Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 3, 2017

All consuming

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

Look, I get that the Lum situation is very important.  It’s something that is all consuming for the school district right now that apparently they can’t seem to move on to the business of other schools.

This is a problem.

Ruby Bridges Elementary School was supposed to have our Innovative Plan presented before the School Board on May 9.  After the news about Lum broke, that presentation was pushed to May 23.

Now the Lum decision is pushed to May 23 and Ruby Bridges is left, in limbo, once again with Ruby Bridges’s innovative plan being presented at a meeting where the majority of the focus will be on Lum and not on anything thing else.

Not only that, Ruby Bridges’s principal is leaving at the end of the year and the District still has not posted the position for a principal for Ruby Bridges yet.

I understand there’s a certain amount of hedging of bets going on at the District level, after all, if the decision is to close Lum, there would be a perfect soft landing for Lum’s principal at Ruby Bridges without much shuffling around.  However, if the decision is to keep Lum open then the District has robbed Ruby Bridges of precious time to find a quality candidate for principal.  I can’t imagine that this sort of brinksmanship would be allowed at other schools, but somehow is acceptable when it comes to this West End school.

And speaking of issues at other West End schools, I was at #1 daughter’s intake interview thingie at Junior Jets yesterday.  Naturally, I had a lot of questions, particularly around how electives are managed.  #1 daughter wants to do band, her besties want to take the elective wheel, my question was whether wheel kids could still be in core classes with band kids.  The answer is: they can.  It was mentioned in passing that while there were four sixth grade classes this year, next year the District is only projecting three classes.

I circled back around to this issues after asking about the make up of the school population: majority Ruby Bridges kids?  Answer: used to be, not anymore.  I then asked was enrollment down, is that why only three rather than four classes.  The answer given was that enrollment was not down, and there are still kids waiting because the three classes are full.

Given enrollment drama currently going on at Ruby Bridges — on hold, natch, because of the whole Lum thing — and now hearing about enrollment and class issues at Junior Jets it’s very unclear about how the School District is deciding on how many classes to offer at each school site.  I would hate to say it’s arbitrary but it’s feeling a bit that way.

At this point though if all other schools are going to be held in limbo until there is a final determination on what to do with Lum, then the decision should be made sooner rather than later.  A quick decision about Lum will affect about 500 students and families, but to not make a decision affects the other thousands of students and families at all the other elementary schools that are awaiting to see what that ripple effect is on their school communities.

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22 Comments »

  1. An earthquake can still happen before the end of the school year. The risks are too big to keep this decision waiting. I wonder how many families aren’t willing to take that risk and are keeping their children at home? In that case, the district is losing more money by waiting.

    Is the district moving people who are ready to move on?

    Comment by Angela — May 3, 2017 @ 6:21 am

  2. Unfortunate, yet no surprise for this City. Let’s not forget how much time was spent on whether or not to investigate DJT. Misguided priorities… BTW…why is the FAAS decision taking sooooo long?

    Comment by Il Cane di Ferro — May 3, 2017 @ 8:03 am

    • re. DJT, let’s not conflate the city and the school district. They are two very distinct entities with different sources of funding.

      Comment by Ron — May 3, 2017 @ 4:04 pm

  3. Re: the district’s wishy-washiness in predicting # of classes in 2017-18: I wonder if part of that is due to the exodus of school age families from Alameda.
    I know, personally, of three families with elementary school-aged children who have left town in search of more reasonable rent since January. Two did this pre-emptively, as rent increases were coming from their landlord that pushed them over the edge (and they were NOT ‘below market’ before the increases–they were already spending 50% of income on rent; people gotta eat, commute, pay utilities, pay for after school care, etc., after all–and forget about saving any money). The other received a 60-day notice, had no choice but to move.
    Anecdotally, I hear this is happening all over town, at pretty much every school. Add the Lum uncertainty to the mix and district has quite a challenge on its hands.

    Comment by Kristen — May 3, 2017 @ 8:53 am

    • I know, personally, of three families with elementary school-aged children who have moved into town to take advantage of our incredible location, life style and superb schools since January.
      Anecdotally, I hear this is happening all over town as more and more people discover the affordability and convenient location of our island relative to San Francisco. We are not losing our population, school age or otherwise. On the contrary, more people are moving here than ever before, which is pushing rents and house prices higher and higher.

      Comment by Alameda Landlord — May 5, 2017 @ 8:51 am

  4. Come Join the Lum District Advisory Committee. Meeting tonight. 5/3/17, at 6:30 PM. Lum Multipurpose Room.

    http://lumpta.com/site/come-join-the-lum-district-advisory-committee/

    Comment by vigi — May 3, 2017 @ 9:54 am

  5. 2. too many abbreviations. what is “DJT”? and Lauren do try to imagine that this isn’t another case of West End getting the short end, I can. The AUSD is being asked to juggle a lot of stuff, and child safety is no small matter. In fact many people would say it’s the first priority.

    We were about to place a second child in a private school in Oakland that met state earthquake standards because of a very narrow classroom with a brick wall that was taller than the room was wide. I got cold feet and we pulled both, got one into kindergarten at Paden and the other into in home day care.

    Comment by MI — May 3, 2017 @ 11:10 am

    • Donald J. Trump

      Comment by frank — May 3, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

      • Oh right. I forgot how much AUSD spent on that investigation.

        Comment by MI — May 3, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

        • I refer to him as DFT.

          Comment by dave — May 3, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

  6. Decisions regarding school by school enrollment may “feel” arbitrary, but they are not. The district spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to maintain classes that are below the maximum class sizes – many of these classes are at Ruby Bridges and Junior Jets this year. Other years these schools are full and other sites have classrooms with empty seats – school enrollment is never an exact science. If Encinal doesn’t have enough students to fill four classes, there will be three. Four would be better for the program, but sometimes we don’t get exactly what we want.

    And that’s the problem, really – we can’t all get everything that we want. This spring the Franklin parents have been upset because of looming combination classes, just as Ruby Bridges parents were twelve months ago. They’re asking the district to run classes half-full rather than create a combo. As an AUSD teacher, I would love to have smaller class sizes. I would also love to not be the lowest paid teacher in the county. But I can’t have both. Either the district runs classes full and sets aside more for salary, or we use that money to pay for more staff than we need. If Franklin runs an extra class, Alameda teachers get paid less next year.

    Five years ago, Ruby Bridges had five kindergarten classes and the district moved the attendance zone to relieve over-crowding; now the school can’t fill three K classes, and the attendance zone may need to be adjusted to bring more kids in (especially if Lum is closed). As I see it, there are two contributing factors for this change: (1) the increase in rent driving families out of Alameda, as noted above, and (2) one of the west end charters expanding to add an elementary school.

    Comment by Ron — May 3, 2017 @ 12:18 pm

  7. The short changing of the west end schools predates the Lum issue. There is no middle school in the west end because the district gaveChipman to the charter. Hundreds of children who live west of Webster have to cross the island to Wood School on Grand Street.–absenteeism and tardiness a problem . I wonder if Bay Farm parents would allow their students bypass Lincoln and walk to Wood? Jr Jets which could absorb some of these kids is being cut back When Edison principal left , the district hired a replacement in short order. (This does not denigrate the need to deal with the Lum issue which might have been handled in a less heavy handed manner. ) The AOA charter as written originally would have essentially served the same population as the non-charter school, but in the way of charters in general the population shifted to serve whiter, anymore advantaged students.

    Comment by barbara Kahne last election — May 3, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

    • Barbara Kahne what are your sources?

      And from what I understand, AOA were given charter status because of low test scores, which was going to lead to heavy sanctions, including the very likely closing of the school.

      Comment by Ingrid — May 3, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

      • The board at the time had several options it could have taken with Chipman. The board could have done what was done at Wood – rethink and restructure the academic program. Fortunately, nobody from that board sits on the board today.

        Comment by Ron — May 4, 2017 @ 8:36 am

  8. Nobody walks to Wood. Their parents drive them. Grand Street is a parking lot every morning & afternoon.

    Comment by vigi — May 3, 2017 @ 6:23 pm

    • this is absolutely not true. Many students walk to and from Wood every day, many of whom walk from the Wet End.

      Comment by Ron — May 4, 2017 @ 8:31 am

    • Yes they do walk. Maybe fewer than one would wish but quite a lot do. But don’t let truth get in the way of an anecdote-based generalization.

      Comment by BC — May 4, 2017 @ 9:45 am

    • Our neighbor’s son bikes to Wood. I’ve seen plenty of kids walking and biking there.

      Comment by Kristen — May 4, 2017 @ 12:51 pm

  9. Hmmm, so when is the lease up on the District Office? Anyone want to take bets on this scenario? Lum closes and kids/teachers/staff get redistributed. Someone decides that the Lum campus is okay for adults so the District Office can move in there? Oh look, aren’t we a great, smart, money-saving bunch of administrators?
    Or maybe this… Lum closes and kids/teachers/staff get redistributed. Lum’s campus is razed to build a most excellent sportsball complex. The District can then sell off Thompson Field to a developer and pat themselves on the back for being such smart business people.

    Comment by Suspicious — May 3, 2017 @ 7:53 pm

    • Paranoid? We’ve had links to infowars posted by one our more entertaining contributors. You’re in good company.

      Comment by BC — May 4, 2017 @ 9:42 am

    • I have no wish to make light of the Lum situation, but if these scenarios came to pass the district would save millions in the years during which current Lum students will be AUSD students, making it easier to attract and retain qualified math, science, and special education teachers to instruct those students… and they would have access to a 21st century track and sports field when they’re in high school. Sounds like you’re on to something, Suspicious.

      Comment by Ron — May 5, 2017 @ 7:26 am


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