Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 5, 2008

Total Recall

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , , , — Lauren Do @ 7:03 am

According to Mike McMahon, who stayed up just long enough after a marathon meeting (ended at 1:45 a.m.) to update his website about the major items.  There is no indication about whether the Board decided to move forward on the parcel tax, but it appears that the Class Size Reductions for Grade 3 have been removed from consideration and the athletics program has been reduced from an initial cut of $345K to $200K instead.   The Music Prep for elementary grades, the Board found an extra $75K to cut from that budget which brings that cut up to $200K.

The Board also approved placing the Parcel Tax on the June ballot.

If any of you have been following Eve Pearlman’s new blog — she’s blogging under the Alameda Journal masthead — you would have seen the update about a small contingent of parents and possibly community members upset about the cuts to the school athetics program.  They have proposed through emails that I have seen that if any of the Board Members approve any cuts to sports that they will begin a recall effort to have those School Board Members removed in June.   The logic is then to put up a slate of “sports supporters” to then reinstate the athletics program as soon as they are seated as board members.

While I could go on a long diatribe about this issue, rather I will share an email from Rob Siltanen that crystalizes the problem with the recall perfectly:

I learned today that a group of parents is threatening to attempt to “recall” any school board member who votes to cut sports as part of the 4.5 to 5 million dollars in cuts the board will be voting on tonight.  I strongly oppose the recall effort.

I agree that eliminating high school athletics is unacceptable.  The problem for all of us who want the best for Alameda’s kids is that it is also unacceptable to end the class size reduction program in grades K-3 by 09-10; to cut positions and programs at Encinal High School in 08-09; to close two or three elementary schools, a middle school and perhaps even EHS itself in 09-10; to end music education for K-3; to cut back even further on counseling and career services; and to lay off scores of teachers and staff.

I have been quite involved in a range of AUSD financial issues in recent years and I am certain that AUSD “district office cuts” cannot save anything even remotely close to the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary to save athletics or any other of the items I’ve just listed, let alone all of them.  The Governor and the legislature bear the moral responsibility for these devastating cuts, not the AUSD board or staff.

So, while I think every constituency and “interest group” on the chopping block should advocate tonight for whatever changes to the “cut list” they believe should be made, starting Wednesday, we have to band together and work to pass the parcel tax to prevent ALL the cuts. 

Passing the parcel tax would raise nearly 4 million dollars for AUSD and would reverse the proposed cuts.  In contrast, a “throw the bums out” recall campaign by the athletes or the elementary parents or the EHS supporters or the teachers or the classified staff or any other group doesn’t “get its way” tonight will in the end make it impossible for any of those deserving groups to survive this state budget crisis.  In the context of a recall campaign, we will never be able to convince the Alameda community at large to trust and invest more in the schools by approving the parcel tax.  A recall won’t stop the 4.5 million in cuts from the state.  What would the “new board” then cut to close the $4.5 million gap?

Whatever budget cuts the board approves tonight will be terrible. But the most important point to keep in mind is that we have exactly one chance to stop ALL these cuts and it isn’t tonight:  Beginning Wednesday morning, grown-ups in Alameda must work together to stop all the two-year planned cuts by doing everything we can to pass the parcel tax June 3.

So, please advocate passionately tonight for the changes you want to the budget cut list.  But on Wednesday morning, we’ve got to wake up and move on together. As Ben Franklin put it in 1776: “We must hang together,…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” 

Please oppose the recall campaign.  Thank you for your consideration…

I can only hope that the parents and community members considering this recall as the way to save the program they most value will instead put their efforts, energy, and most importantly money,  toward a positive goal that will benefit not only their kids, but all kids in Alameda.   No one likes what has to be done to save our schools, but a recall effort, would do more harm than good.

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18 Comments

  1. Well if it takes a recall to set matters right … so be it! I will vote for a recall.

    Comment by Melissa J — March 5, 2008 @ 7:45 am

  2. Good morning! For whatever reason, I heard no talk last night of a recall effort. People focused on advocating the programs that are important to them–student athletes were out in full force–and gathering their energy to support a parcel to tax to alleviate some of the budget pressures.

    Comment by Eve — March 5, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  3. Just remember that the money and effort that you would spend on a recall could be better spent on the student athletes, this school board doesn’t need to be replaced, it needs to be supported at this time to help get us through the next six months.

    Comment by john piziali — March 5, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  4. And what “matters” will be set “right” if there is to be a recall, MelissaJ?

    Do you even know or are you just another armchair quarterback that seems to think s/he can run the school district better than anyone else? And if so, put your proverbial money where your proverbial mouth is.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 5, 2008 @ 9:30 am

  5. Here here. I just posted a long thing about the parcel tax and what I’m hoping folks will remember is that the district doesn’t really decide how much money they get. For the most part, the state makes that determination. The district can only budget basedon the amount of money they think they’ll have. Maybe folks can work with the board to raise funds to keep the sports programs alive, if they really are forced to make the cuts?

    Comment by Michele — March 5, 2008 @ 9:46 am

  6. I think it’s really important to remember that in this time of fiscal crisis, we need to have people on the board who are experienced, knowledgeable, and committed to the 10,000 children in this district. I.e., we need to have the very board members who we have right now.

    Funding for public education is very, very complicated. There are myriad rules and regulations that control who can spend what money from which fund on which program according to whose timeline. There are serious consequences when a district does not follow those rules.

    Our current board members have been through many rounds of budget reductions. Some may say this is a sign of their incompetence. I actually think the opposite is true: The board has been forced, again and again, to deal with declining revenue. In response, it has done an amazing job of keeping the $7 million worth of cuts away from our children and of creating a district that has been continually improving, despite the cuts.

    Now the magnitude of the cuts that are coming from Sacramento is so great it has to affect the kids–unless we all gather our ire and our power and do something positive to fight back. Emphasis on “positive.”

    I know several members of our current Board of Education personally. They are very smart, very committed, and very dedicated to the children in this district. I respect them greatly. I would be very, very worried if “lay people” were to assume a board position at a time when our district’s future is in such jeapordy.

    Let’s all start working together to solve the problem, not against each other.

    Comment by Susan Davis — March 5, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  7. I can’t say I have a very high opinion of the board, and indeed might support a recall if the district were not in crisis. To recall them now, though, is just pouring gasoline on the fire.

    Like ‘em or not, they’re who we’ve got to get us through right now and to replace them with inexperienced members during a pinch would be folly. Use the ballot box at the next election.

    —-

    Politically speaking, it was shrewd of the board to threaten to cut sports. While it may not reflect particulalry well on the parent poulation that sports is the galvanizing issue (in a perfect world it would be AP programs) but if that’s what it takes to mobilize voters, so be it.

    Comment by dave — March 5, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  8. Closing EHS is a good idea. Alameda would be better off with only one high school (a la Berkeley). Programs — electives, clubs, atheletics, etc. — would no longer have to be duplicated. In fact more students in one school could lead to more (diversity in) programs. Closing schools (of all grade levels) and selling the land could lead to a nice windfall for the AUSD.

    Comment by JetNoise — March 5, 2008 @ 11:03 am

  9. Does AHS have the capacity to absorb EHS?

    Comment by dave — March 5, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  10. (03-05) 11:25 PST Alameda, Calif. (AP) —

    Hundreds of students have walked out of their classes in Alameda in a protest over the state’s proposed budget cuts.

    Students from Encinal High School marched off campus and straight to the school district’s headquarters.

    Tuesday night, the district school board voted to cut $200,000 out of sports programs and to increase class sizes on some campuses to save money.

    Comment by nothinglikealittlegrandstanding — March 5, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  11. #9
    “Does AHS have the capacity to absorb EHS?”
    # 10
    “Hundreds of students have walked out of their classes in Alameda in a protest over the state’s proposed budget cuts.”

    Now they do!

    Comment by anachrofella — March 5, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

  12. I was just by there(alameda high) during lunch and saw the MASSIVE crowd of students and staff as well as news vans. wow. It was pretty intense.

    Comment by MarkD — March 5, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  13. Dave.. No Alameda High is already impacted as far as I know. There campus has no baseball or football fields. They have a very small campus compared to Encinal High.

    Dave I agree with you about using the ballot box rather than a recall. John P.

    Comment by john piziali — March 5, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  14. gee dave,

    I don’t know who Melissa J. is, but from what we know of you on this blog I’m dismayed you would even entertain the idea of a recall under any circumstances. What a colossal misguided waste of time/energy/money. And if you have a low opinion of the current board, since you are a finance guy are you saying you’re better qualified and maybe ready to run?

    Really relieved that nobody actually got up and spoke about a recall last night.

    Comment by Mark I — March 5, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  15. 14

    Mark:

    I encourage you to re-read post 7. In it I say , in English no less, that I do not support a recall, that it would be a foolish & counter-productive effort.

    I do not belive that I would make a good board member but I am still able to evaluate the current board, am I not? I can’t hit a curveball either, so does that mean I can’t say that Neifi Perez sucks?

    Comment by dave — March 5, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

  16. I do not always agree with the BOE; however, all of them seem competent and dedicated. A recall will solve nothing and only be a disruptive distraction.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — March 5, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

  17. The recall was an idea thrown out in a series of emails by some sports parents as a threat not to cut the sports. People who know the truth and have worked on this a long time seemed to shut them down.

    Comment by Barbara m — March 5, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

  18. If there is a recall, it should be from the gov’s mansion.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 5, 2008 @ 4:35 pm


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