year:
- Approved a five-year Master Plan, which outlines our path to becoming a model 21st century district by 2015, including redesigning the District Office for efficiency and quality service; investing cost savings in learning; and decentralizing many central functions with funding and accountability to school sites
- Launched our K-12 math initiative to strengthen and develop our mathematics instruction
- Increased the number of students participating in – and passing – Advanced Placement (AP) classes
- Placed and won many local, state, and regional athletic competitions in several different team and individual sports
- Filed a lawsuit, Robles-Wong v. State of California, aimed at radically reforming the state’s public school finance system in order to ensure stable and sufficient funding and provide equal opportunity for all, including replacing the archaic funding formula that fails to serve Alameda fairly
- Realized more students graduating and going on to colleges, universities, and career paths across the United States
Congratulations to the Class of 2010!
And speaking of our graduates, they are heading off to a wide variety of colleges, universities, and career paths that include UC Berkeley and eight of the other nine UC campuses, most of the California State University campuses, Stanford, Morehouse, Spelman, Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Emerson, and New York University. Some AUSD graduates will be attending local community college campuses as well as specialized colleges like Berklee College of Music and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise. We also have graduates attending the US Air Force Academy and enlisting in the Coast Guard, Marines, Army, and Navy. We are very proud of all of them.
We are especially proud of our success and students’ accomplishments in light of our grim financial outlook due to unprecedented cuts to public education by the State of California. AUSD continues to be committed to making every effort to solve our fiscal problems on all fronts. Together, we can continue to provide excellence to the young people in Alameda.
AUSD Takes Steps to Address Broken Funding System
Together with eight other school districts, several families across California, the California State PTA, the California School Boards Association, and the Association of California School Administrators, AUSD and Alameda families have filed a lawsuit, Robles-Wong v. State of California, to radically reform the state’s public school financing system. The lawsuit alleges that the state’s current system violates the California Constitution.
AUSD and Alameda community members have worked for more than three years researching and helping organize the lawsuit. Because litigation may take years to get through the court system, it will not help with AUSD’s immediate funding crisis.
The filing of this long-awaited lawsuit is another example of AUSD’s commitment to make every effort to solve our fiscal problems in all fronts. These include streamlining and continuing to cut more from our already lean District Office, negotiating major concessions from our employee groups (including layoffs and furloughs), and making difficult programmatic changes, such as increasing class size.
With all ballots counted, Measure E garnered more than 65% support in the Tuesday, June 22nd special all-mail in school parcel tax election. With two-thirds support required for passage, the measure would have provided approximately $14M annually for eight years.
Despite the fact that the results did not turn out as we had hoped, we should all be extremely proud of what we did achieve. A two-thirds vote is often times an impossible hurdle to overcome, yet we came very close.
Given the state of education funding in California, we will begin to see some of the affects of those budget cuts as our students head back into the classroom in August. Unfortunately, given the staggering cuts in state funding, those affects will worsen as we head into the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.
Like many of you, I am saddened that although in most other elections, 65.5% would be a landslide, in a parcel tax election it is not. As a result of the defeat of Measure E, the Board will be forced to make some very hard decisions over the next school year to be able to balance the budget. These decisions are critical to sustain the District’s fiscal condition as we grapple with the devastating budget reductions which are handed down from the state.
Budget Cuts and the Effects on Our Education Program
Many community members have asked me about the cuts for the 2010-11 school year and what will happen in the Alameda Unified School District because of the necessity to cut $7M.
In Kindergarten through 3rd grade, we increased class size to 25:1. This is a savings of almost $900K. What this means educationally is that there will be less individualized time for students. Teachers will be forced to give fewer assignments based on these numbers. Increasing class size from 20:1 to 25:1 impacts a teacher’s ability to assign, grade, and give meaningful feedback to students.
In addition, we have increased 9th grade class size to realize a savings of $375K. English and math classes in 9th grade will increase from 20:1 to 35:1. Because classes will now be loaded at 35:1, this may reduce the number of Advanced Placement (AP) courses available due to our inability to fill them completely. Similar to the Kindergarten through 3rd grade class size increase, teachers will provide less individualized time and fewer assignments in order to give appropriate feedback to their students.
We also streamlined the District Office to focus on compliance-related duties, resulting in a savings of $400K. Fewer District Office staff may mean less accessibility to the public as well as slower service. District Office staff will need to focus their efforts on meeting the District’s compliance obligations to both state and federal governments. I have often heard families say, “then just don’t do the compliance.” Although this may seem a tempting way to deal with the staffing reductions, it is important to understand that we must do the compliance work or we get into the vicious cycle of audit findings which also costs the District money. Because Alameda classrooms depend on funding from the state and federal governments, we have no choice but to ensure that we are complying with government rules and regulations and issuing the necessary reports which secure that funding.
For the 2010/2011 school year, the District eliminated 3 teachers on special assignment to net a cost savings of $152K. This will mean less support for healthy kids, school safety, Strategic Intervention Model (SIM), literacy, and instructional technology. This will impact the elementary schools. In addition to supervising their schools, 8 out of 10 elementary principals have been assigned some of the work which was previously done at the District Office to try to fill some of these gaps.
We also issued a categorical funding freeze of expenditures during the year which resulted in $1M in savings. The freeze included purchases of supplies, computers, materials, paper, copying, and art supplies.
Adult education has also been reduced by $350K which results in fewer courses available to our senior community.
The District cut $126K in state-deferred maintenance match funds which will result in fewer repairs of our aging facilities. We also reduced the number of school counselors to realize a savings of $500K. This reduction equates to a 50% loss in middle and high school counseling services and less support for students in planning classes, college and career opportunities, and applying for scholarships.
The District will forego the purchase of new instructional materials to save $425K. This means there is less money available for replacing lost textbooks and purchasing new textbooks or consumable materials in elementary school.
We have also reduced support to special education administration by $400K. Because there is less support available, this may impact our compliance; we will need to watch this very carefully.
The District realized the largest savings – $2.5M – from implementing 8 furlough days for every employee in the District including the Superintendent, every custodian, teacher, food service worker, gardener, maintenance worker, paraprofessional, health assistant, and office manager – every staff member. We will not have teacher professional development days and the instructional school year will be reduced by 5 days. This means that young people will get fewer days of learning when we know they need more, not less.
The elimination of the CBET tutoring program, a program that gets great results for English language learners and their families, saved $63K.
And, to save $44K, we eliminated the pupil retention block grant. Eliminating this program reduces essential counseling services at Island High School, our continuation high school where we support students who are on their 2nd, 3rd, or more chance of graduating.
In 2010-11, we are charged with implementing the “Scenario B: The No Parcel Tax Scenario.” Due to the failure of Measure E, this scenario will require that we cut programs and make other painful changes and reductions. These steps will include millions more in cuts on top of the $7M in cuts that will already be hitting the schools when students head back to school on August 30th. Staff are working this summer and next fall to more fully develop the specifics of those plans and will bring those back to the community and the board this fall as a Phase I (for 2011/12 implementation) / Phase II (for 2012/13 implementation) approach. Those additional cuts may include changing elementary configurations or consolidating three or more elementary schools; closing Lincoln Middle School and Wood Middle School and reopening one middle school; increasing class size to 32:1 or higher for all grades; closing both Alameda High School and Encinal High School and re-opening one high school; changing enrollment boundaries to ensure remaining schools are filled to capacity; and eliminating or reducing programs.
Possible Parcel Tax for Spring 2011
As Superintendent, I have been directed by the Board to begin planning the implementation of Scenario B. Part of this work will, of course, include a timeline for community engagement. Because of the strong support Measure E received from the community, and the impact that severe state budget cuts will have on classrooms, the Board directed me to examine a possible parcel tax for spring 2011. As part of my overall Scenario B recommendation to the Board, I will also be providing a report on the possibility of placing a parcel tax on the ballot on or before March 2011. If passed in the spring of 2011, a parcel tax could potentially enable AUSD to reverse or mitigate some of the cuts that will have already been made, or will be in discussion, at that time.
We will continue to do more with less and give every child the best possible education Alameda can provide.
As we ready for the new 2010-11 school year, I encourage you to check the District’s website for updated information regarding this community process and urge your participation in this important analysis and discussion.
As always, I will continue to keep you updated. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 510-337-7060.
I hope you all have a restful summer and look forward to seeing you back at school in late August!
Superintendent of Schools
2200 Central Avenue Alameda, CA 94501
Phone 510.337.7060 Fax 510.522.6926