Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 27, 2023

Wind down

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

I found the 2022-2023 marketing slideshow from Bay Farm Middle School (on Bay Farm’s own website by the way) and it got me thinking about the argument that has been put forth by some families that the savings to wind down BFMS is NBD and the benefit is so huge for the community that it serves that the money should just be found to keep BFMS as is. Right now BFMS is staffed (excluding administrative staff because that’s probably shared with the Elementary side) with six teachers. I have the slides but I’m not going to bother posting those. It’s broken down thusly:

  1. 6th grade Humanities teacher
  2. 7th grade Humanities teacher
  3. 8th grade Humanities teacher
  4. 6th grade Math and Sciences teacher
  5. 7th and 8th grade Science teacher
  6. 7th and 8th grade Math teacher.

I assume that BFMS works the way that Jr Jets works. Each teacher for each grade has two cohorts and while one cohort is working with one teacher, say Humanities, the other cohort is with the Science and/or Math teacher. The issue with this model for BFMS is because it’s so under-enrolled the costs to run BFMS are so much higher than for other schools because of the cost to pay for the teacher.

I just learned, based on a staff wish list page that the PE teacher is exclusively for the Middle School, so that’s an additional cost for this small school. As a comparison, Wood MS has three PE teachers for 609 kids. Each PE teacher at Wood is responsible for around 200 kids. The PE teacher at BFMS caps out at 137. Lincoln doesn’t have a listing of their teachers but I imagine the ratio is somewhere around Wood’s.

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January 26, 2023

Location, location

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

There were a few important bits from Tuesday night’s meeting that I think most people who were psyching themselves up to speak neglected to hear. First of all, there are concerns from this staff that the money (almost $2 million over the lifetime of the programs) that has been allocated to the non-Title 1 school innovative programs may not be kosher because base funds are supposed to be doled out relatively equally and there was not a commensurate amount in GF $ that went to Title 1 schools when the innovative programs were innovating.

Let me repeat that for the people in the back. Because around $2 million have ALREADY been spent over the lifetimes of these innovative plans existing that came out of NON RESTRICTED FUNDS that are supposed to be doled out equally to ALL SCHOOL SITES there is concern that the District should not simply keep on keeping on making the same error because some families really, really, really want to keep their innovative program because that’s not how you do GF funding.

And, regardless of the heart warming stories about how special Bay Farm Middle School is to select students the main questions for consideration, per the Superintendent, can be paraphrased into these three points:

  1. Does Alameda actually need as many middle school programs that it currently has given the declining enrollment that is not exclusive to Alameda. This is not including the charter programs because those the district has very little control over.
  2. Are the offerings at BFMS somehow more important than the other middle schools programs which would necessitate keeping it open at the expense of other middle schools and/or other programs in general.
  3. If the BFMS model is important to keep open, is it in the right location in order to help the widest number of students particularly the lowest resourced families in Alameda.
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January 25, 2023

MUN-ey

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Last night’s School Board meeting was, frankly, exhausting. For a full-ish recap, head on over to the #alamtg hashtag. If you’ve ever watched any School Board meeting involving a well resourced school site, it was as expected.

Anyway, I figure since so many people think that money can just be found anywhere hopefully some of you all can find some money to throw at the Encinal High School Model United Nations Club. They’re taking a trip to the National conference in New York City and need a little help defraying some of the costs of attendance. This year Encinal High School is has been assigned the country of Zambia at the National conference but the team/class has participated at local conferences held at Berkeley this year as well. At the last conference a few students even took home some recognition awards.

Just between you and me, apparently some folks are serious about the Model UN and get their kids training outside of whatever school prep there is. Encinal is not that serious but there are enough talented kids that they’ll use all the pluck and guts they have to win despite not having the leg up that other schools have.

So if a bunch of you can pitch in just a few bucks maybe the club can reach its goal and have a bit extra to start fundraising for next year as well.

You can check out the GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/nhsmun-donations

Thanks to those who have already helped out and, look, even Tony Daysog has contributed.

January 24, 2023

Bigger picture

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

So yesterday’s post was a micro look at what AUSD is dealing with but today’s post is the wider problem which exists for the school district that, understandably, a lot of families simply don’t know about or don’t care about because — for the wide majority of us — we will spend (and expect other people) to spend anything to ensure that our kids are well served. However, the role of the school district is to make sure the money we have, stretches. This exercise of discussing winding down Bay Farm Middle or ASTI or reexamining the innovative programs is not done lightly because, look, in the past School Boards have been held hostage by the need to go for parcel tax after parcel tax and avoiding angering families who vote was worth kicking the can down the road. We can talk about the need to fix funding at the State level and, definitely, that work should be done but it doesn’t help AUSD in the short run when AUSD is projected to dip into its reserves every year to fund all these nice to haves and, in three years, is projected to have a sub $1 million reserve eating away millions of dollars every year in reserves.

There are a few things that can be done, we can go out for another parcel tax or we can look at programs and school sites which have been untouchable in the past. Parcel taxes are notoriously hard to pass because of the high percentage rate required for passage and there becomes a certain amount of fatigue for voters who normally would support our schools but then begin to question why the District can’t seem to live within the budget allotted to AUSD,

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January 23, 2023

“Like going to private school”

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Getting ahead of tomorrow’s School Board meeting to discuss the newest deck with more information regarding the possible winding down of Bay Farm Middle School. There is a marathon thread about the topic on Alameda Peeps so you can kind of get the feel for what the arguments will be to keep BFMS open in spite of the trends which show the attrition of cohort groups away from BFMS as they get closer to high school age. Those arguments usually center around how BFMS is “outperforming” other middle schools in Alameda. Now we can probably guess why kids who go to BFMS are outperforming and it has a lot to do with the accessibility of BFMS and who can actually get their students there. But I’m willing to entertain the discussion around the argument that not all students are built the same and we need a variety of options for those kids and one of those options should be a smaller middle school like BFMS. I think there may be two classes per grade and, at the enrollment rates for the past few years, they’ve had the benefit of smaller class sizes 2020-21: 25/class, 2021-22: 26/class, 2022-23: 24/class.

There are two main questions that we should be discussing in this conversation, but here are some basics about middle schools in Alameda for those without kids at AUSD. There are four public middle schools in Alameda: Lincoln, Wood, Jr Jets, and BF. That’s in order of size by the way. Here are the boundaries (I think this was adopted, but it’s going to be close to this):

BFMS is the smallest and attached to an elementary school. Jr Jets is the next smallest and is attached to a high school. In the West End there are three other charter school options for middle school.

With that information here are the questions that need addressing:

  1. Is it important for AUSD to have a small middle school to serve students who would not thrive in a large school environment?
  2. If yes, then is it properly sited at Bay Farm?
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January 20, 2023

Wrist slap

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Looks like Tony Daysog, once again, had an issue with properly filing his contribution reports for his campaign. I’ve mentioned this before but given the number of times Tony Daysog has run for office this is inexcusable :

Hopefully it will be the last time, but Tony Daysog is the proverbial bad penny of Alameda politics, he always turns up in some form or another because he’s always running for some office and he always has some excuse as to why he’s unable to file these reports correctly even those everyone else seems to be able to do it just fine.

January 19, 2023

Don’t speak

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

On Tuesday night because the agenda was light the City Council was able to get to the Council Referrals, for some reason Tony Daysog pulled his Referral about increasing the number of City Council members, maybe he realized that more people would not be better for him, who knows, but the Narcan machine issue came under discussion. As usual whenever Trish Spencer champions something, it goes a bit sideways with only Tony Daysog supporting her because she hasn’t really worked collaboratively with anyone to understand what the current offerings are out there and then come up with ways the City Council can advocate for something additive but this isn’t anything we did not know about Trish Spencer. Which is why her sole utility on a governing board is as a reflexive “no” vote. Unless the issue is something she feels personally passionate about (marijuana) and other people are already on board about she has zero ability to lead anyone else into a place of yes. Well, she can usually get Tony Daysog but that’s because he knows she’s his only ally on the City Council as well.

But anyway, Alameda now has a new City Council gadfly who feels the need to speak at every single meeting and on every single issue. As you may have guessed, this speak is also a Trish Spencer fan so…

There are few people who understand the nuances of everything that is going on in the City, and look, you can even see that in action from people who are elected to the City Council so some rando who logs in every two weeks will, more likely than not, not be full informed enough to talk about every issue but this person does.

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January 18, 2023

General fund fun

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Hoo boy, the School Board meeting on the 24th is going to be a doozy of a meeting mostly because equity is something that a lot of people can get behind academically but, in practice, it becomes a lot more difficult especially when people’s kids are somehow involved.

As we all know there’s simply not enough money to go around AUSD. Yes people can say blanket statements like “make cuts away from the classroom and slash the administration salaries” but that’s really not going to make any real dent in the budget. Besides you want competent people in your administration to, you know, run shit. So, like, you need to be able to pay these people realistic wages yes?

Anyway it looks like after the School Board did all the work around future plans for AUSD there was a realization that, wait a minute, some of these expenditures may not be meeting our goals of equity. In light of the uncomfortable truths around the opportunity gaps for AUSD’s Black students, the light shines just a bit brighter on programs, and schools, given extra money to serve students already well served and excelling. The light is even more glaring when the money comes out of unrestricted general funds and not, for example, money earmarked for Title 1 students.

Here are some of the slides that show the makings of a messy discussion at the next School Board meeting.

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January 17, 2023

Broken clocks

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

It’s nice that broken clock can be right once in a while, in the case of Tony Daysog and Trish Spencer — for once — they actually have Council Referrals that would be promising to move into the main City Council agenda for discussion. And, no, I’m not referencing the holiday celebration one from Trish Spencer.

Trish Spencer is asking for a “review” to offer Narcan machines. It’s not clear if she’s asking the City to pay for it or where they will be located but I think the discussion is important to have. I’m a big fan of harm reduction and anything that can save a life is important to support. Maybe we can go one step further and do what New York City is doing (referenced in one of the links provided by Trish Spencer) and have a more robust public health vending machine with safe sex kits, sterile syringes, and toiletries.

Here’s a video of a more robust vending machine in Tulsa Oklahoma:

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January 13, 2023

Induction

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Yes, yes I should be writing about Alameda but wanted to briefly weigh in on the latest debate: gas vs electric stoves.

Look, I’ve been a user of gas stoves for most of my adult life. They are wonderfully responsive, when you turn up the flame the pan/pot gets hotter when you turn down the flame it gets cooler. You can also char veggies on your gas flame as well but I recently converted to an electric induction stove which meant that I had to get rid of a number of my existing pots and pans and buy a few new ones.

But, you know what, I now wonder why I didn’t make the switch earlier. The ability of an induction cooktop to heat a pan or heat a pot of water is unparalleled. For those still using gas (or regular electric) you know that time that you use between putting a pan on to heat and then cook where you have just enough time to mince some garlic or slice some onions? That time NO LONGER EXISTS. You have to be ready to go when you’re cooking on induction, there is no time for dawdling.

I know that induction is typically expensive but I got mine super cheap from Airport Appliance. Maybe it was marked wrong on the website but it was way way less than any other model I had currently been eyeing. Plus my gas range top pilot had been broken for the past year and I was tired of having to manually light it.

So I’m firmly on the side of induction in this very stupid debate that is currently raging.

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