Blogging Bayport Alameda

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.

The biggest item on the chopping block which I’ve seen a flurry of activity around is the Bay Farm Middle School. For those of you that didn’t know, yes Bay Farm has a Middle School program. It’s very small, it’s only around 200 or so seats but it’s the smallest of all the middle school programs and its enrollment is declining. Put it this way, the Superintendent said that they need to fill 68 – 70 seats for the incoming year and they only have 28 as of the last School Board meeting. They have the smallest class sizes and student to teacher ration for one of the demographically wealthiest schools in Alameda. This is not equitable.

I do think though the Board and staff need to be careful and aware that only using supplemental funds to provide “equity” to Title 1 school and then equally distributing out General Fund money will not truly be equitable so I am concerned to see discussion around trying to save money by removing Ruby Bridges and Love’s VPs or rather diverting those funds elsewhere. But, particularly for the two programs approved almost 12 years ago there should be discussion of an off-ramp. Honestly I could never figure out how Earhart got an innovative program funded in the first place because innovative programs, in my mind, were for struggling school sites looking for ways to draw families abandoning that school site back to the school. Earhart never had that problem, but Maya Lin did. The gradual reduction plan (but there should be support for the school site to find alternative funds) makes a lot of sense. Unless there is a more robust argument as to why these school sites need this general fund money above and beyond for equity purposes then this should be the action taken on the 24th with regard to the two general fund funded innovative programs.

7 Comments »

  1. I generally agree with you about the innovative programming dollars. That money is not being spent equitably (or even equally, for that matter). With respect to the art program, prop 28 dollars and pta money can also fill that gap if the school community chooses.

    I’m more troubled by Bay Farm Middle School. It is an open enrollment school, available to all. And there are students who really need a smaller school experience in middle – as evidenced by the number of kids who choose to attend the charters for middle school. The better approach for bay farm, in my view, would be to make sure that everyone across the island knows that it is available and an option. If they do that and still can’t fill seats, then we can talk about closure.

    Comment by Anon — January 18, 2023 @ 7:13 am

    • That sounds good in theory, but is unrealistic in practice. Say you are a 5th grader living on the west end and attending Ruby Bridges, Paden, or Maya Lin. Perhaps the parent(s)/guardian(s) you live with have one car or no car, and need to get to work by or before 8:00am using their car or public transit. You are going to choose the middle school you can feasibly walk or bike to, on your own–so that’s Jr Jets, Wood, or AoA/ACLC if a smaller middle school is what suits your needs.
      I think a lot of readers of this blog have work schedules that allow a lot of flexibility for “life” issues such as school drop off/pick up–I am blessed to have one of those jobs now. But several years ago, I did not–I had to leave the house at 7:10am in order to catch a bus that would get me to work on time. There are still lots of parents in that boat. Thank goodness for a surfeit of choices on the west end that allow for walking/biking to school.

      Comment by Kristen — January 18, 2023 @ 10:38 am

  2. I don’t understand why the zoning simply does not shift over. A large chunk of Lincoln School kids should be attending Bay Farm Middle. Some chunk of Wood School should be attending Lincoln. The popular Junior Jets program picks up the rest. Tweak the boundaries so each school has the same kids per class average. Why is Lincoln so crowded and BFMS so under-enrolled when there’s a huge overlapping population these two schools serve.

    Comment by Observer — January 18, 2023 @ 7:27 am

    • Is it possible for middle school students living on Bay Farm to attend Lincoln? When walking along the shoreline and over the bridge in the afternoon, there seem to be a lot heading on bicycles from Lincoln towards Bay Farm.

      Comment by Lincoln options? — January 19, 2023 @ 7:25 am

      • Most of the middle school students on BFI do go to Lincoln …
        the Bay Farm Middle School is a choice parents can make, ‘normal path’ is LMS

        Comment by Ron Mooney — January 19, 2023 @ 7:36 am

  3. Re: Bay Farm Middle School, we looked at Bay Farm Middle School and the main problem with the school is that there are very few offerings (elective wise) compared to Wood, Lincoln, and even Jr Jets. If Bay Farm kids want a real Middle School experience and get “zoned” into a small school I don’t think that would be an equal experience.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 18, 2023 @ 7:56 am

  4. Methinks Earhart got funding for its science teacher (Otis’ PTA pays for theirs) because the community was threatening to take their kids charter/private or else and the district needed to pass a revenue measure. AKA-hostage taking.

    Comment by cw — January 18, 2023 @ 8:36 am


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