Blogging Bayport Alameda

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.

Point 1 is a larger question of whether there is capacity at other Alameda middle schools to wind down a program, the district has clarified that they do believe there is space at all the other schools to wind down BFMS.

Point 2 is a tough one because a lot of people would that it is a valuable model to keep around as an option for students. This is where families in support of BFMS simply command the district to find the money someplace. But, of course, the bigger question, even if everyone agrees that Point 2 is valid, is Point 3. Point 3 is something that I have been pushing back against on Facebook with many a BFMS parent and some who are not but may be looking to BFMS in the future. I would, and have, argued that Bay Farm is not the right location to cast the net widely. I do think there might be a way to make this model cost effective and viable but it’s not at Bay Farm. While I’ve mentioned, in the past, Ruby Bridges as an option, a better option might be attaching a smaller academy to Wood Middle School which has a high number of SPED students and, maybe, can offer some economies of scale to make a smaller “controlled” environment that would help ease the transition to high school which, by nature, are not small.

No one attached to the, we must keep BFMS open narrative, has effectively made the argument as to why the small MS option is best sited at BF. Other than it’s supposed to help families stop leaving AUSD during those MS years which we know has not worked based on the declining enrollment at BFMS and the attrition during 7th and 8th grade years.

I went through the school board packets from previous years and pulled these enrollment numbers from the Day 20 enrollment reports so they’re not precise but they were the only place I could remember where these enrollment numbers regularly exist. I could not find the day 20 report for the 2020-21 school year so that’s the one number I don’t have. Probably because we were in the throes of the earliest stages of COVID and there were bigger issues than enrollment at that time.

What is shows is the MS sites themselves, over years, serve about the same percentage of the AUSD MS population regardless of enrollment at the actual site. As a note for those who are having kittens about AUSD changing how enrollment is done without the knowledge of the school site, that happened at Jr Jets when there was a determination that they were going to remove a whole class and that’s happened many, many times at other Elementary schools and families then scramble with diversions at the last minute. The fact that BFMS incoming 6th families might know as early as February is more time than other school sites and families with a lot less resources have been given in the past.

Not only that, since the closure of Chipman Middle School on the West End almost 13 years ago, Wood has been the home/zoned school for most West End kids. At the end Chipman was serving a whole hell of a lot more students in an “innovative” environment as well than BFMS was but it did not escape the chopping block.

Anyway, here are the numbers which also shows the change in enrollment at each MS site from year to year. 2022-2023 is the first year for Jr Jets as both a zoned and open enrollment school.

I also noticed that not one speaker of the many used their time to save the Teen Parent program at Island High school, which just demonstrates that the cuts that are easiest to make are those where connected families don’t come out to shake their fists and stage protests with media coverage.


  1. Your points are good, but I feel like they skirt the actual cost question. See my other posts from “Bigger Picture”, but…

    1) Is Bay Farm actually spending more of the budget than they deserve based on enrollment? From my calculations from the entire budget since I can’t find the breakdowns, that the school itself is spending a lot less than other middle schools per student.
    2) The students that go here choose to give up on electives and other extra circulars. They basically require a few teachers and administrators. Is it really that expensive to support?
    3) WHY does the district say that BFMS is inefficient when the other MS have enough room to absorb the students and more? I heard a number around 150… which is 4-5 FULL classes. Why are they running with that much empty space?
    4) 300k-500k sounds like a lot to be moved to other programs, but that’s a drop in the overall budget. The district has not convinced some of us that this is the only place to find that money. There’s some other motives in play here to get the program off Bay Farm, a lot of which you are alluding to.

    Comment by HUH — January 26, 2023 @ 9:52 am

    • It still doesn’t matter how much the program costs to run. The point is that the money used to shore up BFMS comes out of non restricted GF money. Unless an equal amount of money is discovered somewhere to allocate to other schools this allocation does not pass the smell test,

      And yes, they are staffing the school at, essentially, six teachers (two per grade level) for 137 kids this is 22:1 staffing that does not exist for any other MS in Alameda. This is expensive to support. Empty classrooms do not cost money, teachers with less than contractually full classes do.

      Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2023 @ 10:06 am

      • Even at BFMS’s highest enrollment number at 158 that’s a staffing ratio of 26:1. Those are Elementary School ratios, not MS.

        Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2023 @ 10:10 am

        • Anyway, think of it this way, and I’m making up numbers here because I’m not 100% sure what the current ADA is. If every student brings in 1000 in funding, a BFMS class would only bring in $22,000 per class whereas a full Wood MS class would bring in $32,000. That gap of $10,000 needs to be found somewhere to run the class and, because BFMS is not a Title 1 school, there are no supplemental funds for unduplicated students that exists somewhere. That gap comes from the GF and is money that needs to be diverted from some other need. So, essentially, the Wood MS class and the BFMS class should be equal, but they’re not because BFMS is bringing in much less money AND needs money from other sources to exist.

          Again, that’s not equitable and it’s not even equal.

          Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2023 @ 10:25 am

        • I see what you’re saying but your accounting only approaches it from the perspective of an individual class size. Yes, 32 students bring in more than 22 students. However, those 32 students are also funding a lot more other activities at Wood or Lincoln that comes from a pool of funds somewhere. What I need to know is whether those 137 kids’ funding without Title 1 can support the staff and admins on hand. If it can, I do not see a reason why these kids can not choose to spend their own funding the way they see fit. That is their agency AND equity.

          However, if these kids are actually “stealing” funds that should be going to other schools because their collective “income” is not sufficient, then I think we can close up shop. It’s this last point that no one has out right told us, the For BFMS group, the details. Again, there’s 118 MILLION in expenses for the whole district of ~9000. Simple math says there is more than enough there to support 137 students with their share to make up $300,000. Prove me wrong here and I’ll shut up about this.

          Of course the argument, your argument, can be made that these 137 kids should give up their some of their own budget for the betterment of the whole district, but that is a separate question to me. If there isn’t $300,000 allocated to these 137 kids out of 118 MILLION initially, I need to know why there isn’t, That still seems like a bargain. Try looking at it from this perspective.

          Comment by HUH — January 26, 2023 @ 1:41 pm

        • Nah, we’re talking about just core classes here. Let’s use Jr Jets for example because it’s structured very similarly to BFMS, I can’t speak to Wood or Lincoln because I don’t know how the classes are run so I’ll just use my experience. Each Core teacher (Math/Science and English/History) for each grade has two cohorts and while one cohort is working with one teacher, say English/History , the other cohort is with the Science/Math teacher.

          The Jr Jets classes are always close to that 32 student ceiling. The other electives are shared with the high school so, for example, if Jr Jets didn’t exist on the campus Encinal would still run a French or Spanish 1 class and band. The personnel costs are the highest expenditures for the district so you may think that you’re only talking about one class, but you’re not, you’re talking about whether you’re able to use your most expensive line item in the most effective and efficient way. So, whereas a teacher at Jr Jets would have 64 students (and bring in that ADA $), a teacher at BFMS ostensibly teaching the same material would only have 45 students (and bring in that much reduced ADA $).

          While people are saying that BFMS doesn’t have electives, that’s directly contradicted by their own marketing materials. Plus BFMS has it’s own PE teacher which is not shared with the Elementary side which is an additional FTE. That one PE teacher only covers 137 kids of BFMS, to compare Wood has three PE teachers with a headcount of 200 kids each.

          Anyway, I think the bottom line is, we wouldn’t be having these discussions if the funding for those 137 students was sufficient to cover their costs. AUSD is not really known for making a ton of waves and upsetting parents if they don’t need to. The reality is if that $300-500K were diverted to Wood or Lincoln it would be paying for staff to cover the full 192 students that BFMS is supposed to enroll per their innovative plan approval. But it’s only being used for 137. That is not equitable to the kids at any other school where they’re maxing out their classes.

          Besides, it’s not going to be just $300K, that might just be the year one savings. In the last May revise, the average salary was $94K for certificated staff (aka teachers). BFMS has seven FTE (six core staff and one PE teacher). A complete wind down of the program would free up more than $650K.

          Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2023 @ 2:14 pm

        • All you raise is still the same, it *can* be better spent at other sites, and now you’re throwing in a number like $650K out there. I mean if you’re correct, then the district is being completely opaque here because they are giving out a way lower number. In any case, I will accept it only if they prove that the savings was not enough to run it for these 137 kids (which could go up now that publicity has gone up, the parents and staff now understand that the district website has been very disadvantageous to them, so many more ppl that wfh might be able to bring their kids there. last i checked the website, BFMS is a blank page.) Sure, if the funding is not enough and it’s just a matter of efficiency, ill accept it only after the first fact is proven.

          I know we like looking at things in a bubble but when it gets to the real world, the situation is always more complex than it seems. I believe I have a valid argument that needs to be proven by the district. your view of per student only for core classes has its merit. In the end, theres a lot of funds out there that I would like to see where it’s going and how it’s divided “per student”. Let’s say B1, which can only be used for infrastructure. is the district equally dividing that or are they saying, how about Wood get 50M while you other schools wait your turn. Is this inequity at this moment in time going to be paid back in the future? Is there a per student debt between schools that needs to be paid back? IF, and a pretty big IF in my mind, BFMS was borrowing some funds from other schools for everyday “core” expenses, did BFMS not use their allocation of other funds, like measure a, b1, etc etc.

          Comment by HUH — January 26, 2023 @ 3:08 pm

        • Ausd is projected to save $300k not $650k. This is because half of the teachers will be relocated as they will need teachers to cover the diverted students. They will have to create additional classes to accommodate the bf ms students elsewhere.

          Comment by Sandy — January 26, 2023 @ 10:24 pm

        • You’re thinking equal when you should be thinking equity. Bond money is given out and allocated where its needed (oldest, most critical infrastructure gets fixed first).

          Literally if you don’t understand that it’s not the same if the same amount of money is used to educate 192 kids at Wood in comparison to only 137 kids at BFMS AND BFMS has the lowest number of economically disadvantaged students of ANY school in Alameda then you’re just trying to find a way to justify spending a disproportionate amount of money on a select population of kids just because.

          Again, no one, not even you, have justified WHY, if we need a smaller middle school, it needs to be located at BFMS. The original charter of BFMS was to pull families back to AUSD and should have had a minimum enrollment of 30 kids per class, per grade so 60 per grade. It has not done this. If the “innovative program” is not doing what it promised to do, how long do we keep the program going? The answer from BFMS and other families supporting this program is, essentially, until we spend down all of AUSD’s reserves.

          Any, yes, Sandy is absolutely right, I wasn’t thinking of total savings of winding down the program and not that the staff would be needed at other schools.

          Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2023 @ 5:37 am

      • Of course this has nothing to do with your long standing antipathy to 94502. Nothing at all.

        Comment by Couldn't possibly be related — January 26, 2023 @ 10:13 am

        • Yes, please disregard all the other words I’ve typed out and reach that dumbass conclusion instead. Well done.

          Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2023 @ 10:16 am

        • Folks like you made similar accusations back when she was focused on the Wellness Center….

          Comment by still pro-wellness center — January 26, 2023 @ 11:00 am

  2. Years ago there was an academy within Wood Middle School and from what I understand it was very successful for the students involved. That was before our time there and I don’t have many details. It was the era when there were the equivalent of a homeroom teacher for core instruction and many of the GATE (gifted and talented) students were in the classes.

    Comment by Maria T — January 26, 2023 @ 11:25 am

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