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.