Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 10, 2013

Who’s the boss?

Filed under: Alameda, School — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

A few really hefty items before the School Board tonight.    Any one of these items would drag out the School Board meeting to an interminable length, but added all together?   Let’s just say it’s going to be a long night for the School Board and School Board watchers which, fortunately, is a pretty small group of people amirite?

First up on the agenda is an item to talk about how the School Board wants to talk about moving forward with the discussion of AUSD facilities needs in preparation for floating a possible school facilities bond,  with the major side goal of doing something with the Historic Alameda High School.   Essentially this whole school facilities issue can be summed up thus: no one wants to make a decision on what actually to do because even though we elected the School Board to make these large scale policy decisions for the good of the students and the community of a whole there is this huge level of distrust that is — in my opinion — simply a perception, but not the reality.  This leads folks to attempt to cover their asses — or stall out the process because they don’t like taxes in the first place coughcoughtrishcoughcough — by using the “community engagement/input” schtick.

So community input, whatevs, in the end we still don’t have the information that we need which is basic reports what what is possibly wrong with some of the older facilities in Alameda because we don’t want to spend the money to pay the experts to do the studies.  Because experts?  Phooey!  Who needs ’em when you have a bunch of well-meaning volunteers that clearly know better than so-called experts, especially though mighty suspect out-of-town experts.  Right?

Oh, by the way, I noticed that someone on a Facebook page somewhere mistakenly thought the $300,000 cited as part of the facilities bond stuff thought the $300,000 was for campaign polling.   It’s not.   It’s for technical structural stuff.

The Board will also consider adopting the strategic goals for this school year which are:

  1. Implement the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) through a collaborative process that includes teachers, PTA groups, district staff, administrators and community members.
  2. Implement the Common Core State Standards District-wide through collaboration with teachers in AUSD and educate PTA groups, district staff, and community members about these new State standards.
  3. Initiate a community engagement process which leads to the development of a Facilities Master Plan for AUSD.

Pretty straightforward.   Oh and speaking of, I was going to try to put together an FAQ on Common Core and ask the District and AEA to answer the questions.  Would be interesting to see the responses from these two entities on a really important subject and how they compare.  If anyone has any questions about Common Core, put it in the comments section and I’ll include it in my list to send off.

There is some enrollment information which will be interesting, only a handful of schools are over-enrolled right now and, interestingly enough, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) was so popular the School District opened a fourth TK class at Earhart.

Here a nutshelly slide with information about the inter-district students that were diverted from Wood.   A public speaker at the last Board meeting told the Board that a lot of inter-district students had been diverted, but according to this only 11 had been moved, everyone who requested to be moved back to Wood were allowed to be moved back.


Some unaudited financials from last School year which might be of interest.

And finally, the resignation of the General Counsel left a vacancy and it appears as though there will be some discussion about who the General Counsel should report to. Right now the General Counsel reports to the Superintendent and the plan is to have the General Counsel report to the School Board itself. I am agnostic to whatever happens, as the City Attorney reports to the City Council, it would make sense for the General Counsel to do the same with the School Board. I think the working relationship between the Superintendent and General Counsel would not suffer if the “boss” of the General Counsel is the School Board.



  1. Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off if the school board and the City Council, for that matter, were elected by raffle. Instead of campaigning, each candidate would have to pay $10,000 to run (just to show they are serious–the rich have the money to burn, and the not so rich, if they are good people, can probably get enough supporters to pitch in the ante). We might get a better result. Like those studies where they pick stocks on a dart board and they do as well or better than those picked with care by experts. A pipe dream, I know, but aren’t we all just tired of all the nonsense?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 10, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  2. There is No Incentive for Change by the People Involved presently in Education. Why kill the Golden Goose…… The disruptors get Torched.

    Comment by The Way I see It — September 10, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  3. Hi all,

    I am commenting here while wearing my (fairly new) AUSD hat…

    I just wanted to clarify that Lauren is correct in saying that the professionals under discussion would not be hired to “poll” the community or run a bond campaign. Instead, they are experts on school facilities who specialize in educating and soliciting feedback from community members about the many very technical aspects of modernizing, renovating, or replacing such facilities – including the architectural, engineering, geotechnical, seismic, safety, and demographic issues involved, as well as issues having to do with accessibility and the current and future learning needs of students (i.e., what “21st schools” should look like, how they should operate, and what they should be offering to teachers, staff, and students.).

    If hired, these professionals would also be responsible for writing the actual Facilities Master Plan (based on that community engagement work). This, in turn, would govern what sorts of schools our community will have for the next 25-50 years. FMPs themselves are highly technical documents, ones that are required to be created and kept up-to-date by state law. Without such formal plans, AUSD will not qualify for state matching funds for facilities work. The district also won’t be eligible for “hardship funds” — money that the state gives to districts that cannot afford to do all of the work their facilities require.

    Comment by Susan Davis (senior manager, community affairs, AUSD) — September 10, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  4. I guess when the next school bond issue shows up on the ballot, and when the next parcel tax does the same, I would really like to be able to believe that the proceeds will directly benefit the children or indirectly benefit the children by way of their teachers. I don’t want to have to consider the proportion of bond issue or parcel tax proceeds that will benefit consultants, lawyers, facilitators, administrators, statisticians, coordinators, designers, implementers, bond floaters, tax collectors, gladiators, martians, Elvis impersonators, the charter school movement (a.k.a., privatizers of public education), and all the other various “overhead” categories.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — September 10, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  5. They have hired a Misinformation Manager so all is ok.

    Spending money directly on the kids for new technology and activities is always second to Consultants and Administrators. They have Empathy for the Kids after of course they line their pockets. Which leaves about a nickel on the dollar.

    The Kids will still be number one if your standing on your head.

    1 out of 2 Students have pretty much tuned out and results speak for themselves.

    40% Chemistry Students are Proficient or Above
    56% Earth Science Students are Proficient or Above
    59% Biology Science Students are Proficient or Above
    60% History Students are Proficient or Above
    54% High School Math are Proficient or Above
    55% of High School Algebra 1 And 2 are Proficient or Above
    32% of High School Geometry are Proficient or Above

    % (of Students Who Scored at Each) Performance Level
    California uses five performance levels to report student achievement on the CSTs:

    Advanced: This level represents a superior performance. Students demonstrate a comprehensive and complex understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.

    Proficient: This level represents a solid performance. Students demonstrate a competent and adequate understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.

    Basic: This level represents a limited performance. Students demonstrate a partial and rudimentary understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.

    Far below / below basic: This level represents a serious lack of performance. Students demonstrate little or a flawed understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.

    Comment by The Way I see It — September 10, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

  6. Well whoop dee doo, we have a senior manager explaining that we’re going to have a flock of experts teaching the community how AUSD should operate for the next fifty years and then, based on those teachings, will poll the community to judge whether the community passed the test written by the experts…and they’re only going to charge AUSD $300,000 for their expertise.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 10, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  7. When is AUSD going to learn to stop throwing good money after bad? Planning for the next 25 to 50 years might have been a good idea in 1806, but you’d have to have a pretty good crystal ball these days to come up with a workable scheme for the next 2 to 5.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 10, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

  8. So it’s better to do no planning at all? Or have a bunch of people who have no idea what they’re talking about do the planning? Ever heard the phrase “penny wise, pound foolish?”

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — September 10, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

  9. experts? we don’t need no steenking experts, because obviously, just among commenters in this little ol’ blog we have enough experts to run the world. Maybe some of ya’ll want to put your money where your mouths are and run for BOE. For decision makers this is obviously a lose/lose proposition. Not enough input from community, too much input from consultants, etc. etc.

    Comment by M.I. — September 10, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

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