At Tuesday’s night School Board meeting there was an exercise in “what ifs” when it came to the school budget. The District staff asked the School Board to begin discussions on budget priorities in the case that the Local Control Funding Formula (aka the new way to fund School Districts) comes up waayyy lower that the current funding formula. (Technically it’s not supposed to, but this is an exercise right and a precautionary step in case that it does).
So this was a slide I shared earlier that gives you an idea of what could be used to bridge any shortfall:
Anyway it doesn’t really matter what is on the list, in general this was a discussion to talk about what they might prioritize IF the shortfall happens. Essentially the District staff had t bring it to the School Board.
So Trish Spencer launches out of the gate that Adult Education should be prioritized and that money should be found elsewhere to cut because Measure A distinctly calls out Adult Education as a priority to fund. She later says that the School Board should look to the magnet programs and small class sizes to cut instead.
Except for the fact that if we are using the Trish Spencer logic of we can’t cut anything that Measure A has in its language, then (1) nothing really could be cut and (2) particularly not the two things that she said we should look toward cutting. From the Measure A language:
Small Class Sizes: 13-14 % of the Available Revenues of this Measure shall be dedicated annually to maintaining manageable elementary class sizes with student to teacher ratios no greater than 25 to 1 in K-3 classrooms. Revenues from this Measure will support small class sizes in a manner which may not be achieved solely with support from the District’s General Fund. In the event the State of California fully funds class size reduction to support student to teacher ratios of 20 to 1 in K-3 classrooms such that supplemental parcel tax funds are no longer required to maintain small class sizes, the Board of Education may recommend that revenues which were allocated for small class size be reapportioned to the remaining programs supported by this Measure.
Small class sizes is literally the first bullet item. First. Just to compare, not that it is any less important, but Adult Education which Trish Spencer was so keen about is the last one on the list.
Also from the Measure A language:
Neighborhood Elementary Schools: 7-8% of the Available Revenues of this Measure shall be dedicated annually to maintaining high quality neighborhood elementary schools. For purposes of this Measure, high quality shall be determined by external measurements, parental choice, and student outcomes. Revenues from this Measure may be used to support programs designed to maximize enrollment in neighborhood schools, such as magnet programs, and programs which improve the academic proficiency of all students through effective instruction and implementation of a challenging and engaging curriculum as more specifically set forth in the District’s Master Plan document. [emphasis added]
The magnet programs are in the second bullet item under Neighborhood Elementary Schools. Personally I classify magnet programs like I do charter schools. They have to have an application in order to actually happen and it’s structured slightly differently than regular public school. The only difference between magnet schools and charter schools is that the magnet schools are still, largely, under the banner of the School District whereas charters act mostly independently. And perhaps that is the only distinction that matters to Trish Spencer that the magnets are seen as an extension of the District, but charters — for the most part — are not. Let’s not forget the the Academy of Alameda’s charter application was largely opposed by Trish Spencer as that was a conversion charter and had the full blessing of the School District.
In fact, the Superintendent had to make a point of saying that the things that Trish Spencer was proposing was a lower priority (class sizes and magnet programs) and therefore on her cut list before Adult Education are all items that are in contracts with the bargaining units so any elimination of those two would require negotiation.
So, if cuts need to be made — which hopefully it will not — Trish Spencer has essentially said that she will place, as a priority, Adult Education above small class sizes and magnet programs. So much for concentrating on Kindergarten through 12th education.