Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 17, 2013

Fixing a hole

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

We, as a community, have spent a lot of time talking and wringing our hands and worrying about one building in (okay, one set of buildings in Alameda) that doesn’t even house students in Alameda.    Some folks feeling that the Alameda Unified School District should fix — at any cost — the building so that it can be of use again.   But what about all of the facility needs for schools that currently house students.   It’s as though those don’t matter.

A few months ago the Center for Green Schools put out a report which essentially said that the US is not doing enough to modernize schools.    But in Alameda, some of the must need fixes aren’t even about modernizing classrooms and making it all snazzy, it’s about basic upkeep that there is just no money for.   So, personally, when I compare the almost $94 million needed to fix places that students are actually using with the amount of money to do whatever it is that people want to do to the Historic Alameda High School, I feel like the priorities are a little out of whack.

So, after all the words and time that has been spent on the Historic Alameda High School I thought that each facility in Alameda that students actually use deserved its own chance in the spotlight, for fairness sake and so that folks that don’t know about the state of facilities in Alameda maybe can have an idea of how perhaps we should take care of students first.


June 11, 2013

Enroll call

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

Tonight the City Council agenda is kinda meh, it’s the budget again because something was wonky with the construction project list. The interesting stuff is all going on at the School Board.   But first, one thing that is notable is that the City finally decided to make the complete spreadsheet of the budget available for those that were interested in the nitty gritty numbers to crunch.   It was kind of silly for staff to initially withhold the document.   I’m glad someone came to their senses at the City and decided that there is absolutely no reason to not allow people to see the actual numbers.

The full budget-y goodness can be found here.  But back to the School Board.

First up there’s a whole agenda item about the Wood Middle School and its program improvement status and enrollment. I guess there is a need for this agenda item because there have been suggestions that District Staff have been calling families to urge them to go to the Junior Jets program at Encinal. Staff contends that they have been calling families who indicated that they were both attending Wood AND multiple other schools, so they were simply trying to figure out where those students were actually going to.    Which is what the School District should do.   However, the one valid beef that Wood supporters do have is the fact that the District moved ACLC to the Wood campus, citing the additional space there, but have been informing inter District students (that means kids not from Alameda) that Wood is now impacted with resident students (that means kids from Alameda) and they have the option of enrolling in the Junior Jets program or going to Bay Farm for 7th grade only.   But that number of students is probably pretty small, plus folks generally aren’t too sympathetic about students from outside Alameda attending Alameda schools.


June 6, 2013

SpEd off

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

So remember this post I wrote on the difference between last year’s budget and this year’s budget for AUSD and it appeared that there were cuts to the school site budgets.  Turns out the reason why it appeared that there were cuts is because from last year to this year District staff removed Special Ed service dollars from their budget.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 6.32.04 PM


June 3, 2013

Negative percent

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Last Tuesday’s School Board meeting there was an agenda item with recommended budgets by school site, the short summary is that most schools sites have cuts.

I put into a spreadsheet the numbers from last year’s budget and compared it to this year’s budget.  The stuff in the light pink is for 2013 and the blue compares this year’s numbers to last years:


May 21, 2013

Brick by brick

Tonight the School Board will meet to talk about, what else, the Historic Alameda High School under the “Shared Interests/Principles Meeting” headline.   Whatever that’s supposed to mean, I imagine that people will say the same thing that they’ve said at all the other meetings.

But I’m going to draw your attention across the Bay to San Mateo County where the passage of a two huge school construction bonds have amassed a staggering amount of money to renovate and modernize a ton of schools in that area.  From the San Mateo County Times:

The San Mateo Union High School District and San Mateo-Foster City elementary district are engaged in a building and renovation frenzy fueled by voter-approved bonds.

The money is coming from Measure M, a $298 million bond measure passed by voters in 2006.


May 15, 2013

There’s too much confusion

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

While researching costs for school construction projects I came across information about a huge bond floated in Portland to modernize and renovate their schools.      Portland residents agreed to fund a $528 million bond to renovate six schools.   Got that?  Six.   So for people thinking that Alameda’s Measure C $63 million would have been enough to completely renovate the Historic Alameda High School, get real.  Based on the rates to seismically upgrade the HAHS just that alone would have eaten up half of the bond money and that didn’t even include modernization of the building.   So for those out there that want to talk about money being diverted away from students, what would have been a bigger example than seismically upgrading the HAHS and it not being modernized for student usage.

Add in the potential modernization cost and it would have eaten up the bulk of the funds for only one school.  Where’s the equity in that?

But I digress.   Anyway, I thought I would feature this project also in the Pacific Northwest, but in Seattle.  Garfield High was built in 1923 with an addition in 1929.  The initial cost to renovate and rehabilitate AND build a new performing arts center.   And Garfield High has some pretty famous alumni like Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix.


May 14, 2013

Field Act of dreams

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

So, seriously, who’s been going around telling people that Kofman Auditorium is at the business end of a wrecking ball?   Because when I watched one of the meetings about the Historic Alameda High School practically all of the letters read by Alice Lai-Bitker — who is the representative for the rest of us who are not represented by some stakeholder group — everyone seemed to refer to how special the Kofman auditorium is, smells and all.

Because if you notice, the Kofman Auditorium is not listed as one of the affected buildings because that is one of the few buildings that IS Field Act compliant.



April 30, 2013

New waiver

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Tomorrow night, on the School Board agenda will be a performance review for the Superintendent.   Now she is one of those administrators that seems to bring out strong feelings in most people both good and bad.   Me?   I’m on the “meh” train with our Superintendent.   I don’t have super strong feelings about her either way, I think she has done a good job of making good decision, but she’s had her fair share of slip ups.

Let’s face it though, none of the issues that she has faced are easy ones and even though some folks coughinsertgroupheregoup would probably be happier if there were a new superintendent in place, I think she’s doing an all right job given the challenges of this community.

In other education related news, I’m not sure if you have all been following the whole No Child Left Behind reforms, but in a nutshell the Obama administration has offered states an ability to seek waivers to NCLB as long as it meets a set of criteria.   California, as a state, had its waiver application denied because it wouldn’t consider a teacher evaluation system that included student outcomes in that evaluation system.


April 29, 2013

Solidarity sometimes

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

So much for solidarity forever.  At last week’s School Board meeting Trish Spencer — who has been lauded as the worker’s representative on the School Board — decided to vote against the contracts for the CSEA members.   Now, I made a mistake because I thought there was a “me-too” clause for CSEA member, turns out, there is not, so one would think that it would be a gimme for Trish Spencer to support those that supported her, but maybe CSEA didn’t send enough people out for her at the last election because she voted against the contract for some arbitrary and mealy reason that doesn’t really pass muster if you heavily scrutinized.

But that wasn’t even the best part, here was the best part of last week’s — notwithstanding the shout out from Assistant Superintendent Sean McPhetridge name dropping this blog — there was this whole pretty boring sounding agenda item that came out of a School Board subcommittee on Health and Welfare benefits.  So Trish Spencer asks why this issue is before the School Board and staff responds that Trish Spencer ASKED for it to come before the School Board.   She then — jokingly?  I’m not sure if it was meant to be jokingly or not, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt — says that she didn’t know that she was supposed to be giving a presentation about it.  Apparently, to make a long story short, when the subcommittee members decide that it should go to the full Board then that is the policy has been approved by the subcommittee.   She missed that and even though she was on the subcommittee and worked on the policy she decided to vote against that agenda item and a whole host of other things.


March 27, 2013

For your health

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Something that came up during the vote on the Teacher’s contract was School Boardmember Trish Spencer saying that Alameda teachers — according to her research using 2010-2011 data — were the second lowest paid teachers in Alameda County.   This was a pretty brilliant move to again give a nod to the constituency that worked the hardest to get her elected: the teachers union, but unfortunately may not be 100% accurate.

After Trish Spencer made her pronouncement, School Board member Mike McMahon cautioned against using the data from Ed Data since some of the school districts no longer contribute toward health benefits for their staff so those costs are rolled into the “salary” so it may appear as thought their take home is larger, but those teachers have additional out-of-pocket costs in the form of paying for medical benefits.   I wonder what would happen if Alameda ever decided to move to that model, but from my knowledge I don’t know if it’s ever been seriously considered.


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